As recounted by Henrik Vocks, Manager for Technical Services, Australia. Areas of responsibility: Making consumer-oriented solutions in the group marketable in Australia; with the company since 2004.
My first experiences at Rhomberg Bahntechnik began after my studies in the Nuremberg-Ingolstadt project in 2004, after which I worked on the installation of the slab track in the Lötschberg Base Tunnel.
I remember the start of my work well and how surprised I was that everyone was addressing each other by their first name. I had colleagues my age and we would go skiing or mountain biking after work. In general, the culture of the construction site teams impressed me: We stood together on good days and on bad days. The site parties that were held after a construction phase was completed were legendary. When you celebrate with the customer and the contractor, you forget the differences of opinion you had during work. In 2011 I was working on the AlpTransit Brenner Tunnel when Hubert Rhomberg came to the construction site. He asked me what plans I had. “Talk to Garry Thuer,” he suggested. And this led to me being in Australia since the end of 2011.
Exchanging experiences proves to be a strength
Sersa as a machine-oriented organisation and Rhomberg as a project-oriented construction company have complemented each other well. What they both have in common is the vital exchange of experience and the openness to brainstorm ideas together in the projects. I have always valued the exchange of experience with Dominko Bilic when it came to the topic of the installation process of slab tracks in Australia or with Matthias Manhart in the machinefocused tunnel renovation projects for the Sydney Trains lines. During projects, their knowledge about the ongoing developments within the company or about the use of special machines was tremendously helpful. Platforms such as Share Point or MyNet that are used nowadays are useful, especially with continental time differences, but they cannot replace talking to an experienced colleague.
Success factors of RSRG Australia: Good work, good people, experience from Europe
Rhomberg Rail Australia is growing steadily. Factors which, in my view, are responsible for the success: good work, good people and support from the mother ship. By good work I mean that clients give us repeat business and also recommend us further. “Good people” is the term I would use to describe our track workers, for example. Especially in the Sydney team, there is a pleasant, familial atmosphere. Not only do they work well, they also know how to show their work to our clients. We have had clients who have explicitly said: “I do hope that we will have Tarka and his team on the construction site.”
Emotional highlights of the last 10 years
For starters, one of the highlights of the past ten years for me was the project in Adelaide in 2013 - in this case, the construction of a slab track under a bridge in Adelaide required very specialised equipment and knowledge. A further highlight was the beginning of the series of assignments for segments of the Sydney Metro in 2017, in parallel to the installation of the first slab track system IVES in Australia in the same year. When we were commissioned for the Sydney Metro Northwest line, the customer wanted us to establish up to five worksites. We flew in twelve tonnes of equipment to satisfy the customer’s requirements within the short commissioning period. After completion of the project, I knew: “If a tunnel with a slab track is being built in Sydney, we need to be part of that!” And it looks as if we did good work - another segment, the Sydney Metro City & Southwest, was subsequently assigned to us. Currently, we are also in the tender phase for the Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport (SMWSA) line.
The good thing is that we are constantly evolving: From the commission of the 800-metre slab track construction in Adelaide to the 2 x 23 kilometres of the Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport line with the track in a tunnel as well as earthworks and bridge sections. The challenges in the projects are increasing steadily; we are taking the desired steps to becoming a full-service provider as the Cross River Rail Brisbane project demonstrates.
The year 2032
The vision I have for 2032? The exchange with Europe is even stronger than today. There is mutual exchange between all colleagues and supervisors and thereby even more knowledge is brought into the organisation. I see a lively exchange between Europe, Australia and Canada. Communication between the sub-companies is continuous and the sites have a mixture of people from different countries. There is much to do in local public transport in Australia. We have kept it up to communicate with our colleagues directly, because this is crucial for our success and our character. We are some of the few that are real specialists in slab track construction. We have achieved this because we have always kept up with innovation and research. We are on our way to becoming a full-service provider in the areas of tunnel renovation and track construction. This is rewarding for us, as many tunnels in Sydney are more than 100 years old and it is necessary to commission specialists for the renovations.
A large, functional family
Trudy Schnyder, spouse of Konrad Schnyder and co-creator: “Today the Rhomberg Sersa Group is one large family that works.”
Successful because we have mastered complexity
Walter-Heinz Rhomberg, owner, Deputy Chairman of the Group Advisory Board: “The foundation for everything that is to succeed is mutual trust.”