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Eyes of the world on Novo Rail Alliance Program


The eyes of the engineering world are on Novo Rail and its unique adaption of alliancing to deliver a $1 billion RailCorp program of essential rail infrastructure upgrades across the Sydney network.

With Australia regarded as world leaders in alliancing, Novo Rail has customised the delivery process to tailor it to the unique requirements of RailCorp – and is setting some new benchmarks along the way.

Rather than being a traditional engineering project Novo Rail is tackling a daunting metropolitan environment involving mass public transport and millions of passengers over a five year period.

Not only is the RailCorp program one of the largest alliancing projects undertaken in Australia but its operating environment raises a new level of complexity rarely seen.

For example, the Novo Rail contract consists of around 30 individual projects ranging from small traction supply upgrades to the full integration of complex signaling and communications systems.

Novo Rail comprises RailCorp partnering with three of Australia’s most respected engineering companies : O’Donnell Griffin, providing power and signaling expertise; O’Connell Wagner, the design skills; and Laing O’Rourke, the civil experience to build the project.

The Alliance structure has several unique elements that are a first for major construction projects and which take the alliancing model into new areas of management and accountability.

For example:

  1. The Alliance reports to a board that mirrors a company structure.
  2. All decisions made by the board must be unanimous.
  3. All contracts are independently audited.
  4. All partners are equal – there is no lead contractor.
  5. RailCorp, as both client and Alliance partner, has an equal vote with the other alliance partners.

ODG has adopted alliancing as its major business model due to its flexible nature and ability to tackle the major infrastructure programs on the drawing board for Australia in coming years.

Alliancing gives major infrastructure clients access to the scarce resources required to undertake a project of this scale as well as the ongoing multidisciplinary skills required.

The alliance is currently deep into the design and verification stage for the first projects to ensure that the program of works runs smoothly and is completely integrated before staff mobilisation is largely completed in mid 2009.

In a typical alliancing structure the budget has been set and the program team in place before the full scale of the program of projects is defined.

Novo Rail is currently in the early stages of working out the way forward and determining design solutions.

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