Mildura Standard Gauge conversion

 
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
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?
bevans
I would presume so.

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  duttonbay Minister for Railways

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.
Barrington Womble
The difficulty in the first phase is going to be mixing BG and SG, and using the Maryborough-Ararat lines has that interface occurring at each end. It also has about a 10km grade, much of it at 1-in-50, against loaded trains, followed by a similar distance down 1-in-50 grades.  The grades book also shows the alignment has curves down to 20 chains, although I have no idea what impact that might have on speed. You would also need a triangular junction to be built at Ararat, with the BG line running through it somehow, to remove the need for trains to reverse directions at Ararat.

Build a new line between Litchfield and Minyip and the SG North and Western lines are totally separated from the BG until you get to Geelong, with the "beyond Korong Vale" lines remaining BG until any possible later phase.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
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?

...

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.
Barrington Womble
For the record, Litchfield-Minyip has been studied before - as your weasel-wording ("the last 10 years") suggests.

Litchfield-Minyip was studied in the early 1980s as part of V/Line's grain network revitalisation report; it was discounted because the Adelaide-Melbourne line was still broad gauge and there was no export mineral sands traffic to Portland.
It has also been studied in the 2014 Murray Basin Rail Project report and will be featured in the forthcoming business case that will appear this year. The cost of the 35km Litchfield-Minyip line is estimated in the 2014 Murray Basin Rail Report to be $110 million. Pending the business case, I think it would be worth it.


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.
Barrington Womble
Fine, consolidate stages 2 and 3. Going via Ararat-Maryborough is still the long way around compared to going via Maryborough-Ballarat to get to Geelong.

If the train must go to Portland (which none of the grain trains radiating off of the Mildura line do)
Barrington Womble
They don't go to Portland because they bloody well can't at the moment, for reasons that you should be aware of already. Trans-shipment isn't a proper solution.

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.
Barrington Womble
It's only a problem for BG services. Most services would be SG - all the freight and any passenger services (should that happen). I'm only saying make it dual gauge because of the need to get access to the Ballarat North Workshops for BG rollingstock transfers. If that's not an issue due to track duplication on the Ballarat-Melbourne line or whatever, then make it SG-only. Doesn't bother me.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
For the record, Litchfield-Minyip has been studied before - as your weasel-wording ("the last 10 years") suggests.
LancedDendrite
For the record...? No weasel words from me either.

The only mention of any line connecting the line to Hopetoun from Mildura was via Llascelles. That was only speculation and rumour in 2001. Most likely that came from somebody talking about your 1980's study, and another person adding 2+2, and coming up with 7. I had absolutely no knowledge of the 1980's study until now. When people were talking about it in 2001, I simply discounted it as a rumour. A few times it has cropped here since, and has recieved the same amount of consideration as a realistic option: absolutely none.

Until this supposed proposed line has it's business case put foward, and approved; it does not exist, and is not an option.


Litchfield-Minyip was studied in the early 1980s as part of V/Line's grain network revitalisation report
LancedDendrite
That's very current. How much added cost, and red tape is there now compared to the 1980's, and have you factored that in with your opinions?


it was discounted because the Adelaide-Melbourne line was still broad gauge and there was no export mineral sands traffic to Portland.
LancedDenrite
The mineral sands traffic is transported from Hopetoun by rail currently. There is talk of a new loader being constructed at Tempy, to get the load off of the roads. In effect, this could mean that Illuka simply start operating their train from Tempy once the Mildura line is standardised, and the Hopetoun site will close. Tempy is a fair bit closer to the mining sites than Hopetoun as well, so this would make sense and help minimise road travel. It would also void the need for any sort of connection to Hopetoun.


It has also been studied in the 2014 Murray Basin Rail Project report and will be featured in the forthcoming business case that will appear this year.
LancedDenrite
Where can one access the report then? I have looked, and cannot find it anywhere.

Remember that there has been a change of government, and anything not essential would have been pared from the list. Most likely, this would have included a non-existing connecting line, which really won't be of much benefit. Certainly there is no mention of it on the Victorian Government's website (updated 18th of Feb, 2015):

The State Government has invested $30 million towards stage one of the project which involves a package of essential maintenance works of the Mildura freight line, between Yelta and Maryborough.
Victorian State Government website
My bolding. At no point does it mention construction or even the study of any new railway, merely the upgrade and/or overhaul of the existing route to Mildura from Maryborough. That is only stage one.


The cost of the 35km Litchfield-Minyip line is estimated in the 2014 Murray Basin Rail Report to be $110 million. Pending the business case, I think it would be worth it.
LancedDenrite
Cite? There is nothing on the government website about constructing any new lines, only upgrading the existing railway between Maryborough and Yelta, and presumably the grain lines from Dunolly. Who told you that this proposed line is pending a business case?

The website lists Stage Two as:
The business case is currently being finalised for stage two which involves standardising and increasing the axle loading of lines in the Murray Basin.
Victorian State Government website
Again, nothing about constructing a new railway, which as you state has been estimated at costing $110 million - nearly half of the money which has been put forward for the upgrading of the existing route. Why also, would you go to the trouble of the expenditure of upgrading the line between Maryborough and Yelta if there is no plan to standardise it beyond Maryborough to Donald as part of that stage? The only anomaly I can spot is that there is no listing of where trains would run south of Maryborough. This could suggest that perhaps the line through to Ararat is a possible option.


Fine, consolidate stages 2 and 3. Going via Ararat-Maryborough is still the long way around compared to going via Maryborough-Ballarat to get to Geelong.
LancedDenrite
No, you're still leaving things wide open for road transport to take away the traffic, and increasing the time and distance that trains are running by effectively having them "backtrack" to access Dunolly. Your staged proposal simply won't work, as you are not prioritising the most direct route for standardisation, which is via Maryborough and Ballarat. It is direct for both grain traffic to Geelong, and container traffic to Melbourne. The Ararat to Maryborough line has only been mentioned as a route for accessing Portland only.


They don't go to Portland because they bloody well can't at the moment, for reasons that you should be aware of already. Trans-shipment isn't a proper solution.
LancedDenrite
Ten years ago, there were trains running direct from Dunolly to Portland, but they were few and far between. It had nothing to do with the condition of the line either. There simply wasn't the need for trains to run there. It might also surprise you to know that in the last 15 days, there have been two grain trains going into Portland, and they are the only two this year. The traffic is simply not there, as most standard gauge grain trains go to either North Geelong or Appleton Dock for discharge. That is simple fact.


It's only a problem for BG services. Most services would be SG - all the freight and any passenger services (should that happen). I'm only saying make it dual gauge because of the need to get access to the Ballarat North Workshops for BG rollingstock transfers. If that's not an issue due to track duplication on the Ballarat-Melbourne line or whatever, then make it SG-only. Doesn't bother me.
LancedDenrite
I'm simply telling you why dual gauge won't work. Maryborough to Dunolly was done as a short term measure until the rest of the line was standardised. Broad gauge trains are now restricted to 50km/h between those two points because of it. It doesn't bother me if you care or not, to be honest. It's just simple fact, and shows that your idea wasn't as good as you thought it was.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me

Mineral sands freight is near Ouyen, mined around Kulwin.
LancedDendrite
Is this still happening?

My last few trips along the Mallee Hwy (June and Dec '14 and Jan '15) has seen the Mine deserted, gates locked up, temporary office buildings removed and the High Voltage Power Feeder (from Ouyen) turned off. (As an Electrician I know what it means when Feeder Line Isolators are left open - eg turned off)
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
The only mention of any line connecting the line to Hopetoun from Mildura was via Llascelles. That was only speculation and rumour in 2001. Most likely that came from somebody talking about your 1980's study, and another person adding 2+2, and coming up with 7. I had absolutely no knowledge of the 1980's study until now. When people were talking about it in 2001, I simply discounted it as a rumour. A few times it has cropped here since, and has received the same amount of consideration as a realistic option: absolutely none.
Barrington Womble
The 1980s study was the "Grain Handling Review", which was performed by CANAC (Canandian Consultants Ltd.) in 1985. Here's the link, should you wish to look it up yourself: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/18118347?selectedversion=NBD7179237


The mineral sands traffic is transported from Hopetoun by rail currently. There is talk of a new loader being constructed at Tempy, to get the load off of the roads. In effect, this could mean that Illuka simply start operating their train from Tempy once the Mildura line is standardised, and the Hopetoun site will close. Tempy is a fair bit closer to the mining sites than Hopetoun as well, so this would make sense and help minimise road travel. It would also void the need for any sort of connection to Hopetoun.

The question remains: how do you get the mineral sands freight to Hamilton from Tempy? The shortest routes are to use a new cross-country link from either Llascelles or Litchfield to access the Hopetoun line. Going via Marybugger and Ararat is a bit roundabout.

Where can one access the report then? I have looked, and cannot find it anywhere.
Barrington Womble
It's titled the "Murray Basin Region Freight Demand And Infrastructure Study". It was on the DPTLI website last year, but it seems to have gone missing. No matter, I have a copy: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7196649/Final-Murray-Basin-report-July-2014.pdf


Cite? There is nothing on the government website about constructing any new lines, only upgrading the existing railway between Maryborough and Yelta, and presumably the grain lines from Dunolly. Who told you that this proposed line is pending a business case?
Barrington Womble

It's what GHD are doing for the DTPLI. It's in the report:
Recommendation 3: Identify a preferred standardisation option and produce a business case for Government consideration and funding allocation.
Page vi

Stage 1 of the project is/was essential maintenance - nothing to do with gauge standardisation. The standardisation options for Stage 2 all come in at under $220 million each in the report, including new railway lines when needed. They are being considered in the business case - it's being done by the same people.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Is this still happening?

My last few trips along the Mallee Hwy (June and Dec '14 and Jan '15) has seen the Mine deserted, gates locked up, temporary office buildings removed and the High Voltage Power Feeder (from Ouyen) turned off. (As an Electrician I know what it means when Feeder Line Isolators are left open - eg turned off)
Pressman
Kulwin finished up in 2012 it seems. Now they're closer to Tempy:

Their current mine will run out in 2015, but a rail loader at Tempy would be able to be utilised for the Nepean and Balranald mines.

And to clear up any confusion: Iluka Resources is the mining company and Kalari is the trucking company that does the bulk handling on road.
  62440 Chief Commissioner

I note the Mildura has a new City Manager who has moved from a General Manager level for a well known railway and is a keen campaigner and who will be able to take a critical look at the potential for track upgrades.
  Neece Beginner

Kulwin finished up in 2012 it seems. Now they're closer to Tempy: Their current mine will run out in 2015, but a rail loader at Tempy would be able to be utilised for the Nepean and Balranald mines.

And to clear up any confusion: Iluka Resources is the mining company and Kalari is the trucking company that does the bulk handling on road.
LancedDendrite

Hi. Could you please explain this in more detail.  Where is the proposed Tempy loader and how will this assist Balaranald?  is this line still open?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Hi. Could you please explain this in more detail.  Where is the proposed Tempy loader and how will this assist Balaranald?  is this line still open?
Neece
The 'Tempy loader' is a loading facility that would be constructed near Tempy Railway station on the Mildura Railway Line for the transhipment of mineral sands. Iluka Resources doesn't take long to exhaust their individual mines - a few years at each site before rehabilitating them and moving on. Because of that, trucks are going to be needed to tranship between the mine site and the railhead.

The advantage of Tempy over the existing loading ramp at Hopetoun is that it would be closer to the proposed mine sites at Nepean and Balranald - provided that the Mildura line is converted to standard gauge. That's the critical bit - the loading ramp has to be on a standard gauge line so that the train can run direct to the mineral sands processing plant at Hamilton.

Of course, if the Korong Vale (Sea Lake and Manangatang) lines were gauge converted in the near future then a loading ramp at Manangatang would be even better because it would be much closer to the mineral sands deposits.
  Neece Beginner

Thank you for your response.  Balranald is a long way from tempy. Not sure people want loads of trucks running through their township.  Robinvale would be closer and that line could be converted to SG with the Mildura line.  What do you think?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Thank you for your response.  Balranald is a long way from tempy. Not sure people want loads of trucks running through their township.  Robinvale would be closer and that line could be converted to SG with the Mildura line.  What do you think?
Neece
Robinvale is closer, but the line from Manangatang to Robinvale is very poor quality (track class 5 - top speed less than 50 kph and minimal line maintenance).
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

Robinvale is closer, but the line from Manangatang to Robinvale is very poor quality (track class 5, which is
LancedDendrite
What happens if they rip up the old track and replace it entirely?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
What happens if they rip up the old track and replace it entirely?
Duncs
A lot of money is spent. 'Whose money?' is the pertinent question.

There's an interesting argument that the line should be left truncated at Manangatang (which has a large grain terminal) and an intermodal facility for handling road trains and very large trucks (HPFVs in industry parlance) be developed at this terminus in addition to a mineral sands loading facility. The theory being that you can reduce the impact of HPFVs and road trains on Victorian country roads by consolidating them into trains to head towards Melbourne for distribution or export - with sufficient incentives to encourage this, of course. Another benefit is that truncation would free up maintenance funding otherwise allocated to maintaining the Robinvale-Manangatang section to further upgrading the rest of the line.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Robinvale is closer, but the line from Manangatang to Robinvale is very poor quality (track class 5 - top speed less than 50 kph and minimal line maintenance).
LancedDendrite

There is a lot of grain north of Robinvale which is still stored at those silos.  Upgrade the line and build the mineral sands loader at Robinvale.  The road between Manangatang and RobinVale is class 10.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
The industry trend seems to be towards larger farm-site storage for loading bigger trucks to send towards consolidated grain handling sites. Consolidating at Manangatang and closing the line towards Robinvale saves money that can be reinvested into upgrading the rest of the line, as I outlined earlier. I also note that GrainCorp doesn't list Robinvale as a future rail-capable receival site in their Project Regeneration plan.
Money doesn't grow on trees and just because a section of line was built in the past doesn't necessarily mean that it should be kept on life-support for posterity.
  Hitachi Assistant Commissioner

The industry trend seems to be towards larger farm-site storage for loading bigger trucks to send towards consolidated grain handling sites. Consolidating at Manangatang and closing the line towards Robinvale saves money that can be reinvested into upgrading the rest of the line, as I outlined earlier. I also note that GrainCorp doesn't list Robinvale as a future rail-capable receival site in their Project Regeneration plan.
Money doesn't grow on trees and just because a section of line was built in the past doesn't necessarily mean that it should be kept on life-support for posterity.
LancedDendrite

Closing lines does not save money.  it costs money.  It costs more to maintain the road than the rail line.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
There is a lot of grain north of Robinvale which is still stored at those silos.  Upgrade the line and build the mineral sands loader at Robinvale.  The road between Manangatang and RobinVale is class 10.
bevans
Define alot? How many tonnes per year?
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
A few questions

1. When will the line close to BG traffic?

2. How long will the conversion works take?

3. What will maryborough yard look like post the conversion?
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

A few questions

1. When will the line close to BG traffic?

2. How long will the conversion works take?

3. What will maryborough yard look like post the conversion?
bevans
From the official website: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/projects/rail-projects/murray-basin-rail-project/

"From August 2017, the Maryborough to Yelta and Ouyen to Murrayville rail lines will be shut for five months to transform and standardise these corridors.
Stage two works also include upgrading and reopening of the Maryborough to Ararat rail line which has been closed for more than a decade."

From what I'm hearing, about half the roads in the Maryborough yard will be removed.  It'll be interesting to see if any BG traffic occurs between Maryborough and Sea Lake/Manangatang during this 5 month period.

Ararat line work will probably begin in earnest mid-2017.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
From what I'm hearing, about half the roads in the Maryborough yard will be removed.  It'll be interesting to see if any BG traffic occurs between Maryborough and Sea Lake/Manangatang during this 5 month period.

Ararat line work will probably begin in earnest mid-2017.
Carnot

I suspected the usual Victrack shambles.  A local has provided am update stating the yard was full of grain this and last week so with half the yard gone and new traffic opening how will this now be managed?  Seriously.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Yes the Maryborough Yard situation is a concern when the Murray Basin Project is about revitalizing regional freight and hence an increase in both tonnage and train numbers.   Sure you might use this project as an opportunity to do some minor rearrangement to improve or streamline yard operations but certainly not to reduce capacity. With an upgraded mainline track it maybe that freight services may not need to be staged as frequently as they appear to be now but essentially Maryborough as a junction station whether your heading to Ararat, Portland, Geelong etc represents the only real location that you can stable a train because of port congestion, re-crewing or other operational reasons.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Good post @Trainplanner which makes us all reflect about who is making these decisions and if they know anything about rail.  Capacity needs to be placed back into the network for those lines and yards.  I can imagine Redcliffs yard might also be damaged with this project preventing another operator getting access to another location in that area since Irymple and Mildura yards are gone.  Mildura yard now a disused wasteland since PN took over.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
It's more of a case that Maryborough yard needs modernising to reflect the needs of train movements of today and the future, not the train operations the occurred back In the 1960 & 70's

Fewer but longer sidings to stable a full train length (without the need the break up a train)

If they could get rid of broad gauge from Maryborough, that would very much simplify the yard completely.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Good post @Trainplanner which makes us all reflect about who is making these decisions and if they know anything about rail.  Capacity needs to be placed back into the network for those lines and yards.  I can imagine Redcliffs yard might also be damaged with this project preventing another operator getting access to another location in that area since Irymple and Mildura yards are gone.  Mildura yard now a disused wasteland since PN took over.
x31
Redcliffs yard? little more than a spur! >>> http://www.sa-trackandsignal.net/Pdf%20files/VCRN/VL1176.pdf

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