Fw: Mon.15.3.21 daily digest
  Roderick Smith

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Mon.15.3.21 Metro Twitter
Buses replace trains Dandenong-Cranbourne until the last train of Wed 17 Mar (works).
13.59 Buses will replace trains between Elsternwick and Sandringham (a person hit by train). Buses have been ordered, but may take over 60 minutes to arrive.  Consider alternatives, listed at our site. [link given]
- 14.26 Anticipate buses to replace trains until at least 5pm.
- 14.36 Replacement buses are departing every 15 mins.
- 14.46 Six buses are in operation, adding 40 min to journey time.
- 15.06 Ten buses are in operation.
- 16.26: 12 buses are in operation.
- 17.06 Trains have resumed.
Buses replace trains North Melbourne - Craigieburn from 20.40 until the last train (maintenance works).

Developers move in on public transport hubs for new projects around the country LISA CALAUTTI MAR 15, 2021 [The worst stations in Melbourne are Melbourne Central, and Box Hill and Southern Cross.  All are illogical, with awkward passenger flows.]
New train, metro and light rail projects around the country are also going to be home to new shopping centres, office towers, industrial hubs and, yes, apartment blocks.
As space in inner and middle suburbs becomes more scarce, developers are looking to the land around and the air rights above train stations and public transport hubs.
Savills Victoria CBD and metropolitan sales director Clinton Baxter said it was an alternative to developing greenfields sites on the urban fringe.
“Land around and air rights above train stations and public transport hubs can be very valuable – especially appealing to apartment developers and retail businesses – given the congregation and ease of movement of people and potential customers,” he said.
“Government authorities have been increasingly looking at ways to ‘monetise’ the value of land adjacent to, and air space above, train stations, train lines, and transport hubs.
“Facilities planned for commuters – often selling off the air rights for development allows the rail authority to provide a higher level of commuter amenity and/or to integrate retail offerings into the station design.”
City station developments
Victoria’s metro tunnel project will include two major new train stations in the Melbourne CBD – Town Hall and State Library.
“The Metro Tunnel Authority is planning to create major retail and commercial hubs above the station and seek to maximise the commercial potential and return from these spaces above the station,” Mr Baxter said.
He said the air rights above State Library station had been sold to Scape, a major student accommodation developer and provider, as part of a deal when a site on La Trobe Street was compulsorily acquired from Scape for the station.
“We had sold the site to Scape for $35 million just weeks before the project was announced,” Mr Baxter said.
In NSW, the Sydney Metro development will include the Victoria Cross station in North Sydney, which has commercial, retail and transport elements.
The $1.2 billion commercial tower and urban precinct is already under way as a partnership between Sydney Metro and Lendlease and designed by architects Bates Smart. To be completed by 2024, it will feature a 42-storey next-generation workplace, a shopping centre and a community hub.
With the aim of achieving a Platinum WELL and six-star green star rating, the workplace – which can accommodate up to 7000 workers –  will feature a lobby with a multi-purpose hub space designed to promote community connection, outdoor balconies and green or “biophilic” spaces for health and wellbeing.
“Around the world, people are increasingly demanding workplaces that have outstanding sustainability and digital credentials, are linked to public transport, and are stitched into the local community. We know our new Victoria Cross Development will respond to these demands,” Lendlease integrated transport development and development NSW head Jeheon Son said.
On track to increase access
Across the country, works are well under way on many transport links.
In Perth’s eastern suburbs, the $1.86 billion Forrestfield Airport Link in on track for its first trains to run later this year. With new stations at Redcliffe, Airport Central and High Wycombe, the rail service has been promoted as better supporting tourists travelling between the city and the airport while also increasing residential and commercial development.
LJ Hooker Commercial Perth industrial director and licensee Colm McHugh said the link had attracted many warehouse and logistics companies to the area.
“Traditionally, it hasn’t been easy to get your hands on industrial land [for owner-occupiers], so with the airport link it means that it improves the land value and it gets your workforce in and out quicker, people will go there over other areas because of that access,” he said.
In Queensland, the Gold Coast light-rail project is progressing to stage three, which will see the tram network grow from Helensvale to Burleigh Heads.
CBRE Gold Coast managing director Mark Witheriff said the overall town planning vision was to create density outside the rail line and developers had taken the opportunity from owner-occupier investment, tourism offerings to apartments.
Land in demand
Nationally, land near transport hubs has been in demand. A vacant lot near Hornsby train station in Sydney recently sold for $1.1 million, with its proximity to public transport links part of the appeal. Sold by CI Australia on behalf of Transport for New South Wales to a private investor, the campaign saw interest from boutique developers, owner-occupiers, builders and local investors.
On top of that, the new NorthConnex tunnel has improved accessibility in and out of the area, particularly to the north shore and the CBD.
“Many were attracted to the site’s flexible B6 – Enterprise Corridor zoning, its proximity to Hornsby railway station and retail area, together with its high-profile frontage to the Pacific Highway,” CI chief executive Andrew Hunter said.
In western Sydney, industrial property is in high demand with government projects prompting businesses and industries to relocate within the path of the Sydney Metro west rail.
Heavy equipment manufacturer Manitou Australia will relocate from Rosehill to Lidcombe due to the rail project.
“The Manitou deal reflects the need for some industries to position their operations east of Parramatta and with close access to the M4 Motorway,” Colliers International industrial national director Tony Durante said.
Several large corporates and smaller private businesses that are being displaced due to government property acquisitions for the rail project are continuing to comb the market for other premises, he said.
Related: Using behavioural science to get workers back to offices after covid lockdowns
Related: To return to the office or not? How your choice could change the shape of our cities
Related: Why dentists are looking to retail and hospitality for the design of their surgeries

How a maintenance worker stole $300,000 in cash from Opal top-up machines. Sarah McPhee March 15, 2021
A NSW government-contracted maintenance worker “manipulated” mechanisms inside Opal card top-up machines to steal at least $300,000 in cash, depositing the majority of the money on a home loan.
Varol Ak, 57, is awaiting sentence in the NSW District Court after pleading guilty to two counts of larceny, of a value greater than $15,000.
Varol Ak has pleaded guilty to stealing no less than $300,000 in cash from Opal card machines. CREDIT:NICK MOIR
According to the agreed facts, signed by Ak on Friday, his offending went “undetected” until another Prosegur employee noticed him “acting suspiciously” while servicing Opal machines at Circular Quay and Central stations in March 2019.
From January 2018 until that month, Ak had “interrupted” the inner workings of the public transport ticket machines to pocket “significant quantities of cash”.
Ak, from Merrylands, worked as a technician with state government contractor Cubic, then Prosegur from April 2018, to supply and maintain the Opal machines for the transport department.
“Although maintenance technicians had access to the machines generally, they did not have the keys to access that part of the machine where the cash was kept,” the facts state.
The machine’s cash recycler drawers hold the $5, $10 and $20 notes deposited by customers or dispersed as change while larger denominations - $50 and $100 notes - go straight to the vault.
“The vault could not be accessed by the technician but was emptied periodically by Cash in Transit guards,” the facts state. “Once a certain number of notes were accumulated in any recycler drawer, additional notes would be transferred to the vault.”
Technicians were able to instruct the machine to empty notes from the recycler drawers into the vault, a process which involved cash being transferred one note at a time between receptacles.
Ak worked out how to “manipulate” machines by opening the covers over note transfer mechanisms.
“When a cover was lifted, the mechanical process of transfer of a single note at a time was interrupted which resulted in the note’s progress from recycle drawer to vault being halted at some point along the transfer mechanism,” the facts state. “This permitted access to a single note which one could then remove.”
Prosecutors said Ak stole “no less than $300,000” by applying this method at least 15,000 times.
After being caught out by his colleague, an examination of a machine at Central station revealed three $20 notes in “uncharacteristic positions”.
His offending was further uncovered by Prosegur investigators who analysed data regarding his servicing of machines, tracked by his unique log-in code, GPS records relating to company car use and CCTV footage from various locations.
Despite being suspended from his job, Ak used his log-in five more times to steal a total of $4770.
He deposited $276,410 into his own bank accounts, largely used to make payments on a home loan.
“It was often the case that deposits of cash coincided with cash discrepancies for machines,” the facts state.
Solicitor Raymond Zhai on Friday said Ak adhered to his guilty pleas entered in the local court in February.
He is due to be sentenced at Downing Centre District Court in July.
A Transport for NSW spokesman said it had “reviewed its processes to ensure ... [it is] continually demonstrating best practice in security measures” and “will continue to work closely with our vendor to ensure the necessary precautions and systems are in place to minimise future risk”.

AGL seals $2.7b wind power deal to help ‘orderly’ shift away from coal. Nick Toscano March 15, 2021

Belair line cyclists squeezed out as Keolis Downer enforces carriage limits. ABC Radio Adelaide. Malcolm Sutton. Monday 15 March 2021
A group of teenagers sit on their bikes on a railway station platform.
Friends wait for a train to take them back up the hill from Mitcham train station.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Mountain bikers awaiting a ride back into the Adelaide foothills have been blocked from trains, users have said, in an apparent crackdown on numbers by its newly privatised operator, Keolis Downer (KD).
Key points:
Adelaide's new passenger train operators have been enforcing a limit of four bikes per carriageway
The rule's enforcement has had a significant impact on the Mitcham Hills mountain bike circuit
Local MP Sam Duluk has backed calls for an extra bike-only carriage on weekends
The Mitcham Hills mountain bike circuit is popular with teenagers and schoolchildren, who ride the trails downhill from Belair before catching a train back up the hill to do it again.
The bikers, who also include adults, are on weekends the biggest user of the Belair railway line, where an equilibrium was found with its previous public operators that allowed them to stack their bikes on carriages with few passengers.
But teenagers Harry Bridgwood and Harry Comerford said on recent weekends when Mitcham station was "packed" with riders, they had not been allowed on the train.
"The train was basically empty and they still didn't let anyone on it," Mr Bridgwood said.
Mr Comerford believed it was due to "some rule" being enforced by the train's new operators.
"It's about trying to come out and have some fun with your mates, but they're stopping it," he said.
Petition launched
Mountain bike enthusiast Hayden McDonald said the past few weekends had seen a "crackdown", with only four bikes allowed onboard at time, leaving others to wait for two or three trains.
"When it was run by somebody else, there was a rule, but it wasn't heavily policed or cracked down on," he said.
"There was usually only a dozen, if that, passengers using it."
He has since launched a petition to "change the four bikes per carriage rule", that has amassed more than 1,600 signatures.
YOUTUBEA video blog demonstrating how the Belair line is used by mountain bikers
The Belair Line only runs twice an hour on weekends and public holidays when it usually ferries low numbers of passengers — until the cyclists get on at Mitcham or Lynton.
Passengers are allowed to bring their bikes onboard for free, except during peak hour commuter times on weekdays.
Keolis Downer controversially took over the running of Adelaide's trains and trams on January 31 after the state Liberal government privatised its operations — despite a pre-election promise that it "did not have a privatisation agenda".
Enforcement for 'safety'
KD Community Engagement officer Adam Smith told ABC Radio Adelaide there had always been a limit on bike numbers on carriages, but its enforcement now came down to the "discretion" of KD's Passenger Service Assistance staff members.
He said they were primarily concerned with "safety" and the ramifications of there being an "emergency or accident" and people having to exit a train quickly.
"The PSA have, on occasion, used their discretion to stop large amounts of bikes for safety reasons," Mr Smith said.
"If we have heaps of bikes, or too many bikes at a time on any one carriage, the safe exit of people will be slowed down."
He said KD wanted to strike a "balance" for all types of passengers.
A train runs alongside a bike path on an overcast day
The Belair line travels through the Mitcham Hills where there are numerous mixed use trails.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Mr McDonald said whenever he was on the train he reminded people not to block any exits with their bikes, but if safety was an issue, there needed to be "adaptation" rather than just kicking people off.
He said mountain bikers would be pushing for a bike-only carriage — a system used in many countries overseas.
MP backs bike-only carriage
Local Independent MP Sam Duluk said he was "disappointed" that riders were being told they could no longer "stack their bikes".
He said he would likely raise the issue in Parliament this week and wanted to work with KD and the Government to "ensure we can have as many kids riding the train service back up the hill".
"We know that Belair train line is always going to be well used by mountain bike participants, especially on a weekend," Mr Duluk said.
"If that means we should be modifying a carriage, for example, that's used on the weekend, then that's an option.
"We know that the front two carriages on the weekend are never packed to capacity so that means we need to look at modifying part of the fleet — that would be a sensible compromise."
A railway station with an arrow pointing the way towards Belair
Mitcham Railway Station can fill up with cyclists seeking a ride on sunny weekends.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Mr Smith said the concept of adding an extra carriage was outside his "remit" but KD wanted to encourage everybody to use the train, including cyclists.
He said it planned to meet with affected community members and have discussions to find "ideas for a way forward".

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