[Armchair] Should V/Line commuter lines be electrified?

 
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
I'm not sure if I've ever seen such a debate - at least in recent threads - and since we've got a holiday period, I thought we might need some armchair topic to get all hot and bothered about, so we can vent our disappointment that Aunt Hermione's present was another book.

So, should V/Line commuter services - the Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Seymour and Traralgon ones - be upgraded to electric 160 kmh-1 trains? Should they or should they not? Why?

I'm keen to hear arguments both ways. I'm still trying to finalise my initial argument, so I'll let the opening arguments be from the wider membership.

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  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I'm not sure if I've ever seen such a debate - at least in recent threads - and since we've got a holiday period, I thought we might need some armchair topic to get all hot and bothered about, so we can vent our disappointment that Aunt Hermione's present was another book.

So, should V/Line commuter services - the Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Seymour and Traralgon ones - be upgraded to electric 160 kmh-1 trains? Should they or should they not? Why?

I'm keen to hear arguments both ways. I'm still trying to finalise my initial argument, so I'll let the opening arguments be from the wider membership.
Watson374
If only there was a was to contact a mod to arrange for an armchair discussion in the armchair forum. Perhaps that would make a better discussion.
  trainbrain Deputy Commissioner

Too much free time on your hands........................
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Too much free time on your hands........................
trainbrain
This navel gazing exercise should be relocated to the 'Armchair Operators' thread.

Mike.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

If only there was a was to contact a mod to arrange for an armchair discussion in the armchair forum. Perhaps that would make a better discussion.
seb2351
I keep asking, they keep saying "no" ...

Maybe you should start your own thread on that topic, perhaps on the Railpage thread ?
  monday Chief Commissioner

I guess there is a critical mass for having electric locos, and probably Geelong and Bendigo are now there.  Given how much has been invested in vlos, don't expect to see it happening soon.

Also, Bendigo would need more geotechnical / infrastructure  works to accommodate the fitting of OHW - same problem it has in taking hi-cube containers.

I live for the day that I can catch an inter urban Comeng!
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
Much more urgent things to spend the money on.

It's just that simple.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The primary reason for electrification is cost-saving; I read that the conversion of Adelaide's Seaford line to 25kv was going to mean the service would cost half as much to run as the old diesel service.

Geelong is the only serious candidate for interurban electrification at this point and one of the issues discussed in previous threads was the fact that 1500vdc was a more expensive proposition than doing a more modern system like Adelaide and Perth's 25,000vac; the newer system is much more cost efficient to build and operate but it then raises the issue of a dual voltage in Victoria.

Certainly the Geelong line is the best prospect though - a proposed 20 minute frequency was mooted a few years ago (but I'm not sure what came of this).  It would be too expensive to run on DMU.
  Aurora8 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I live for the day that I can catch an inter urban Comeng!
"monday"

Come to Sydney. We've already got them.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

These are the facts .

- The Gippsland electrification was decommissioned in the 1980's as it was cheaper to run diesel services, no extra rollingstock was required , and the capital cost of renewing the aged electrical infrastructure was totally avoided.

- The only country line that might possibly just add up for electrification in the Medium term is Geelong, and this is allowed for in the already published strategy with Grovedale -  South Yarra  operating as a dedicated through route with EMU trains in 20 - 25 years .  It will be driven by sheer volume of pax numbers especially when  the new stations on the RRL leg hit their straps.

- Everyone knows this State is starved of capital funds to improve PT .  The Geelong line is only going to get electrified when the numbers say there is a compelling financial advantage in doing so.

-  Electrification requires extensive capital outlays for the electrical infrastructure and EMU rollingstock which will be captive to Geelong - South Yarra possibly as 160 kmh double decker stock .  Electrification also entails considerable on going additional maintenance costs for the electrical infrastructure .

-  Given the choice of spending say $ 1 bn on Geelong electrification vs. spending $ 1bn on extra DMU stock which can be used on all lines, the answer will always be more DMU's till passenger volumes reach very high numbers on the Geelong line.

DOT looks at this issue re Geelong every few years, but electrification simply does not stack up as yet.

QED
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Much more urgent things to spend the money on.

It's just that simple.
Gman_86

Such as?  Spending all the money around Melbourne?  Nope,  Money needs to be invested in regional rail projects also.  Those which have a measurable impact which can be seen by the regional communities.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Come to Sydney. We've already got them.
Aurora8

Most other progressive cities do.
  s3_gunzel Not a gunzel developer

Location: Western Sydney, AU
This navel gazing exercise should be relocated to the 'Armchair Operators' thread.

Mike.
The Vinelander
I agree, but as the permissions don't let normal users post a thread in there...
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Trapped in a meeting with Rhonda and Karsten
Geelong is the only serious candidate for interurban electrification at this point and one of the issues discussed in previous threads was the fact that 1500vdc was a more expensive proposition than doing a more modern system like Adelaide and Perth's 25,000vac; the newer system is much more cost efficient to build and operate but it then raises the issue of a dual voltage in Victoria.
don_dunstan
Dual voltage isn't really a huge problem compared to dual gauge - many European railways use electric locomotives that are dual-voltage capable. 25kV AC is the obvious solution because you need many fewer substations for the distances involved compared to 1500V DC and is in fact the de-facto global standard for non-metro railway electrification.

In the case of the Geelong line, the presence of RRL means that, aside from the area around Southern Cross Station, you have carte blanche to choose whichever electrification system you want. Stabling might be an issue though, so dual voltage would be best for that.

Running EMUs just for Geelong is probably a dead proposition - it would be a really small order of rollingstock that would become orphaned quickly unless it's off-the-shelf and exists elsewhere. That would mean perhaps going for the A-City/4000 class EMUs that Adelaide are getting, but I don't think that they're entirely adequate for Geelong-Melbourne.

Using electric locos to haul N-class carriages is a better proposition. For example, the Siemens ES-64U is quad-voltage capable (25kV/12.5kV AC and 3000V/1500V DC) and can reach top speeds of 230 kph; this is more than adequate for the Geelong line. Re-gauge the bogies and you're set.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
This has gone exactly as I predicted.

I threw the idea out into the arena as an exercise, but I do not see it as a viable proposition. Quite simply, the capital expense is not worth it. It is not a sensible way to spend precious public transport funding.

Firstly, it is impractical for the V/Line operations outside the Geelong and Ballarat lines because the infrastructure would not be supporting very high traffic in terms of total trains per hour. The Geelong and Ballarat lines were selected because they deliver the most up trains by far during morning peak of the five commuter lines, with each timetabled to operate eight up trains arriving at Southern Cross between 07:00 and 09:00 on weekday mornings. For comparison, the Bendigo line provides five such trains; Seymour three; and Traralgon three, one of which terminates short at Flinders Street.

The distance of the operation stretches out - quite literally! - the required infrastructure. This is exacerbated by the 1500V system used by the metropolitan network, necessitating either the adoption of inefficient legacy equipment, or further expenditure on dual-voltage systems. All these factors work together to increase the cost and reduce the practicality of converting V/Line commuter services to electric traction.

Secondly, such an investment would result in heavy redundancies of relatively new diesel multiple-unit rolling stock in the form of the V/Locities, which cannot be fully redeployed on other V/Line services, such was the scale of investment in them. Much was invested in this rolling stock, and they perform well. There is therefore no pressing need to replace the rolling stock on the commuter services, barring additional procurement of newer V/Locity stock to replace older locomotive-hauled stock, such as the push-pull commuter trains; such investments would complement, rather than conflict with, the existing investments.

It therefore would appear quite convincingly that the current investments in V/Line are sensible, that the focus on separation from the metropolitan network and investment in additional V/Locity stock is the correct path to follow, and that electrification is not the correct way forward.
  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

Such as?  Spending all the money around Melbourne?  Nope,  Money needs to be invested in regional rail projects also.  Those which have a measurable impact which can be seen by the regional communities.
bevans
Regional Fast Rail, Regional Rail link and a huge fleet expansion for V/Line are pretty big projects that almost entirely benefit the regions. Melbourne has had very little love given to its suburban network. New trains yes, but otherwise a few pretty minor extensions. I think the big regional centers have done well over the last 10 years. Melbourne has not.

The same actually goes for roads. The M1 upgrade and the Ring Road upgrade are the only two major Melbourne Road projects I can recall from the last 10 years (oh there was Eastlink, but that was privately funded), meanwhile there have been quite substantial investments in the Princes Freeway to Geelong, the Hume to the border, the Calder has been greatly improved and a big section of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway (which is STILL not totally finished) have been completed. There have been a number of bypasses built in the last 10 years which greatly improve road travel to the regions and country areas.

The regions haven't done too badly compared to Melbourne.

As for regional electrification, maybe Geelong in another 10-15 years or so when the H and Z carriages are finished...but seriously we still don't even have wires to Melton and there are numerous sections of the suburban network that are still single track. Looks like they might want to start thinking about Comeng replacements as well...
  ab123 Chief Train Controller

Average Joe commuter could not care less if there is a wire above or not, just that the service is reliable and there are plenty of services.

20 min vlocity service to geelong vs 20 minute electric service to geelong = no difference to travelling public
  xxxxlbear Token Booking Clerk

Location: Geelong
Average Joe commuter could not care less if there is a wire above or not, just that the service is reliable and there are plenty of services.

20 min vlocity service to geelong vs 20 minute electric service to geelong = no difference to travelling public
ab123
My thoughts exactly.
I for one couldn't care less whether the Geelong line is electrified or not, as long as the services to/from Melbourne are frequent and reliable.
  trainbrain Deputy Commissioner

Geelong Electrified? Which route via the new RRL or direct via Werribee? A pointless exercise and money should be better spent elsewhere if it was ever considered...................................
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

This has gone exactly as I predicted.

I threw the idea out into the arena as an exercise, but I do not see it as a viable proposition. Quite simply, the capital expense is not worth it. It is not a sensible way to spend precious public transport funding.
Watson374
So why didn't you suggest conversion to SG as well Smile?
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
So why didn't you suggest conversion to SG as well Smile?
"djf01"
Because - and as a fellow New South Welshman you will likely think I have betrayed our great state - I believe that the best gauge for all Australia, if it was to have been standardised all those years ago, is the Queensland/Western Australia/Tasmania 3'6" narrow gauge.

I now await the knock on my door.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Ummm.... you forgot the extensive 3ft 6in network  of SA  including the Eyre Peninsula and the Peterborough Division of the SAR.
"3l diesel"
That too.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Because - and as a fellow New South Welshman you will likely think I have betrayed our great state - I believe that the best gauge for all Australia, if it was to have been standardised all those years ago, is the Queensland/Western Australia/Tasmania 3'6" narrow gauge.

I now await the knock on my door.
"Watson374"


Totally agree...the most widely used gauge should have won the standardisation race. But logic was thrown out the window when the Federal Government decided to connect two 3'6" systems with an isolated standard gauge transcontinental line. Net result...we're still having the gauge debate 140 years after Britain and North America decided on their 'standard' gauge. That the original RFR works and now the RRL don't include dual gauge sleepers when there was a very real opportunity for gauge unification throughout southern Australia says it all.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Totally agree...the most widely used gauge should have won the standardisation race. But logic was thrown out the window when the Federal Government decided to connect two 3'6" systems with an isolated standard gauge transcontinental line. Net result...we're still having the gauge debate 140 years after Britain and North America decided on their 'standard' gauge. That the original RFR works and now the RRL don't include dual gauge sleepers when there was a very real opportunity for gauge unification throughout southern Australia says it all.
"Sulla1"
Precisely.

It doesn't look like it'll be solved anytime soon, now that Victoria went down the path of preserving their broad gauge passenger network.
  fabricator Chief Commissioner

Location: Gawler
The distance of the operation stretches out - quite literally! - the required infrastructure. This is exacerbated by the 1500V system used by the metropolitan network, necessitating either the adoption of inefficient legacy equipment, or further expenditure on dual-voltage systems. All these factors work together to increase the cost and reduce the practicality of converting V/Line commuter services to electric traction.
Watson374
Why exactly would dual-voltage be required ?
Just change the entire Williamstown, Werribee, Sydenham, RRL tracks to 25kv. Sure you couldn't continue past platform 15/16/? at SouthernCross station, but that's not a huge issue.

Main problem is newport railway workshops being in a 25kv area, a bit of a good and bad news thing.

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