A new $2 billion Pacific Patrol Boat (PPB) Program unveiled on June 17th by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Australian Defence Minister David Johnston aims to significantly strengthen security in their region.Armidale-class patrol boat, illustration“The Pacific Patrol Boat Program is an important pillar of the Australian Government’s commitment to working with our regional partners to enable cohesive security cooperation on maritime surveillance, including in fisheries protection and transnational crime,” Minister Bishop said.“Defence will replace the current fleet of patrol boats for all current PPB members with the addition of a new member, Timor-Leste (East Timor), which has been invited to join the program, evidence of Australia’s growing defence cooperation program with that country,” said Senator Johnston.“The current fleet of 22 patrol boats gifted to 12 PacificIsland countries from 1987 to 1997 are now approaching their end of service life.”“This new program will involve the construction of more than 20 steel, all purpose patrol vessels that will considerably enhance the maritime security of our Pacific and regional partners,” he said, adding: “Australia has a fundamental strategic interest in the security and stability of Pacific island nations.”Senator Johnston said the rugged Australian-made patrol boats are worth $594 million with through life sustainment and personnel costs estimated at $1.38 billion over 30 years.In the coming months discussions will be held with PPB states on the individual allocation of patrol vessels.Replacement patrol boats will be offered to all current participating states including Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Cook Islands and new member Timor-Leste.Under the program, Defence will undertake an open tender for the procurement which includes an option for ongoing sustainment and crew training.[mappress]Press Release, June 19, 2014
JULY 20 will see the control of Liverpool’s 750 VDC suburban lines passed from the UK Strategic Rail Authority to the local Passenger Transport Executive, Merseytravel. On the same day the Merseyrail Services consortium of Serco and NedRailways will take over the operation of the Merseyrail Electrics franchise from Arriva Trains.Valued at £3·6bn, a new 25-year operating contract was signed on May 23, a month after Serco and NedRailways were named as preferred bidder (RG 5.03 p244). Break points have been agreed at seven years and then every five years. A key target is to improve the Public Performance Measure punctuality score from 92% to 93·5% within seven years.In conjunction with SRA and owner Angel Trains, a £32m project will see Merseyrail’s 59 Class 507 and 508 three-car EMUs overhauled and refurbished at Alstom’s Eastleigh works by December 2004. A new fleet of rolling stock will be developed over the next 10 years. By 2011 all 80 stations on the Merseyrail network will be disabled-accessible, compared with 40 today. A rolling programme will see 25 surface and five underground stations refurbished or rebuilt by 2006. Ticket gates will be fitted at Liverpool Central, Lime Street, Moorfields, James Street, Hamilton Square and Southport stations by early 2005.Merseytravel is considering the extension of electric services to Woodchurch on the Bidston – Wrexham line, on the Bootle branch, and to new stations at Stanley Park and Aintree.