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Melrose Evolution passes Sydney Metro test

Melrose Cranes and Rigging has successfully deployed a new LTM 1500 for major lifts at Sydenham Station in Sydney.

Sydney Metro is Australia’s biggest public transport project. By 2024, Sydney will have 32 metro railway stations and a 66km standalone metro railway system – the biggest urban rail project in Australian history.

The NSW Government is delivering a $300 plus million contract for major railway work at Sydenham as part of Sydney Metro, including the upgrade of Sydenham Station. The Sydenham Metro Upgrade contract was awarded to John Holland Pty Ltd and Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd.

Melrose Cranes and Rigging deployed its newly arrived Liebherr LTM 1500-8.1 all terrain to lift into place major canopies for the new station. Senior project manager, Dave Weldon was responsible for the project.

“The project is called the SSJ which is the Sydenham Station upgrade. It’s a massive project with major works being carried out throughout the station including the aqueduct, there’s also a lot of rail infrastructure being changed, new signal systems, power lines being relocated, it would be one of the larger projects going around at the moment,” Weldon said.

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“To date, Melrose has managed the lifts relating to the station works which started about 18 months ago when the piling first started. Since then we’ve installed lift shafts and large precast panels and we’ve had various cranes involved for the different elements of the project.

The 500t was deployed over the Christmas period to lift a series of canopies into place. There were several major issues to be considered including the fact the crane would be operating directly under the flight path of Sydney Airport. Also, the station had to remain operational for trains which meant planning had to be meticulous with time frames incredibly tight.

Planning for the lifts began in mid 2019 when Weldon met with the SSJ team and came up with a plan to build the canopies in large modules. Initially, the design was for the canopies to be manufactured in six smaller modules and lifted into place. It was decided this would have been too time consuming and the time frames would not have been met. It was decided to construct the six small modules into one large module on site.

“There were a number of meetings involving the 3rd party engineer, Greg from Steel Fabrications and myself and it was decided that reinforcing and strengthening the structures was required before the finished products were certified and signed off.

“Our 400t crane went in first and completed the first lot of lifts for platform six. We did this first because they couldn’t get power out until the Christmas period when they shut down the whole Metro line. This happened about a week prior to the 500t going in,” he said.

As soon as the lifts for platform six were completed work started on building platforms four and five. The site was surveyed and marked out to ensure everything was in the right position to enable the 500t to set up. The minimum and maximum radiuses were all set out ready for the lifts.

“The 500t was floated in which made everything a lot easier for its first job. We reversed in and started setting up with a 130t assist crane which helped build it. Due to all the power lines and the location of the canopy modules, we couldn’t actually get the semi-trailers carrying the counterweights close enough to the crane so the 130t was there to help build it and put the fly on,” Weldon said.

“The boys then went home and got back to site on the night of Christmas Eve for the first big lift. The canopies had to be lifted in sequence with the northern most canopy first. We then worked our way south towards the existing station. The heaviest canopy section went over the lift shafts at a 35m radius and it weighed almost 25t. All up with the rigging it was a 29t lift which meant we were at 84 per cent capacity for a 35m radius.

“This was the first canopy lifted and the following canopies were closer and lighter. The lift plans illustrate how everything had to be built and positioned to suit the cranes minimum and maximum radius. As I’ve said, it was a very detailed planning process and it was a complex lift. Everything went really well the client was happy and Sydney Metro was happy,” he said.

The time frame was very tight due to the close proximity to the airport and because the crane was above the Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) for all of the lifts. The only time Melrose Cranes could lift was between 11pm and 5am the next day.

“There were also other works going on including upgrading of signals, so there were a lot of different crews all working in with each other. We worked Christmas Eve into Christmas morning for the first lift and the crew were then back on Boxing Day evening to complete the next lift, then back the night of December 27. In all, the lifts were completed within four nights,” Weldon said.

As this was the first job for the new crane and considering the complexity and timeframe constraints, Liebherr generously supplied a technician for the duration of the lifts.

“The Liebherr technician was there every night the crane operated. Talking to the operator, there were no issues whatsoever and the crane performed really well and to our expectations. We are very thankful to Liebherr for providing all parties ‘peace of mind’.

“I recently spoke to the senior engineer at SSJ about the project and asked him how he thought it went and what was important. He thought the major achievements were managing the lifts in the time frames between the airport and all the other works being carried out. He also thought the various parties coming together to get the canopies reengineered and certified to lift in one big piece was another achievement,” Weldon said.

According to Weldon, the lift would not have been possible without the Liebherr LTM1500 8.1.

“Without the 500t, that lift would not have been possible, and it getting it here involved very tight time frames for Liebherr and Melrose Cranes as well. The pressure was on from the time the crane was shipped from the UK to arriving in the country to getting it ready to our specification to be ready for this project,” he said.

“I thought everyone involved did an excellent job. Liebherr delivered on their promise to have the crane ready and our crew did an excellent job, there were no hiccups at all. The 500t puts us in the market for these bigger lifts. Everything is being built bigger and heavier. Bridge and precast components are modularised, constructed on the ground and lifted in one hit, meaning bigger cranes for heavier lifts are going to be required. The 500t opens up a whole lot more opportunity for Melrose Cranes as these major infrastructure projects come online,” Weldon said.

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