In 2021, Egis is celebrating its second anniversary on the City Rail Link project in Auckland and is delighted to have supported the Link Alliance since the proposal stage back in 2019. But what exactly is the involvement of Egis? Why and how did Egis get involved in the project, and how is that benefiting the project?
The Auckland City Rail Link (CRL) is the largest rail infrastructure project in New Zealand. It will provide a 3.4 km underground rail connection from the existing Britomart Station to the North Auckland Rail Line near Mt Eden Station. Two new stations will be added in Aotea and Karangahape, while Mt Eden station will be reconfigured to include two platforms - one for the new CRL line and the other for the existing North Auckland Line.
The CRL is being delivered under an Alliance contract, awarded to the Link Alliance consortium.
Initially in charge of the design and construction of the infrastructures only, the consortium was then invited to bid for the underground rail system contract as the previous contractor went into administration.
As the project evolves, the civil Alliance became a large civil & system Alliance, inheriting a large part of the interfaces, integration and railway performance risks. That is when Egis was brought in by the Link Alliance to support the project.
Egis is more than just a design house or consultancy firm in rail - a real delivery mindset is in our DNA, coming from the Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) type of model very common in France (called “Maitrise d’oeuvre”). On many transit projects in France, Egis represents the client throughout the whole value chain of the project: delivering the studies and preparing tender designs, assisting the client in procuring the contractors, supervising the installation and construction, managing the interfaces and integration between contractors and supervising the testing & commissioning until full acceptance and opening to revenue service. By law in France, the EPCM type of contract is a lump-sum contract that incorporates budget and schedule risks. Therefore, Egis puts in place strong project management processes to manage these contracts, sometimes spanning over a decade, to ensure its projects are delivered on time and on budget.
This ability to manage complex rail projects from start to end on time and on budget, and to integrate civil and system contractors, makes Egis a candidate of choice to join multi-contractor railway projects as an Integration Partner.
On the CRL project, Egis brought in several railway project managers and engineers during the bid stage to assist the consortium in the integration methodology, organisation of the project and the delivery planning. Since the project was awarded, Egis further strengthened its support to the Link Alliance by providing senior rail specialists in the field of Safety Assurance, Signalling, Interface Management, Integration, and Telecommunication systems.
Ludovic Evrard, an Egis System Assurance Manager who is in charge of managing the System Assurance team is bringing his experience on several metro projects in Europe and Asia. “My role consists in managing an experienced team covering notably Safety, RAM and Human Factors, to ensure the project delivered is acceptably safe for its operation and maintenance” says Ludovic. “It’s exciting to work on the largest transport infrastructure project ever for New Zealand. System Safety is an absolute priority and a prime objective of the Link Alliance to allow the project to operate safely, no details can be left aside, we are continuously under the spotlight”.
Egis is also managing the signalling contractor, Siemens. Julien Charnay, Signalling Project Manager from Egis who has more than 20 years of metro and railway project experience across Asia, the Middle East and in Europe explains that “signalling is always a critical asset for a rail project, as it’s driving a lot of safety issues, notably now that everything gets more digital, and is interfaced to many other assets. Even if the technology employed is well known (European Train Control System) it is more rarely used with such a high level of service requirement that we usually see with metro systems. It’s a first in New Zealand and that’s an exciting challenge”.
Lyouben Damianov, an Egis Telecommunication specialist, also feels excited to be involved in the project. “Working for an Alliance is a first for me, and it’s a really different experience from any other projects. Contractors, designers and client are all working collaboratively with one single shared objective”.
Interfaces between work packages are always driving important risks in railway projects, and therefore need to be cautiously monitored. Joseph Delgado, one of the Egis Interface Managers on the project, who also worked on a similar role on four previous metro projects, comments, “Interface Management isn’t only supporting collaborative working between design houses, it’s also identifying the risks driven by potential trade-offs. The experience of previous projects is therefore essential. Interface Management requires also some rigour and processes that are not necessarily de facto obvious in the collaborative spirit of an Alliance.”
In the past few months, Egis has mobilised more resources to strengthen its delivery team, notably an experienced RAM engineer and another Interface Manager bringing experiences of metro systems both in France and the Middle East.
“Our experience acquired in EPCM projects has now been recognised by the private sector and final client as an asset to de-risk a project. There is real value to bring Egis’ in-house teams with our tools and processes rather than bringing individuals and implementing ad-hoc management systems. We have the capacity and experience to mobilise much larger teams and to be involved as a partner in consortia leading the development of complex metro projects. Our acquisition of the Australian consultancy firm Indec will accelerate our deployment in the region, to become a credible partner to all our clients Down Under and will allow us to take stronger positions on projects”, commented Benoit Bergeron, Rail director in Australia and New Zealand.
The involvement of Egis on the City Rail Link is an example showing that the experience acquired as EPCM client-side can be tailored precisely to the needs of a consortium formed of multi-disciplinary contractors who are often looking for a partner to support the difficult task of integration.