ARTC - 10 years in NSW

 
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Reflecting on ten years. Guess it depends on whether you're a glass half full or glass half empty person.

"ARTC Chief Executive Officer John Fullerton said that since the ARTC take-up in 2004, the New South Wales rail network had been significantly upgraded.

"Mainlines are now 100 per cent concrete sleepered, and old signal boxes have been consolidated into two Network Control Centres,” Mr Fullerton said.

Additionally:
• modern computerised CTC signalling has been introduced;
• level crossings have been removed or upgraded;
• drainage and ballast has been improved;
• multiple new passing lanes and crossing loops have been built; and
• massive structures like the Murrumbidgee rail bridge have been renewed, removed or upgraded

Importantly, the Southern Sydney Freight Line is now operational and Sydney’s Metropolitan Freight Network has been integrated into ARTC’s network in line with the lease agreement. As a consequence, rail freight customers now enjoy 24/7, dedicated interstate rail freight access to Port Botany."

http://www.artc.com.au/library/news_2014_09-05.pdf

Sponsored advertisement

  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
From the at times congested Southern line via SSFL yes , not from the north , west or Illawarra via Sydney Trains territory .
Yes the perway is concrete but no the axle loads don't seem to have risen on them , Hunter aside .
Wolos aren't as often and the bugs and bushfires don't eat the sleepers . No more signal boxes with mechanical interlockings and block signalling .

The result .
Transit times are slower and market share is dwindling little by little . Big Road spending is ongoing which serves to continually improve road transports performance so it can undermine rail more and more .

Yes Coota the layout looks flash , pity the afterthought trains can't perform very well and performance continues to suffer because of the infrastructure condition and funding inequity with the other mode .

Many consider ARTC to be a failure because the REAL measuring stick of any rail line is the trains above them not the concrete under them or the remote controlled colour light signals beside them .
Mud hole and similar track speed restrictions and stone age alignments are the killers of train performance , and until someone conquers these the east coast standard gauge rails routes will continue to be epic failures .

ARTC has made it so the lines are long term cheaper to operate which is ok provided the above rail operators don't starve to death in the long term .
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Having observed the NSW interstate rail network over the past 25 years, I’m prepared to adopt a glass half full viewpoint. Prior to 2004 there was absolutely no vision apart from holding out for the best deal it could get from some future federal rail track body.

The NSW DIRN was in limbo with minimal investment apart from a few NRC/One Nation projects in the mid 90’s. There was no indication of when NSW would replace Wagga Wagga Bridge, build the SSFL, complete CTC up north, rollout 1500m passing loops etc. The appalling situation with sleeper condition was revealed in OTSR reports after several derailments. Meanwhile the track west of Parkes had an uncertain future.

ARTC had to take this without an asset audit. The true cost of decades of deferred maintenance was not known. It was also required to run the network on a commercial basis and reduce operating costs dramatically. Nevertheless, most significant issues have since been addressed.

IMHO superfreighters seem to be as long /loaded as in pre-NSW Lease years and there is another significant operator now. Blaming rail freights apparent death throes on ARTC is convenient. It ignores the fact that private operators are far more financially driven than their guvmnt predecessors. Shareholders need to be paid dividends. Some might argue that rail labour practices further reduce operators competitiveness and profitability.

ARTC remains the poor cousin when it comes to guvmnt funding of infrastructure. It funded the SSFL construction by private borrowings. The widespread ballast and drainage problems will take years to fix without dedicated funding.
Realignments let alone diversions are unlikely without guvmnt funding.  Going forward I suspect this is as good as it gets given the feds are focused on roads.
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
From the at times congested Southern line via SSFL yes , not from the north , west or Illawarra via Sydney Trains territory .
Yes the perway is concrete but no the axle loads don't seem to have risen on them , Hunter aside .
Wolos aren't as often and the bugs and bushfires don't eat the sleepers . No more signal boxes with mechanical interlockings and block signalling .

The result .
Transit times are slower and market share is dwindling little by little . Big Road spending is ongoing which serves to continually improve road transports performance so it can undermine rail more and more .

Yes Coota the layout looks flash , pity the afterthought trains can't perform very well and performance continues to suffer because of the infrastructure condition and funding inequity with the other mode .

Many consider ARTC to be a failure because the REAL measuring stick of any rail line is the trains above them not the concrete under them or the remote controlled colour light signals beside them .
Mud hole and similar track speed restrictions and stone age alignments are the killers of train performance , and until someone conquers these the east coast standard gauge rails routes will continue to be epic failures .

ARTC has made it so the lines are long term cheaper to operate which is ok provided the above rail operators don't starve to death in the long term .
BDA

ARTC's misson is to


  • Provide seamless and efficient access to users of the interstate rail network;


  • Pursue a growth strategy for interstate rail through improved efficiency and competitiveness;


  • Improve interstate rail infrastructure through better asset management and coordination of capital investment;


  • Encourage uniformity in access, technical, operating and safe working procedures; and


  • Operate the business on commercially sound principles






Based on the above, I would say that ARTC is meeting it's objectives. Lets not forget, it is not a rail operator but rather a network manager. Have trains been turned down access to the network? Nope, so you cannot use the number of trains as a KPI for determining performance.

A more realistic KPI would be to use train transit times however, as they direct relate to the performance of the network.

In addition, look at some of the key reforms that have been integrated into the network:

* Speeding up East West services with the implementation of CTC from Coonamia to Tarcoola, with view to extend it to Kalgoorlie
* Imrpoved transit times on the Parkes - Broken Hill corridor through the concrete resleepering program
* working with operators to identify key TSR's and have them removed as a priority
* research into new methods of train management (Advanced Train Management System) which is up to stage 2 now
*  Increased investment into track maintenance services- keeping in mind that we are coming out of an La nina period where higher rainfall coupled with productivity dividends are placing pressure on limited resources.



Personally, I think ARTC is meeting its charter. It is not the role of a network manager to look at increasing market share of rail- that responisbilty falls onto operators and the principles of the free market along with responsibile government investment. We should be calling on the government to look at ways to enhance network capacity, as ARTC can only operate with the resources that they have at hand.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
My only question would be:

Is the $ squillion spent on ATMS (Advanced Train Management System) money that could have been better spent elsewhere to produce a more immediate or better result?
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
My only question would be:

Is the $ squillion spent on ATMS (Advanced Train Management System) money that could have been better spent elsewhere to produce a more immediate or better result?
YM-Mundrabilla



ATMS introduced a uniform system of safeworking, enhances capacity, reduces the risk of loss of separation incidents and will over the long term lead to lower maintenance costs. Failure to spend the money now, will mean that when the time comes to implement it, it will be even more expensive.

So far, around $100m has been pumped into this project. So no, for that sum of money you would not have seen a significant increase in the performance in ARTC. $100m might get you 2 additional 1500m loops somewhere, or fix up about 6 months worth of mud holes. Mudholes that would have just popped up elsewhere.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

ARTC's misson is to




Based on the above, I would say that ARTC is meeting it's objectives. Lets not forget, it is not a rail operator but rather a network manager. Have trains been turned down access to the network? Nope, so you cannot use the number of trains as a KPI for determining performance.

A more realistic KPI would be to use train transit times however, as they direct relate to the performance of the network.

In addition, look at some of the key reforms that have been integrated into the network:

* Speeding up East West services with the implementation of CTC from Coonamia to Tarcoola, with view to extend it to Kalgoorlie
* Imrpoved transit times on the Parkes - Broken Hill corridor through the concrete resleepering program
* working with operators to identify key TSR's and have them removed as a priority
* research into new methods of train management (Advanced Train Management System) which is up to stage 2 now
*  Increased investment into track maintenance services- keeping in mind that we are coming out of an La nina period where higher rainfall coupled with productivity dividends are placing pressure on limited resources.



Personally, I think ARTC is meeting its charter. It is not the role of a network manager to look at increasing market share of rail- that responisbilty falls onto operators and the principles of the free market along with responsibile government investment. We should be calling on the government to look at ways to enhance network capacity, as ARTC can only operate with the resources that they have at hand.
"seb2351"


I agree it's not up to the Network Manager to increase a market share, but I do suspect the manner in which access is charged has a negative effect on developing or growing business. Pay per path access discourages operators from running additional services that aren't maximum length or tonnage and encourages operators to run as few services as possible...even if shippers need or want more frequent departures. If ARTC charged an annualised fee based on the tonnages or volumes moved by each operator over that year, I suspect the likes of Aurizon or PN would tend to operate services to suit their shippers (taking Sydney curfews into account) rather than to suit their cheapest pathing options.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
For me theglass is less than half full when it comes to reviewing the performance of ARTC over the past 10 years.   Yes thecondition of many parts of the interstate network was in very poor shape that can be attributed to decades of neglect but ARTC inherited as well either directly or through access agreements a big chunk of network such as Forrestfieldto Kalgoorlie/Parkeston to Pt Augusta, Broken Hill and Serviceton that were in very good shape which interestingly to this day continue in terms of freight market share to be the better performing corridors of the ARTC system even though there are other factors that are at play in terms of competitiveness and performance.

The key areathat ARTC hasn’t scored well on which is in its charter is:

•Pursue agrowth strategy for interstate rail through improved efficiency and competitiveness.

Yes you cansay ARTC developed and pursued such a strategy.
Countless threads have been run in Railpage about how ARTC hasn’treceived the funding it really needed to (and that is not in dispute) but I reiterate the above is ARTC’s stated objective and the North-South Corridor “upgrade” and ARTC’s other projects mentioned in this thread around concrete sleepering, crossing loop extensions and new loops, the Southern Sydney dedicated freight link, North Coast deviations and curve easings etc are all ARTC initiatives to meet that strategy and on that basis you have to say they haven’t performed.   In perspective you can say ARTC hasperformed well in the Hunter Valley.


YES ARTC savedthe East Coast railways from falling apart but significantly improved journey times promised by them (not by politicians) and increases in rails competiveness measured by market share (and forecast by them) have not been delivered and simply won’t be until those corridors are significantly rebuilt and realigned as stated here on numerous occasions.

We know allthe reasons behind that and the biggest is availability of serious money but who is going to invest that money if there is no demonstrated success flowing from what has already been invested.   Proponentsincluding me will point to the success of the East-West Corridor as evidence of what rail can deliver but if you look closely as referred to earlier, Australian National and Westrail were well and truly achieving very high market share in the investments they made from the day the standard gauge was extend from Crystal Brook to Adelaide and the opening of Dry Creek and subsequently with the extension of Standard gauge to Melbourne.  Everything else delivered since those days onthat corridor has been largely incremental in response to a growing railfreight business unlike the East Coast which is in decline whilst trafficcontinues to boom on the Hume, Pacific and Newell Highways.

Yes thereare other considerations and factors at play which are well known as to why rail hasn’t performed in the east but in answer to the question of the performance of ARTC judged by its own charter on the most important criteria of all it’s a glass only half full at best.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
... Yes thereare other considerations and factors at play which are well known as to why rail hasn’t performed in the east but in answer to the question of the performance of ARTC judged by its own charter on the most important criteria of all it’s a glass only half full at best.
Trainplanner


Sure there is work to be done. One of the OTSI reports noted that ARTC had little data on asset condition going into the NSW Lease. ARTC should have revised those performance figures once they were 'on the ground'. The cost of infrastructure works was also underestimated, the SSFL coming in at almost 5 times the announced cost. Again that original guesstimate would have been based on information provided by NSW.

ARTC has allowed operators to reduce costs by exponentially increasing the number of 1500m loops, completing CTC up north, overcoming the southern Sydney curfew and all but eliminating WOLOs across the NSW DIRN. ARTC was also required to reduce its operating costs in NSW.

There's no way of knowing what state the NSW DIRN would now be in without ARTC. I suggest Victoria's NE BG in 2007 might be a good indicator.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
I suppose they haven't achieved some of their own targets, but there are at times mitigating factors. The NCL curve easing money went to the southern line to fix up the issues there. The govt should have dug deep on that and left the NCL funding alone.

Clearly after 10 years the ARTC has done alot, but the job is not done yet.

But two questions
1) Has the money they received been well spent?

2) Had the ARTC not moved into NSW, where would we be today?
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I agree it's not up to the Network Manager to increase a market share, but I do suspect the manner in which access is charged has a negative effect on developing or growing business. Pay per path access discourages operators from running additional services that aren't maximum length or tonnage and encourages operators to run as few services as possible...even if shippers need or want more frequent departures. If ARTC charged an annualised fee based on the tonnages or volumes moved by each operator over that year, I suspect the likes of Aurizon or PN would tend to operate services to suit their shippers (taking Sydney curfews into account) rather than to suit their cheapest pathing options.
Sulla1


The "path" is only a component of the access charge, particularly on the interstate freight networks where there is spare capacity.  (it is a different story in the Hunter for mineral traffic, where charges very much do strongly reflect the capacity consumed by a particular service).  

Indicative access charges for interstate freight are made public.  Using those as a guide, lets say we have a 2000 tonne train running 1000 kilometres from Sydney to Brisbane, pathed as a .superfreighter.  The path related component for that train is a little over a thousand dollars.  The mass distance component is a little over $7000.  So the "path" or "capacity" or "cost per extra service" bit is only one eighth of the access, seven eighths of the charge is mass based (i..e it doesn't really matter for that component whether you run that mass in one train or two).

Further, I've seen it written somewhere that access is typically around 15% of the cost of running a train.  I can't remember where I read it, my memory might be completely faulty and the proportion likely depends strongly on the where/when and what of the service - so take this all with a grain of salt, but if that is right (we could probably check it based on a look at PN or Aurizon's annual reports, crossed checked with ARTC's), then the "path" related component of the cost of whether to run one long train or two short trains is only something like 2% relative to our nominal train cost.

I can easily think of other "cost per train" type items that would be of that order, and perhaps more, that have nothing to do with access.  The labour cost associated with the train drivers alone is probably more than that "per train" path cost.

Perhaps I'm way out with my costs, but I suspect you could make access completely based on volume, and operator practices would barely change.  I also don't think there's that much evidence that per train access is driving behaviour to a great degree.

Subscription model's and the like just seem like a methods of shifting risk between access provider and operator.  If your model shifts all the volume risk onto the access provider, then the access providers charges are going to reflect that, and vice versa.  There's no free lunch.

This is also before we get to practical aspects around dealing with multiple operators competing for the same paths under "all the paths you can eat" subscription model.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
If it's any guide the V/Line track access fees for 6 trips per day 7 days per week is roundly $10 million per annum Dynon to Albury.  Light train at 115 km/hr
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
If it's any guide the V/Line track access fees for 6 trips per day 7 days per week is roundly $10 million per annum Dynon to Albury. Light train at 115 km/hr
Trainplanner

I'm not sure its directly relevant - because what's of more interest for the previous post is what the breakdown between access and other costs for an interstate freight service is (likely quite different to that of a regional passenger service) and how that access charge varies per train and per volume (which again, is likely to be quite different for a passenger service).

That said, that total seems high to me for six services a day (three each way?) running Melbourne to Albury, based off the published indicative prices.  Guessing a bit at train km (320?) and train tonne.km (12500?), I get something more like $2.5 million a year.

V/Line reports handing over $21 million on access charges to other providers in 2014 (receiving only 5.8 million for use of its network).  I know the distance transited per train is much less than the run out to Albury, but given every (?) V/Line train passes through the metro network and there are a lot more of them going places other than Albury, I would have thought the Metro network would have more V/Line train kilometres and hence represent a more significant component of the access charges than the ARTC network (assuming a similar per train km rate).  But perhaps I am wrong.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
The "path" is only a component of the access charge, particularly on the interstate freight networks where there is spare capacity. (it is a different story in the Hunter for mineral traffic, where charges very much do strongly reflect the capacity consumed by a particular service).

Indicative access charges for interstate freight are made public. Using those as a guide, lets say we have a 2000 tonne train running 1000 kilometres from Sydney to Brisbane, pathed as a .superfreighter. The path related component for that train is a little over a thousand dollars. The mass distance component is a little over $7000. So the "path" or "capacity" or "cost per extra service" bit is only one eighth of the access, seven eighths of the charge is mass based (i..e it doesn't really matter for that component whether you run that mass in one train or two).

Further, I've seen it written somewhere that access is typically around 15% of the cost of running a train. I can't remember where I read it, my memory might be completely faulty and the proportion likely depends strongly on the where/when and what of the service - so take this all with a grain of salt, but if that is right (we could probably check it based on a look at PN or Aurizon's annual reports, crossed checked with ARTC's), then the "path" related component of the cost of whether to run one long train or two short trains is only something like 2% relative to our nominal train cost.

I can easily think of other "cost per train" type items that would be of that order, and perhaps more, that have nothing to do with access. The labour cost associated with the train drivers alone is probably more than that "per train" path cost.

Perhaps I'm way out with my costs, but I suspect you could make access completely based on volume, and operator practices would barely change. I also don't think there's that much evidence that per train access is driving behaviour to a great degree.

Subscription model's and the like just seem like a methods of shifting risk between access provider and operator. If your model shifts all the volume risk onto the access provider, then the access providers charges are going to reflect that, and vice versa. There's no free lunch.

This is also before we get to practical aspects around dealing with multiple operators competing for the same paths under "all the paths you can eat" subscription model.
donttellmywife

I think you are pretty close from what I have read previously. Anyone wanting to know actual use the following link

http://www.artc.com.au/library/Pricing%20Schedule%20Effective%2001072014%20updated%2007072014.pdf

Flagfall as ARTC reference it would to be cover minimum costs of for a light engine movement. I think the ARTC also needs to encourage longer train movements to ensure track capacity isn't chewed up by little trains although the operator costs is probably enough to prevent this. (as mentioned above)
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
... 1) Has the money they received been well spent?
RTT_Rules

I don't believe I could have done better given a funding ‘model’ that was flawed from day one.
Imagine a builder expected to restore and modernise a lived in ‘renovators special’ without knowing the total budget let alone when (if!) progress payments would occur and how much would be received.

... 2) Had the ARTC not moved into NSW, where would we be today?
RTT_Rules

This was where it was heading
http://www.otsi.nsw.gov.au/rail/IR-SteelSleeper-final.pdf
  M636C Minister for Railways

We shouldn't confuse the monkey with the organ grinder here.

It is the organ grinder that calls the tune and the monkey just dances.

The Federal Government calls the tune and the ARTC just makes the best of what they get.

There has been a lot of work on the main South lately, and I even saw the ballast cleaner SBC34 at work near Yarra (before it headed up to the Hunter coal roads for this week's intensive maintenance period).

M636C
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
I don't believe I could have done better given a funding ‘model’ that was flawed from day one.
Imagine a builder expected to restore and modernise a lived in ‘renovators special’ without knowing the total budget let alone when (if!) progress payments would occur and how much would be received.


This was where it was heading
http://www.otsi.nsw.gov.au/rail/IR-SteelSleeper-final.pdf
cootanee

Agree is less about what the ARTC or RIC would have done but more about what the relevant govt would have done and NSW appeared to have little interest to move away from the previous pi$$ poor performance with steel sleepers the best they could come up with.

Would we still have electric staff in operation in the nth and manual boxes in the south?
Would we have 1800m train capability from Melbourne to Parkes?
Would we have more and longer passing loops?
Would the Wagga Bridge be down to 1km/hr speed limit?
Would we have the SSFL?
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
RTT Rulesquestion about whether the money could have been better spent is a very interesting one noting that the condition of the corridor especially in NSW and Victoria on the broad gauge section to be converted was in a very decrepit condition and that there was insufficient funding to do the full rehabilitation that was really needed.

But havingsaid that its still worth considering could the money have been better spent and of course this something that can always be argued as being wise after the event and there will be differing views.

My view is tostart with a premise that as a highly experienced rail track infrastructure provider and maintainer ARTC should have had either internally or through the industry sector sufficient knowledge and experience to assess the condition of the network especially in the case of Victoria where it had been maintaining track that was previously of a poor standard for over 10 years and on the NSW network from 5 September 2004, 4 years before the North-South project got underway.

In the caseof the Vic Broad gauge track that was in a near state of collapse with severe speed restrictions, what ARTC learned in taking over the original standard gauge track some years earlier and the various rehabilitation works carried out on that should have given them that knowledge to fairly accurately assess the scope and cost.

If I takethat as 1 case study, I question now when we know funding was a major problem if it was necessary to fully concrete sleeper the original standard gauge track in Victoria after there had only been a major resleepering cycle within the previous 6 to 12 months.   Would it havebeen better to have done another sleeper cycle on that to keep it in reasonable condition rather than wholesale removal of all timber sleepers and have focused on the closed broad gauge track, fully rehabilitated that with concretesleepers (to a closer 600mm spacing to future proof higher axleloads and/or speeds), new ballast and new 60kg/m rail (which was subsequently installed on the original standard gauge track) and effectively used the “new” standard gauge track as the principal main and the lightly refurbished “original” SG main as the secondary track.

That wouldhave eliminated the mudhole and the increasing rail condition issues at least for the “new” main and probably minimized the level of disturbance to the “original” SG main and further saved all the issues of doing the upgrade in Victoria “under traffic”.   Without doubt that would havesaved initially on capital, disruption costs and as we have subsequently seen substantial on-going rehabilitation works, cost and disruption.

In regard tothe network north of Albury, given its poor state, full concrete sleepering to Junee with drainage and rehabilitated ballast seems obvious but reducing the spacing of concrete sleepers to 600mm spacing would have likely better supported the existing 50/53kg/m rail.  Againretaining the very best timber sleepers as feedstock for further north.

North ofJunee on the double track through to say Goulburn would the same model as referred to above for the Seymour to Wodonga double track section have yielded greater benefits more cost effectively.  Thatis developing one fully rebuilt very high standard main and having a reburbished secondary main using recycled timber sleepers with bi directional signaling on both mains to enable overtaking moves might have been more effective given the extensive delays caused by superfreighters running behind grain trains in NSW.  Yes that would have requiredadditional high speed crossovers but from what I read here perhaps not that many to make this a much more fluid railway whilst reducing overall capital cost for other works.   (In fact thedouble track main from Seymour to Wodonga is configured this way and there are many instances of PN and Aurizon intermodals running parallel northbound as part of the evening “rush”).

As well,given the ongoing problems of the former broad gauge line for both mudholes and rail condition in Victoria, the double track section frequently operates with primary – secondary main type of operation to enable maintenance work to be undertaken on either main for extended periods during the day thereby keeping the railway open whilst minimizing disruption.  Yesthere will be traffic peaks where both mains revert to normal” double track operation over certain sections between crossovers, but this is not required 24/7 and it means the highest priority trains in particular can be largely operated on the highest quality fully rebuilt track.

In regard tothe construction of long passing lanes in southern NSW and between Tottenham and Seymour, this was touted as delivering a significant improvement in capacity and time savings but I hear that its success has been mixed in that trains have to be running very close to schedule to achieve running crosses and of course the current mudhole problems and speed restrictions will be “masking” what the potential benefits are if the overall corridor was more reliable.   Hopefully drivers on Railpage can sharetheir views as to the benefits of these at a time when the corridor is more reliable.

Where elseyou might have been able to more effectively target the investment to get a better bang for your buck will be better known by others who plan operations, drive trains and control the railway at an operational level but clearly projects like the Southern Sydney Freight Line and improvements round Strathfield etc were very much needed as was the work to extend CTC in southern Queensland that generated significant travel time and capacity improvements.

However noneof the above actually solves one of the biggest issues and that is the poor alignments in NSW.   For the NSW MainSouth line, there are five major deviations that have been studied plus many minor ones:

• Glenlee -Mittagong (Wentworth),

• Werai toPenrose

• Goulburn -Yass (Centennial),

• Bowning -Frampton/Cootamundra

• A bypassof the Bethungra Spiral

UnfortunatelyI don’t know the breakdown in length of each of those but the total length is around 196km so clearly savings generated from the above are not going to go anywhere near doing all of them but lets say the scheme above saved roughly 20% of the $2.1 billion invested leaving roughly $400 million to construct about 50km of deviations above (based on $8 million per km for double track).   (In the case of Bethungra would theinstallation of high speed crossovers either side of the spiral deliver a partial benefit in some trains being able to negotiate the more direct (but steeper) original main???

If all ofthe above at least in the first instance  delivered a reliable railway with consistentjourney times of around 10 hours 40 mins for a freighter as proposed as far back as 2002/2005 and then again in 2008, would we have improved market share to then enable progressive deeper upgrading of the secondary track on double track sections or be “banked” to do more of the deviation work to improve competitiveness???   Obviously liftingrails market share of contestable would deliver more revenue to ARTC.

I reiteratethese are only views to engender discussion.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Concrete sleepers = mud holes debate seems to have dominated discussions about ARTC.
Given this thread is about the NSW Lease I’ll focus on that.

Going into the Lease there was an expectation that ARTC would be a commercial enterprise and drive down costs. The feds weren’t prepared to invest in RIC/RAC because they were perceived them inefficient, union dominated, etc. So why concrete sleepers and not timber/ballast?
ARTC’s original strategy was quite modest. Concrete sleepers would be used on tighter curves.

Around the time of the NSW Lease several derailments put the spotlight on sleeper condition across NSW particularly on the NSW interstate network. http://www.otsi.nsw.gov.au/rail/IR-SteelSleeper-final.pdf

Along the east coast thousands of sleepers needed to be replaced and deterioration was ongoing. ARTC took the view that wholesale replacement was warranted. Concrete sleepers were modern, economically sustainable, and politically appealing (for funding). ARTC challenged the market to meet or better the whole of life cost against timber, a relatively ballsy move.

It was able to convince the feds to fund a batch of 500,000. This provided employment benefits in two regional centres. In time the feds agreed to fund further batches which resulted in a new sleeper plant at Bomen. This allowed ARTC to complete concrete sleepering across the network.

Whilst these sleeper purchases were federally funded, installation was not. ARTC selected the most affordable and quickest means of doing so. ARTC have long acknowledged the ballast and drainage problems however given a lack of funds and immediate safety issues, sleeper replacement was the priority.
  M636C Minister for Railways

In the case of the Vic Broad gauge track that was in a near state of collapse with severe speed restrictions, what ARTC learned in taking over the original standard gauge track some years earlier and the various rehabilitation works carried out on that should have given them that knowledge to fairly accurately assess the scope and cost.

Would it havebeen better to have done another sleeper cycle on that to keep it in reasonable condition rather than wholesale removal of all timber sleepers and have focused on the closed broad gauge track, fully rehabilitated that with concrete sleepers (to a closer 600mm spacing to future proof higher axleloads and/or speeds), new ballast and new 60kg/m rail (which was subsequently installed on the original standard gauge track) and effectively used the “new” standard gauge track as the principal main and the lightly refurbished “original” SG main as the secondary track.


That would have eliminated the mudhole and the increasing rail condition issues at least for the “new” main and probably minimized the level of disturbance to the “original” SG main and further saved all the issues of doing the upgrade in Victoria “under traffic”. Without doubt that would havesaved initially on capital, disruption costs and as we have subsequently seen substantial on-going rehabilitation works, cost and disruption.

In regard tothe network north of Albury, given its poor state, full concrete sleepering to Junee with drainage and rehabilitated ballast seems obvious but reducing the spacing of concrete sleepers to 600mm spacing would have likely better supported the existing 50/53kg/m rail. Againretaining the very best timber sleepers as feedstock for further north.

North ofJunee on the double track through to say Goulburn would the same model as referred to above for the Seymour to Wodonga double track section have yielded greater benefits more cost effectively. Thatis developing one fully rebuilt very high standard main and having a reburbished secondary main using recycled timber sleepers with bi directional signaling on both mains to enable overtaking moves might have been more effective given the extensive delays caused by superfreighters running behind grain trains in NSW. Yes that would have required additional high speed crossovers but from what I read here perhaps not that many to make this a much more fluid railway whilst reducing overall capital cost for other works. (In fact thedouble track main from Seymour to Wodonga is configured this way and there are many instances of PN and Aurizon intermodals running parallel northbound as part of the evening “rush”).

I reiterate these are only views to engender discussion.
Trainplanner


The point to be made is:

The ARTC did not have a budget for general maintenance that they allocated to the installation of concrete sleepers.

After a number of derailments and significant delays in  summer, they went to the Federal Govenment and asked for special funding for the installation of concrete sleepers as an emergency measure to keep the system running.

So the money was to be used for the installation of concrete sleepers, not general maintenance. Had it been used in the way described above the ARTC would have be open to accusations of fraud.

The installation of concrete sleepers was generally successful although the state of the ballast was not improved. Had there been the funding available, simply cleaning the ballast removed and replaced during the sleeper installation by cleaning before replacement would have greatly reduced any future problems and not cost much, although addtional ballast to replace the 30% or more of dirt would have cost something as would the transport to site of the ballast and the removal of the dirt.

However, the installation of concrete sleepers did not cause problems with mudholes. In general, the mudholes were there before and after concrete sleeper installation and I have photos to prove this in many areas on the NSW main South. It is true that since the concete sleepers were more positively attached to the rail, the pumping effect was worse because the wooden sleepers didn't move much because the rail was mainly attached to them by gravity.

The dramatic speed reductions required in summer have gone. The XPT appears to run to time unless affected by mechanical problems. It is no longer possible in midsummer to drive from Cootamundra to Junee overtaking the XPT legally on a 100km/h highway and taking departure photos in Cootamundra and arrival shots in Junee...   as I have done in the past.

The rectification of ballast is taking place now in NSW. I've seen two different side ballast cleaners parked in Albury at different times, and one of them working out of Goulburn.

But it was the ARTC and its access to the Federal Government that gave us the concrete sleepers. Sydney Trains or RailCorp or Rail Infrastructure Corporation would not have done so because they need to consider first the Sydney commuters who vote for their State Government masters above the needs of private freight operators.

As for slow grain trains, these are mainly run by Pacific National in NSW. Many of the intermodal trains potentially delayed by grain services are also run by PN. Adding a third 81 class to 40 loaded NGKFs on the up would greatly reduce the problem, but Junee Control do allow overtaking at Harden, Yass and Goulburn, reasonably located on the steepest grades.

I've seen 4PS6 overtake a failed grain between Jerrawa and Oolong by taking the wrong line. I think it stayed on that line from Yass until Joppa Junction, and they didn't seem to worry that the signals were facing the wrong way. The grain then managed to restart and no more wrong line working was required.

M636C
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Hence my point about focussing on one main and doing the full job.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Hence my point about focussing on one main and doing the full job.
Trainplanner


But ARTC were not funded to fix half of a double track line (or two parallel lines of different gauge).

The money was provided to install concrete sleepers.

It is very doubtful that the Federal Government would have agreed to spending twice as much on half the tracks, if only because the concept would have been more difficult to explain to the decision makers.

If you doubt this, watch the episode of "Utopia" covering High Speed Rail. Or any of those episodes really.... It is terrifying how accurately those programs reflect considerations within the Public Service.

Concrete sleepers were a simple concept. They provided work in regional areas (Braemar, for example). Politicians could go out and "lay" the one millionth sleeper in Gunning, conveniently close to Canberra and it was painted gold so you could tell it was important.

ARTC played the game and got the results.

In a different universe a more cost effective solution might have worked. But not here...

M636C
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
RelevantArticle from Rail Express -

Article from RailExpress

“Railmarket share - need for more than words  

by MarkCarter  — last modified  Oct 01, 2014 01:51 PM  

VIEWPOINT:Ten years after ARTC took over the New South Wales track lease with the promise of a brave new world for intestate rail, traffic levels are still depressed and show little sign of growing, writes Mark Carter.  

Rail market share - need for more than words.    Whereis the ARTC's growth in interstate rail?


Anecdotalevidence of late from knowledgeable observers of train movements on the North South freight corridor suggests that intermodal traffic volumes on the Melbourne, Sydney Brisbane route are not looking good, this coupled with a drop in East West volumes as a result in a slowdown in the mining construction boom out West.

For a longtime it has been hard to get an accurate figure of rail’s market share on the North South corridor. Over the years, various numbers have been bandied about, ranging from 10% for Melbourne to Sydney and 30-35% for Melbourne to Brisbane.

The figurestoday are probably lower than this, certainly Melbourne to Sydney is in single digits, possibly as low as 5%, and between Sydney and Brisbane it is likely there is very little dedicated traffic these days other than that passing through on its way to and from Melbourne.

It’sprobably worth pointing out here, as I have done in the past, that the Melbourne to Sydney corridor is not quite the basket case the intercity market share suggests, as unlike Sydney to Brisbane there is a reasonable amount of intermediate and intrastate traffic.

ARTC’sFY2013 Annual Report doesn’t give too much away, just reporting non–coal GTKs for the whole network which saw minimal growth in gross tonne kilometres of just over half a per cent between FY2012 and FY2013.  

The big two,Aurizon and Pacific National, aren’t giving too much away either.

For FY2014Pacific National reported a 5.1% decrease in overall intermodal nett tonne kilometres and a 3.2% drop in TEUs, although attributes much of this decline to a 6.1% drop in intermodal volumes on the East West corridor

While itsays long haul North South volumes were weak, these were somewhat offset by short haul volumes on the same corridor, perhaps putting paid to the bureaucratic nonsense we so often hear about intermodal rail only being viable over distances of 1000km or greater.

UnfortunatelyAurizon lumps its general freight task, which can also include remote narrow gauge services in Queensland, in with its interstate intermodal figures for reporting. The company did note that its intermodal business grew by 17% in FY 2014 against the trend of flat market conditions overall, due to new contracts  commencing including Coles andWoolworths, though it doesn’t say how much of that was new traffic for rail and how much it poached from its main competitor.

Aurizon onlysees a modest increase in its bulk and intermodal freight volumes of around 4% in FY2015.

So all thisgot me to thinking.

With thetakeover of the NSW track lease ten years ago by ARTC in 2004, much was made of the upcoming investment programme for the North South route and since then some $3bn has been sunk into the corridor.

Reducedtransit times, heavier axle loads, longer trains and greater reliability were all part of the plan and, the problems on the north-east corridor track in Victoria aside, much of what was promised has been delivered, although the transit times aren’t quite what was hoped for.

Admittedlyalong the way we have had the general economic slowdown, both globally and domestically, that has not helped matters and deterioration in domestic economic conditions, is a recurring theme in both the Aurizon and Asciano (Pacific National) annual reports.

But I alsothink back to that time ten years ago when the likes of David Marchant and Chris Corrigan would get up at industry conferences and spruik the benefits of rail and talk about one day the inevitability of a 60-70% market share on the North South corridor.

It wasn’tjust the huge infrastructure spend that was going to win it for rail, it was the ageing workforce profile for truck drivers, appropriate regulation and charging for the road transport industry and spiralling fuel costs that were also going to help create this brave new world.

And yet herewe are ten years on and the rail industry has failed to capitalise on any of this barely seems capable of treading water.

One of myregular correspondents suggests, “Most of us know that rail freight has largely been left behind in the race to innovation, productivity, reliability and excellent customer service….” They go on, “We must revert to our ongoing argument about Inland Rail - only a new paradigm of productivity, cost and customer service that is so superior to what road can offer will significantly turn around the present gloomy situation on the East Coast.”  

With thisyear’s AusRAIL theme of “Making Innovation Work” it would be nice to see the major players outline how they plan to be innovative about winning back more freight or rail?

In itsannual report Aurizon says it will work with key stakeholders within the supply chain to divert freight from road to rail. OK guys how?

Ten yearson, $3bn of taxpayers’ money spent, a stagnant industry and that’s the best you can come up with?

I’m notsingling Aurizon out here, the industry as a whole has failed take the baton and take advantage of what have been some of the best opportunities it has ever had for advancement.

Innovationdoesn’t necessarily mean having the most up to date technology, sometimes innovation can be as simple as better understanding your customers needs and responding to them - something that feedback from customers continues to show as often being completely lacking.

Do we reallyhave to wait another 10 years before we finally start to see something happening?”

  Piston Train Controller

Since September 2004 the state of NSW has been effectively cut up and divided into three access providers - Sydney Trains, ARTC and John Holland.
Prior to September 2004 all access was provided by the one combined organisation Rail Infrastructure Corporation - what ARTC would call a one stop shop.
We now have three separate Rules and Procedure Manuals, three Train Operating Conditions Manuals. What was once referred to as just Special Train Notices are now Country Train Notices (JHR), Train Alteration Advices (ARTC) and Special Train Notices (Sydney Trains)

Trains running outside the conditions of TOC Manuals require the operators to approach the three access providers (if travelling over all sections) to obtain TOC waivers.

Take the case of a coal train from Baal Bone Colliery to Inner Harbour. John Holland starts the ball rolling and timetables the train from Baal Bone to Bowenfels, then it is Sydney Trains turn to timetable it to Flemington South Junction, then over to ARTC to timetable it on its short journey over the goods lines to Meeks Road South, ah then back to Sydney Trains to timetable it to Inner Harbour.

And after 10 years ARTC still haven't yet got any up to date TOC or RAS manuals in place.

Now consider that prior to 2004 this would have been all done in the one place. Progress? No I don't think so.
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney

And after 10 years ARTC still haven't yet got any up to date TOC or RAS manuals in place.

Piston

Route access standard current as of 17th April 2014, with amendments made in June and September 2014
http://www.artc.com.au/Content.aspx?p=257
http://www.artc.com.au/Content.aspx?p=261
TOC manual is in the process of being converted to RAS, with meetings held in Feb, Mar and June with operators to discuss terms and inclusions. Transition has commenced with the release of historic guidelines, which will serve as the historic document once TOC is converted to RAS.
http://www.artc.com.au/library/RAS_TOC_NSW_Guideline_Information.pdf
For the non-railway background people:
RAS- Route access standard
TOC- Train operations conditions

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