Project management research paper

1)In your opinion, was the railway approach the best approach to have been selected?  Support your rationale using PV, NPV, IRR, B/C. (3 page)

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Australian Journal of Civil Engineering

ISSN: 1448-8353 (Print) 2204-2245 (Online) Journal homepage:

The Alice-Darwin railway: a feat of project management

Dick Lees

To cite this article: Dick Lees (2005) The Alice-Darwin railway: a feat of project management, Australian Journal of Civil Engineering, 2:1, 25-36, DOI: 10.1080/14488353.2005.11463916

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Published online: 22 Sep 2015.

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© Institue of Engineers, Australia 2005

Australian Journal of Civil Engineering, Vol 2, No 1.

technical paper

* Invited special focus paper accepted after review (April 2005)

The Alice-Darwin railway: a feat of project management*

Dick Lees General Manager, Special Projects, Kellogg Brown & Root Pty Ltd

Honorary Fellow, Institution of Engineers, Australia Fellow, Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

SUMMARY: This paper describes the project management of the 1420 kilometre Alice Springs to Darwin railway. The sponsor group included the Commonwealth, South Australian and Northern Territory Governments. The Asia Pacific Transport Consortium delivered the new line under a BOOT contract with the AustralAsia Railway Corporation. KBR invited the John Holland Group, Barclay Mowlem, Macmahon Holdings and Australian Railroad Group – all industry leaders – to join it in forming the Asia Pacific Transport Consortium. Funding was provided by both sponsor and deliverer under a BOOT structure.

Project managing the design and construction is outlined, including the whole of life approach, quality, procurement, cost control and industrial relations.


The 1420-kilometre Alice Springs – Darwin rail line completes the Adelaide to Darwin Railway, thereby connecting all mainland states with the north of Australia and creating a ‘landbridge’ to Asia. It is a visionary project that will open up trade opportunities within Australia and overseas, and foster the development of regional industries.

Asia Pacific Transport, a consortium led by Kellogg Brown & Root Pty Ltd (KBR), succeeded in delivering the line ahead of schedule, within budget, and with excellent safety, industrial relations and local industry participation records. This success can be attributed to the consortium’s management approach, which was characterised by excellent planning, commitment to innovation, and building good relations with stakeholders.

The Asia Pacific Transport Consortium delivered the new rail line under a BOOT (build, own, operate, transfer) contract with the AustralAsia Railway

Corporation, which represents the interests of the Commonwealth, South Australian and Northern Territory governments. Design and construction of the railway was contracted by Asia Pacific Transport to a design and construction joint venture (ADrail), and was completed in October 2003. Operations commenced in January 2004. FreightLink, the consortium’s operating company, will manage rail services for the first 50 years of the railway’s life. This includes maintaining and operating the Tarcoola – Alice Springs line and overseeing port terminal operations at Darwin’s East Arm Port.

The rail link will enable more efficient transport of goods between northern and southern Australia, and by reducing the time it takes for freight to reach Darwin, shipping to vital Asian markets will also be more cost-effective. The completed railway is opening up new opportunities for industries like mining, agriculture, aquaculture and tourism.

Constructed at a total cost of more than A$1.4 billion, this is one of the largest infrastructure developments ever undertaken in Australia. The construction project required 2 million sleepers (Fig 1), 8 million sleeper clips, 2.5 million tonnes of ballast (Fig 2), 2800




Australian Journal of Civil Engineering Vol 2, No 1.

“The Alice-Darwin railway: a feat of project management” – Lees 27

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