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Switching tracks to find hope

5 Oct 2021, James Ireland
Sixteen Metro Trains Melbourne employees have raised more than $50,000 for charity by riding 390 kilometres around Australia – all from the comfort of their own homes. Team Metro – otherwise known as ‘The Pristine 16’ – participated in Lifeline’s Hope Cycle campaign, collectively cycling 6240 kilometres along 15 stages of Australia’s most iconic cycling destinations, including Melbourne’s own Beach Road. The Pristine 16 peddled their hearts out and raised an incredible $31,066, which will pay for nearly 800 lifesaving calls to Lifeline. The team was thrilled to learn that after their mammoth cycling efforts, Metro CEO Raymond O’Flaherty announced that the company would contribute a further $20,000 to the campaign. This bumped up Metro’s total contribution to more than $50,000! Lifeline’s Hope Cycle campaign raised $172,736 in total, surpassing its goal of $100,000. Metro’s Projects division Team Leader Alan Campbell came third as an individual fundraiser for the event, raising a total of $8,205. Alan has been riding for almost three years and is passionate about supporting Lifeline and raising awareness of mental health and suicide prevention services. “Our rail industry and our community as a whole have had our struggles during this pandemic and I wanted to help in any way I could, more importantly, I wanted people to know that they weren’t alone,” Alan said. Metro Trains Melbourne is an ongoing supporter of Lifeline. To find out more please visit lifeline.org.au.

An EPIC move makes Sandra’s dreams come true

14 Sep 2021, James Ireland
When Sandra Abid made the heart-rending decision to escape Iraq with her family, she left behind her beautiful hometown, many loved ones and cultural treasures. Eight years on, she has now built a new life in Melbourne helping shape one of the city’s biggest transport infrastructure projects as an engineering cadet. Sandra was recruited as part of the Engineering Pathways Industry Cadetship (EPIC) program – something she describes as a dream come true. “I feel so blessed and couldn’t be prouder to join Metro Trains – a remarkable company and team who work with honesty, inclusivity and safety.

Ghada’s engineering an EPIC future

31 Aug 2021, James Ireland
She spent years on the run, living with her family in fear after ISIS occupied her hometown in northern Iraq. Now, life has changed significantly for Ghada Sheto. This year she began her professional journey with Metro Trains Melbourne as part of the Engineering Pathways Industry Cadetship – or EPIC program. Ghada – born and raised in the Assyrian city of Qaraqosh in northern Iraq – is now an engineering cadet working with the Rail Systems Alliance. She emigrated to Australia with her family in 2019 to begin a new life. “I left my country and fled to Lebanon after ISIS occupied my town in 2014,” Ghada said. “I hoped to seek asylum in Australia, and after four years of waiting, I finally arrived with my husband, my mother and my children.” Ghada has a degree in Communication Engineering from the University of Mosul in Iraq. “I am so lucky to work with such wonderful people – everyone offers their support and help with joy,” Ghada said. The EPIC program employs engineers from refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds and helps launch their careers on some of Victoria’s biggest projects. Metro’s Projects division has employed 12 refugee and asylum seeker cadets through the EPIC program – seven of whom are from the 2021 intake. Cadets are provided an Australian engineering qualification and paid employment working on level crossing removals and the Metro Tunnel Project. Ghada said she feels extremely privileged to be part of the program. “I consider myself fortunate first, to arrive in Australia, and second, to be accepted into the EPIC program,” she said “This wonderful program gives heaps of support to refugee and asylum seeker engineers, enabling them to achieve their goals, improve themselves and start their careers in Australia.”

Ihab’s Journey from Iraq to Metro

24 Aug 2021, James Ireland
He fled Iraq with ISIS on his heels, leaving behind chaos, and no access to electricity or water for his family. Now Ihab Qassab has left behind the constant threat of explosions and danger to be one of Metro Trains Melbourne’s EPIC cadets. He couldn’t be happier with his new life. Ihab is a site engineer working for Metropolitan Roads Program Alliance on the Level Crossing Removal project. He and his family fled to Australia in January 2018 with his wife and three kids, after ISIS occupied his hometown of Baghdeda in 2014.

Hayat’s epic pathway to success at Metro

16 Aug 2021, James Ireland
She studied by candlelight while under fire from live artillery shells, amid a civil war in Syria. Now Hayat Mnayrji has found herself in a permanent engineering role at Metro Trains Melbourne – and she couldn’t be prouder. Hayat is a site engineer working for the South Eastern Program Alliance on the Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP). She joined Metro through its partnership with the Engineering Pathways Industry Cadetship – also known as the EPIC program. The EPIC program employs engineers from refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds and helps launch their careers on Victoria’s major transport infrastructure projects. Metro’s Projects division has employed a total of 12 refugee and asylum seeker cadets through the EPIC program, including seven this year. With the help of Metro, these 12 cadets are given an Australian engineering qualification and paid employment working with LXRP and other project authorities and alliances. Hayat studied Telecommunications Engineering at Damascus University in Syria – moving from city to city as the Syrian civil war began in 2011. “I studied by candlelight, under artillery shells, not knowing if I would ever have the chance to use the knowledge that I was acquiring,” said Hayat. In 2019, Hayat left her country and her family behind and fled to Australia with her partner, Bassam. “Syrians are social and generous, and they love people and love life. Leaving was not an easy step, but we hoped for a new life and a better future.” Her dream has become a reality. “Metro opened its doors for my passion, and I am so proud to be working for such a supportive company,” said Hayat. “I have enjoyed learning how to operate the stations with OCS equipment and designs, and I am still excited to learn more.” Learn more about the EPIC program here: https://levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/careers/training-for-the-future/epic-program

Round-the-clock works on the Rushall Curve

6 Aug 2021, James Ireland
Metro’s maintenance and renewal team has spent six days and nights replacing track infrastructure on the sharpest curves on the Metro network in Melbourne’s inner north. Known as the ‘Rushall Curves’, the 400-metre stretch of duplicated track lies between Rushall and Merri stations on the Mernda Line. The curves are subject to stronger centrifugal forces (outward force) than at any other point on Metro’s 1,000-kilometre network. The works were completed in 145 continuous hours over a six-day period. A crew of 30 people replaced more than 700 metres of track, 2,000 tonnes of ballast, 775 sleepers, and removed more than 6,000 cubic metres of spoil. Works on the Rushall Curves form part of Metro’s on-going program of maintenance and renewal, with $12 million spent every week to maintain trains, rail equipment and technology. Metro’s General Manager – Infrastructure Jasper Milligan says the Rushall Curves are a unique part of the network and requires more careful planning. “Safety is the foundation of everything we do. Because of the unique design of this section of track, we required a more intensive level of planning and maintenance. “We used a six-day period to renew this section of track and support a safer, more reliable journey for our passengers. “Mernda Line passengers can rest easy knowing that every service they take is safe thanks to the hard work of our dedicated teams.”

Metro veteran’s 50 years on the rails

2 Aug 2021, James Ireland
For more than 50 years Metro station officer Felix Tabone worked to keep Melbourne moving. Rain, hail or shine, Felix was there for commuters on the Lilydale Line. After starting on the railways as a 17-year-old, Felix spent his entire career working at Melbourne’s Lilydale, Croydon and Mooroolbark stations. On Friday 16 July, 2021, Felix worked his last-ever shift for Metro at his beloved Mooroolbark Station, before hanging up his hat for the final time.

All signs point to a bright future for Metro’s newest recruit

25 Jun 2021, James Ireland
Earlier this year graduate architect Kushagra Jhurani had applied for at least 200 jobs across Australia without any success. He decided to hit the streets and make his resume public – standing opposite Southern Cross Station with a sign saying “Looking 4 a graduate of architecture? HIRE ME”. In April, Metro digital engineering manager Scott Poll was heading to work when he spotted the graduate standing on Spencer Street with his sign. “I thought that’s a young kid with a lot of courage to be able to do that, at one of the busiest intersections in the city. “If he is willing to do that, I know he is going to be willing to be a hard worker.” When he got to the office, Mr Poll thought he should go back and speak to the young man about a possible role, but when he returned, Kushagra had taken his search for work elsewhere. Metro’s team of graduates then got online to begin the desperate search for Kushagra, and eventually found him on LinkedIn. After exchanging messages and a formal interview process, Mr Jhurani was offered a position as a draftsperson with Metro. He commenced work on 24 May. Mr Jhurani says, “I never thought actually this would work. I am in awe to be honest, and I am very grateful to Scott that he took me in.” His advice for other jobseekers trying to break into competitive industries? Put yourself out there. “Not necessarily what I did, but you shouldn’t be scared — you can only give your best shot.”

A more reliable power supply means more reliable trains

24 Jun 2021, James Ireland
Electrical substations are critical pieces of railway infrastructure that help Metro operate trains, signals and communications equipment across the network. At Box Hill, in Melbourne’s east, the substation has undergone significant upgrades to improve the reliability of services. New equipment allows Metro’s electrical engineers to remotely access the substation to operate equipment – rather than having to go to the site in person. This new process significantly improves the speed in which Metro can diagnose and fix power supply issues that may otherwise delay passengers. It’s also creating a safer environment for engineers to carry out maintenance. The upgrades also mean Comeng and X’Trapolis trains can run more reliably than ever for passengers who use the Belgrave, Lilydale and Alamein lines. Metro Trains Senior Project Manager Chris Hughes says, “It probably isn’t one of those projects that many people have heard of, but its benefits for the network are huge. “The integration of any new equipment onto the Metro network simply can’t succeed without the support of multiple teams, and this project is a brilliant example of that.” These upgrades also allowed the power capacity of the substation to be increased from 1.5MW to 2.5MW – providing more capacity to run trains efficiently and reliably. Originally built back in the 1960s, the Box Hill substation equipment was approaching the end of its useable life. The team completed the upgrades during an extended weekend occupation. The remote switching systems are serving as a ‘testing ground’ to be rolled out to other locations, including major project sites across the Metro network.

Metro Trains staff step up to get vaccinated

7 Jun 2021, James Ireland
Expanded eligibility for public transport workers in Victoria has paved the way for some Metro Trains staff to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. CEO Raymond O’Flaherty joined colleagues from Metro’s Infrastructure and Stations teams, who were keen and eligible to get vaccinated at Monash Health’s Sandown Racecourse hub. Mr O’Flaherty urged public transport workers who are eligible to consider the opportunity to get vaccinated now. “We all want to move beyond this pandemic and get back to our normal way of life – and vaccination is our best hope,” Mr O’Flaherty said. In May, health authorities announced expanded eligibility for public transport workers in frontline roles. In keeping with the current public health advice, a group of eight frontline Metro employees got their first vaccinations. Mr O’Flaherty praised the on-going dedication of all public transport workers in Victoria. “Since the start of this pandemic, public transport employees in Victoria have turned up for work day after day. “As the situation evolved, their commitment to keeping essential workers moving on public transport only grew stronger,” he said. As Melbourne deals with the latest public health challenges, Metro continues to run services to a full timetable. “I couldn’t be prouder of the contribution of all public transport employees, and their commitment to keep Melbourne moving. “I am also proud of the fact that we have continued to deliver all of our scheduled train services,” Mr O’Flaherty said.
Grasslands at Diggers Rest

Endangered plants and animals cared for by Metro Trains

18 May 2021, James Ireland
Did you know that the Melbourne rail network has 30 biodiversity sites that are home to critically endangered plants and animals? These sites are cared for by Metro’s Biodiversity team, which ensures these species will be around for future generations. Known as ‘remnant vegetation’, the site at Diggers Rest is a volcanic plains grassland, which is critically endangered. Only one percent of the original grasslands is left. The 1,200 square-metre site is home to many critically endangered plants such as the spiny rice flower and arching flax lily, as well as animals such as the growling grass frog, striped legless lizard and Southern Brown Bandicoot. Biodiversity Manager Neal Masters says these types of grasslands used to stretch from Melbourne to South Australia. “To end up with small fragments like this, it’s critical we look after them. They are home to such a wide variety of endangered plants – so they are like mini national parks for us.” Hand-weeding to remove introduced species is a technique used to ensure that native plants thrive. Metro works closely with Indigenous Australians to understand how best to conduct contained burns, ensuring the plants can grow in the right way, as well as protecting the area from bushfires. The ABC’s Gardening Australia program visited the Diggers Rest site to see it in full bloom. Watch here.

New digital map technology supports better rail maintenance

14 May 2021, James Ireland
Innovative map technology is giving Metro Trains’ maintenance teams a complete digital picture of the Melbourne rail network to better plan and deliver works. Known as MetroMap, the tool is designed to improve maintenance activities and network performance by providing a single portal for operations and maintenance staff. Geographic Information System Lead Nevin Wilson said the new technology allows users to view station locations, track, signals, overhead structures, and other key rail equipment that is routinely maintained by Metro. “MetroMap is a centralised system which collates multiple sources of information in a single application, so staff can see everything they need in the one place. “It’s a user-friendly portal with information that is easy to understand.” The application gives Metro staff access to a visual representation of 2D and 3D asset data, environmental information, and analytical tools to support infrastructure planning. These capabilities will support improved maintenance and renewal across the network and ensure services continue to run safely and reliably for passengers. Further enhancements to MetroMap are planned including integrating the system into other Metro systems and additional location search capabilities. Production Manager – Infrastructure Patrick Raymond said MetroMap represents a major step change in the way maintenance work is currently planned and delivered. “This really is a ‘one-stop shop’ to support the delivery of Metro’s maintenance and renewal program. “By giving our people a full digital picture of the network, we can better plan our maintenance activities and ensure the network is performing to the highest possible standard.” As part of its contract with the Victorian Government, Metro spends $12 million every week on works to maintain trains, rail equipment and technology.

Reflecting on Rail R U OK? Day

4 May 2021, Andrew Nelson
Rail R U OK? Day is one of the most important events on the rail industry calendar. It’s a day that holds special significance and poignancy for Metro’s team of Multi-Modal Authorised Officers (MMAOs) who gather to reflect on the day and its deeply personal connection. Three years ago, one of their much-loved colleagues died from self-harm. Since the tragedy, the MMAO team has committed to an ongoing discussion and providing support to team members, with the R U OK? conversation a feature of every meeting, every day. Team Leader Rehana Rehman said the conversation involved a “welfare check” at the start of each shift to ensure everyone is fit to be at work, and again at the day’s end.