Rail Revival Study: Geelong - Ballarat - Bendigo

 
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Does there a jungle or could common sense prevail? Surely the VGR drivers are not colourblind?

Regards
Brian

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  D3621 Locomotive Driver

Location: Castlemaine Vic
Yes it would be much much cheaper to place the point motors considerably cheaper... I haven't heard anything about the repairing and opening of the line at the moment, I will check and get back to you about the re-building as soon as I hear anything.

cheers Adisson 
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
Does there a jungle or could common sense prevail? Surely the VGR drivers are not colourblind?

Regards
Brian
"bevans"
It's more than being able to differentiate between red and green, bevans.

It's a main line; therefore there are standards that rollingstock needs to meet.  While the line toward Maryborough is booked out of service, this means that it has to be interlocked with the main Bendigo line at Castlemaine, and would require a greater level of accreditation, whether you like it or not.
  ozfreight Chief Train Controller

Location: hawthorn 3122
If the Castlemaine - Maryborough section was to reopen what would happen to VGR? (I live in Castlemaine not too far from the Mborough Maldon turn out).
The line seems in poor condition around Guildford-Newstead and I think it has been damaged by flooding, so I think it would need a lot of work to reinstate
Colonial boy
i would not worry too much about vgr. An article in the Herald Sun today announced that the $2 million study into the the reopening of the Geelong/Ballarat/Castlemaine/Bendigo found that it would cost up to $937 millions to upgrade the line and a further $17 millions a year to operate.Operating returns at around 10 cents in the dollar.No mention of loco and rollingstock requirements.
Was a dog from day one.

edward
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Full report here: http://ptv.vic.gov.au/projects/rail-projects/rail-revival-study-geelong-ballarat-bendigo/rail-revival-project-feasibility-summary-report/
In other words, straight to the 'too hard, too expensive' basket.

Some interesting findings:
Ballarat - Geelong capital expense: $250-320 million (seems very expensive)
Maryborough - Castlemaine capital expense (basically a rebuild): $230-290 million (sounds realistic)
Re-duplicating Castlemaine - Ravenswood (12km worth): $210-220 million (you've got to be joking!)

Going to do some reading of the detailed sections of the report...
  Dd893 Train Controller

Location: Castlemaine
ABC local Radio had the story on this report at lunchtime today.
I've just gone back 14 pages looking for this thread only to give up and go back to page 1 where it has already been updated.
Well it looks like the Guildford & Newstead residents will get their bike path from Castlemaine. I have heard stories that Mount Alexander Shire has over $800,000 budgeted to build a rail trail, via a State Government grant.

The following is taken from a report by the Mount Alexander Shire - Walking & Cycling Strategy 2010-2020.
5.1.3 rail trails
Existing informal trails along the Maldon to Castlemaine and Newstead to Castlemaine railways
could be improved and opened to walkers and cyclists creating off-road, inter-town access. These
Secondary Trail Routes would service keen cyclist commuters as well as be very attractive for
recreational walkers and cyclists.
If these two trails were completed, a quality offroad trail between Maldon and Newstead should
be explored and established to create a loop that
could be a great tourism drawcard for the area.
Some funding for rail trails is available through the
Victorian Cycling Strategy.
Any rail-based trails should not be made at the
expense of future rail options, which are of great
potential to walkers and cyclists. (see 5 ‘Integrating
with Public Transport’)



Cheers, Murray
  Simbera Train Controller

Full report here: http://ptv.vic.gov.au/projects/rail-projects/rail-revival-study-geelong-ballarat-bendigo/rail-revival-project-feasibility-summary-report/
In other words, straight to the 'too hard, too expensive' basket.

Some interesting findings:
Ballarat - Geelong capital expense: $250-320 million (seems very expensive)
Maryborough - Castlemaine capital expense (basically a rebuild): $230-290 million (sounds realistic)
Re-duplicating Castlemaine - Ravenswood (12km worth): $210-220 million (you've got to be joking!)

Going to do some reading of the detailed sections of the report...
Carnot

I agree, the Geelong-Ballarat capital expense does seem a bit high. But then, there are several bits which shouldn't really be within the scope of the project - for example the reinstatement of the Warrenheip Junction is a cheap measure that really needs to be done now anyway, for the Ballarat-Melbourne services, and I'm thinking several of the interim stations shouldn't be reactivated at all (Bell Post Hill station will similarly hike up the overall price for minimal reward).

I've only read the short version though, I'll have to check out the long version to see if they give some better details.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

It looks like a significant issue with re-duplicating Castlemaine to Big Hill is the cost of building new bridges.  Some of the old bridges/overpasses can cope with double track, but some cannot.  The classic clanger has to be that another new bridge would have to be built over the Calder Freeway at Harcourt, right alongside the one that was built just a few years ago!
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Reading the report, it does seem they are costing a "gold plated" standard of lines and facilities. It's reminiscent of new suburban stations costing $20 milion plus when the locals would be happy with a basic platform with a bus shelter on it, which would cost less than 1% of the gold plated suburban stations they are building at places like Williams Landing.

Looking at it on a section by section basis.

Geelong - Ballarat. The track is almost ready for a 110 kmh service, but there are capacity constraints east of Gerrihghap. If this can be overcome, a service could be run without the need to evict the tenants of the old station buildings, all that is needed is a 30 metre section of usable platform for sprinters to stop at with a bus shelter for wet weather and possibly another passing loop at Lethbridge.

Ballarat - Maryborough. The report rabbits on about easing curves etc. By all means do this if there's spare money lying about, but really, they can just run it with track and stations the way they are now with the only real spending required being to reconnect the Tourello passing loop.

Maryborough - Castlemaine. Lots of work needed on the track. Hard to justify it for passenger trains, so unless it could be used a fair bit by freight trains, the expense can't be justified. Sad

Castlemaine - Bendigo. Almost no spare capacity, but restoring more sections of dual track would benefit all services on this heavily used section, so only a small portion of the cost should be allocated to local passenger train costings.

So the report shows there is genuine potential, provided the bureaucrats can resist the temptation to gold plate everything. In other words, be restrained and go for modest affordable solutions to maximise "bang for their buck". However I'm not confident that transport bureaucrats who appear to specialise in lavish over spending are capable of being thrifty?
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Maryborough - Castlemaine. Lots of work needed on the track. Hard to justify it for passenger trains, so unless it could be used a fair bit by freight trains, the expense can't be justified. Sad
Bogong
It makes me wonder if it would make more sense to have a Bendigo-Maryborough service run via Dunolly, Inglewood, & Marong.  The Inglewood-Maryborough section isn't too bad (although DG section is limited to 80 km/h running), and it would mean the Inglewood-Bendigo line would re-open and take freight away from the crowded Bendigo-Melbourne line.  Huge housing developments between Marong and Maiden Gully that are about to commence could provide further impetus for a station along that line.
  Blinkey Junior Train Controller

It is interesting that the costs quoted to redo this section of track is nearly twice as high as the accepted industry stabdard for building a completely new new line which includes land acquisition etc. The two major bridges are in reasonable condition. And the $220M for  the Bendigo section is right over the top.


I remember when the original price for the Maryborough service was quoted at $50M and the actual cost came in at $19.8M.  That level of inaccuracy is pretty disturbing
  Carnot Minister for Railways

It is interesting that the costs quoted to redo this section of track is nearly twice as high as the accepted industry stabdard for building a completely new new line which includes land acquisition etc. The two major bridges are in reasonable condition. And the $220M for  the Bendigo section is right over the top.


I remember when the original price for the Maryborough service was quoted at $50M and the actual cost came in at $19.8M.  That level of inaccuracy is pretty disturbing
Blinkey
The Dept is probably too over-cautious now after the cost blowouts on RFR.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Good point Blinkey, but how much did it cost to extend the suburban service by just one station to South Morang? Am I right in remembering it was a mind boggling sum of around $500,000,000 for 1.5 km of track and one new station? Shocked

Okay they gold plated it as much as possible by rebuilding Epping station and duplicating the track a station or two back towards the city as well, but most of that wasn't really necessary. That price shows just how much money bureaucrats can throw away when they are not kept on a very short financial leash.

As I implied in my other post, almost every part of the project could be done to a quite good standard (such as 110 kmh speeds rather than 160 kmh between Castlemaine and Maryborough for a fraction of what they suggest, IF the specs are pared back and contractors, tenderers, etc are encouraged to suggest further economies.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
The Dept is probably too over-cautious now after the cost blowouts on RFR.
Carnot

Perhaps they are just plain incompetent?
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
It's a classic example of produce a report to suit the desired outcome. ie: make everything gold plated and ridiculously expensive so the pollies can then turn around and say it's all too expensive.

The Geelong to Ballarat line is already in reasonable condition, so why not think outside the box a little bit and do it this way. Do some sleeper replacement to bring the line up to 100km/h standard for loco hauled passenger trains and run a morning up and evening down to Ballarat via North Geelong using one of the loco hauled sets that normally goes to South Geelong (replace that with a Vlocity). Timetable it to suit people who live in Ballarat who may need to commute to Geelong for the day.

If there is genuine demand shown by this, then go to the expense of upgrading the line to suit vlocity operation and more frequent services with improved level crossings and better signalling, along with opening intermediate stations.

As for Ballarat to Maryborugh, just re-instate Tourello Loop and possibly Sulky or Talbot. Why do anything else at this stage? With the improvements already done to the crossings, the line is good for 100km/h.

For Maryborough to Castlemaine to work, I think Castlemaine to Bendigo needs to be duplicated first. I think with the Bendigo line already at capacity, some duplication will occur at some point regardless of what happens west of Castlemaine. If structure clearances are an issue, why not simply revert it to 130km/h running north of Castlemaine to allow for double track. With 160km/h permitted south of there, you really wouldn't lose that much time on the overall route, but have significantly improved capacity.

Once the Castlemaine to Bendigo line is double track with extra capcity, this also makes the Castlemaine to Maryborough line a viable option for freight, especially grain off the Piangil and Deniliquin lines accessing Geelong, which in turn provides a much better return on investment for any money spent by the government on re-opening the line. As for high speed running, forget it on this route and just concentrate on a relliable service.
  Blinkey Junior Train Controller

Good point Blinkey, but how much did it cost to extend the suburban service by just one station to South Morang? Am I right in remembering it was a mind boggling sum of around $500,000,000 for 1.5 km of track and one new station? Shocked

Okay they gold plated it as much as possible by rebuilding Epping station and duplicating the track a station or two back towards the city as well, but most of that wasn't really necessary. That price shows just how much money bureaucrats can throw away when they are not kept on a very short financial leash.

As I implied in my other post, almost every part of the project could be done to a quite good standard (such as 110 kmh speeds rather than 160 kmh between Castlemaine and Maryborough for a fraction of what they suggest, IF the specs are pared back and contractors, tenderers, etc are encouraged to suggest further economies.
Bogong
I agree with all of that. As for the Sth Morang, there was about 1/3 of the total budget that went to roadowrks and another significant slice went to upgrading on the  existing Epping line (it was probably much needed) but  it does make the whole project  quite daunting and it is so often used as a first line excuse to do nothing from a do nothing Department
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I was told over $150m was taken up imn project management fees for Victrack.  That project was way way inflated in terms of price and this was coming from people who were working on the project.
  Blinkey Junior Train Controller

I was told over $150m was taken up imn project management fees for Victrack.  That project was way way inflated in terms of price and this was coming from people who were working on the project.
bevans
I find that absolutely believable
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
I have a question about the Big Hill tunnel. The report says it isn't wide enough for dual tracks (although it had dual tracks for almost 150 years). So the appendices show a route for a proposed second tunnel to the east. Realistically, this new tunnel would cost so much that it will never be built.

I assume the report says that the existing tunnel isn't wide enough because a bigger clearance is needed between trains travelling at 160 kmh. Fair enough. But couldn't a second track in the tunnel be reinstated and the old 110 kmh speed limit be imposed, just for the 300 metre length of the tunnel with the speed reverting to 160 kmh on either side of the tunnel? Since it's at the top of a hill, I doubt many Velocity sets travel through it at 160 kmh anyway.

Now I'm not an engineer, so this may be a naive post, but if they reverted to dual tracks through the tunnel with a 110 kmh speed limit, I suspect the service would be more reliable, (and convenient for both passengers and freight operators), than keeping it as a high speed single track bottleneck?
  Blinkey Junior Train Controller

I have a question about the Big Hill tunnel. The report says it isn't wide enough for dual tracks (although it had dual tracks for almost 150 years). So the appendices show a route for a proposed second tunnel to the east. Realistically, this new tunnel would cost so much that it will never be built.

I assume the report says that the existing tunnel isn't wide enough because a bigger clearance is needed between trains travelling at 160 kmh. Fair enough. But couldn't a second track in the tunnel be reinstated and the old 110 kmh speed limit be imposed, just for the 300 metre length of the tunnel with the speed reverting to 160 kmh on either side of the tunnel? Since it's at the top of a hill, I doubt many Velocity sets travel through it at 160 kmh anyway.

Now I'm not an engineer, so this may be a naive post, but if they reverted to dual tracks through the tunnel with a 110 kmh speed limit, I suspect the service would be more reliable, (and convenient for both passengers and freight operators), than keeping it as a high speed single track bottleneck?
Bogong
You would imagine so
  Carnot Minister for Railways

I have a question about the Big Hill tunnel. The report says it isn't wide enough for dual tracks (although it had dual tracks for almost 150 years). So the appendices show a route for a proposed second tunnel to the east. Realistically, this new tunnel would cost so much that it will never be built.

I assume the report says that the existing tunnel isn't wide enough because a bigger clearance is needed between trains travelling at 160 kmh. Fair enough. But couldn't a second track in the tunnel be reinstated and the old 110 kmh speed limit be imposed, just for the 300 metre length of the tunnel with the speed reverting to 160 kmh on either side of the tunnel? Since it's at the top of a hill, I doubt many Velocity sets travel through it at 160 kmh anyway.

Now I'm not an engineer, so this may be a naive post, but if they reverted to dual tracks through the tunnel with a 110 kmh speed limit, I suspect the service would be more reliable, (and convenient for both passengers and freight operators), than keeping it as a high speed single track bottleneck?
Bogong
Big Hill and Elphinstone tunnels both have 130 Km/h speed limit.
http://www.vline.com.au/pdf/networkaccess/trainoperatingdata/southerncross_to_bendigo.pdf

Between Bendigo and Castlemaine, 160 km/h is limited to:
1) The single line between Kangaroo Flat and just North of the tunnel (5.4 km)
2) The west line South of the Tunnel to Porcipine Hill (13.1 km)
  jdekorte Deputy Commissioner

Location: Near Caulfield Station
I agree with all of that. As for the Sth Morang, there was about 1/3 of the total budget that went to roadowrks and another significant slice went to upgrading on the  existing Epping line (it was probably much needed) but  it does make the whole project  quite daunting and it is so often used as a first line excuse to do nothing from a do nothing Department
Blinkey
Off topic, but that $500 million that you said for Sth Morang wasn't just for that project, but was allocated to a whole package of works along the Sth Morang and Hurstbridge lines - some of those projects are still progressing.  Some of the projects included:
- The Clifton Hill to Westgarth duplication
- Signalling upgrades along both lines
- Keon Park - Epping duplication
- The extension to Sth Morang
- Eltham stabling siding upgrades
- Signalling upgrades between Greensborough & Hurstbridge
- Overhead power upgrades on both lines.

I haven't read the report relating to this thread topic but I am reading the posts with interest.  I can't form an opinion at this stage given my lack of knowledge on the lines.
  Simbera Train Controller

Having read the reports (skimming over the unimportant bits) I can now say: yeah, definitely gold-plated.  You've got things like DDA compliance on the footbridges at Geelong and Ballarat, which depending on your perspective either need to be done ASAP anyway, or don't really need to be done at all - this new service wouldn't change anything about that equation.  You've got things like reinstating the Warrenheip Junction, which absolutely needs doing for Melbourne services anyway and should not be considered part of the project. You've got basically the whole Castlemaine-Bendigo section, which again is already necessary and, while the project really shouldn't proceed without it, shouldn't add to its cost burden when it comes to cost-benefit.

Mostly, though, what seems to be driving up the cost the most is the unnecessary stations.  I can't seem to find a cost breakdown that shows how they got their figure, but it seems to me the reason the Geelong-Ballarat corridor is so expensive relative to the others, when the track is already in relatively good condition, is the stations.  They want to build a new one at Bell Post Hill and reactivate Bannockburn, Lethbridge, Meredith and Lal Lal - five stations for a region that requires maybe two.  I can see Bannockburn working out - it's 3500 people, smaller than Ararat or Maryborough but bigger than Beaufort, and it is apparently becoming kind of a dormitory suburb of Geelong.  Seems like there is scope for a decent amount of traffic that will grow rapidly - fair enough.  The rest, though?  I don't think so.  Lethbridge and Lal Lal have less than 600 people each in the entire town - what percentage of them are going to use the train every day?  Ridiculous to spend the money reactivating them, but that's probably the point - deliberately drive the costs up so they can say no. Meredith may be worth pursuing a few years later, since it's a little bigger and a reasonable middle point (so it can be the collection point for the larger surrounding area), but not yet.

I also don't think Bell Post Hill is a worthwhile addition in the beginning (although by all means reserve land for it) because it's not going to attract enough new patrons to justify the expense. People will just go to one of the other Geelong stations.  But it's a shame because I think it's the best-looking new station I've ever seen, judging by the concept drawings. It takes cues from Geelong station's brickwork, and it gives it a classic feel whilst remaining quite modern.

I'm hunting down more specific figures (what the costings were for reinstating loops, reactivating individual stations, building Bell Post Hill, etc) now, so hopefully I can figure this out more precisely. But it seems to me a scaled-back Geelong-Ballarat service might be justified, the rest flatly isn't (although as I said Castlemaine-Bendigo needs to happen regardless).
  xxxxlbear Token Booking Clerk

Location: Geelong
I am sure they do.Let them pay  for it if it's such a good idea.
Would hate to see the poor driver of the mini bus carting the elusive customers between Geelong and  Ballarat loose his job

Edward
ozfreight

For your information, Geelong  Ballarat coach services are 4 (3 Mon-Fri + and extra service on Fri)  services both ways on weekdays, 3 on Saturdays, and 2 on Sundays. And on the services that I have travelled on, the coaches (~50 seaters) have been pretty much full (standing room on a few occasions) when leaving Geelong and indeed Ballarat.
I suggest that take a trip on the coach before making such grandiose statements about the size of the coach (or in your terms a mini bus), or the number of passengers.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
So this could be yet another case of the PTV throwing in everything else they want and hoping this project will pay for it.  Why does the Castlemaine to Bendigo section need to be done?  Why not change trains at Castlemaine?

Regards
Brian

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