SG/BG operations Goodwood Junction to Belair - Why 1 track of each?

 
  cmjl Station Master

Location: Adelaide
While watching the first part of the SBS TV Indian-Pacific "slow TV" program, I noticed that for some distance out of Perth there were two sets of rails, with each set being dual gauge.

Which got me thinking...

When Adelaide to Melbourne was standardised in 1995, it was done by converting one of the tracks from broad to standard gauge from Goodwood to Belair, so what used to be 2 BG tracks became a single BG track and a single SG track.

Does anyone know why this was done instead of dual-gauging both tracks?  Was it as simple as cost saving or stinginess on behalf of Keating et al?  Was there a requirement from some authority to separate the traffic?  Was there some arcane condition in the contract that Dunstan signed transferring SAR to CR/ANR that forced this, much as one of the reasons I think that was given for shutting down Bridgewater services was that the STA had to pay access fees to ANR to use that part of the corridor?

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  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Dual gauge track is horrendous for managing thermal expansion and I think you’ll find it’s not possible to accomodate heavy weight rail in a BG/SG dual - they foul each other and do not leave room for fasteners.
  jmt Deputy Commissioner

An eminently sensible decision at the time

Allowed a freight only corridor through Adelaide

Why would one want to burden profitable freight with subsidised passenger?

If it had been duel gauged you can bet the chattering classes and local politicians would demand that passenger services have precedent over freight

Just look at the squillion dollars spent in Sydney to to build an exclusive freight path, Adelaide has had one for decades, faster now the grade separations completed
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Different times and different local/regional contexts make for different decisions.

There was no concept of ANRC, ANTA, NRC, ARTC etc in the 1960s when the standard gauge projects in Victoria (Melbourne to Albury), SA (Port Pirie to Broken Hill) and WA (Kwiwana to Kalgoorlie) were done. The various projects were majority funded by the Commonwealth Government, but the state rail systems kept ownership and operational responsibility over their lines.

The context of the early 1990s in SA was very different. Australian National had been going for 15 years and made steady progress towards a true interstate network and National Rail was getting started. On the local side, the service to Belair was viewed as being on its last legs so the Bannon/Arnold ALP state government was happy to give away half of the corridor. These factors all combined to point towards keeping the suburban and interstate networks as separate as possible.

The big problem with Bridgewater trains was not that fees had to be paid to ANTA, but that the South-Eastern Freeway had crippled the market and the upcoming Adelaide-Crafers Highway was going to kill it completely. If the patronage was there, the track access fees wouldn't have been an issue.


I'm sure that each of those standard gauge projects would have been done differently in at least some details if they had been done at different times. How they would have been done differently is something we can only speculate on.
  62440 Chief Commissioner

You have also got to consider gauge. BG/SG are only 165mm different so you have to have 50kg rail as 60 doesn't work and that is not adequate for the interstate. In WA the NG/SG the difference is 378mm so it is much easier to build dual gauge track.
You have also got to look at flows as grain trains use both gauges. All freight in Adelaide is on SG.
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
There does not seem a serious reason why standard gauge suburban trains could not operate a service to Belair.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
There does not seem a serious reason why standard gauge suburban trains could not operate a service to Belair.
Rodo
Cost of standalone rolling stock, line capacity, and demand for such a service given the BG exists are some.

Now if the Adelaide metro lines were standardised it would be a different answer, but to get there would be quite a significant (and very likely not economic) cost.
  jmt Deputy Commissioner

There does not seem a serious reason why standard gauge suburban trains could not operate a service to Belair.
Cost of standalone rolling stock, line capacity, and demand for such a service given the BG exists are some.

Now if the Adelaide metro lines were standardised it would be a different answer, but to get there would be quite a significant (and very likely not economic) cost.
james.au
ARTC now own the standard gauge corridor. I doubt that they would allow scheduled commuter on their rail. The experiences of freight curfews in Sydney must be firmly etched on their minds.
  nscaler69 Deputy Commissioner

Location: There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots.
While watching the first part of the SBS TV Indian-Pacific "slow TV" program, I noticed that for some distance out of Perth there were two sets of rails, with each set being dual gauge.
cmjl
That section of line doesn't have standard gauge freight on it, that why it works fine as dual gauge.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

While watching the first part of the SBS TV Indian-Pacific "slow TV" program, I noticed that for some distance out of Perth there were two sets of rails, with each set being dual gauge.
That section of line doesn't have standard gauge freight on it, that why it works fine as dual gauge.
nscaler69
Beyond Midland it does.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

There does not seem a serious reason why standard gauge suburban trains could not operate a service to Belair.
Cost of standalone rolling stock, line capacity, and demand for such a service given the BG exists are some.

Now if the Adelaide metro lines were standardised it would be a different answer, but to get there would be quite a significant (and very likely not economic) cost.
james.au
The ship has sailed on switching the whole Adelaide network over to standard gauge and retaining mixed traffic lines.

The time to do that was in the 1990s, instead of converting only one track and handing it over to ANTA.

Had there been the ability to see how things would progress since then, I think converting the whole Belair line and retaining a long double track section would have been considered advantageous for both freight and passenger traffic.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

All right you convert the Belair line to dual gauge on both tracks now going up the hills is not such a great problem only that some freight trains could be held up by the slower suburban trains thus level crossings are down longer and some could even be blocked. Now coming down the hills though towards Adelaide you have a railcar set on a suburban service dead in the water somewhere or stopped at a platform, first how do you get a thunderbird out to it and what would happen if that did happen and for some reason the 1.5Km freight train behind it ran out of braking power, it could happen now that railcar that is stopped either between stations or at a station is going to be reduced to a pile of scrap metal in seconds when that freight train comes hurtling down the track at God only knows what speed. If the tracks are separate then if the brakes do fail on a freight train it has a clear track in front of it if it does not derail. The suburban lines are best kept as they are on that section with a separate line for each gauge. If a derailment should occur on the SG track then hopefully there would not be a sububan railcar on the other track.

And I should point out before some bright spark says it could not happen, it could and there are numerous examples of late of runaways etc on railways all over the place, circumstances in some have been better than in others though. But think about how many could be killed in a railcar or railcar set if it did happen.
  Big J Assistant Commissioner

Location: In Paradise
All right you convert the Belair line to dual gauge on both tracks now going up the hills is not such a great problem only that some freight trains could be held up by the slower suburban trains thus level crossings are down longer and some could even be blocked. Now coming down the hills though towards Adelaide you have a railcar set on a suburban service dead in the water somewhere or stopped at a platform, first how do you get a thunderbird out to it and what would happen if that did happen and for some reason the 1.5Km freight train behind it ran out of braking power, it could happen now that railcar that is stopped either between stations or at a station is going to be reduced to a pile of scrap metal in seconds when that freight train comes hurtling down the track at God only knows what speed. If the tracks are separate then if the brakes do fail on a freight train it has a clear track in front of it if it does not derail. The suburban lines are best kept as they are on that section with a separate line for each gauge. If a derailment should occur on the SG track then hopefully there would not be a sububan railcar on the other track.

And I should point out before some bright spark says it could not happen, it could and there are numerous examples of late of runaways etc on railways all over the place, circumstances in some have been better than in others though. But think about how many could be killed in a railcar or railcar set if it did happen.
DJPeters
What's the difference between here and the Blue Mountains or Cowan Bank?

Are the grades in NSW not as long and sustained?

NSW seems to runs higher number of passenger trains with freight in the mix over grades. I am sure that the scenario is possible and the consequence is catastrophic, but what is the likelihood?

I think what you outline could happen and would be a disaster, but would it really occur with the people that design, build and engineer track signing their name to the risk, meaning that this unlikely outcome of building this occurring, that I am sure that they will consider the scenario that you have outlined for any track design.

There are literally thousands of catastrophic events that people can make up and so long the risks associated have their likelihood, consequence or hopefully both be reduced, that is a good thing.

When was the last time a runaway has occurred the Adelaide hills?
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
What's the difference between here and the Blue Mountains or Cowan Bank?



When was the last time a runaway has occurred the Adelaide hills?
Big J
Big J's comment is spot on, its not a safety issue and ironically the runaways in any of the suburban networks in recent years was actually a suburban in Melbourne.

Back to the original question.
As others have said there wasn't alot of long-term confidence in the future of the Belair line retaining its full length at the time, hence groups like "friends of Belair line" started up.

However rolling the dice forward to today, has it really been a major issue? On the flatter part of the Belair line (up to Lynton) if needed, a 3rd track for most of the corridor could be added without major cost.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
The context of the early 1990s in SA was very different. Australian National had been going for 15 years and made steady progress towards a true interstate network and National Rail was getting started. On the local side, the service to Belair was viewed as being on its last legs so the Bannon/Arnold ALP state government was happy to give away half of the corridor. These factors all combined to point towards keeping the suburban and interstate networks as separate as possible.
justapassenger
Was not the government at the time of the standardisation that of Dean Brown elected in 1993 after 10 years of Labor?    I recall the transport minister was Di Laidlaw.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

The context of the early 1990s in SA was very different. Australian National had been going for 15 years and made steady progress towards a true interstate network and National Rail was getting started. On the local side, the service to Belair was viewed as being on its last legs so the Bannon/Arnold ALP state government was happy to give away half of the corridor. These factors all combined to point towards keeping the suburban and interstate networks as separate as possible.
Was not the government at the time of the standardisation that of Dean Brown elected in 1993 after 10 years of Labor?    I recall the transport minister was Di Laidlaw.
kipioneer
Correct, but the deal was done with the federal government and preparatory works started in 1993.

I don't think Laidlaw would even have had the chance to cut the ribbon, being a federally funded project.

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