No stop at Warwick on proposed Inland Rail route

 

News article: No stop at Warwick on proposed Inland Rail route

THE Inland Rail was the hot topic discussed between Southern Downs Regional Council and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester.

  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Warwick could be connected by a short link as not every town or land city can be connected on the trunk route.

No stop at Warwick on proposed Inland Rail route

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  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
They really should be campaigning for standardisation of the line from Toowoomba down to Warwick (and perhaps do all the way to Wanganella) and abandon Warwick-Yelarbon, instead of trying to change a decision that is already made.
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
Extending a rail line from Warwick to Wanganella is quite a distance. It is south of Hay, more than 1000 km away.
I think that you may have meant Wallangarra.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I am expansionist for rail, but not that expansionist....  Wallangarra is fine from Warwick!
  Mufreight Train Controller

Location: North Ipswich
Since the espoused aim of the Inland line is to take freight off the road system in the most efficient means possible it makes no sense to route the line via Millmeran and Toowoomba.  That route will be 85 or more kilometers longer than the more direct route via Warwick, will add at least an hour on to the transit time for freight, about $1.00 per tonne in operating costs and will cost more than $500.000.000 to build and further disadvantage rail in competition over road.
Obviously the route is being selected by those with a vested interest in the road freight industry.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Don't forget folks, standardising narrow gauge costs $2.5-million to $3-million per kilometre. Standardising Toowoomba to Wallangarra would cost at least $492.5-million, Yelarbon to Warwick $385-million - a lot of money for the very little freight on offer. Standardising narrow gauge lines outside of the existing scope of the Inland Rail project can be considered fairly unlikely.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Since the espoused aim of the Inland line is to take freight off the road system in the most efficient means possible it makes no sense to route the line via Millmeran and Toowoomba.  That route will be 85 or more kilometers longer than the more direct route via Warwick, will add at least an hour on to the transit time for freight, about $1.00 per tonne in operating costs and will cost more than $500.000.000 to build and further disadvantage rail in competition over road.
Obviously the route is being selected by those with a vested interest in the road freight industry.
Mufreight

I was of the belief the route and network build is under the control of ARTC or are you suggesting ARTC now has to pick up the route and building it without feedback?

I guess I am struggling with how the road freight industry has had any involvement?
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
Since the espoused aim of the Inland line is to take freight off the road system in the most efficient means possible it makes no sense to route the line via Millmeran and Toowoomba.  That route will be 85 or more kilometers longer than the more direct route via Warwick, will add at least an hour on to the transit time for freight, about $1.00 per tonne in operating costs and will cost more than $500.000.000 to build and further disadvantage rail in competition over road.
Obviously the route is being selected by those with a vested interest in the road freight industry.
Mufreight
The route via Millmerran is shorter than the route to the Main Range at Toowoomba via Warwick. This is the lowest practicable crossing of the divide, a route directly east of Warwick over the range to Kagaru may be very slightly shorter but would be more expensive as it goes via more difficult country.

The Toowoomba  route via Millmerran appears most practical.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Extending a rail line from Warwick to Wanganella is quite a distance. It is south of Hay, more than 1000 km away.
I think that you may have meant Wallangarra.
Rodo

Way too hilly to go via Wallan-garra and the new England region when the route via Millmerran down through Goondiwindi and Moree is undulating to pancake flat.

This is the prime reason Warwick won't factor into the Inland rail project...even as a spur line.

Mike.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
With no freight generators apparently in sight, id agree.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
There is no doubt if you take both a big picture view as well as the nature of the terrain that the current proposed route is the best solution.   However I wouldn't rule totally rule out out seriously exploring standardization of the existing line as a future option.   In Western Australia both the Kalgoorlie to Esperance and Kalgoorlie lines which were narrow gauge and had a mix of 45lb, 60lb and 82lb per yard rail on gravel ballast were gauge converted by installing a new standard gauge sleeper every fourth sleeper and using the existing narrow gauge sleepers in between.   Then through various maintenance cycles the rest of the narrow gauge sleepers were  subsequently replaced.   The standard gauge trains that operated immediately after that were restricted to 40km/hr but operated at 18 tonne axleload.   The conversion was done at very low cost.   Sulla 1 will know better than I but the line as it is today certainly around Warwick would be certainly be at a much higher standard that the WA lines.  I know it has crushed metal ballast and heavier rail.   Yes the alignment and curvature of the Warwick Line would be restrictive but then running SG trains at say 40km/hr or a touch higher depending on the track standard would be off set by the higher speed and reduced time on the new SG mainline versus the current Toowoomba Range Line for sure.

As far as conversion costs go, the conversion of the Benalla - Oaklands Line in 2009/2010 which included a 1 in 4 resleepering, cycle plus upgrades on some bridge decks was $18.6 million.

Certainly not an over the top cost I would think.  The Charleville/Roma route with its mix of long haul livestock and coal poses a set of more difficult issues but the Warwick Line far less so.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The reason to go via Toowoomba has been well documented and while ARTC even agree its slightly longer, the overall route is still within the target range and the costs lower when potential customers and tonnages are factored into the longterm cost recovery.

ie going via Warwick equals zero coal and other freight that is available in the region from Toowoomba west and these tonnages will more than double anything on offer from the south without impacting on the southern traffics viability. The option for building a branch only for Toowoomba and the western traffic will add significantly to the capital cost of the entire Inland project. So while it could be said going via Toowoomba will add say 80km, going via Warwick will actually add more route km that needs to be built.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Interesting thoughts Trainplanner.  You could even use concrete sleepers to give it that extra level of support?
Sulla will give his view on it, but this could be a way of doing it progressively.  Though, again, it would depend on levels of freight available to warrant it.  

At the low axle loads it has (15TAL), its economics are going to start off lower than would be desired, and unless the progressive upgrade can lift this, then its not going to start well.  Plus there are bridges etc to consider, but that just highlights there are two things to consider from a cost perspective, one being the cost to standardise, the other being the cost to upgrade.  If you can unlock extra freight through the standardisation alone, then perhaps this might start paying for the eventual productivity upgrade?  

Re freight, GrainCorp Clifton and Cambooya were mentioned before as being potential grain loading points, as well as a containerised grain operation somewhere in the area.  But theres not much else based on the info in other threads.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

I seriously doubt QR would contemplate attempting to regauge existing timber sleepers for standard gauge. They have never done this before and I'd be surprised if "short" sleepers under standard gauge would pass current safety standards. There are other issues, notably the mix of steel and low profile concrete sleepers in the corridor that could not be gauge converted and will require replacement anyway...and the lack of low axle load standard gauge rollingstock to use a "new" low axle load line.

And the big thing is that currently no freight is generated between Wyreema and Wallangarra or Warwick to Yelarbon. GrainCorp has already established where its super rail-served silos will be and none are on this corridor. Woolworths has a major depot at Warwick but has never attempted to use rail. To spend hundreds of millions of dollars to regauge a rail corridor that generates no freight revenue is not going to happen. Standard gauge may be good, but it doesn't generate freight that isn't there (otherwise NSW would still be covered in branchlines).
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I seriously doubt QR would contemplate attempting to regauge existing timber sleepers for standard gauge. They have never done this before and I'd be surprised if "short" sleepers under standard gauge would pass current safety standards. There are other issues, notably the mix of steel and low profile concrete sleepers in the corridor that could not be gauge converted and will require replacement anyway...and the lack of low axle load standard gauge rollingstock to use a "new" low axle load line.

And the big thing is that currently no freight is generated between Wyreema and Wallangarra or Warwick to Yelarbon. GrainCorp has already established where its super rail-served silos will be and none are on this corridor. Woolworths has a major depot at Warwick but has never attempted to use rail. To spend hundreds of millions of dollars to regauge a rail corridor that generates no freight revenue is not going to happen. Standard gauge may be good, but it doesn't generate freight that isn't there (otherwise NSW would still be covered in branchlines).
Sulla1

Is there a degree of pragmatism required then?  I wonder if the question has been asked "Can we SG this line whilst keeping within safe operating parameters, for a cost that is less than the benefits?"  The 48 class has a sub 15TAL, and if GrainCorp is going to operate their Clifton site as a major site (per their Queensland Operations map - though I can only see Ridley silos at Clifton, no GrainCorp ones?), they may be interested in freight services.  Could they do a top up operation in the Toowoomba region to take on additional grain before going to the port?

Being a realist, im doubtful it would happen, but im also all for asking questions that haven't been asked before to see what the answers are.  And pragmatic thinking (dare I use the current buzzword of innovation?) may help rail get up the curve in terms of generating a sustainable network to support traffic.  After that, productivity can pay for relevant upgrades.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

None of the grain silos between Toowoomba and Warwick have been rail served for years, this includes Harristown, Cambooya, Nobby, Greenmount, Allora and Mill Hill - they are all too small to load unit grain trains. These silos are also on the eastern periphery of the grain growing areas, while Brookstead is in the heart of the Eastern Downs grain growing region and much better placed to serve the region. As a result of the more favourable geography, GrainCorp has identified Brookstead on the Millmerran branch as the region's super rail-served silo and all grain railed from the region moves through that silo complex. GrainCorp is trying to reduce the number of silos it has to maintain so none of the small silos south of Wyreema (with the possible exception of Allora) are likely to see rail loading again. Allora may be used to load containerised grain but this proposal has been around a while now without any progress being made.

There's nothing wrong with innovation, but safety is the big buzzword in the rail industry. The ARTC has identified the minimum standard gauge sleeper length as 2440mm, while the longest timber sleeper used by QR is 2325mm. Yes, it's only 115mm difference, but good luck finding an engineer or transport minister prepared to sign off on that difference being small enough to be "safe in the name of innovation". As for productivity...will low axle load standard gauge be any more productive than the current line? With no money being spent, the existing line can already handle any 15.75-tonne AL freight moving northwards or eastwards from the region. Low axle load standard gauging will cost millions (regardless of how cheaply it's done) and achieve nothing more than what is currently available. The only change being freight (if there is any) can then move south - but it won't be able to move north because the region is now isolated from the rest of the QR narrow gauge network - a possible issue since the last freight to be delivered to Warwick were weekly molasses trains from North Queensland. Considering a city the size of Tamworth generates no standard gauge freight for the southern markets, it's almost certain Warwick will not do any better if provided with the same access and a fifty year old 48 class to do the work at 40km/h when the previous narrow gauge trains were allowed to travel at 80km/h.

There are regions in Queensland that could certainly benefit from standard gauging in a post Inland Railway environment - Goondiwindi to Thallon most definitely, possibly the Surat Basin coal lines (Gowrie to Camby Downs), with miners, grain and cotton growers gaining access to Newcastle and Port Botany...but the Warwick triangle will almost never have enough revenue appeal to get standard gauge funding...look at Mt Gambier, which has far more freight potential.

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