Rail Revival Study: Geelong - Ballarat - Bendigo

 
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

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
bevans
Precisely.  There is no need to run extra services between Castlemaine and Bendigo.  Terminating the service from Geelong at Castlemaine would enable the seats on the Melbourne - Bendigo train that were vacated in the Sunbury to Kyneton section to be reused.  That would be efficient.

At the same time, the Ballarat - Maryborough service ought to be incorporated into a Castlemaine - Geelong service.

I don't see the whole thing as being viable but, if it is, a simple service would be the best way to test it, rather than the spend millions first way.

Maybe extending the Maryborough to Ballarat service through to Geelong would be a very inexpensive way to start.

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  Carnot Minister for Railways

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
bevans
Because at present just about every second train has to wait in the Ravenswood loop for a crossover....
  woodford Chief Commissioner

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
bevans
I am sure VRfan has the correct answer, that is the government set up the terms of the enquiry to ensure it got the answer it wanted. The current governments actions all appear to indicate they have little interest in public transport.

Its possible that PTV along with VLine jacked up the costings to ensure they would not be lumbered with running a service that would have no extra funding or resources to run.

woodford
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
These guys are trying to eat an elephant. Why would you not start by commissioning a Geelong - Ballarat - Maryborough Service??
  Carnot Minister for Railways

These guys are trying to eat an elephant. Why would you not start by commissioning a Geelong - Ballarat - Maryborough Service??
bevans
Totally agree.  The same could be said about getting a Tullamarine Airport link built before Metro tunnel.  Anything is better than nothing at all....
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
given the growth in vline patronage, I would have thought a second service to Marybourough would have been useful and also capturing the Geelong market.  Fix up the railway stations on the line between Ballarat Gheringhap and add back the junction at Warrenheip  which should never have been removed in the first place?

The question is how many passenger services/trains per day could you expect to run between ballarat and geelong to make it work for the travelling public?
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
Because at present just about every second train has to wait in the Ravenswood loop for a crossover....
Carnot

This is why it shouldn't be included in this plan. It's something which sooner or later is needed on the Bendigo line *regardless* of whether trains are returned to Maryborough or not.
  RatholeTunnel Locomotive Driver

Location: Sydney Area
Won't most pax be on the dole or pension, the losses would be huge.
  xxxxlbear Token Booking Clerk

Location: Geelong
Won't most pax be on the dole or pension, the losses would be huge.
RatholeTunnel

Not necessarily Confused
  Calgully Deputy Commissioner

Location:
Won't most pax be on the dole or pension, the losses would be huge.
RatholeTunnel

Ten or fifteen years ago that might have been true.

Patronage mix on Vline has change a LOT over recent years.

Normal people now travel by train in country Victoria - encouraged by growing commuter patronage and much more convenient access to football matches at Docklands stadium right next to Southern Cross station.  Faster and more frequent services, new trains, increasingly dire road congestion and high parking fees in Melbourne city have to some extent levelled the playing field for rail travel compared to road.
  dean65 Locomotive Driver

Location: Ballarat
There was rail connection between Ballarat and Bendigo via Maryborough and Castlemaine, with the advantage of also linking up those two
sizeable towns. Most of it is still there and it would not cost an astronomical amount to restore it for V-line DMU running as for the Ararat train.

Similarly for Ballarat and Geelong. The track was built double all the way, as it still is up the hill out of Ballarat to the junction. All Sunday
'Overlands' from Adelaide to Melbourne went via Geelong instead of Bacchus Marsh in my early years of living in Melbourne, though the line
had been singled. It too could be restored to double track without too much expense.

The hired cretins can't build a simple station or a couple of miles of track for less than $1000 billion these days. We need a reversion to
professionals running a restored VR. The same for other states.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
I agree with Dean that rail infrastructure costs have blown out to an absurd degree and must be reigned in. (Why does it cost 100 times more to build a railway station than an ordinary house?) I suspect the absurd over specification of rail infrastructure is the main reason. For example, if Williams Landing station had been specified to only have a raised platform, with a bitumen sealed surface 1.5 metres back from the edge with a large shelter shed, I suspect it could have been built for under a million, leaving plenty of money to build stations at places like Caroline Springs which have been deferred because the state government is almost broke and doesn't have any more money to spare. Surely having 5 simple stations with a bucket of money left over for other projects is better than having just one gold plated station?

. . --oo0oo-- . .

But if over specifying, over engineering and generally gold plating everything is the main problem, reverting back to the bad old days of Victorian Railways, an inefficient government owned monopoly, isn't the answer. The VR may have been relatively economical when building infrastructure, but it's operations were a disaster. People under 40 may not remember, but it was inefficient and overstaffed, it's standard of service was woeful.

VR freight operations were a joke. As an example, Ford built it's factories on railway lines so they could run trains carrying components between them. But there were constant , regular and unexplained delays, and VR staff regularly stole things from the freight cars running between the two factories. The response from VR management to complaints from Ford could be summarised as "suck it up Princess". Well Ford refused to suck it up, cancelled their contracts with VR and started running trucks between their plants. While this was nominally more expensive, the trucks always arrived and there was never any theft. So Ford came out in front. There are dozens of similar stories.

If anything, passenger operations were even worse. Trains ran (or didn't run) without any regard to published timetables. Staff who had contact with the public had a bored demeanour and wouldn't do anything to help people. I remember when I was a kid being stuck at the old Sydenham station for 4 hours when an antique train broke down and no one hired buses to move the passengers. Things started to slowly change in the early 90's, but I remember what a radical change West Coast Railway was. Conductors actually answered customers questions and stopped yobs harassing normal passengers. Despite the WCR's antique rolling stock and engines, they were well maintained, almost never broke down and most radical of all, the carriages were... clean!

Reverting to the shockingly bad days of a VR monopoly would be a disaster for all users of railway services. It was lazy, over staffed, had appalling service standards and I don't think I'm being too harsh if I say that it was rotten to the core. *rant ends*
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I guess the study only was based on broad gauge !
If the Gheringhap the Yelta line was converted to standard gauge, things change a bit.

Could the West line between Geelong Station and North Geelong Station be converted to dual gauge ?

The North Geelong (Thompson Road) to Gheringhap would be very much simplified.

The Warrenheip to Ballarat Yard could have the South track converted to dual gauge, a cross over at Warrenheip giving trains from Sunshine access to the South track (though a 80 km/h speed limit would apply)
The North Track would stay broad gauge (given there Is a crossing loop at Warrenheip)

Ballarat North to Ararat should go to standard gauge, but the the South track between Ballarat North and Wendouree should stay broad gauge and terminate at a second platform at Wendouree, to be used by passenger trains from Melbourne.

Maryborough would very much be simplified, Maryborough Moolort line could be converted to SG for grain and ballast (If there Is a market)

Everything North of Dunolly would be SG
  Simbera Train Controller

I guess the study only was based on broad gauge !
If the Gheringhap the Yelta line was converted to standard gauge, things change a bit.

Could the West line between Geelong Station and North Geelong Station be converted to dual gauge ?

The North Geelong (Thompson Road) to Gheringhap would be very much simplified.

The Warrenheip to Ballarat Yard could have the South track converted to dual gauge, a cross over at Warrenheip giving trains from Sunshine access to the South track (though a 80 km/h speed limit would apply)
The North Track would stay broad gauge (given there Is a crossing loop at Warrenheip)

Ballarat North to Ararat should go to standard gauge, but the the South track between Ballarat North and Wendouree should stay broad gauge and terminate at a second platform at Wendouree, to be used by passenger trains from Melbourne.

Maryborough would very much be simplified, Maryborough Moolort line could be converted to SG for grain and ballast (If there Is a market)

Everything North of Dunolly would be SG
Nightfire

I agree with pretty much everything you've said there, except I'd suggest that instead of building a second platform at Wendouree (which would cost a lot and is not justified by patronage) it would be better to merge the South BG and North SG lines into a single DG line just before Gillies St, so trains of both gauges could use the existing platform.

Of course, the thing is, this project would cost a lot of money and we can't even get a BG passenger service, so it's pretty pie-in-the-sky at this stage.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I agree with pretty much everything you've said there, except I'd suggest that instead of building a second platform at Wendouree (which would cost a lot and is not justified by patronage) it would be better to merge the South BG and North SG lines into a single DG line just before Gillies St, so trains of both gauges could use the existing platform.

"Simbera"

Yes that's a do-able Idea, then again the existing track could be dual gauge (80 km/h BG limit wouldn't harm travel times) a BG refuge siding on the down of Wendouree would keep local terminating trains clear of the mainline for other (re-connected Western line) traffic.
  feralmet Station Master

Location: Carisbrook 3464, Vic
I am surprised that the link to the excellent article in The Maryborough Advertiser has not been posted to this thread.  Allow me.....

http://www.maryboroughadvertiser.com.au/wordpress/?p=7688

Inflated Budget Hits Rail Project


Unrealistics expectations and costings will “kill” the proposed rail link between Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.

The recently released Rail Revival Study, is visionary in concept but unrealistic in terms of project delivery, according to Carisbrook resident Noel Laidlaw.

Mr Laidlaw said that in its current form, this proposal was destined to fail due to its unrealistic price tag.

A mining engineer with more than 35 years experience in both public service and industry, Mr Laidlaw said that the authors of the report needed a serious reality check in suggesting the plan.

The proposal of spending up to $935 million was marred with inflated costs, poor perception of community expectations and a lack of understanding of governments financial limitations, he said.

“I have been involved in a lot of projects moving millions of tonnes of earth, built roads, plants and infrastructure,” Mr Laidlaw said.

“I have dealt with contractors and consultants yet I doubt that I have ever seen a project with such fine intentions marred by such an unrealistic report.”

Mr Laidlaw said that in its current form, this proposal was destined to fail due to its unrealistic price tag.

He said that a more modest proposal would be well within the means of the State Government and would still provide an excellent rail service for the half a million residents living along the route.

Mr Laidlaw said that he had a number of specific criticisms of what has been proposed.

Firstly, although a price tag of $935 million was attached to the overall proposal, there was no specific costing on the project.

While some individual components of the project were costed, such as bridge repairs, drainage works, or level crossings, there was not real attempt to justify the overall figure that had been suggested.

“And those that were costed seemed to be highly inflated. Without a detailed explanation of the total costing, the $935 million is meaningless.”

Secondly, many of the very large ticket items in this proposal have been on V/Line’s “wish list” for some time and have been included in the Rail Revival proposal.

“The duplication of the rail line to Harcourt, and the reopening of the Harcourt station and the new crossover works at Warrenheip outside Ballarat will happen irrespective of whether this plan is implemented or not,” Mr Laidlaw said.

“These essential works have been added to the Rail Revival proposal and by adding so much to the project cost may mean that the whole project will never see light of day.”

He said the study envisages the rebuilding of a number of heritage stations along the line, rather than, as was done in the reopening of the Maryborough-Ballarat line, to construct a fairly adequate platform and shelter for the use of passengers.

“This would save many millions on the project.

“Similarly, a number of station locations are highly questionable as they really don’t have the population to justify the station.

“The reduction of the number of stations would have the additional effect of speeding up the service with fewer stops,” Mr Laidlaw said.

His final criticism of the study is that it has set as a benchmark, the goal of a 160km/h passenger service.

“This in itself is quite creditable but unrealistic,” Mr Laidlaw said.

“Much of the report is devoted to bringing the track up to 160km/h standard and in doing so vastly escalates the overall costs.

“The work required to improve rail track from 100km/h to 160km/h can mean up to doubling of the cost with additional works such as curve straightening, additional bed, heavier track, curve canting and the like.

“As a long term resident of central Victoria, I am firmly of the belief that a more modest passenger service would well and truly meet the needs of the residents living along the line,” Mr Laidlaw said.

“It will give enhanced access to work, education, health services and social activities. It will make these cities far more appealing places to live and reduce the reliance on the motor car.”

Mr Laidlaw urged the Minister for Transport to take a look at the Rail Revival Study and where costs could be cut to see the project come to life.

“A rail service could be basically operated between Ballarat and Geelong tomorrow,” Mr Laidlaw said.

“Services already exist between Ballarat and Maryborough as well as between Castlemaine and Bendigo.

“The reconstruction of the Castlemaine-Maryborough line is not a significant engineering undertaking. To suggest that this is a project with a price tag of $935 million is ludicrous.

“The Minister for Transport needs to review this report, sharpen his pencil and make this highly creditable project a reality,” he said.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
I'm surprised Napthine/Baillieu went through the motions of a study designed to kill this proposal off, I suppose they had to be seen to be doing something.  There's a perverse mentality developing among politicians that commissioning a feasibility study is the same thing as doing something - my local member, desperately conscious of the election next year, has been bombarding me with his list of achievements since being elected in 2010.  On that list was "delivered a feasibility study to do XXX in my electorate."  Delivered a feasibility study?  In other words, nothing happened.

Not one of the projects Baillieu talked about in the 2010 election has come though, not a single one.  It's pretty obvious that anyone who voted Liberal thinking they were going to deliver PT infrastructure was gypped.  I'm really looking forward to the election next year and their proud list of feasibility studies.

I'm in a marginal electorate by the way so there'll probably be a veritable smorgasbord of gold-plated feasibility studies detailing why they had to sit on their hands for four years and why they'll need another four years to keep doing nothing.
  feralmet Station Master

Location: Carisbrook 3464, Vic
I come to Railpage to learn from people who understand the nuts and bolts of rail.  There is no other place quite like it.


At the same time there are groups of potential passengers gathering in other forums such as Facebook:

Mildura....

https://www.facebook.com/groups/375410789024/

Castlemaine - Maryborough.....

https://www.facebook.com/groups/486582711421394/


Taken together, who knows how much influence we may eventually be able to bring?

Certainly we are more than a match for spin-doctors, corporate swindlers and slack-arses in governments of any persuasion.
Believe it!
  dean65 Locomotive Driver

Location: Ballarat
I agree with Dean that rail infrastructure costs have blown out to an absurd degree and must be reigned in. (Why does it cost 100 times more to build a railway station than an ordinary house?) I suspect the absurd over specification of rail infrastructure is the main reason. For example, if Williams Landing station had been specified to only have a raised platform, with a bitumen sealed surface 1.5 metres back from the edge with a large shelter shed, I suspect it could have been built for under a million, leaving plenty of money to build stations at places like Caroline Springs which have been deferred because the state government is almost broke and doesn't have any more money to spare. Surely having 5 simple stations with a bucket of money left over for other projects is better than having just one gold plated station?

. . --oo0oo-- . .

But if over specifying, over engineering and generally gold plating everything is the main problem, reverting back to the bad old days of Victorian Railways, an inefficient government owned monopoly, isn't the answer. The VR may have been relatively economical when building infrastructure, but it's operations were a disaster. People under 40 may not remember, but it was inefficient and overstaffed, it's standard of service was woeful.

VR freight operations were a joke. As an example, Ford built it's factories on railway lines so they could run trains carrying components between them. But there were constant , regular and unexplained delays, and VR staff regularly stole things from the freight cars running between the two factories. The response from VR management to complaints from Ford could be summarised as "suck it up Princess". Well Ford refused to suck it up, cancelled their contracts with VR and started running trucks between their plants. While this was nominally more expensive, the trucks always arrived and there was never any theft. So Ford came out in front. There are dozens of similar stories.

If anything, passenger operations were even worse. Trains ran (or didn't run) without any regard to published timetables. Staff who had contact with the public had a bored demeanour and wouldn't do anything to help people. I remember when I was a kid being stuck at the old Sydenham station for 4 hours when an antique train broke down and no one hired buses to move the passengers. Things started to slowly change in the early 90's, but I remember what a radical change West Coast Railway was. Conductors actually answered customers questions and stopped yobs harassing normal passengers. Despite the WCR's antique rolling stock and engines, they were well maintained, almost never broke down and most radical of all, the carriages were... clean!

Reverting to the shockingly bad days of a VR monopoly would be a disaster for all users of railway services. It was lazy, over staffed, had appalling service standards and I don't think I'm being too harsh if I say that it was rotten to the core. *rant ends*
Bogong
Of course I ment the best aspects of VR and not the worst. Customer service is very important. This week I will be testing Myki on the Ballarat line.
  Gauntlet Chief Commissioner

Location:
This week I will be testing Myki on the Ballarat line.
dean65
Your myki won't be valid between Ballarat and Melton until 24th July.
It becomes valid on the Seymour line tomorrow.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity

The question is how many passenger services/trains per day could you expect to run between ballarat and geelong to make it work for the travelling public?
bevans

Eight each way, minimum.  Anything less is a complete waste of time.

Current bus travel time between Ballarat and Bendigo is about 1hr45min - the proposed train would average 2hr5min.  That and road use figures below the acceptable levels for supporting useful travel frequencies (ie. not welfare) were the reason this was always a lemon.

Cost benefit ratio was 0.1-0.2 - ie. even if the costs were 5-10x less, it would still be a waste of money.

The real crime was that a $2 million study was ever instigated, in order to gather regional votes, when a back of the envelope calculation would have shown it infeasible.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
I agree with Dean that rail infrastructure costs have blown out to an absurd degree and must be reigned in. (Why does it cost 100 times more to build a railway station .....

.....

Reverting to the shockingly bad days of a VR monopoly would be a disaster for all users of railway services. It was lazy, over staffed, had appalling service standards and I don't think I'm being too harsh if I say that it was rotten to the core. *rant ends*
Bogong


Bogong - while I agree with the gist of your comment about the 'bad old days' of VR, I think it also has to be said that we've gone from one extreme where the railways was a defacto employment program to the other extreme where the lack of staff on the system led to a situation where an incoming government felt compelled (at great expense) to put rent-a-cops on the suburban network at night because the system had apparently become so unsafe that ordinary people couldn't use it without fear.  The story of public transport in Victoria is one of really bad management and mis-allocation of resources; in part I think because there's too many vested interests in roads.

I had the misfortune to use the Frankston line regularly a few years ago and during the day it's a complete brothel.  Kids drinking/chroming on platforms and on trains and openly doing graffiti/scrat apparently with apparent impunity during the day; aggressive beggars/drug addicts moving through the carriages demanding money; rubbish strewn everywhere and a general feeling of having to stay alert because you never know what the hell will happen next.  As a consumer of these services you have to wonder what's wrong with you that you aren't driving like a normal person.

While I agree that the Geelong-Bendigo link was probably not a great idea to begin with, whatever happened to this idea that the government was going to encourage more people to use public transport because it would help with road congestion?  After three years of the Liberals it doesn't look like anything positive is ever going to happen - even the Avalon airport link which was a 'firm promise' still hasn't had anything done on it.

Burying things with 'feasibility studies' is just another way of obstructing any progress, as is 'gold plating', which is what this Geelong-Bendigo study is a clear example of.
  feralmet Station Master

Location: Carisbrook 3464, Vic
A new and more thorough document posted here:

https://word.office.live.com/wv/WordView.aspx?FBsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdownload%2Ffile_preview.php%3Fid%3D294447764033531%26time%3D1373883533%26metadata&access_token=1148040091%3AAVJSOweXGFLJxuNFw5OlcoHjHdMN3_9LLPZrSBwKioPsAQ&title=Rail+Revival+Study.doc

I can't reproduce it here in the forum, because of the embedded tables.
...let's see if this link works... hmmmmm
  feralmet Station Master

Location: Carisbrook 3464, Vic
Further to the previous post, here is Wednesday morning's interview on ABC regional radio with Noel Laidlaw:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10201329491656455

(hope the link works for you)

Cheers.... hang in tough!
  dean65 Locomotive Driver

Location: Ballarat
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[color=#000000][size=2][font=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]Ballarat MP and Regional Australia Minister Catherine King said yesterday that she was speaking to people about local projects that could potentially receive federal funding.[/font][/size][/color]
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[color=#000000][size=2][font=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]“The question, as always with those projects, is if you had $90 million, is that what you would spend it on in Ballarat? That’s always the difficulty.”[/font][/size][/color]
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[color=#000000][size=2][font=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]Ms King said she had not received any proposals for the $80 million redevelopment of Eureka Stadium, which the state Labor opposition supported in the run-up to the last state election.[/font][/size][/color]
[color=#000000][size=2][font=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]Ms King pointed to the federal government’s record in supporting Ballarat projects but was tight-lipped on whether there would be more to come before the next election.[/font][/size][/color]
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