Narrandera-Tocumwal line

 
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Hi all,

I've been reading a bit about this line, particularly the submissions to the Inland Rail committee from Narrandera Council.  

From previous threads I've learned the following (subject to clarification in this thread):
- There is doubt on this board as to if there is enough freight to justify reactivation of the line
- The main issue is the bridge and highway at Narrandera, otherwise, the rest of the line shouldn't take "too" much to get back up and running (relatively)
- It would only work if the Seymour-Tocumwal BG line was standardised (which may necessitate Deniliquin-Echuca-Toolamba being standardised for the freight flows to continue)

Some observations
1. The councils in the area don't seem to be as well coordinated as they can be (probably distracted with merger considerations though to be fair)
2. The strategy to link it into the Inland Rail was a little hopeful.  I think it should be kept clean and say that the Riverina wants a more direct connection to Melbourne and try and build the business case from there.  (An operational sector to Narrandera may at some stage help with a business case for a Narrandera-Parkes connection, but lets not get ahead of ourselves)

Some questions:
1. Is the line essentially intact, i.e. they haven't done a Mt Gambier with the line in any of the towns along the way?
2. Has any quality engineering and economic assessment of the line been done?  Ive seen the one done by Narrandera Council, its a start but not as rigorous as I think would be necessary
3. Where does the current freight from the area go to?  Botany/Kembla/Newcastle/Melbourne?
4. Where does the freight picked up in Tocumwal originate from?
5. Anecdotally, is there much road freight south to pick up that would realistically use the line if it were there.  There was talk about the cotton seed in a recent thread, but this might be too far out of the way to really use the line.
6. How easy would it be to operate say Griffith-Melbourne?  You would need to change locos from one end to the other unless they constructed a triangle somehow in Narrandera
7. What is the bridge like over the Murray?  It is used for broad gauge service correct, so should be ok?
8. Would Shepparton etc be favourable to additional train movements through their towns?

Any other comments worth noting?

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  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
The line needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, Including major river/flood plain bridges.

Big $$$

Where will It come from ?

NSW won't be Interested, as It will help more freight flow towards Victorian ports.

It's fully out of the State of Victoria, so not Victoria's responsibility.

Commonwealth only Interested In funding Highways, (for political kickbacks)
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
The line needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, Including major river/flood plain bridges.

Big $$$

Where will It come from ?

NSW won't be Interested, as It will help more freight flow towards Victorian ports.

It's fully out of the State of Victoria, so not Victoria's responsibility.

Commonwealth only Interested In funding Highways, (for political kickbacks)
Nightfire

Does the NSW Government own any of the intermodal ports? If not then why should they are where the freight goes?

The Abbott "Feral" Government is funding the Inland Rail Link.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
NSW would care very much about tax revenues from export related activities.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Hi all,

I've been reading a bit about this line, particularly the submissions to the Inland Rail committee from Narrandera Council.  

From previous threads I've learned the following (subject to clarification in this thread):
- There is doubt on this board as to if there is enough freight to justify reactivation of the line
- The main issue is the bridge and highway at Narrandera, otherwise, the rest of the line shouldn't take "too" much to get back up and running (relatively)
- It would only work if the Seymour-Tocumwal BG line was standardised (which may necessitate Deniliquin-Echuca-Toolamba being standardised for the freight flows to continue)

Some observations
1. The councils in the area don't seem to be as well coordinated as they can be (probably distracted with merger considerations though to be fair)
2. The strategy to link it into the Inland Rail was a little hopeful.  I think it should be kept clean and say that the Riverina wants a more direct connection to Melbourne and try and build the business case from there.  (An operational sector to Narrandera may at some stage help with a business case for a Narrandera-Parkes connection, but lets not get ahead of ourselves)

Some questions:
1. Is the line essentially intact, i.e. they haven't done a Mt Gambier with the line in any of the towns along the way?
2. Has any quality engineering and economic assessment of the line been done?  Ive seen the one done by Narrandera Council, its a start but not as rigorous as I think would be necessary
3. Where does the current freight from the area go to?  Botany/Kembla/Newcastle/Melbourne?
4. Where does the freight picked up in Tocumwal originate from?
5. Anecdotally, is there much road freight south to pick up that would realistically use the line if it were there.  There was talk about the cotton seed in a recent thread, but this might be too far out of the way to really use the line.
6. How easy would it be to operate say Griffith-Melbourne?  You would need to change locos from one end to the other unless they constructed a triangle somehow in Narrandera
7. What is the bridge like over the Murray?  It is used for broad gauge service correct, so should be ok?
8. Would Shepparton etc be favourable to additional train movements through their towns?

Any other comments worth noting?
jamesbushell.au
  1. Nothing torn up or sold off, but it's pretty much a ground-up rebuild in regardless. Especially with the timber bridges
  2. ARTC Inland Rail Alignment Study had a look at it - Google it, the PDFs are still floating around
  3. Melbourne/Geelong by road, otherwise Tocumwal silos or train from the NSW network to Port Kembla
  4. Areas north of Tocumwal - some cotton is a fair bit of the freight IIRC
  5. There's the aforementioned grain along the line at Jerilderie etc that goes by road, otherwise it's really just a shortcut route for Melbourne-bound MIA freight
  6. There's possibly room for a final leg on the triangle at Narrandera, although Google Maps imagery is usually out of date
  7. In theory it's fine, but might need a rebuild if you're going to use it for Inland Rail
  8. Councils around the Shepparton area are in favour of the Tocumwal-Narrandera rail route, it might take some of the northbound domestic freight off trucks. Ultimately Shepparton could put rail along the proposed Shepparton Bypass alignmen of the Goulburn Valley Highway if they want to take freight rail mostly out of the CBD
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Thanks LD for the comments.
I have seen the IRAS report but I'm more interested in a stand alone review of Narrandera to Seymour and what the financials/economics are of that route.  IRAS only talks briefly about it in the context of inland rail and I think the cost to extend from Narrandera to Parkes is probably a larger part of the cost (plus upgrading the line to 115km/h, instead of perhaps an 80km line that might be more cost effective if it is just Riverina to Melbourne.
  GrahamH Chief Commissioner

Location: At a terminal on the www.
James, here is a photo look at Corobimilla location/station ~ 15Km south of Narrandera from 2009.

http://www.ipernity.com/doc/grahamh/album/466569
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Thanks Graham.  I'm no engineer but looks like there is some level of work required there.  Good photos!
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
South of Jerilderie would benefit from some major deviations to straighten out the line - in particular, a direct line between Finley and Jerilderie that follows the Newell Highway, bypassing Berrigan. GATR/NTR (a private-sector Inland Rail proposal that goes via Narrandera) inserts those deviations into their plan, along with several town bypasses.

As for speeds - 115kph running is a must when you're dealing with agricultural intermodal freight.

There was a 1984 study by the Feds that looked at Narrandera-Tocumwal-Shepparton standardisation - "Evaluation of Standard Gauge Rail Connections to Selected Ports". The economics may have changed a tad in the 30 or so years since though.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Yep, I found that report too, though I think it is fairly out of date in a range of assumptions.  Intergovernmental preference for freight feeding through their then owned ports, possible cost inflation issues from government departments, etc etc are just a couple of problems I have with that report.  Lots has changed since then. Some of it has been done, e.g. standard gauge between Melbourne and Geelong though but I'm sure due to another report at another time.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
The Victorian Depart of Transport (and its subsequent reincarnations) has done extensive work on gauge standardization of the Tocumwal and Deliniquin Lines (via Exhuca-Toolamba).  Those studies are as recent as 2014.   The studies do make some reference as well to  benefits that might flow from re-opening through to Narranderra such as considerably reduce distance for haulage of product out of Griffith etc (a saving of the order of 320km per round trip per train if i recall) plus a percentage of traffic originating in the Shepparton/Goulburn Valley area that would head north to Sydney/Darwin that is currently road hauled because there is the double handling of boxes for the gauge change plus the additional distance having to go to Melbourne and then head north.

This traffic was deemed by the Victorians to be of a sufficient volume that was sufficient for the Department at the time to prepare submissions lobbying for the Inland Rail route to go via Shepparton.  The study noted as mentionned here that the railway would have to be effectively rebuilt  and that it would follow the road bypass around Sheeparton with the current line into town along with the Dookie Branch being in effect a spur.   A multi-modal terminal for Shepparton was included in the proposal.

I would not be surprised if the issue of gauge standardization doesn't get raised again at some point over this Government's first term and standardizing to Tocumwal indpendently of the Inland Rail route does at least open this as option going forward
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Thanks Trainplanner.  Are any of these studies public?
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Unfortunately no but there continues to be reference to them from time to time in various transport forums both regionally and in discussion papers which keeps the issue alive so to speak
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Unfortunately no but there continues to be reference to them from time to time in various transport forums both regionally and in discussion papers which keeps the issue alive so to speak
Trainplanner

If the infrastructure guys in Victoria had been serious about their plans they would have already gone up for money.  Call me jaded but is this only an attempt to influence the Inland Rail Link project and in doing so obtain funding for the SG conversation rather than Victoria having to pay for it themselves?

The idea of SG to Tocumwal and linking to points north is surely a sound idea.  Buit other things need to happen also.  SG siding space and port access needs to be improved.  Tottenham Yard and also eastern metro SG yard.

Money needs to be spent across many areas to make the system more competitive.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
I agree with you X31.   Piecemeal approaches never really work.  The whole Victorian network needs a fully integrated and well developed strategy covering passenger and freight.   But even so the Victorian guys did put a strong case for the Tocumwal route option.   The blocker however was and is ARTC's strong bias (which I get) to try and maximize the investment already made on the existing corridor between Melbourne and Parkes via Cootamundra.  Whilst this might be a genuine consideration the route via Tocumwal would be shorter and faster as well as tapping into the freight flows of the Goulburn Valley.

If you look at the current SG route the only business is out of Ettamogahm Bomens etc but that would continue to exist anyway.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
But even so the Victorian guys did put a strong case for the Tocumwal route option.   The blocker however was and is ARTC's strong bias (which I get) to try and maximize the investment already made on the existing corridor between Melbourne and Parkes via Cootamundra.  Whilst this might be a genuine consideration the route via Tocumwal would be shorter and faster as well as tapping into the freight flows of the Goulburn Valley.

If you look at the current SG route the only business is out of Ettamogahm Bomens etc but that would continue to exist anyway.
Trainplanner
I can see why ARTC would think that way - the Shepparton route would take much of the grain, Melbourne-Brisbane, Melbourne-Perth and Riverina traffic away from the existing corridor. Additionally, as highlighted in other discussions, Inland Rail is meant to be about the Northern NSW and Toowoomba Range Crossing, not the Riverina.

All that says is that either the ARTC could use the Shepparton route as an excuse to defer further duplication...

Or that a private venture could set up on that route in competition with the ARTC. If it's a better route, it should be utilised!

...eastern metro SG yard...
x31
That's not going to happen on its own either.

In any case, if Tocumwal (& Deniliquin) standardisation stacks up, V/Line should do it anyway - sooner rather than later. That way, Victoria could get four main standard gauge freight lines: Adelaide, Mildura, Tocumwal and Albury. Standardising those lines plus related branch lines might end up hitting a tipping point for standard gauge vs broad gauge freight in Victoria.
  DL_Daily Junior Train Controller

Just a comment or more rightly an actual assessment of the narrandera tocumwal line the line "does" require a ground up rebuild.

I travel this route regularly and there is substantial flood damage, all bridges will need to be replaced, the highway crossing would need to be rebuilt including raising up 10m above ground level the crossing on the leeton - narrandera road off the triangle at Narrandera does not exist and would need a new bridge to be built.

Will be driving this route again sunday so may get some specific photo's of the line.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
@x31 - I agree, the pitch to Inland Rail appears to be a ploy to get funding for the line to be redone.  Its clear to me that the local areas want it, but just don't have the coordination to get it to happen, not least of which to get a credible feasibility study done.  ARTC doesn't want to do it for the reasons noted by @LancedDendrite.  But in time, the Melbourne-Albury-Parkes route will start to experience congestion as it serves Melbourne-Sydney and Melbourne-Brisbane, and an alternate route via Tocumwal-Junee may provide additional capacity, so I can see ARTC in the long run looking at it.  Also, the bottleneck between Seymour and Melbourne on SG will become a problem and having dual and possible triple track in that area should provide all the capacity that is needed between those two points.  Really, I wonder what capacity local government has to really pull together and get something to happen in the short term though?  It would be a tough one and would need some commitment from industry players (like a John Holland for below rail and a decent size above rail firm).  Thoughts?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
In theory, National Trunk Rail (NTR) has a consortium ready, but I suspect that they wouldn't be able to do much without State or Federal compulsory acquisition powers being delegated to them. Given that multiple states are involved, I don't think you'd end up with any of the states supporting it. So you'd end up with the Feds being involved, private investment or not.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I don't really know how serious NTR really are.  Apart from a powerpoint presentation there is very little detail out there and what is, just doesn't sound right to me.

And I'm not sure how much the compulsory acquisition powers would be needed, given that to get the line started, the right of way is already there, its a matter of fixing it up from whatever level of disrpair it is in and conversion in Vic.

- edited for fact correction
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
You'll find that a significant deviation would be required between Finley and Jerilderie in order to bypass those town centres as well as bypass the dog-leg to Berrigan.
Plus, if you're going to also link Parkes and Narrandera you're going to need a significantly long greenfields line - NTR/GATR proposes a new line from Narrandera to Caragabal (where it links up with the Stockinbingal-Parkes line) via Temora to complete the southern section of Inland Rail.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
It must be made clear that the present track Is more or less unusable ever again "unfixable" In a form of static preservation (abandoned)

To reopen the line and use It by mainline freight services @ 80km/h + as many have proposed.

A rebuild from the ground up with many diversions and town bypasses would be required (to meet the many public requirements that are In place today by the many Government departments)
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I don't think the point is to link Parkes to Narrandera at all - that ship has sailed and is too costly.  I think the various councils on the line have been wanting to move freight to rail and reduce the local road maintenance costs/reduce vehicle traffic etc, plus provide faster cheaper access to Melbourne/Geelong port to enhance business in their area and maintain jobs.  So id be thinking that a Narrandera-Tocumwal reactivation and a Tocumwal-Seymour conversion to provide that link.  This would connect with Inland rail at Junee and might provide a secondary route in the event of capacity issues via Albury (or blockages/maintenance etc) but for now wouldn't be relevant.

The question for me is whether such a route, for freight from Griffith and the Riverina to Melbourne via Tocumwal would make economic sense, without any consideration of the Inland Rail elements.  This would only be future optionality.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
It must be made clear that the present track Is more or less unusable ever again "unfixable" In a form of static preservation (abandoned)

To reopen the line and use It by mainline freight services @ 80km/h + as many have proposed.

A rebuild from the ground up with many diversions and town bypasses would be required (to meet the many public requirements that are In place today by the many Government departments)
Nightfire
What work has been done to support that though.  I don't believe for a second that a train could roll up to Narrandera (I've seen the road crossing in Narrandera myself, but not all of it is a total writeoff I'm sure.  Im not being controversial, just wanting to see evidence of fact is all.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I have read this doc that gives some indication of the line, but really not sure how reliable it is.  It doesn't look to have any engineering signs etc and whilst I give him points for what is obviously a bit of work, I don't know if the local councillor is necessarily the right person to author this report.  But its a start and does suggest one view of the condition of the rail.  Something tighter with a construction engineer's signoff of some sort would be better.

https://infrastructure.gov.au/rail/inland/submissions/files/Narrandera_Shire_Council.pdf

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