Seaford line speed underwhelming

  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

At last I have managed to travel both ways from HCB to ARS and return on an EMU. (4004 both ways)

Points in favour

  • EMU appearance and interior is of world standard.

  • The seats are reasonably comfortable

  • Both trains ran close to the time table

  • Initial acceleration as expected

The EMUs showed what they might be capable of.


  • Acceleration is not sustained, get to about 40/50 kph and cut off power, corresponds to about the end of most platforms

  • Ride is NOT silky smooth

  • Fan noise in trailer car makes talking difficult and masks the announcements.

  • The Yellow Signal rule.

  • The "express" to Woodlands Park caught up with the preceding Tonsley train at Emerson and was held by a red then did the crawl past the yellows.

I notice that instead of Sunflowers we now have blue/white Forget-me-nots or are they Delphiniums.
There is no excuse for TSRs on a new track which has had 4 months to settle in. The track has settled and could do with a final packing.

I have written a length about ways to make best use of the Yellow Signal rule and considering it would cost no more that $200.00* per stick there is no excuse but bureaucratic obstinacy for not doing it. (* How much does a reflective yellow disc about 400mm diameter with two black numbers on it cost when fixed to the signal post?).

Until the negative issues I experienced have been dealt with and the service accelerated to the capabilities of the EMUs the project to date has achieved little overall. The Goodwood underpass is brilliant and well deserving of a recent Contracting Association award. The Seaford extension is useful apart from the whingers who want dedicated Seaford expresses and damn the other passenger. Could have been provided by 6 more DEMUs and repowering the beloved (to some) Jumbos

The rest makes me wonder where and why the money was spent.

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  mclaren2007 Assistant Commissioner

Location: recharging my myki
The pee-wee rail system here not only has not enough services, but there are more restrictions than open track. There is a 20 kph one through Millswood for goodness sake.

Not to mention many of the stations are third world quality. One wonders where all the money that was spent upgrading the rail system ended up.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

The money spent on electrification was spent well in my opinion, electrification in itself is a positive move towards bringing it into the 20th century even if speeds are not improved. The global supply of equipment for diesel multiple units will start to dry up in the near future as all the major markets (Europe and North America) will be imposing the Tier 4 emission standards at the start of next year, and to date the only compliant multiple unit packages produced either require a raised floor in the centre (possibly in breach of DDA?) or a full-height engine room stealing space from the passenger saloon. Better to start going electric now so that the reliance on diesel units can be reduced and their service life extended until better Tier 4 packages are produced or electrification is extended.

The decision to spend a bit more on getting a genuinely robust overhead setup was also a good one in my opinion. To date we've only had one overhead-related problem (lines were brought down by a train near Noarlunga) where a line with electrification done on the cheap could reliably expect then every few weeks.

I'd give the A-City units themselves a C– grade, maybe a C at best. The air conditioning is ridiculously loud (possibly in breach of DDA?), the ride is terrible and the build quality of the interior feels very cheap - the plastic panels flex and rattle already, I imagine they'll need a mid-life refurb in 4-5 years (just after the last of the fleet finally get delivered) to refit with a well-built interior. I would hesitate to call them "world standard" because I've been on a Siemens Desiro in the UK - they are quieter, ride nicely and feel well-built across the board.

The real problems are the track rebuild and the signalling.

- It's no coincidence that the only bit of the route with a nice ride is also the only bit with slab track - the underpass at Goodwood.

- If the A-City units go any faster than 50-60 km/h they are subject to violent pitching movements on certain segments of track where the DEMUs absorb the movement reasonably well. The track between Mile End and Showgrounds is the worst part of the whole route, correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this section wasn't fully rebuilt with only the turnouts getting replaced.

- The signalling is a complete mess. The budgeted $105 million (who knows what it blew out to in the end?) should have got us a proper in-cab signalling system like ETCS Level 2 with no need for lineside colour light signals outside of the approaches to Adelaide. Instead