Inland railway Melbourne - Brisbane

 
  Z VAN Locomotive Driver

The Epping/ Thornleigh section has just opened completing the third part of the project. The other two components were the dive at North Strathfield to take UP trains under the UP Passengers and the extended loops at Gosford.
As has been stated above like improvements to the Highway each components adds to the whole.
The quantitative leaps that Us railfans would like to see can not always be matched by Government expendature. Pitty.

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  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
Way back in 1992 the need for an SSFL or equivalent works was flagged as a national transport priority. Nothing came of it until ARTC took it on as part of the NSW Lease. NSW showed no interest in quading or building a dedicated freight line themselves. Given it was a separate line it became an all ARTC show (unlike the NSFC works). Subsequently NSW handed over the metro freight lines that connected with the SSFL.

One can speculate but it's unlikely anything would have changed without ARTC in the picture. Presumably as metro passenger traffic increased, there would be fewer paths and operators would have nothing like the flexibility that the SSFL provides.

NSFC scope was dumbed down considerably. Funding was provided for 1 project on ARTC and 3 projects on NSW controlled lines. It's unlikely to be a game changer.

Precious little guvmnt funding has gone into the DIRN since 2010. There is no indication that the feds have any intention to provide significant funding for any rail improvements into the future whether they be along the existing East Coast line or some  inland railway. In fact is there a national strategy for rail at all Mad
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
With regard to Inland this is not true.  It i's receiving funding to match theon published timetable. But of course because it's not being built now most feel it gets nothing.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Way back in 1992 the need for an SSFL or equivalent works was flagged as a national transport priority. Nothing came of it until ARTC took it on as part of the NSW Lease. NSW showed no interest in quading or building a dedicated freight line themselves. Given it was a separate line it became an all ARTC show (unlike the NSFC works). Subsequently NSW handed over the metro freight lines that connected with the SSFL.

One can speculate but it's unlikely anything would have changed without ARTC in the picture. Presumably as metro passenger traffic increased, there would be fewer paths and operators would have nothing like the flexibility that the SSFL provides.

NSFC scope was dumbed down considerably. Funding was provided for 1 project on ARTC and 3 projects on NSW controlled lines. It's unlikely to be a game changer.

Precious little guvmnt funding has gone into the DIRN since 2010. There is no indication that the feds have any intention to provide significant funding for any rail improvements into the future whether they be along the existing East Coast line or some  inland railway. In fact is there a national strategy for rail at all Mad
cootanee

How many freight trains run into and out of Sydney daily?

How many of those actually use the SSFL?

If the Inland rail gets built then what will the future of the SSFL be? Since the only traffic that really uses the SSFL tends to be through traffic from Brisbane to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
If Maldon-Dombarton gets up and running I'd say there would be plenty of traffic for the SSFL.

What's the likelihood of that?  Don't know. But it is being looked at by TfNSW as evidenced by ongoing tender activity.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Trapped in a meeting with Rhonda and Karsten
The last Maldon-Dombarton rail study said that it wasn't a viable proposition as most freight relevant to the line could be easily handled by installing more passing loops on the Moss Vale - Unanderra for a substantially lower cost than the $624-667 million it was estimated to finish constructing the line. Most of the expected traffic on the line would be export coal from the Lithgow area and would need a large mining expansion to justify that. The 1-in-30 downhill grade towards the coast is manageable for export traffic (where loaded wagons are going downhill), but outbound traffic such as Pt Kembla steel and container/car/bulk imports would not be suitable traffic for the line, especially when the Illawarra and Moss Vale - Unanderra lines are readily available alternatives.
  2LaGrange Train Controller

If Maldon-Dombarton gets up and running I'd say there would be plenty of traffic for the SSFL.

What's the likelihood of that?  Don't know. But it is being looked at by TfNSW as evidenced by ongoing tender activity.
james.au
Virtually 0% chance Maldon-Dombarton will ever happen.

The project relied on increasing tonnages of export coal for Port Kembla from Lithgow area when in fact the coal volumes have been in continual decline from the 80s when the project first started until today.

The main tunnel was also surveyed and designed to be very long and use electric traction with a very steep grade which with the total removal of electric locomotives make the use of Diesel locomotives on same tunnel impossible.

Basically too expensive to build for no traffic with expensive new locomotives to haul non existent traffic on a very expensive line.

Better areas any available funds can go.

The SSFL can be quite busy at times with some 24hr periods seeing 30 plus movements and has been a great investment. It allows freight to get in and out of Sydney to the South without getting stuck behind all stations services all the way to Macarthur. It also has sidings to stage and cross freight trains at Leightonfield and Glenfield which is also handy at times. The fact that it cost more than it should of because of incompetent planners and management is a separate issue but the line is being used to the benefit of all.
  2LaGrange Train Controller

How many freight trains run into and out of Sydney daily?

How many of those actually use the SSFL?

If the Inland rail gets built then what will the future of the SSFL be? Since the only traffic that really uses the SSFL tends to be through traffic from Brisbane to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
simstrain
Plenty of Non Interstate services use the line daily.
Peppertree-Rooty Hill Quarry services
Lynwood-Enfield Quarry Services
Lynwood-Cooks River Quarry Services
Qube Junee-Botany Visy export train
SSR Domestic Grain to Westons Enfield
SSR export grain service to Port Waratah ex loading on south
SSR Tahmoor- Newcastle coal services
PN steel trains to Leightonfield.
PN and Qube export grain often run via SSFL when via moss vale-unanderra closed for possession.
PN domestic grain of south to Cardiff to tip.
Marulan- Clyde Cement trains.
Any possession on the west to Lithgow or the Illawarra line results in many services also using SSFL

Certainly a well used asset that will be well used into the future even if a handful of Brisbane-Melbourne and Adelaide services were to move onto the inland line.

Freight to and from Melbourne and Adelaide destined for Sydney would obviously still need to use the SSFL to access Sydney.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Interestingly, there is a business case being reviewed by IA relating to Maldon-Dombarton.

http://infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/projects/infrastructure-priority-list.aspx

Scroll down about 1/13 or half way.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
No SSFL doesn't just save 15 minutes , quite often overhaul three suburbans on the run to Macarthur .
It starts south of Macarthur to bypass the whole Sydney Trains network from Macarthur to the goods roads PAST Sefton Junction .
It had to be this way to have the controlling say on freight traffic into and out of Sydney from the south . They didn't want Sydney Trains or their controllers interfering with access to the goods roads at all . It's basically no good to passenger traffic for a very good reason ...
Also freighters can run on the suburban lines but often this was an access cost factor chosen by the operator .

The metropolitan north is a different situation , the infrastructure upgrades are to increase track capacity for ALL traffic not just loco hauled freight trains .

It's very easy to claim any rail infrastructure improvement will remove trucks from roads . You have to remember that fixing one relatively short section of a corridor isn't going to magically improve its overall performance , just fixes the localised bottleneck .
The infrastructure provider has to look at the whole corridor from end to end and if spending up on an SSFL means freighters don't have to cool their heels for 3-4 HOURS in curfews then I think it's money well spent .

An Inland Railway may work for trains between Brisbane and Parks/Cootamundra , for all else its a waste of money . Trucks will continue to infest the roads between Melbourne - Sydney and Sydney - Brisbane .
To be in the race with the trucks you need interstate rail lines built parallel to the highways with high axle load perway from end to end .That's how you get decent loads up steep hills effectively .
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
The business case for the SSFL is now ancient history. Whilst it removed one strategically significant impediment that alone was never going to be enough.  The main benefit of a dedicated freight line was to improve reliability - that's a permanent productivity improvement. On several occasions I have been on Suburban trains overtaken by MB/BM freighties that are not running on time. Prior to the SSFL a late MB service might get as far as Glenfield however it would be stuck there presumably because the line was blocked at Liverpool. The situation was exacerbated when Cityrail decided to hold services for 2+ mins at Liverpool, Glenfield and Campbelltown.

The Melb-Syd line needs more far more investment to improve productivity (proposals gathering dust in Canberra). That's about as likely as an Inland Railway. Whilst we wait decades to see that happen the SSFL is here now helping to retain business that might otherwise be lost due to the curfew.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The business case for the SSFL is now ancient history. Whilst it removed one strategically significant impediment that alone was never going to be enough.  The main benefit of a dedicated freight line was to improve reliability - that's a permanent productivity improvement. On several occasions I have been on Suburban trains overtaken by MB/BM freighties that are not running on time. Prior to the SSFL a late MB service might get as far as Glenfield however it would be stuck there presumably because the line was blocked at Liverpool. The situation was exacerbated when Cityrail decided to hold services for 2+ mins at Liverpool, Glenfield and Campbelltown.

The Melb-Syd line needs more far more investment to improve productivity (proposals gathering dust in Canberra). That's about as likely as an Inland Railway. Whilst we wait decades to see that happen the SSFL is here now helping to retain business that might otherwise be lost due to the curfew.
cootanee

What good is that if they are stuck on the northern line. My point is that the inland rail corridor will remove at least 80% of the traffic that currently uses the ssfl. The ARTC seems to have no real direction and are just going from one project to another without any coherency of how to take traffic from the road industry between Sydney and Melbourne.

The Sydney to Melbourne line definitely needs more attention but the ARTC and federal government seem more interested in the inland rail project at the moment and so the ssfl will be left as an orphan for decades to come.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
BDA raises a lot of very good points about funding for major freight rail projects and as well the relatively low/minimal standard that our interstate corridors are constructed to and the impacts this is causing in loss of productivity, competitiveness and basically the loss of potential that rail could bring in regard to our overall international competiveness, job opportunities etc.

The funding challenge is an especially difficult one to overcome.    If you ask just about anyone in the street where would they prefer to see freight transported and they’ll say overwhelmingly even if it is simplistic that it should be on rail.

That very generalized support for rail doesn’t translate into clamours from the wider community to encourage or force greater investment however.  In another thread it has been mentioned that investment in road infrastructure in 2016 will be some 8 TIMES MORE than rail.

So you can argue in one sense that money is there but rail doesn’t get it despite the fact that these days the quality of the business cases developed for rail projects are as well put together as they are for other infrastructure projects.

Whilst people may support rail, there is no doubt that the advocacy in the road lobby is far stronger and better organized than it is for rail.   In addition, roads are something the community uses everyday and every road project delivers some benefit for all road users.    Decision makers know that the public outcry in deferring or not approving a rail project attracts little or almost zero backlash than delaying a road project.   People in their daily lives don’t get any sense at all how important a well-developed and executed rail freight network would be until you have some major smash on the Hume Freeway that blocks traffic and then there is the usual clamor that freight should be on rail.    I know this is simplistic but at the end of the day it how people think.

I think it’s very clear based on history to date that no matter how strong the business case is, most of our rail development has relied on visionaries at various times in our history and from time to time as we know pro-active Railway Commissioners.

Lets take Sydney to Melbourne.   In the past 45 years or so as BDA points out there has been an unrelenting program of various works that has piece by piece developed the Old Hume Highway into now a grade separated freeway.  Investment has always occurred sometimes fairly substantially and at other times on a small scale but the vision to have this piece of infrastructure at the standard that is has always been there.

Look at rail.   As an interstate rail corridor, the first substantial improvement in the rail corridor was in 1961/62 with the construction of the standard gauge south of Albury.   Even that which was billed as a nation building project (and rightly so) was done on a shoe string budget; substandard formation, light weight rail, short crossing loops etc.   (I’m not discounting the benefit of the project).    It certainly lifted rail productivity substantially and no doubt assisted rail in remaining as the dominate mode for some period thereafter.    But from 1962 until 2010 there was no major infrastructure and rail alignment improvements.

(I’m discounting the mid 1980’s when CTC signalling was installed south of Junee to Albury and 3,000 HP locomotives, elimination of guards vans and introduction of through running started as these are incremental and/or operating improvements).  You only have to look at YouTube clips of even the 1990,s to see how small and inefficient trains were.

So until commencement of the ARTC North-South Alliance Project in 2008 we have over 46 years of effectively zero substantial improvement at a time when numerous well documented schemes to improve alignments, and the productivity of the railway are developed, reviewed and represented on numerous occasions.   Certainly from time to time we saw initiatives like the development of the Superfreighter concept tried to be pushed through but none of this was arresting the slide in market share and the huge investment being made in the Hume and general overall performance and influence of the road sector.

ARTC then develops the $2 billion North – South Project and again a once in a 50 year initiative is significantly underfunded, and consequently the scale and scope of work largely amounts to catch up on deferred maintenance and replacement of antiquated signalling.    Despite its scale there were really only a handful of what you could describe as major performance enhancements like SSFL, double tracking Seymour to Wodonga and the Wodonga ByPass as well as a few extended passing lanes.

Simply put $2 billion to upgrade almost 2,000 km of railway from Brisbane to Melbourne is spreading it very thin.   Since then the only other investment has been in selective rerailing that is again needed but there is so little of it to enable any major improvement in running higher axleloads and/or speed.    The goat track remains.

Had this been the Hume the various realignments that would have reduced journey times by hours would have been progressed over a period of a couple of decades.   The resleepering would have been most likely undertaken on a full-face process coupled with subgrade remediation and improved drainage and most likely rerailed at the same time so that significant line segments would have been available for running higher axleload and/or speed.



As much as I am a proponent for the Inland Rail Corridor Project, it does not replace the need for a high capacity, highly competitive rail corridor between Sydney and Melbourne or at the expense of neglecting investment in the other interstate corridors as well included the so often quoted East-West Route to WA.   (As good as its mode share might be, ask any driver about what they think of the standard of it.  They certainly won’t describe as a super railway)!!!
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
...What good is that if they are stuck on the northern line. My point is that the inland rail corridor will remove at least 80% of the traffic that currently uses the ssfl. The ARTC seems to have no real direction and are just going from one project to another without any coherency of how to take traffic from the road industry between Sydney and Melbourne.

The Sydney to Melbourne line definitely needs more attention but the ARTC and federal government seem more interested in the inland rail project at the moment and so the ssfl will be left as an orphan for decades to come.
simstrain
In a nutshell, the SSFL is as good as it gets for the next few decades. The Inland Railway isn't going to happen anytime soon. Freight will continue to transit to, from and through Sydney and the SSFL will help ensure reliability that operators require.

ARTC has been delegated by guvmnt to facilitate the Inland Railway. I suspect it would much rather pursue the Nth-Sth corridor proposals it identified in its Infrastructure Australia submission of 2008, however that strategic vision requires ongoing federal commitment similar to the national highways. Again I can't see that happening either.

As I pointed out the NSFC works proposed by ARTC were significantly de-scoped, again due to funding limitations. Ideally there should be a freight line from the SSFL at Glenfield via Eastern Creek and rejoining the short north. That won't happen either.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
In a nutshell, the SSFL is as good as it gets for the next few decades. The Inland Railway isn't going to happen anytime soon. Freight will continue to transit to, from and through Sydney and the SSFL will help ensure reliability that operators require.

ARTC has been delegated by guvmnt to facilitate the Inland Railway. I suspect it would much rather pursue the Nth-Sth corridor proposals it identified in its Infrastructure Australia submission of 2008, however that strategic vision requires ongoing federal commitment similar to the national highways. Again I can't see that happening either.

As I pointed out the NSFC works proposed by ARTC were significantly de-scoped, again due to funding limitations. Ideally there should be a freight line from the SSFL at Glenfield via Eastern Creek and rejoining the short north. That won't happen either.
cootanee
The Inland is due around 2025, so the SSFL is hardly a waste and even post Inland it will be a vital part of the Sydney freight network.

The ARTC is an extension of the govts arm and their own report nearly 10 years ago said INland not needed guess when, until 2025 at earlyist. The ARTC will do as requested by the boss. Since the mid 2000's the govt has been throwing money at the North Coast line as recommended by the ARTC.

ARTC like any department private or govt has its wish list and every department govt or private must operate within the budget provided.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The inland railway doesn't really need a lot of work to get done anyway. In the short term all that needs to be done is from north star to Brisbane. Most of the rest of the track south of north star is already there and extra bits could be added at a later date if need be to reduce travel time.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

I was just reading the inland rail line wiki and it said that the north star to towoomba line was supposed to be completed in 2014. We are 2 years past that and construction hasn't even started. This project will be lucky to be ready by 2025 and more realistically it will be 2035.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Wiki is not your friend in this case.

The latest schedule info that we should use is in the Business Case - refer p271

http://inlandrail.artc.com.au/business-case

I wont disagree that the program is not quite matching to the action on the ground, but it is not wildly delayed and it appears that there is about 2 yrs. of slack in the system at the tail end to complete the things that are currently delayed, the most significant of which at the moment is the Gowrie-Rosewood-Kaguru sector including the tunnel.

Add to that the construction schedule appears to end on 30 June 2024, I think the whole thing might even be a year out, in which case we are right on time.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
...might even be a year out, in which case we are right on time.
james.au
One small matter though. Who exactly is paying to build it by 2025 or 2026? I've been following this for decades and the time-frame keeps moving into the future. There is no definitive commitment from guvmnt to have it up and running by a certain year.

At Wagga Wagga the proposed Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics hub will sit on the Inland Rail route. They're struggling to get NSW to chip in a relatively small amount which in turn would secure federal funds. The Inland Railway is no West Connect Razz
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Id say a business case authored by the ARTC is as good as youll get for a definitive statement for something 10 years away.  Its pretty definitive that the federal budget contained the funds to acquire land along the route and id say next budget will have funds for whatever is next.

Regarding Wagga, they have the federal funds.  See link below

http://www.wagga.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/13075/06_06-bomen-hub.pdf

I spoke to council some time ago who indicated that the funding allocated was for the rail sidings off the main.  The council is spending a lot on local roads (which has other benefits outside the terminal too).  They need a terminal operator, which GWA is currently slated to be who will be part of developing the business case.  This should identify any further funding needed and cement the case for building it. I am not sure what stage this is up to - ill have to go through council minutes.

EDIT

Per the minutes of the 30 May 2016 council meeting

16/138 RESOLVED:
On the Motion of Councillors D Tout and G Hiscock
That Council enter into the attached Term Sheet with Genesee & Wyoming Australia regarding Stage Two of the RiFL Hub Program being the development of the Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RiFL) Hub.
CARRIED

http://wagga.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/44206/OC_30052016_MIN.pdf


I am not able to obtain a copy of the Term Sheet from the council website - this motion was passed in a confidential session and so I suspect it will be commercial in confidence.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
Id say a business case authored by the ARTC is as good as youll get for a definitive statement for something 10 years away.  Its pretty definitive that the federal budget contained the funds to acquire land along the route and id say next budget will have funds for whatever is next...
james.au
The Inland Railway has been and continues to be a moving target. ARTC are facilitating the project not funding and/or building it.

Whilst the last budget provided some more funds, it was the first new money after many previous budgets merely reiterated the original $300m contribution. The feds have made it clear they have no intention of funding it, the last amount wasn't even a grant. ARTC's obligation is to come up with a 10 year build plan and do whatever enabling works the guvmnt determines. That's it!

The downside is that it distracts from the existing network, not that ARTC has received much over the past four years to move it forward.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I think its pretty clear that whilst ever the project is positive in economic terms, and not financial terms, its going to be government funded, with some possible potential for value capture along the way.  The amount provided in the budget was an equity injection into the ARTC, which I understand is done for statistical reasons as it does not impact the defecit calculation (ie it is capital in nature instead of revenue).  

As RTT said above (and ive said countless times), the funding is not yet needed, so its not going to appear in budgets.  There is no point announcing the funding in the next 12 months of budget for expenditure that is going to happen 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 etc years down the track!
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

...might even be a year out, in which case we are right on time.
One small matter though. Who exactly is paying to build it by 2025 or 2026? I've been following this for decades and the time-frame keeps moving into the future. There is no definitive commitment from guvmnt to have it up and running by a certain year.

At Wagga Wagga the proposed Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics hub will sit on the Inland Rail route. They're struggling to get NSW to chip in a relatively small amount which in turn would secure federal funds. The Inland Railway is no West Connect Razz
cootanee

Why should the state government fund this. If commuter rail is the domain of the state governments then surely something such as this is the domain of the federal government. The Intermodal at Moorebank doesn't have any state funding. In fact it will be 100% privately funded by Qube and Aurizon.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
... Why should the state government fund this. If commuter rail is the domain of the state governments then surely something such as this is the domain of the federal government. ...
simstrain
Actually the state guvmnt is being asked for a partial contribution, something well within the scope of its own FREIGHT strategy. Yes they do purport to have some responsibilities in that area with a number of rail/intermodal projects mentioned Surprisedhttp://freight.transport.nsw.gov.au

As for the Inland Rail, I believe it's perfectly feasible and would be a great asset. However it's highly unlikely that the feds will fund construction. They have gone to great lengths to avoid making any such commitment and given the economic realities they face for the foreseeable future, even less likely. That's not to say someone won't come in and invest. Anything's possible!

In the meantime there is an existing network that needs more investment to build on ARTC's catch up works, the SSFL and those few NSFC projects.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
... Why should the state government fund this. If commuter rail is the domain of the state governments then surely something such as this is the domain of the federal government. ...
Actually the state guvmnt is being asked for a partial contribution, something well within the scope of its own FREIGHT strategy. Yes they do purport to have some responsibilities in that area with a number of rail/intermodal projects mentioned Surprisedhttp://freight.transport.nsw.gov.au
cootanee
Can you elaborate exactly what the NSW funding for the Wagga terminal is paying for?  I forget exactly


As for the Inland Rail, I believe it's perfectly feasible and would be a great asset. However it's highly unlikely that the feds will fund construction. They have gone to great lengths to avoid making any such commitment and given the economic realities they face for the foreseeable future, even less likely. That's not to say someone won't come in and invest. Anything's possible!

- cootanee

The Inland Rail Secretariat is a unit of the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, or closely associated with it.  Its government, therefore government is committing to it.  Notwithstanding the fact that both sides have been supportive of the program for quite some time.

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