Murray Basin standardisation

 
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
The only issue up in the air (and for me a no brainer) is a review of the current proposal to dual gauge all the way from Maryborough to Gheringhap. This may very likely be just dual gauge only between Maryborough and Ballarat.
Trainplanner

Is that implying complete standardisation Ballarat-Gheringhap? That would make sense, given the recent work on the Ballarat-Melbourne line (Rowsley Loop) and the increasingly likely Melton-Deer Park duplication project.

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  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Yes.  V/line only wanted this section dual gauged so it could use this route for empty car movements.   The order of magnitude cost to dual gauge that section is around $50 million, which is totally unjustified for such limited use and because the next state budget is very likely to include a project for major capacity upgrade of the existing Ballarat route which I foreshadowed earlier.   That order of magnitude saving (I prefer not to describe as a cost reduction by reducing scope because the requirement is not justified) will fund the heavier rehabilitation of the Portland Line (well justified) and enable other elements of the overall project to be considered).   Out of interest it is a similar cost to dual gauge the Ballarat Line for just 1 daily round trip by V/Line.   I say find suitable a single railcar and 1 spare unit operate a standard gauge shuttle to and from Ballarat and do thre round trips per day for much lower cost than the $50 million track cost and be able to operate that shuttle at a higher track speed than the 80km/hr speed limit that will be imposed.   A far superior result for all parties including customers.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
The only issue up in the air (and for me a no brainer) is a review of the current proposal to dual gauge all the way from Maryborough to Gheringhap.   This may very likely be just dual gauge only between Maryborough and Ballarat.
The money that could be saved by just gauge converting the Gheringhap to Warrenheip track (dual gauge from Ballarat to Warrenheip) would be better directing towards adding much needed extra track capacity between Deer Park West and Warrenheip.

Maryborough passenger train could also be a SG shuttle, saving more on messy DG track work.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Ooops my post above meant to say Maryborough regarding dual gauging the Ballarat to Maryburough section.
  mm42 Chief Train Controller

Won't the dual guaging quickly become a stranded asset ? Firstly once V/Line get their new stabling and maintenance facility at Mt Duneed, there will be much less need for transfers between Ballarat and Geelong. Secondly, when the Geelong line is electrified (as per long term plans), there would be absolutely no need for such transfers because the regional electrics would be confined to the Geelong route.

One of the few requirements of such a link would be for Metro train transfers to the Ballarat workshops (if they continue to win contracts), but this is hardly worth a $50m investment when night transfers are a much lower cost option.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

Now the funding of  $ 420m + seems all tied down, all that remains is to fine tune the project and get it right . Get it right in terms of  fully converting the North West to sg and getting rid of the totally unnecessary dual gauge sections insisted on by former VLP management in :

-  Just convert to standard gauge (NO  dual gauge complications )  Maryborough - Ballarat Workshops.& Warrenheip - Gheringhap.
-  Dual gauge only  Warrenheip - Ballarat - Wendouree
- PLUS  standardize  Wendouree to Ararat

The money saved on NOT dg  Gheringhap to Maryborough will more than pay to covert the Wendouree - Ararat line to sg .

Then have a small  sg  V/Locity fleet based at Ballarat running  initially  Ballarat - Ararat (& potentially Horsham) and Ballarat - Maryborough, and ultimately Ballarat - Geelong .

Same platform interchange at Ballarat with bg V/Locity services to/from Melbourne .  Simple, clean efficient and minimizes dual gauge trackage .  Saves initially on capex on dual gauge is avoided totally, and on going track maintenance costs are less with single gauge track than dual gauge .  Also avoids / minimizes 80kmh running for bg  VLP on dg track sections .

VLP &  Metro broad gauge placements to Ballarat East & Workshops can take place still via Ballan at Off Peak times or  overnight .

One wonders why  PTV, Government ever even entertained the luxury dicates of VLP in requiring dg from Maryborough to Gheringhap, and the lack of vision at VLP in not including coversion of Wendouree to Ararat to sg .  Hopefully a new CEO and management structure at VLP will be more flexible in their thinking on this any many other issues where VLP have previously had a broad gauge ONLY train set mentality .  

Like it or not VLP need to UNDERSTAND & ACCEPT that increasingly more of the Country network is going to have to go sg to survive particularly from a freight viewpoint .

The more of the freight network that goes sg just brings closer the standardization especially of the freight only lines.  Nostrildamus points to Goulburn Valley next for standardization  Mangalore -  Tocumwal, & Toolamba - Echuca - Deniliquin .; leaving Seymour VLP on bg .
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
@kuldalai, lets throw some $$ in to your analysis

Saved cost of not DG Maryborough-Gheringhap                                           (114m)

Average cost to gauge convert of program           $250k/km
Distance Ararat-Ballarat                             approx. 100km
Distance Maryborough-Ballarat                   approx.   75km
Distance Ballarat-Gheringhap                     approx. 70km

Lets say total distance to gauge convert is therefore 250km

Cost of gauge conversion                                                                                       62.5m
Lets be conservative and add around 50%                                                              100m

Net                                                                                                                          (14m) - ie a saving of the current funding

This leaves I would say plenty to convert 2 or 3 Velocity sets to SG for the proposed Horsham-Ararat-Ballarat and Maryborough-Ballarat-Geelong services.  The only cost i don't know is the cost of passenger inconvenience of changing trains at Ballarat, but this would need to be offset with the potential benefits of additonal passengers from Horsham and Geelong.

So, it may be quite possible within the current funding allocation to achieve what you are saying, assuming that the Metro movements can be reaccomodated at no material cost.

ALL FIGURES from the Murray Basin Rail Project Business Case, page 124, and done at a VERY high level.

EDIT - forgot to add in Ballarat-Gheringhap as SG, and have then reduced the conservatism in the conversion costs to around 1.5x instead of 2x
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Converting the network from BG to SG is just not enough.  Operators need open access terminals around the state to enable customers to get access to rail.  This is left out of the project everytime and is my point. Moving a rail a few inches does not make a viable network.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
@bevans, agreed, though opening the gate to more SG operators may make some business cases for such intermodal terminals that little bit more positive.  Which can then be part of a second round of funding.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
One wonders why  PTV, Government ever even entertained the luxury dicates of VLP in requiring dg from Maryborough to Gheringhap, and the lack of vision at VLP in not including coversion of Wendouree to Ararat to sg .  Hopefully a new CEO and management structure at VLP will be more flexible in their thinking on this any many other issues where VLP have previously had a broad gauge ONLY train set mentality .  

Like it or not VLP need to UNDERSTAND & ACCEPT that increasingly more of the Country network is going to have to go sg to survive particularly from a freight viewpoint .
kuldalai
It's particularly important to put some of the redundancy back in the standard gauge system and Gheringhap-Ballarat-Ararat would be an important step in doing that. Some of the costs of network operation could be split with ARTC and it also opens up the possibility of the Overland servicing Ballarat again; possibly integrated with a proper Wimmera V/line service.

V/line are already operating a small standard gauge fleet with the Albury group; it's only a matter of time before they'll have to invest in more standard gauge facilities/vehicles. Trying to remain on broad gauge for as long as possible is only postponing the inevitable; it's been more than a hundred years since the Fisher government decided that standard gauge was going to be our national gauge.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I would go as far as to say @don_dunstan V/Line prefer to trickle progress as much as possible for two reasons, firstly they are already out of their comfort zone on a lot of issues regarding management and running of the network, and two they are not in favour of change.  Any business or organisation which is standing still is going backwards.

Sure we have the arguments of rising passenger numbers and yes this is good news, but this was always going to happen and V/Line management knew that.  Maybe "limping along" is acceptable at V/Line when addressing real issues.

V/Line need a management team who are change focused and who are ready and willing to embrace the new challenges.  I am on record regarding the SG changes around Ballarat being positive.  Get SG in now and be done with it. V/Line have the ability to maintain all SG rollingstock (Vlocity) at Ballarat if this is setup correctly. SG conversion of all lines west, south  and north of there should be a priority. V/Line management should see this change as positive and an opportunity to update service planning for Ballarat. Industry in Ballarat should also see this as positive.

Ballarat could again become the main centre of rail in and out of the west of the state.  This opportunity should not be missed.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Has anyone sent this idea into the Minister and obtained an official response?  Regardless of what this response is, it would be interesting to see what the response is.
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.

Complementing this is a program to rehabilitate and strengthen the Maroona to Portland Line for 21 tonne axleload, to complement the 21 tonne axleload standard the project is delivering elsewhere.   It is understood this is line with proposals to boost rail business through Portland Port.
Trainplanner
That's interesting Trainplanner, have I missed something, when and where was this announced ? It was of course a necessity to compliment the rest of the planned up grade but knowing how government works, not up grading this line would be just something they would do and defeat the intended purpose of the program.

BigShunter.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
The last 3 posts are right on the money as to what should be the strategy for getting the Murray Basin Project right.   There should be no dual gauge north and west of Ballarat (except between Ballarat and Wendouree) and even here there is sufficient corridor width to have a separate broad and standard gauge track and then only dual gauge the platform road at Wendouree. if that solution was deemed easier than dual gauging the entire section.   The length of the main platform at Ballarat should be able to accommodate both a standard gauge V'Locity set and a broad gauge set so that you can undertake very convenient same platform transfers between the Melbourne broad gauge service and the Maryborough/Ararat/Horsham standard gauge services.

In 2012 a very comprehensive study (repeated again later) looked at the standardization of the Goulburn Valley Network and that is in the scheme of things quite straightforward and in railway cost terms not that expensive at around $200 million ish.   (This would leave Seymour on broad gauge and Shepparton services on standard gauge).   There was at that time some concern about the capacity of the standard gauge south of Seymour but even with a beefed up Shepparton service of say 6 round trips per day it is not that number of additional trips on a corridor that as it sits today is very underutilized especially during the day when most passenger services operate.

There will be a replacement for the N class sets, that's inevitable.   Standardizing the Goulburn Valley and the Ballarat-Ararat does then open up more realistically the opportunity for a standard gauge fleet of a reasonable size to service the NE, Goulburn Valley and the west and NW corridors, which would be standard gauge versions of what is procured for the BG N set replacement.   It's pretty obvious to me at least that any new "N" set replacement fleet for both BG and SG needs to have a dedicated service facilty as that is part of the problem as to why our InterCity services are now so heavily run down.   If that dedicated facility at say Tottenham was configured for both gauges then the logistics of transferring sets between gauges for major overhauls and heavy repairs would largely be overcome and the quality of product given to longer haul services would be significantly improved.

Turning to the current project I am still very disappointed that it is not moving from 19 tonne axleload to 23 tonne axleload in one hit.   An increase in axleload to 23 tonnes would increase the capacity of a 40 wagon grain consist by around 700 tonnes per set.    Running 23 tonne axleload on 41kg/m rail can be done.   The Kalgoorlie to Leonora Line in WA still has sections of 41kg/m rail and sections of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs Line also does.   Both these rail lines carry considerably higher tonneages than we would expect in the Murray Basin.   I quickly add in case I'm pulled up that yes the Alice Springs section in particular requires rerailing now but even so the lighter rail has been able to support quite high tonneage, 23 tonne axleload for around 30 years
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Turning to the current project I am still very disappointed that it is not moving from 19 tonne axleload to 23 tonne axleload in one hit.   An increase in axleload to 23 tonnes would increase the capacity of a 40 wagon grain consist by around 700 tonnes per set.    Running 23 tonne axleload on 41kg/m rail can be done.   The Kalgoorlie to Leonora Line in WA still has sections of 41kg/m rail and sections of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs Line also does.   Both these rail lines carry considerably higher tonneages than we would expect in the Murray Basin.   I quickly add in case I'm pulled up that yes the Alice Springs section in particular requires rerailing now but even so the lighter rail has been able to support quite high tonneage, 23 tonne axleload for around 30 years
Trainplanner
What is needed to take the TAL to 23tonnes?  If the rail is ok, is it a matter of more ballast?  If that is the case, can that perhaps be done in a second upgrade once the 21TAL system is proving itself?
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
In 2012 a very comprehensive study (repeated again later) looked at the standardization of the Goulburn Valley Network and that is in the scheme of things quite straightforward and in railway cost terms not that expensive at around $200 million ish.  
Trainplanner
Do you know what makes the conversion cost $200m @Trainplanner?  If I compare the cost of conversion per km of the Murray Basin project, I come up with a conversion cost of $70m  This includes Tocumwal-Shepparton-Mangalore, Deniliquin-Echuca-Toolamba, and the Dookie branch.  Is there some line upgrade (eg Mangalore to Shepparton LX) to allow for better service?
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.
Turning to the current project I am still very disappointed that it is not moving from 19 tonne axleload to 23 tonne axleload in one hit.   An increase in axleload to 23 tonnes would increase the capacity of a 40 wagon grain consist by around 700 tonnes per set.    Running 23 tonne axleload on 41kg/m rail can be done.   The Kalgoorlie to Leonora Line in WA still has sections of 41kg/m rail and sections of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs Line also does.   Both these rail lines carry considerably higher tonneages than we would expect in the Murray Basin.   I quickly add in case I'm pulled up that yes the Alice Springs section in particular requires rerailing now but even so the lighter rail has been able to support quite high tonneage, 23 tonne axleload for around 30 years
Trainplanner
Is there a report regarding the Goulburn Valley conversion, laying about ?

Your next point, I have come to this opinion. 21 Tonne axle load is the right weight for the grain only lines as no major structural improvements are reqired and gain a moderate increase in productivity.

The rain fall over probably the last 15 years has been too erratic and the resulting production of grain falls dramatically. The harvest of 14/15 Dimboola GrainFlow recievals where about 70,000 tonne ish, 11/12 all but 250,000, big difference.

The line to Mildura, well I'm not sure but possibly could do with your recommended axle load.

The other thing is that Iluka is planning on moving big quantities of sand for a very long time, so may be this line warrant's the 23 tonne load ????

As for grain wagon consist's why not run a 60 wagon movement and the productivity is a mile ahead of where we are now.
  ozfreight Chief Train Controller

Location: hawthorn 3122
Has anyone sent this idea into the Minister and obtained an official response?  Regardless of what this response is, it would be interesting to see what the response is.
james.au
Joking are you?minister could not predict yesterday weather!
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
@ozfreight, no I am not.  Id be genuinely interested to understand the official line on this right at this point in time.
  trainbrain Chief Commissioner

Won't the dual guaging quickly become a stranded asset ? Firstly once V/Line get their new stabling and maintenance facility at Mt Duneed, there will be much less need for transfers between Ballarat and Geelong. Secondly, when the Geelong line is electrified (as per long term plans), there would be absolutely no need for such transfers because the regional electrics would be confined to the Geelong route.

One of the few requirements of such a link would be for Metro train transfers to the Ballarat workshops (if they continue to win contracts), but this is hardly worth a $50m investment when night transfers are a much lower cost option.
mm42
Do not hold your breath for any Geelong line to be electrified .
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

For a 21 TAL what type of locomotives will you use? XR, G, something else?
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
For a 21 TAL what type of locomotives will you use? XR, G, something else?
Duncs
These locomotives work the lines In question anyway !

Rising their normal operating speed, could be possible, depending on the axle loading of the train.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
You might get some 48s, 81s, 82s, maybe even the NRs and any other mainline SG loco!
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Won't the dual guaging quickly become a stranded asset ? Firstly once V/Line get their new stabling and maintenance facility at Mt Duneed, there will be much less need for transfers between Ballarat and Geelong. Secondly, when the Geelong line is electrified (as per long term plans), there would be absolutely no need for such transfers because the regional electrics would be confined to the Geelong route.

One of the few requirements of such a link would be for Metro train transfers to the Ballarat workshops (if they continue to win contracts), but this is hardly worth a $50m investment when night transfers are a much lower cost option.
Do not hold your breath for any Geelong line to be electrified .
trainbrain

Future electrification was designed into the RRL project. I have that in writing from the minister.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Sadly the Goulburn Valley standardization report was internal and all Governments seem to get very twitchy about releasing such reports on the basis of raising expectations and then having to defend them.   Conversely everyone seems quite happy to openly talk about long term road proposals with little or no expectation that it should be delivered straightaway.   The good thing is the work has been done to plan for the Goulburn Valley and I personally feel it has equal potential to deliver the same benefits as the Murray Basin in terms of a significant improvement in the quality of the rail infrastructure, enable greater network access by other operators and enable more modern, cost efficient motive power and rollingstock to access the network thereby improving rail's competitiveness.

Turning to comments/responses about 23 tonne axleload versus the 21 TAL to be implemented initially, the NSW experience of what is occurring now of seeing new generation locos , being utilized on regional freight and grain services like SSR and Fletchers with low tare/high capacity wagons is why 23TAL is very significant.   A lot of new higher capacity grain wagons have entered the network in recent years and if the objective is to increase rail market share then utilizing all the benefits of this equipment is all part of getting there.   I certainly agree that longer trains are part of it but the more trains and/or wagons you run to clear a certain amount of tonneage obviously increases the cost of rail haulage if the actual productivity per train/wagon is not fully utilized.   Even so I do agree that if there is one line that should have 23TAL as a priority it is the Mildura Line because of both the grain and intermodal traffic potential.

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