PBR Cancelled Trains for Monday 11-1-10

 
  G41 Chief Commissioner

Location: Footplate of any K class
Due to an Extreme Fire Danger rating for Monday 11 Jan, Puffing Billy will not operate at all. Services to Lakeside, Gembrook and return have been cancelled.
Normal running will resume Tuesday.

I will update as the day goes on when I hear more.

Cheers

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  K160 Minister for Railways

Location: Bendigo
Is this the first time PBR have cancelled running since they introduced 7 day running? Or have they had other occasions (apart from Christmas day)?
  heisdeadjim Chief Commissioner

This is fortuitous timing, I just had a customer ask, many thanks.
  G41 Chief Commissioner

Location: Footplate of any K class
This is my first experience since being with PBR, but thats not to say it hasn't happened before.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
I don't recall PBR ever cancelling all services.  

They have advertised a diesel-hauled limited service of days of TFB for as long as they have had the locos available.

And tomorrow isn't (yet) a declared TFB either despite the high fire danger.  A very unusual but prudent decision by PBR.
  LowndesJ515 #TeamRog

Location: Not in Victoria
I don't recall PBR ever cancelling all services.  

They have advertised a diesel-hauled limited service of days of TFB for as long as they have had the locos available.

And tomorrow isn't (yet) a declared TFB either despite the high fire danger.  A very unusual but prudent decision by PBR.
"Gwiwer"


Considering the CFA have already issued the 'Extreme Danger' status for tomorrow, i think Puff have done the right thing and cancelled tomorrow. Hate to see another Black Saturday considering the amount of fuel on the ground in the Dandenongs and around Billy the Puff.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
I'm not in any way disputing the wisdom of the decision.  I am well aware of just how much unburnt fuel there is around that area.

All National Parks in the Wimmera are closed tomorrow account CFA "Code Red" fire danger warning while the Dangledong Ranges are two steps back from that at Extreme.

Added to which since my post above tomorrow has now been declared a TFB across all of Victoria and restrictions apply accordingly where ever you are.
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
For those who may wonder why we're not even running a diesel service, the issue isn't so much worrying about a train starting a fire. It's more a case that if there's a fire in the vicinity heading towards the rail line, it helps everyone if we don't have a few hundred passengers at risk. Events from 12 months ago have highlighted the difficulty in evacuating people from high risk areas - there's enough local residents at risk without introducing a few trainloads of passengers who could really come another day.

It does pose an interesting scenario though. The cancellation was called before TFB was declared. Almost suggests that in the future a diesel hauled service won't take place on a TFB (as we'll probably be at extreme level by then).
  locomotive Junior Train Controller

The Railway issued a statement in the the December issue of Monthy News

http://www.members.optusnet.com.au/~puffing.billy/200912.htm
  LowndesJ515 #TeamRog

Location: Not in Victoria
For those who may wonder why we're not even running a diesel service, the issue isn't so much worrying about a train starting a fire. It's more a case that if there's a fire in the vicinity heading towards the rail line, it helps everyone if we don't have a few hundred passengers at risk. Events from 12 months ago have highlighted the difficulty in evacuating people from high risk areas - there's enough local residents at risk without introducing a few trainloads of passengers who could really come another day.
"Ballast_Plough"


Do puff run Cast iron brake blocks? If they do, they can pose as a fire threat also.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Red and Extreme conditions will mean no rail operations.
"PBR link"

That is clearly being done in response to last summer's circumstances and a review of PBR procedures.  "Very High" may also mean no service according to the same statement.

In effect we can therefore expect that there will be no trains on PBR for many days of the fire season in future as the danger level in their region reaches "Very High" and above on most of those days.

Public and staff safety must be put first and decisions are not always taken conveniently timed to suit the needs of the publicity departments of major tourist draws.  Given that PBR's decision may not be widely known about at this stage and was not made in time to be included in the 2009-10 timetable brochure this may be seen negatively by some sections of a sometimes pig-headed public.

Most private individuals will have the timetable advising the diesel service will operate on days of TFB while I would expect the major tour operators to be in communication with the railway - as they are with other destinations - to confirm operations but still at this stage anticipating that their customers will at least get a diesel train up to Menzies Creek.

If no staff are present on site what will the casual visitor be left thinking?  Clutching a brochure which has been superceded by a sound decision but with no-one present to advise them of why the railway is locked up there is a possibility of some significant adverse publicity despite the suggestions that you call the railway to confirm details before you make a trip.

Wild fires are a fact of life for much of Australia but this sort of response will not do the valuable tourist trade any favours.

At the end of the day having a "good season" does not equate to the value of preserving life.  "Puffing Billy runs every day" needs to be removed from everywhere it is in print as swiftly as possible and a more accurate statement issued to replace it.

With the instruction that staff and volunteers are not to attend I draw the conclusion that PBR has also decided it is not worth trying to save their unique assets by relocating them (as was done last year) and that they would all be sacrificed to a fire if one occurred.
  tom9876543 Train Controller

This is really sad news.

Society is going downhill. Soon it will be unsafe to walk outside.

How many 35 degree days did the original trains survive before 1954? There was never one single accident!

The ridiculous obsession with safety is thanks to stupid lawyers who have ruined society.

I think the PBR should operate all days where the expected temp is 33 or less.
  Supt. of Printing Deputy Commissioner

Location: Gembrook Line
Red and Extreme conditions will mean no rail operations.
"PBR link"

That is clearly being done in response to last summer's circumstances and a review of PBR procedures.  "Very High" may also mean no service according to the same statement.
"Gwiwer"

I think you have mis-read the information. It says that NO SERVICES will operate on Code Red (Catastrophic) and Extreme levels and POSSIBLY NOT on Severe. Very High and below may just have destinations revised.

Neither is the information saying that no-one will be on the railway to attend to potential passengers. Also, the website has up-to-date info on the railway not operating.
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p

How many 35 degree days did the original trains survive before 1954? There was never one single accident!
"tom9876543"


The temperature tomorrow is forecast to be 43, not 35.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Tom's post misses the mark.  It is not general safety which is looked at, it is the ability to respond to extreme bushfires and to take due care for the staff and visitors if that situation should arise.

Puff has an excellent operational safety record which no-one is questioning.

It is the response to last summer's bush fires in which well over 200 people lost their lives which is being formulated here.

Most major tourist destinations in Victoria have done similar assessments.  Most are also now closed at a certain level of fire risk which they determine to be unacceptably high.

This is not the place to debate the wider implications of bushfire response.  Puff's response is that which their responsible officers have determined to be the level of risk which they can accept.  

They are also making reasonable efforts to notify potential users of this sudden and quite significant change.  Visitors and residents to Victoria may have to get used to this being the "Closed season" in future.
  xxxxlbear Token Booking Clerk

Location: Geelong
This is really sad news.

Society is going downhill. Soon it will be unsafe to walk outside.

How many 35 degree days did the original trains survive before 1954? There was never one single accident!

The ridiculous obsession with safety is thanks to stupid lawyers who have ruined society.

I think the PBR should operate all days where the expected temp is 33 or less.
"tom9876543"

PBR management have every right to determine whether or not trains operate days of extreme heat. They are the best people to judge whether the safety of their passenegers will be put at risk or not.
  locomotive Junior Train Controller

Down the track so to speak, the suburban trains may have to be curtailed in case sparks from the pans or brakes (which has been happening) start a fire in the country areas.
  Brock_05 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Swinging Spanners under Trucks
So Tom, Do you suggest we do NOTHING. We don't try and LEARN from the recent past.  We put peoples LIVES at RISK. I DON'T think Puffing Billy want to be known as the silly railway that ran trains in Extreme conditions, put lives at risk and it went horribly wrong with severe injuries/fatalities.

Also get your facts correct. If you can I suggest you figure this page out http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDV18500.txt[/ur] This is what dictates a TFB and that nice warning system. Put we put it into a nice colourful scale for those that can't think for themselves.  

Also sugest you look at the Latest Weather observations and watch the temp go up and the RH go down. [url]http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/vic/observations/vicall.shtml
Also the winds that are pushing the fires around.

And lastly I pray that nothing happens tomorrow or to anyone and we all see the year out. RIP Hugh. You served Tolmie well and helped us greatly at Lake Mokoan on Monday. Who'd thought almost a week later this would happen as you returned to help monitor it for the upcoming days  Crying or Very sad

Stephen
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
How many 35 degree days did the original trains survive before 1954? There was never one single accident!
"tom9876543"
You do know why the line beyond Nayook to Noojee closed, yeah?
  S 301 Chief Commissioner

Location: in front of the computer
As someone who does live in the area near Puffing Billy (albeit on the broad gauge side of Belgrave), I applaud them for taking this stance.

I've heard from a number of crews that even a train hitting a bad join may cause a small fire. And the fire patrol isn't going to be able to get them all.

Do we really want to be putting the hills in danger on such a high risk day, let alone all the passengers as well? I prefer to see groups take the 'safe than sorry' route, rather than the 'stuff em, lets go anyway' route. Yes, this year it may mean some bad publicity when they don't run. But then, think of the publicity if a train load of people (full trains on a good day, in terms of weather, even the relatively hot days) were burned out...

Seriously, can we really complain when a group acts in the interest of EVERYONE in the area? Or are you saying that Puffing Billy SHOULD run steam on a TOTAL FIRE BAN day (which admittedly they have done before, namely on at least 1 Day Out With Thomas day that I volunteered at). Remember, even a diesel can emit sparks, as can some brake types and there is always the possibility of a bad rail join (going from info from crews anyway).

So please, think before you post. Just because you can't think of any incidents involving that specific railway doesn't mean it hasn't/can't happen...

Zec
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
Repeating what I said earlier, the prime consideration for the cancellation of services is not due to the possibility of the train starting a fire (although there is an associated risk there) but should a fire be in the area anyway, emergency services will be stretched just looking after residents. Having a couple of hundred happy snapping tourists thrown in the mix creates extra workload.

Whilst a lot of people have probably drawn up plans to fit in a railway visit during the holidays, I'm sure that the majority can re-schedule to a cooler day. Obviously there will be a few who can't re-schedule but the best we can do in these circumstances if offer our apologies and trust the people concerned understand the rationale.
  fullofrubbish Assistant Commissioner

Location: Brunswick
..I'm sure that the majority can re-schedule to a cooler day.
"Ballast_Plough"


Yeah I dunno who'd be wanting to be a passenger tomorrow on PB even if it was running by choice! I'm debating whether or not I even head into work!
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
should a fire be in the area anyway, emergency services will be stretched just looking after residents.


Added to which the majority of passengers start their journey at Belgrave and apart from the coach tour trade most will return to finish there as well.

There are only a couple of roads out of Belgrave which can be used as reasonable evacuation routes.  There is no sense going up into the forests towards Kallista; there is no point going parallel to the line towards Gembrook if the fire is in the forests above that road; the road south towards Narre Warren passes through an area which partially burned last February but still has a lot of potential to do so again.

That leaves the road down the valley towards Ferntree Gully.  If a mass evacuation were ordered or the population decided to leave ahead of a fire even that road is not risk-free.  There have already been fires around Upper Gully.  It is a one-lane road and even if traffic flowed freely would take a while to get everyone far enough away for safety.

If you factor in an extra several hundred visitors to the PBR, who might be anywhere up the line and net necessarily in Belgrave, then you have a much bigger logistical problem in ensuring their safety.

Don't count on evacuation by suburban train either - they regularly stop as soon as the temperature gets warm and are also subject to fires preventing them getting through.
  Bigwato Chief Commissioner

Location: Craigieburn Victoria
Welcome to the new world of saftey first. Lives can't be put at risk, if anything we have to learn from the past. 170 odd lives gone last Feb, as on Anzac day, lest we forget.

And Brock_05, I take it you know the blokes that got killed on the CFA run. I was sorry to hear about that. All the people of the CFA are gold in my eyes. Job well done and we all appreciate the sacrifice they make.
  xxxxlbear Token Booking Clerk

Location: Geelong
Come to think of it, a decision by PBR management to withdraw train services on a hot day is not one to be had lightly.

The decision to cancel  is a very harsh one, and which would involve a great deal of man hours just to cancel coach bookings, lunch train bookings, and any night train bookings; not to mention the considerably large lost revenue from what would had been an otherwise very busy day for general passenger loadings, and lost revenue from the already mentioned cancelled coach bookings and lunch/dinner trains.

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