Mildura Standard Gauge conversion

 
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Actuly that is a very good idea. By swapping the platform use at ballarat and standard gauge to Ararat and Maryborough you can teturn the overland back to running via ballarat.

An added advantage is the ability to run ballarat to Ararat and beyond services for Horsham at a later date.

I like your proposal Barrington

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  x42 Junior Train Controller

Location: NSW
Spot on Barington. You would already know that Maryborough to Ballarat has almost every crossing dual gauged.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
Yes. Also beyond Maryborough has been done.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Yes. Also beyond Maryborough has been done.
Barrington Womble

The line to Korong Vale have certainly also been completed as you say. Adopting your proposal what would you do with the Cross country line Castlemaine if anything?

SG into Bendigo an option?

Would you convert most of North Geelong Yard?
  x42 Junior Train Controller

Location: NSW
Castlemaine to maryborough if reactive could be an alternative freight route for Deniliquin and piagil freight if maryborough to Ballarat was dual gauged. Remember there are grain mills in melbourne that need the Bg access. However I think Deniliquin to Echuca could be Standard gauge as well via tolamba and seymour and if that's the case the entire vic grain lines will be Sg baring the Swan Hill and closed dookie line.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
The line to Korong Vale have certainly also been completed as you say. Adopting your proposal what would you do with the Cross country line Castlemaine if anything?
bevans
I wouldn't bother with it, unless there is a viable use for it (freight).

SG into Bendigo an option?
"bevans"

I don't see how it would be of any benefit.

Would you convert most of North Geelong Yard?
"bevans"

That would make sense, as most of the northbound trains stable there.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
Castlemaine to maryborough if reactive could be an alternative freight route for Deniliquin and piagil freight if maryborough to Ballarat was dual gauged. Remember there are grain mills in melbourne that need the Bg access. However I think Deniliquin to Echuca could be Standard gauge as well via tolamba and seymour and if that's the case the entire vic grain lines will be Sg baring the Swan Hill and closed dookie line.
x42
Dual gauge is out of the question, as anything on broad gauge would be restricted to 80km/h or lower. At present, the passenger train is capable of 100km/h. I doubt very much that V/Line would want the speed of their train dropped, as what little patronage there is will start driving their car instead, as it will be quicker. The section of dual gauge between Maryborough and Dunolly is speed restricted to 50km/h, I believe. Better to forget dual gauge. It's not worth the hassles.

If (and that's a big 'IF') the Goulburn Valley line (Seymour - Shepparton - Tocumwal) ever gets standardised, the Toolamba - Echuca - Deni line would probably be standardised, to get freight off of the passenger network. If Dookie were ever to re-open, it too would be standard gauge as it branches off at Shepparton. There are also no grain mills in Melbourne with rail access that I can think of. Kensington is no longer used, I have been told. It's just a simple matter of carting the grain to the ports for export, all of which have standard gauge access.

Bendigo - Echuca, and Swan Hill? No. That won't happen. It's easier to have a couple of captive broad gauge grain rakes for these lines, and simply run them via the Bendigo mainline at night, after the passenger trains have stopped running.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
IIf Dookie were ever to re-open, it too would be standard gauge as it branches off at Shepparton. There are also no grain mills in Melbourne with rail access that I can think of. Kensington is no longer used, I have been told. It's just a simple matter of carting the grain to the ports for export, all of which have standard gauge access.
Barrington Womble

There was a train in Kensington earlier this week I was told.

Dookie will re-open, some work being done already to look at costs. Graincorp want and need it.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
There was a train in Kensington earlier this week I was told.
bevans
I stand corrected if that is the case. I know it's not long for the world.


Dookie will re-open, some work being done already to look at costs. Graincorp want and need it.
"bevans"

Interesting. I have heard that the line through from Murrayville to Pinnaroo might be on the cards for re-opening, if the line from Tailem Bend shuts. This is of course, totally unconfirmed. Graincorpse have a reletively new loading complex at Pinnaroo, so there need to be some sort of rail access, as that is what has been built for. I'd hazard a guess that any standardisation of the Mildura line, would have to include the line to Pinnaroo being looked at.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I stand corrected if that is the case. I know it's not long for the world.
Barrington Womble

The sidings have been concrete re-sleepered.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
The sidings have been concrete re-sleepered.
bevans
That doesn't mean a thing if there is no use for it.

Anyway. This is supposed to be about the Mildura line, and I fear we're getting off topic...
  X'Trapolis-904M Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Kensington is gone
WHAT
[img]
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
The simplest and cheapest thing to do is standardise and upgrade the existing infrastructure, that being North Geelong - Ballarat - Maryborough, and beyond. Building a new line from Llascelles to Hopetoun is a pointless exercise, and will only escalate the costs further. There is also no guarantee that the soil between the two points will be any better than the Litchfield area, plus you have the added costs of acquiring land, and building the new line. A loader at Tempy is a far more cost effective solution. Don't forget that there is a railway which already exists between Maryborough and Ararat. All that would be needed is a new junction or a triangle at Ararat for direct access to Maroona.
Barrington Womble
The 'railway' between Ararat and Maryborough isn't exactly in the best condition and not having a Hopetoun Line-based shortcut to the Western SG disproportionately increases the mileage required to reach Portland (for grain) or Hamilton (for mineral sands). That's why it's being looked at quite closely in the Murray Basin Rail Project report - lots of track access fees for mineral sands freight compared to grain.

In the end, the best way to do it is to stage it:
  1. SG from Yelta-Donald (with a possible Mildura Rail Bypass via Thurla) with a cross-country Litchfield-Minyip link
  2. SG from Donald to Dunolly, Dunolly-Manangatang and Korong Vale-Sea Lake (converting all of the NW grain to SG, except for Swan Hill/Piangil)
  3. Convert Geelong-Ballarat to dual gauge and either Ararat-Ballarat or Marybugger-Ballarat to SG. Not both at once, you want to enable through-running for Ballarat Vline services for at least one of them. There are pros and cons for each.

Ararat or Maryborought to SG? That is the question.
Maryborough-Ballarat would be better for intermodal services that stop by Donald and for Melbourne- or Geelong-bound grain services, but ARTC would like to use Ararat-Ballarat-Geelong as a second track for the Western SG. And of course, through-running to Horsham etc for Vline Ararat services.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
[quote=X'Trapolis-904M]Kensington is gone
WHAT
[img][/quote]
Train into Kensington last Thursday 19-2-2015. http://www.railpage.com.au/railcams/bunbury-street/photo/16387451270
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Spot on Barington. You would already know that Maryborough to Ballarat has almost every crossing dual gauged.
x42
Likewise all the level crossing that were upgraded in the Mildura area a few years ago had the third rail installed.
This is standard practice these days in areas where gauge conversion is even a remote possibility.

Even AN did it in the 1980's on the NG grain lines in SA's mid north. I remember the level crossings on the Wilmington line being Dual gauge NG/SG back then.
  ARodH Chief Train Controller

Location: East Oakleigh, Vic
Odd that, going by google streetview Dec 14 shots of metro Ballarat, not all crossings along that route have been dual gauged and some with unused track have been non-convertible concrete sleepered.
  blowfish Junior Train Controller

One way to address the passenger service issues to Ararat and Maryborough, would be to convert to SG and have a dedicated service operate between the two towns, changing directions at Ballarat. The only problems would be services terminating at Wendouree, and the Ballarat North workshops.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
The only problems would be services terminating at Wendouree, and the Ballarat North workshops.
blowfish
That's no problem, the South track from Warrenheip down to Ballarat East could be dual gauged, dual gauge through Ballarat yard/Station through to Ballarat North.

At Ballarat North the disused South track towards Wendouree would be rebuilt to standard gauge with a second platform built at Wendouree (for the standard gauge) the broad gauge would end at the existing platform (or a train stabling yard built there)

Ballarat North Workshops gets both gauges.
  ARodH Chief Train Controller

Location: East Oakleigh, Vic
That makes more short term sense than rehabilitating the Ararat to Maryborough SG which to provide a direct passenger service needs platform access at Ararat. But considering Mildura is closer to Adelaide why has no one thought about converting or making dual gauge the Mildura-Ouyen-Pinnaroo section or is that too much of a political hand grenade?
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

I reckon, given the amount of money being mentioned, LancedDendrite is right. New line Litchield-Minyip, convert from there to Mildura (and Yelta) and as far as standard gauge access to Mildura, you're done. That's simple, and needs no dual gauge.

I don't believe this is being done to return passenger services (bus via Swan Hill is quicker), but purely for freight, mainly to get grain onto SG. You could convert to SG the short distance from Litchfield to Donald to get grain from there onto SG. There is then no need (at this stage) for the SG Dunolly-Maryborough-Ararat, with grain off the lines beyond Korong Vale remaining BG.  The Ararat-Maryborough line is not really suitable for anything much - it's a branch line by nature. Perhaps a later phase might convert those lines to SG, but I don't believe that anybody really wants to mix SG and BG.

With SG north of Donald and BG from Dunolly south, what is left on the old Mildura line? Does grain originate anywhere between Dunolly and Donald? St Arnaud? It might be that section of line is closed, or at least left to disintegrate.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
But considering Mildura is closer to Adelaide why has no one thought about converting or making dual gauge the Mildura-Ouyen-Pinnaroo section or is that too much of a political hand grenade?
ARodH
You've probably described that well, there has never been much state to state co-operation**
Not that the SA gov controls the Mallee lines, that's in G&WA's basket. Remembering that such a proposal would require a few dollars thrown at the Tailem Bend - Pinnaroo line which basically has a 30kph speed limit the entire way.
And as a side note rail from Mildura to Adelaide via Pinnaroo just can't compete with the Sturt Hwy.

** On saying that I read in this mornings Sunday Fail that both Victorian and South Aussie Premiers have signed an agreement of co-operation to lobby the Feds to make sure the Future Subs are built in Australia.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
But considering Mildura is closer to Adelaide why has no one thought about converting or making dual gauge the Mildura-Ouyen-Pinnaroo section or is that too much of a political hand grenade?
ARodH
There's been plenty of consideration. The following questions are pertinent:

What volumes of freight would you get on such a "small-scale" gauge conversion?
You've got grain, but not in huge volumes compared to the south of Ouyen. There's containers from Wakefields out of Merbein (Mildura). Mineral sands freight is near Ouyen, mined around Kulwin.

Where does the freight want to go?
Wakefields exports containers via the Port of Melbourne - would they be willing to export through Adelaide? Grain would have to go through Adelaide. Graincorp uses Geelong and Portland for export, not Adelaide. Iluka's mineral sands go to a processing plant at Hamilton, then onwards to Portland for export.

Are there future freight opportunities that could be realised better through this option?
I can think of precisely one at present - SCT freight from Big W's Monarto and/or Woolworth's Gepps Cross distribution centres to Mildura. Both distribution centres are currently unconnected by rail, but close by. Alternatively, the service could be run out of SCT's Penfield site. It wouldn't be highly frequent service but it could be attached to an existing service such as a Wakefield's train.

How much would it cost?
Consider that the Tailem Bend-Pinnaroo line is a grain branchline, not an ARTC mainline. Likewise, the Pinnaroo/Panitya-Ouyen line is also a grain branchline and is in an even worse shape. It might seem like a lower cost because you're not building a new railway line, but you might end up having to replace every bit of the existing railway line to get it up to the ARTC mainline standards that you'd want for it to be economical.

Who is going to fund it?
In the case of the Murray Basin Rail Project, the answer is Victoria. If the freight that went exclusively through Victoria goes to South Australia instead, Victoria won't fund it. The Feds aren't interested at present, South Australia has bigger fish to fry and the ARTC won't go it alone for what would be essentially a glorified branchline.
The Pinnaroo line is owned by GWA - would they transfer or lease it to the ARTC or Vline for a fair price?

Based on that, the answer is 'don't bother' - compared to the status quo, the "Pinnaroo Option" is worse.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Further information on the Pinnaroo option can be found here: http://www.rdamr.org.au/fileadmin/user_upload/Riverland/documents/Mallee_Freight_Study__FINAL.pdf
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
That's no problem, the South track from Warrenheip down to Ballarat East could be dual gauged, dual gauge through Ballarat yard/Station through to Ballarat North.

At Ballarat North the disused South track towards Wendouree would be rebuilt to standard gauge with a second platform built at Wendouree (for the standard gauge) the broad gauge would end at the existing platform (or a train stabling yard built there)

Ballarat North Workshops gets both gauges.
Nightfire

This to myself seems a very sensible approach.  Let's hope common sense and a long term approach to a unified network is built.

What is this tempy loader for Mineral Sands being talked about on here?  Is this in addition to the current loader on the Hopeteun line?
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
The 'railway' between Ararat and Maryborough isn't exactly in the best condition and not having a Hopetoun Line-based shortcut to the Western SG disproportionately increases the mileage required to reach Portland (for grain) or Hamilton (for mineral sands). That's why it's being looked at quite closely in the Murray Basin Rail Project report - lots of track access fees for mineral sands freight compared to grain.
LancedDenrite
One question: are you actually familiar with the areas you're talking about, beyond looking at a map or satellite image?

The Ararat to Maryborough line might not be in the best condition, but at least it actually exists. The rails and earthworks are already in place. Basically you only need to clear the line of vegetation; improve drainage, and replace sleepers to get it going as a freight only line again. Your Hopetoun proposal doesn't exist, and hasn't even hit paper in recent times as far as I am aware (has it even been studied by a government body in the last 10 years?). Have you thought about the red tape, and some of the costs involved be in constructing the line you're proposing?

- Feasability studies.
- Surveying to find the most practical route.
- Environmental impact studies.
- Land acquisition.
- Funding of materials.
- Funding construction.
- Testing, and commissioning.

You still have no guarantee that the soil doesn't shift either. I think you will find that there are far more costs involved in building that railway, than what there would be in overhauling, and upgrading a line which is already in place.


In the end, the best way to do it is to stage it:
  1. SG from Yelta-Donald (with a possible Mildura Rail Bypass via Thurla) with a cross-country Litchfield-Minyip link
LancedDenrite
Again, you have the added costs of constructing a new railway. Remembering that the government is going with the easiest, and cheapest option available. That option is to simply standardise what is already there, and overhaul what has already been converted in the past. If there has to be a new line built, worry about it after the existing Mildura line has been converted. I think you'll find there would be very little, if any merit in constructing it - especially given the proposed loader at Tempy.


  • SG from Donald to Dunolly, Dunolly-Manangatang and Korong Vale-Sea Lake (converting all of the NW grain to SG, except for Swan Hill/Piangil)
  • LancedDenrite
    So what you are proposing is that an empty grain train has to run from North Geelong to Murtoa; then up the Minyip, and across to Donald (locos run around, and pump the brakes up); then back down to Dunolly (locos run around, and pump up brakes again), and up the branch to either Sea Lake or Manangatang, and return loaded that way? That's going to make it easier for road transport to compete, and you're effectively adding a lot more time with shunting, and 265km of un-needed kilometres (one way only), simply for a train to get from North Geelong to Korong Vale, compared with the existing route via Maryborough and Ballarat, where little to no shunting is required. I am sure PN would love you, as they won't be getting their payload to the port as quickly, and will have the added crew; fuel, and wear and tear costs added to what they're already doing successfully at a lower cost, in far less time. I don't think any operator would appreciate these added costs, and operational additions. If the train must go to Portland (which none of the grain trains radiating off of the Mildura line do), then it would be far simpler for it to go to Ararat from Maryborough, with a direct link added at Ararat for access to the line at Maroona. This would especially be the most viable option if the grain is coming off of the branch at Dunolly, as a lot of it does.


  • Convert Geelong-Ballarat to dual gauge and either Ararat-Ballarat or Marybugger-Ballarat to SG. Not both at once, you want to enable through-running for Ballarat Vline services for at least one of them. There are pros and cons for each.
  • LancedDenrite
    The world wonders why dual gauge keeps coming up. Forget it. You will never get an audience if you're seriously considering dual gauge to be an option on the mainline, as it is too restrictive operationally, and rail operators (V/Line, ARTC et al) absolutely hate it. You might put it in as an interim measure in Ballarat yard, but only to facilitate standard gauge trains being able to access the Maryborough line.


    Ararat or Maryborought to SG? That is the question.
    Maryborough-Ballarat would be better for intermodal services that stop by Donald and for Melbourne- or Geelong-bound grain services, but ARTC would like to use Ararat-Ballarat-Geelong as a second track for the Western SG. And of course, through-running to Horsham etc for Vline Ararat services.
    LancedDenrite
    That is a no brainer. Maryborough. It's on the Mildura line for a start, and that is where all of the freight is coming from. The only thorn in the side is Ballarat and the V/Line services to Melbourne, as these will stay broad gauge. This can easily be solved if/when the line through to Ararat is standardised, by moving all V/Line operations to the northern side of the station, and having anything heading north or west of Ballarat use the southern side of the station, and the centre road.

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