Western/South Western and rest of network interoperability

 
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Just wondering, how much of the Aurizon (or other operators) rollingstock/locomotives work in the Western/South Western line and also on the rest of the Qld NG network? Ie, are these lines in some ways separate/independent from an physical operations perspective compared to the rest of Aurizons network?  Ive seen references here saying that they often receive hand me down rolling stock from the central lines etc and they seem to have more of an agricultural focus than the Central etc. Thoughts?

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  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

The lines west of Brisbane are restricted to 15.75 and 16.0-tonne axle load rollingstock, with only a few exceptions the rest of QR network is 20-tonne axle load and Aurizon's network is almost entirely 26.5-tonne axle loads. The largest locos currently allowed to work west of Brisbane is the 96-tonne 2250hp 2300D class (rebuilt from the 1970-1982 era 1550/2400 series classes). Elsewhere 114-tonne 3000hp DC and 120-tonne AC traction diesels are standard as are 5300hp 132-tonne electric locos. Aurizon's coal fleet used in the Toowoomba region consists of 13 41-wagon sets of mostly 64-tonne gross wagons dating from the 1970s and 1980s. Aurizon has four 38-wagon grain sets of 64-tonne gross ex-coal hoppers of the same vintage which shift between Toowoomba and Mackay grain operations as harvesting moves up and down the coast during the year. QR and Aurizon are currently the only operators on the lines west of Brisbane.

However, at this moment QR is upgrading the Western Line and improving tunnel clearances and track capacity west of Ipswich, which will eventually allow 20-tonne axle load locomotives, maxicube containers and 106-tonne coal hoppers to operate to Toowoomba and beyond. Aurizon has indicated it will be withdrawing all of its 15.75-tonne locomotives from operation by 2026 so a solution to the axle load restrictions on the Western and South Western lines will have to be found by then.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Thanks Sulla.  I thought it would be you with the details!
I wasn't aware that the lines are only 15-16t rated.  That seems so low.  In the Inland Rail Business Case it mentions that most grain is trucked to the Port of Brisbane which explains why.  Inland Rail might really offer a big chance for Qld to upgrade some of the lines and really provide a competitive rail connection to the Port.  Would Pacific National/others operate on it with the higher axle weights, or will the gauge issue still limit the number of operators?
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Would Pacific National/others operate on it with the higher axle weights, or will the gauge issue still limit the number of operators?
jamesbushell.au
Possible If they could use their standard gauge grain fleet, that could chase the grain harvet as It moves across the country.

Narrow gauge, they wouldn't be Interested !
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

PN is now Australia's second largest narrow gauge operator with 64 120-tonne PN, 83 and 88 class diesels operating in Queensland (and 42 71 class electrics). All of their narrow gauge rollingstock is restricted to 20 and 26.5-tonne lines. In the days before the Aurizon/QR split there was some speculation that the archaic standards being retained on the Western Line to the Surat Basin coal mines was an attempt to lock PN out of that market. The current upgrades will allow PN's Queensland operations to enter the Western Line markets (and there are a few rumours around that this will happen).

Aurizon has longstanding contracts with GrainCorp in Queensland, but in the deregulated grain market another grain handler may quite easily sign up with PN. No new grain wagons have been built for the Queensland market since the early 1980s, so it's possible GrainCorp or alternative grain handlers will eventually acquire new 80-tonne grain wagons and pursue hook and pull contracts like those used in other states if axle load upgrades occur across the Queensland grain network.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/app/basic/photos/photo/105775504115823972113/6066910082346824258?cbp=80kta0rljrnk&sview=20&cid=5&soc-app=115&soc-platform=1&pct=ab&pcv=6066910078955830577&spath=%2Fu%2F0%2Fapp%2Fbasic%2Fphotos%2F105775504115823972113%2Falbum%2F6066910078955830577&sparm=cbp%3D1cewv3825sepl%26sview%3D26%26cid%3D5%26soc-app%3D115%26soc-platform%3D1%26spath%3D%2Fu%2F0%2Fapp%2Fbasic%2F105775504115823972113%2Fphotos%26sparm%3Dcbp%253D1cewv3825sepl%2526sview%253D26%2526cid%253D5%2526soc-app%253D115%2526soc-platform%253D1%2526pgpnum%253D1%2526spath%253D%2Fu%2F0%2Fapp%2Fbasic%2Fstream%2526sparm%253Dcbp%25253Dc992v3uouvhi%252526sview%25253D26%252526cid%25253D5%252526soc-app%25253D115%252526soc-platform%25253D1

http://www.graincorp.com.au/_literature_89207/Queensland_Regional_Map
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Thanks Sulla.  I thought it would be you with the details!
I wasn't aware that the lines are only 15-16t rated.  That seems so low.  In the Inland Rail Business Case it mentions that most grain is trucked to the Port of Brisbane which explains why.  Inland Rail might really offer a big chance for Qld to upgrade some of the lines and really provide a competitive rail connection to the Port.  Would Pacific National/others operate on it with the higher axle weights, or will the gauge issue still limit the number of operators?
jamesbushell.au
Yes very much out of date axle loading.

The Inland will offer grain operators to use wagons that will contain nearly double the capacity per wagon, trains at least as twice as long and a round trip journey time from Goondawindi maybe as much as half the time with a number of competing operators ready to take it on.

So a major boost in productivity and would expect that rail will again reclaim much of the lost tonnages in grain and containers.

QR's current upgrade should improve rails usability and competitiveness, but hopefully if all goes to plan the current NG rail route over the range is abandoned in another 10 years time in favor of the new route.  

NG trains may survive on western line, but I think SW will be all SG.

As others have said, no one will compete for traffic on NG in SW/W lines, too much risk.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
NG trains may survive on western line, but I think SW will be all SG.

As others have said, no one will compete for traffic on NG in SW/W lines, too much risk.
RTT_Rules
So standardisation might be on the cards for the Western/South Western line you think?
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I don't know what future the Toowoomba - Warwick - Wallangarra line has ?

It may die In 2026 along with light axle load trains.

Unless It can be upgraded and standard gauged, with an aim the breath a whole new lot of life Into rail In the New England Region (Including restoration of the NSW SG line to Armidale)

The Warwick towards Goondiwindi line would die after the opening of the Inland railway, the line towards Dirranbandi would have to put a up a good case for upgrading and standard gauging to survive abandonment !
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I don't know what future the Toowoomba - Warwick - Wallangarra line has ?

It may die In 2026 along with light axle load trains.

Unless It can be upgraded and standard gauged, with an aim the breath a whole new lot of life Into rail In the New England Region (Including restoration of the NSW SG line to Armidale)

The Warwick towards Goondiwindi line would die after the opening of the Inland railway, the line towards Dirranbandi would have to put a up a good case for upgrading and standard gauging to survive abandonment !
Nightfire
I can't work out if there is any significant freight to move from New England to Brisbane that would warrant it (im using Armidale-Tenterfield, exclude Moree etc from this definition of New England).

Warwick-Goondiwindi is probably ok to go once Inland Rail is there.  It will be like the Texas branch, sitting and waiting (for who knows what)?
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
(im using Armidale-Tenterfield, exclude Moree etc from this definition of New England).

Warwick-Goondawindi is probably ok to go once Inland Rail is there.  It will be like the Texas branch, sitting and waiting (for who knows what)?
jamesbushell.au
Yeah I had an Idea the New England Region, crossed the boarder Into QLD (As the name of the Highway does)
So New England and Southern Downs Regions.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
(im using Armidale-Tenterfield, exclude Moree etc from this definition of New England).

Warwick-Goondawindi is probably ok to go once Inland Rail is there.  It will be like the Texas branch, sitting and waiting (for who knows what)?
Yeah I had an Idea the New England Region, crossed the boarder Into QLD (As the name of the Highway does)
So New England and Southern Downs Regions.
Nightfire
There isn't really a solid definition it seems, so no worries there.  I was just excluding Moree etc as thats clearly already got good rail connection.
  locojoe67 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gen X purgatory/urban Joh-land
When and if inland rail goes ahead, all the narrow gauge south and Southwest from Toowoomba is done and dusted.

The last freight South of Warwick was apples from The Summit in 2007. Before that the line survived a closure attempt in 1995. Much as I like it, I can't see any reason it would remain.

Any last remaining freight on the Thallon line has given gradually squeezed onto roads with very little remaining. Aurizon isn't terribly interested, and range access slots are prioritised to coal. The Sg track will pick up any freight that's left in the region.

If the inland route gets dual gauged, there might be some shortfall stuff up for grabs, but Aurizon has no interest in seasonal or low volume freight on the ng, and selling the old Clydes overseas ensures any potential shorthaul operators get no ideas.

Plus, while local members talk it up in the press there is little monetary support for establishing new loading facilities, and community opposition usually agitates against new maintenance or storage depots. Look how long it took to get Casino approved...
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Maybe what will happen is that when IR is in, the locals will push for the NG to be standardised to connect and allow other operators in?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The New England Railway survives south of Armidale in SG and nth of the border in NG, but there is no freight. I think freight trains to Tamworth have even become sporadic after the loss of diesel. The local council has tried to get freight back on the rails to Armidale to ensure the passenger only line remains, but apart from a short spurt of long, zip.

As some one in another post said recently the lack of freight probably tells you there is nothing to justify building the southern branch in SG.

Certainly on the Qld side, non-coal freight was pushed off the rails in the W and SW lines. Removal of subsidised freight services did the rest.

The line west of Thallon (ie Dirabandi) is now gone.


The Inland is proposed to come up the nth side of the range to Toowoomba, go around the back of Toowoomba through Oakey etc  then to direct to Millerium and then to Inglewood, follow the NG to Yelarbon Qld and then direct to Nth Star grain silo in NSW and connect with the SG network which is being progressively upgraded to interstate standard in readiness.


The intention for this route is to grab the coal tonnages. Will the SG go beyond the last coal mine???? Probably not.

From Yelarbon, there is I think a proposal to convert the local line to SG and run to a container depo and grain silo near Goondawindi. ARTC proposals says the line from Inglewood will be DG, I call BS on that and a waste of money.

Its 50km from Yelarbon to Goonda, I would have confidence this will happen, especially if the rails can be reused on SG sleepers and a new bed. Not hard to shut the line down for a few months while this happens.

Its then another 150km to Thallon. I don't know if there are any silos mid way, but there would need to be a reasonable amount of grain out that way to justify the effort.

Auizon maybe lazy at the moment (real or perception), but its hardly an incentive to get that grain and road costs are probably not that much more expensive. Coal is much easier. With SG, the route is shorter, faster and trains will carry over twice as much grain per movement and trains can be used elsewhere far easier, hence rail costs should be far more competitive. And if you don't want it, someone else will. I suspect things will change with SG as far as Grain is concerned and we may see Nth Star (which is roughly in the middle between Brisbane and Newcastle ports by road at least) and other grain silos in NSW head to Qld.

As previous poster said, NG from South of Toowoomba is on borrowed time and including through Toowoomba itself.

Longterm I think its hard to see the new line up the range having a 3rd NG rail for too long unless the Qld govt puts pax services on it. By the time 2025 comes around, the Clydes will be relics not worthy of commercial freight use so their sale OS is not a disincentive.

Interesting article on ABC website that says there is no expectation for the Inland Railway to ever make enough money to repay its $10B construction costs over 60 years, hence private money will be lacking unless a large carrot is thrown out there.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
On New England, agreed, it was me that made the statement about the lack of freight being the indicator.  They'll have to stumble on a currently unknown deposit of something to get that one open (unless there is freight I don't know about).

I see that the line Yelarbon-Gowndiwindi-Thallon though could have potential to upgrade. That area is pretty productive for wheat and cotton, like Moree etc, and will produce.  Cubbie Station is up in that area somewhere.  If they did SG that line, it would allow freight operators to serve the whole of the northern NSW and downs area with he same trains, which could be quite beneficial.  Perhaps some intermodal could end up happening too with cotton, like is done out of Moree.  To me this represents an opportunity for Queensland Govt to make some significant infrastructure investment that, without IR, would make no sense, but with IR, probaby gets across the economic benefits line.  Hey, if they don't need to DG the line to Yelarbon, that will save some $$ that the Feds might be willing to invest in Qld somewhere.

As to the line out to Dalby, this is less clear.  Coal trains need to run all the time so closing the line isn't going to be at all easy (or possible).  It would make sense though for the same reasons.  Im not sure though how far out (i.e. how far to Quilpie/Cunnamulla) would make sense to NG.  If you don't NG, then that track is basically gone as the point of the exercise is to get rid of DG...

If you go SG, you'll get PN and Qube looking to add services, which won't be a bad thing.  And slowly, more of the national network becomes SG improving the overall network economics.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
And yes, Inland Rail isn't forecast to cover its capital costs through the access charges it can charge, though this will definitely cover maintenance costs etc.  The broader economic benefits accrue to the community hence the govt i suspect will do it like they do highways all across the place.
  Toddy1 Station Staff

I'd agree that there's no point keeping the NG south and south-west of Toowoomba, but I think that the Western line may linger on in it's narrow gauge form. The vast majority of the issues associated with the western line at the moment revolve around the excruciating climb up and down the range. A new DG line up to Toowoomba (or north thereof) eliminates a lot of the need to standardise all the way out to the mines as well as the various grain silos which are still seeing use out that way. It also means that grain wagons and other rolling stock can still be transferred around the state to where they are needed, rather than further isolating the central/northern division rail-wise.

Once the range is sorted, I don't think there would be a huge number of issues with improving the axle load to 20t west of Toowoomba... but of course I don't really know.

As for the SW line, well it's toast and it has been since it was built. The sooner they can get SG to Goondi the better.


Oh and finally, DG up the range will keep local councils happy as it keeps the possibility of a passenger service from Brisbane alive.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Oh and finally, DG up the range will keep local councils happy as it keeps the possibility of a passenger service from Brisbane alive.
Toddy1
Ill open up a can of worms and ask why they couldn't SG the line from Toowoomba/Ipswich into Roma St...!
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Oh and finally, DG up the range will keep local councils happy as it keeps the possibility of a passenger service from Brisbane alive.
Ill open up a can of worms and ask why they couldn't SG the line from Toowoomba/Ipswich into Roma St...!
jamesbushell.au

- Loading gauge clearances
- Cost of building extensive number of complex DG points

The last thing the Ippy line needs is more traffic from out west. Its basically at capacity in peak now or will be in short future. If the CRR or what ever is actually built, then you have less surface traffic to Roma St and you can run the four tracks into the station more easily. Currently most trains come up the suburbans then after Milton jump across to the mains to access Platforms 8 and 9. The direct access to the other platforms 3-7 is too congested with southern line traffic.

If the CRR was done, then the next step for Toowoomba traffic is to probably build a single passing lane on the Western line between Darra and Ippy, a bit like the 3rd track on GC line was originally intended before it became popular. But again this will be NG.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I'd agree that there's no point keeping the NG south and south-west of Toowoomba, but I think that the Western line may linger on in it's narrow gauge form. The vast majority of the issues associated with the western line at the moment revolve around the excruciating climb up and down the range. A new DG line up to Toowoomba (or north thereof) eliminates a lot of the need to standardise all the way out to the mines as well as the various grain silos which are still seeing use out that way. It also means that grain wagons and other rolling stock can still be transferred around the state to where they are needed, rather than further isolating the central/northern division rail-wise.

Once the range is sorted, I don't think there would be a huge number of issues with improving the axle load to 20t west of Toowoomba... but of course I don't really know.

As for the SW line, well it's toast and it has been since it was built. The sooner they can get SG to Goondi the better.


Oh and finally, DG up the range will keep local councils happy as it keeps the possibility of a passenger service from Brisbane alive.
Toddy1
Coal traffic will probably jump on the SG as soon as its open or within a few years.

You are right, the new line and extra capacity will probably help bring back other traffic for points further west, but if its NG. There won't be alot of bidders for the work.

The S/SW network is already isolated from the CQ/Nth sections. Going SG won't affect it further. If anything going SG will boost tonnages in the SW/W with no negative impact on the CQ and NCL/Mt Isa networks.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Coal traffic will probably jump on the SG as soon as its open or within a few years.
RTT_Rules
Only if it is SG from their loading point all the way to port.  If its still NG, it will stay on NG.  I think you mean the DG inland rail connection when you say SG?
  Toddy1 Station Staff

I'd agree that there's no point keeping the NG south and south-west of Toowoomba, but I think that the Western line may linger on in it's narrow gauge form. The vast majority of the issues associated with the western line at the moment revolve around the excruciating climb up and down the range. A new DG line up to Toowoomba (or north thereof) eliminates a lot of the need to standardise all the way out to the mines as well as the various grain silos which are still seeing use out that way. It also means that grain wagons and other rolling stock can still be transferred around the state to where they are needed, rather than further isolating the central/northern division rail-wise.

Once the range is sorted, I don't think there would be a huge number of issues with improving the axle load to 20t west of Toowoomba... but of course I don't really know.

As for the SW line, well it's toast and it has been since it was built. The sooner they can get SG to Goondi the better.


Oh and finally, DG up the range will keep local councils happy as it keeps the possibility of a passenger service from Brisbane alive.
Coal traffic will probably jump on the SG as soon as its open or within a few years.

You are right, the new line and extra capacity will probably help bring back other traffic for points further west, but if its NG. There won't be alot of bidders for the work.

The S/SW network is already isolated from the CQ/Nth sections. Going SG won't affect it further. If anything going SG will boost tonnages in the SW/W with no negative impact on the CQ and NCL/Mt Isa networks.
RTT_Rules
Definitely agree about the S/SW lines, the big question mark is about how much of the Western Line would be standardised... regardless, this is probably still several years down the track so there's not much point speculating too much!
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Definitely agree about the S/SW lines, the big question mark is about how much of the Western Line would be standardised... regardless, this is probably still several years down the track so there's not much point speculating too much!
Toddy1
Disagree, this is exactly the place we should speculate widely and speculate often!  Just keep it sensible!
  locojoe67 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gen X purgatory/urban Joh-land
The new line down the range is big ticket, one of the biggest of inland rail, and it's gauging will have several knock-on effects. Once at the bottom of the hill, it will deviate from rosewood to kagaru. This will be freight only.

Dual gauge up the hill means pressure for passenger trains but this still isn't a given.  Narrow gauge into Toowoomba will go, and a hideous pre-stressed concrete structure will go up somewhere on the north side of town. Rolling stock would be needed, and a few trains a day would be the most optimistic outcome.

Fate of the Western line is still very unclear. Passenger is pretty much gone. Some coal may still run.

The existing line to spring bluff and down to Murphy's Creek would make a nice heritage line. Maintenance would be a smeg, though, and would need subsidising. Not likely in the current climate.

Thallon and the closed section to Dirranbandi was built as a border fence railway with standards to match. Upgrading is very unlikely. A modal interchange on the new yelarbon to Millmerran section might attract funding. It would be expensive and in the middle of nowhere to avoid the nimbys.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Fate of the Western line is still very unclear. Passenger is pretty much gone. Some coal may still run.

Thallon and the closed section to Dirranbandi was built as a border fence railway with standards to match. Upgrading is very unlikely. A modal interchange on the new yelarbon to Millmerran section might attract funding. It would be expensive and in the middle of nowhere to avoid the nimbys.
locojoe67
Why do you say this?  Its pretty productive agricultural land there.  If they built it to 'protect the border' doesn't that mean there is something to protect?

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