Bairnsdale Line News

 
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
When was the last rail grinder around? Have to be a good three years plus.

Uninformed gunzel speculation here, but when the Ararat line was re-opened, a pair of "freight trains" consisting of an XR and S class ran between Ballarat and Ararat push pull to as I recall polish the tracks with a bunch of dead wagons and grain hoppers - basically whatever was lying around Tottenham Yard and wasn't completely rooted.  

Think there were some flour hoppers, some sleeper wagons, a lot of cement hoppers and some other weird and wonderful things.

Would that be something that would be possible, and what was that actually in aid of?

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  ab123 Chief Train Controller

It would have cleaned the rail which is important for track circuits for crossings etc.  After a shutdown a test train runs to do the same thing. Obviously the Bairnsdale issue is different as there is frequent rail traffic.
  B 67 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland
During the previous regular Bairnsdale bustitution periods, there have usually been empty pass trains run on the line, apparently for the purposes of keeping the rails clean. This did not occur during the bustitution period in early March. Trains ran a for a week and a bit before being withdrawn.

Of the 32 protected crossings, a good number are recent installations and at locations where trains can run at line speed.  It's hard to see the need for speed predictors at such locations when only passenger services operate on the line. Even when the log trains were running, the speed difference was not that great at most crossings. Of course the three closely-spaced crossings at Stratford near the station are the ones that might benefit from speed predictors for stopping trains. But of course these do not appear to be so fitted on the station sides of the crossings, and so the flashing light signals and Princes Hwy booms can operate for several minutes before the train crosses.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

During the previous regular Bairnsdale bustitution periods, there have usually been empty pass trains run on the line, apparently for the purposes of keeping the rails clean. This did not occur during the bustitution period in early March. Trains ran a for a week and a bit before being withdrawn.

Of the 32 protected crossings, a good number are recent installations and at locations where trains can run at line speed.  It's hard to see the need for speed predictors at such locations when only passenger services operate on the line. Even when the log trains were running, the speed difference was not that great at most crossings. Of course the three closely-spaced crossings at Stratford near the station are the ones that might benefit from speed predictors for stopping trains. But of course these do not appear to be so fitted on the station sides of the crossings, and so the flashing light signals and Princes Hwy booms can operate for several minutes before the train crosses.
B 67

A couple of points,

Speed predictor level crossing controllers are these days standard "off the shelf" hardware and the cost of the controller is quite small compared to the cost of installation. For the this reason one can easily see why such controlers are selected for installation. From memory the cost of the actual controller itself for the first one Puffing Billy installed was around 25 to 30,000 dollars.

Second point is Speed predictors measure the actual speed of the train and for various reasons this may vary, so one can rely on the crossing being activated in a particular time delay.

Note, when the hardware is commissioned the trigger speed is checked at all speeds from a crawl to the tracks line speed, the loco going in both directions over the crossing for quite a considerable period of time (well on the Albury line anyway).

In case anyone is interested the Harmon controlers measure the speed of the train by measuring the track circuit impedance at frequnecy in the low audio range (around 400 hz). This frequency can be varied so controlers fitted at closely spaced level crossings can have individual overrlapping trigger distances by the use of the apropriate filters fitted to the track. On the NE line one can see some of the boxes containing the filters around 6000 ft from its level crossing, the filters are also fitted inside the terminating boxes for the insulated joints for the signalling so the audio signal can by pass the insulated joint.

Lindsay
  skitz Chief Commissioner

When was the last rail grinder around? Have to be a good three years plus.

Uninformed gunzel speculation here, but when the Ararat line was re-opened, a pair of "freight trains" consisting of an XR and S class ran between Ballarat and Ararat push pull to as I recall polish the tracks with a bunch of dead wagons and grain hoppers - basically whatever was lying around Tottenham Yard and wasn't completely rooted.  

Think there were some flour hoppers, some sleeper wagons, a lot of cement hoppers and some other weird and wonderful things.

Would that be something that would be possible, and what was that actually in aid of?
Sir Thomas Bent

It would be around three years ago since there was a grinder on BG.

I recall the Ararat reopening and the running of the 'shaggy dog' train.  The Ararat line had seen no traffic for a long time and the rail as expected was heavily scaled and would have questioned the reliability of any track circuit.  The train made up of misfit wagons with variable ride characteristics and wheel condition makes for a good scrubber.  We had been out there too with RG8.  I would have to pull up my old work notes to figure out where.

The Bairnsdale line had logs operating and the rails ordinarily this was enough to keep the rail clean.  I suppose the length and speed of that train did not present an issue compared to the passenger train.

As for cleaning the rail comapared to profiling the rail, while not understood, at the time it was stumbled upon that the application of the rail profile fixed the issue.  I recall when examining the rails of an untreated approach would have the appearance of clean rail but it did not have a shiny mirrored appearance.  The appearance was a dull matted texture.  Once rail ground with a profile the new contact band had the mirrored appearance.
  spottyrahr Chief Commissioner

This is just hearsay so please don't take it as gospel but I've heard there are some issues with the Government and their funding for rail projects. Mainly they decide to cut the funding during upgrades/repairs especially/mainly on rural tracks. What I've heard is that the companies responsible for these level crossings can't do their job properly due to Government issues.

Again. Hearsay.
  B 67 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland
A couple of points, Speed predictor level crossing controllers are these days standard "off the shelf" hardware and the cost of the controller is quite small compared to the cost of installation. For the this reason one can easily see why such controlers are selected for installation.
woodford
Yep! I can understand that they're not a big added expense. But it seems to me that they're still being used where they're not really needed. Presumably they're part of a standard or contract that sees them used in new installations and upgrades in existing ones.

Second point is Speed predictors measure the actual speed of the train and for various reasons this may vary, so one can rely on the crossing being activated in a particular time delay.
woodford
Unfortunately, they couldn't be relied on in this instance. Confused  That said, I do see the point of them where there is a variation in train speeds. But between Traralgon and Bairnsdale, the only time you'll see much variation is when a ballast train runs. And the majority of the crossings are not so heavily trafficked that such delays are going to be a problem.

Note, when the hardware is commissioned the trigger speed is checked at all speeds from a crawl to the tracks line speed, the loco going in both directions over the crossing for quite a considerable period of time (well on the Albury line anyway).
woodford
Yes, I saw that take place here when predictors were installed. It all worked fine then.

I've been told that part of the problem in Gippsland is that there is actually too wide a contact point between wheel and rail (railhead is worn and too flat on top). Apparently this results in a spread of weight across the rail that means it is insufficient to break through the oxide on the railhead. When the rail grinder eventually arrives and does its thing, the railhead will be slightly rounded, giving a narrower contact point between wheel and rail, increasing pressure to make better contact for the circuits.
Still a bit difficult to believe there isn't enough weight on the rails as it is. But we know similar has occurred in the past, so obviously there's something in it.

In case anyone is interested the Harmon controlers measure the speed of the train by measuring the track circuit impedance at frequnecy in the low audio range (around 400 hz). This frequency can be varied so controlers fitted at closely spaced level crossings can have individual overrlapping trigger distances by the use of the apropriate filters fitted to the track. On the NE line one can see some of the boxes containing the filters around 6000 ft from its level crossing, the filters are also fitted inside the terminating boxes for the insulated joints for the signalling so the audio signal can by pass the insulated joint.
woodford
Interesting to know it can be done. Makes me wonder about the crossings here. If so fitted, then they're not working as intended. 1-2 minutes wait at the crossings is not unusual (Princes Hwy, Hobson St and Macalister St, Stratford) when trains stop at the station. Signs indicate down stopping trains not to exceed 40km/h to Princes Hwy (booms will be down before the train actually stops).

The photos below are not directly related, but may be of interest. They show the speed signs for trains either side of Stratford station.


50 and 40 signs for Princes Hwy at Stratford. That's Hobson St in the photo. The highway is out of sight further around the bend.


Yes, 50, 40 and a 65 curve board all within 20 metres. The curve board (still with wooden 35MPH behind it) was recently removed.

And in the other direction


Just before Hobson St, up trains have the 50 sign for Macalister St (not Rd as the sign reads). The just beyond the platform is the 30km/h sign for stopping trains and the works 10km/h sign for the Avon River bridge.



There there's the 65 curve board followed by a 10 curve board and works Commence 10 sign for the bridge. Smile
  ab123 Chief Train Controller

The 50 sign is indicating the crossing is fitted with predictor equipment and that trains travelling below 50kph can not increase speed after they pass the sign until they reach the crossing. Obviously there is a special instruction with tge 40kph board otherwise trains would have to crawl to the crossing.
  Xiphias Locomotive Driver

Location: Riding the rails
Yes, 50, 40 and a 65 curve board all within 20 metres.
"B67"

Yep, and believe it or not, they're all necessary. 65km/h is obviously the limit for the curve, 50km/h is for the predictor as mentioned above by ab123.

If a train is not stopping at Stratford (doing above 50km/h) , it's limiting speed would be the 65km/h curve having satisfied the predictor board. (assuming it managed to get above 50 after coming off the bridge)

However if a train stops at the platform, obviously it's below 50km/h and can't accelerate, so the 40km/h instruction provides a workaround. (as mentioned by ab123)
  Melbournesparks Chief Commissioner

Location: City of Eltham
Sort of related... The last time I saw a broad gauge rail grinder was this one at Eltham in mid 2009:




Does anyone know where this unit is now and why it can't be used?
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
I think you'll find that if a stopping train arrives in the vicinity of predictor circuits at a high speed and brakes heavily, the circuitry may think it's an express and set the lights off early. As an example at Emerald (NG) station, you need to arrive at 10mph or less otherwise you set off the lights thinking you're running express.
  skitz Chief Commissioner

Sort of related... The last time I saw a broad gauge rail grinder was this one at Eltham in mid 2009:




Does anyone know where this unit is now and why it can't be used?
Melbournesparks
It could be anywhere from Sydney, the Pilbara or overseas.  Its a typical Speno unit and considered to be a 'mainline grinder'.  Its got 24 stones (25HP???) and the units can be used in pairs, on thier own.  I recall they could handle three gauges, or at least had one with a small enough loading gauge for NG.  The issue with them is the gauge conversion and the practicality and ease of gauge conversion.  All the bogies under the articulated sets and power car all need to be regauged.  On top of the you have to regauge the grind buggies too.

For sure it can be used but you must overcome the economics of what it means to pull it off its current job and a relatively costly mobilisation for what is a small job.  In the case of a one-off job like the Bairnsdale gig its likely it would wear the demob and gauge conversion at the other end too.

Pity it was not still working in Melbourne.  If it was it would have been a simple affair.
  Bugnash Station Master

Sort of related... The last time I saw a broad gauge rail grinder was this one at Eltham in mid 2009:




Does anyone know where this unit is now and why it can't be used?
Melbournesparks
I have a couple of answers for you.

The unit pictured above is now in NZ under contract to Kiwirail.

There is a similar multi-gauge unit that could do the job but as stated previously it needs broad gauge equipment sourced for it and is undergoing commissioning for another contract.

A switch grinder could do the 500m each side of the crossings at about the rate of 1 crossing a day taking over a month. But as you can imagine such machines are not sitting around waiting for work.


One more thing, i am sure Speno are not rubbing their hands together. I would say they are working hard to help fix the problem.
  Flatop Deputy Commissioner

Location: Some where in a Cab
If V/Line could get rid of the whole gippsland line they would.The order of trains to moved are the following priorities

1
geelong

2
bendigo

3
ballarat

4
Gippsland

Trains up here get cancelled at drop of a hat and V/Line do not tend to worry to much about their passengers.
  grime Station Master

http://www.vline.com.au/home/news/gippslandservicechanges/1487844748/article.aspx
V/Line working to restore train services to Bairnsdale

- Please visit this page regularly for the latest information
Update Thursday 9 May, 2013
Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder today announced a multi?million dollar program to upgrade level crossing safety and restore trains to the Gippsland Line between Traralgon, Sale and Bairnsdale.

"Public Transport Victoria has approved V/Line’s plan for a permanent solution to the safety issue that has caused the suspension of train services since late March," Mr Mulder said.

"V/Line will invest up to $8 million to install axle counter technology at all 32 level crossings along the line."

V/Line Acting Chief Executive Officer Ross Pedley said that on site works would commence as soon as the specifications were finalised.

"Installation of the axle counters will overcome the issue that has been affecting the reliability of level crossing safety equipment between Traralgon and Bairnsdale," he said.

"From the time that installation commences, V/Line expects the axle counters to be working within 12 months,” Mr Pedley said. “Axle counter technology is already installed at nine level crossings between Bendigo and Echuca and will be implemented at four more locations on that line. Axle counters are also used to activate the signalling systems on the Bendigo and Pakenham?Traralgon corridors." he said.

"The investment in axle counters and the ongoing maintenance work on the Gippsland line guarantees that trains will return between Traralgon, Sale and Bairnsdale as soon as it is safe to do so," Mr Pedley said.

V/Line is still actively pursuing interim solutions to the rail corrosion issue that has affected the reliability of the track circuit system which currently activates the level crossings. One short term approach is to grind and re?profile the rails for approximately one kilometre on either side of the level crossings.

Mr Pedley said RailCorp in New South Wales had been unable to release the rail grinder that V/Line had hoped to secure for work on the Gippsland corridor.

"Another grinder, now being used interstate, will not be available until August. The rail grinding will take approximately four weeks. All going well, this work will enable trains to return to service in September," he said.

"While the rail grinder is now not expected to be available until August, we will continue to examine other short term solutions that could result in the earlier return of train services," he said.

Mr Pedley said a program of maintenance work was continuing on the line between Traralgon and Bairnsdale to ensure that it was in the best possible condition for the return of trains.

"We’ve allocated an extra $300,000 to step up our track maintenance in the region and our track workers have been taking advantage of the temporary absence of trains to replace sleepers, repair bridges and upgrade drainage," he said.

"With safety as V/Line’s number one priority, we will continue to run our train replacement coaches until we can ensure the safety of train operations and road users," said Mr Pedley.



  Melbournesparks Chief Commissioner

Location: City of Eltham
September... A bunch of blokes with files could probably finish the grinding before then.
  B 67 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland
September... A bunch of blokes with files could probably finish the grinding before then.
Melbournesparks
They could also lay new, correctly profiled rail in that time. Possibly for less cost too. Wink
  Mufreight Train Controller

Location: North Ipswich
They could also lay new, correctly profiled rail in that time. Possibly for less cost too. Wink
B 67
A but tongue in cheek but they could slso regauge the line to SG then the rail gringer would not need to be reconfigured for BG, just another option.
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
A but tongue in cheek but they could slso regauge the line to SG then the rail gringer would not need to be reconfigured for BG, just another option.
Mufreight
Transport the grinder to the location by road .......   (if available at all)
Install new sleepers where necessary, to allow for regauging .....
Regauge  the section to SG ......
Do the work ......
Regauge the section back to BG when finished .......
Test the track ......
Fix any problems ......

Probably marginally less effective than the "blokes with files" option ??
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
IMHO it's rather poor planning that Vline (as a track manager) doesn't have access to equipment required for maintenence activities, whether through outright ownership or contractural arrangements through their suppliers of maintenence services.

Maybe I'm being cynical here, but it's also interesting to note that they're replacing about 1700 sleepers and doing a range of other works on the line. Perhaps the level crossing issue isn't the only reason for closing the line...
  gippslander Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland, Vic
A but tongue in cheek but they could slso regauge the line to SG then the rail gringer would not need to be reconfigured for BG, just another option.
"Mufreight"


A wonderful idea but there is also the minor matter of the suburban network being broad gauge?
I suppose we could pay for it with a Saturday morning sausage sizzle at Bairnsdale station.
  Bugnash Station Master

It would not matter what gauge the track was.
  comet4 Station Master

Quite simply, it seems we are just hopeless compared to most of the world. We can't even fix things properly.
And no matter how much spin this current Victorian government puts out, it just doesn't care about rail.
Its road mates have too much pull. Hence the east-west road tunnel priority over the metro tunnel.
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

IMHO it's rather poor planning that Vline (as a track manager) doesn't have access to equipment required for maintenence activities, whether through outright ownership or contractural arrangements through their suppliers of maintenence services.

Maybe I'm being cynical here, but it's also interesting to note that they're replacing about 1700 sleepers and doing a range of other works on the line. Perhaps the level crossing issue isn't the only reason for closing the line...
VRfan
That is a very good point you raise. BTW where will the sleepers be laid, and what type will the be? Timber or concrete?
  gippslander Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland, Vic
That is a very good point you raise. BTW where will the sleepers be laid, and what type will the be? Timber or concrete?
"Duncs"


The Government media release said that the platform road at Sale would be relaid in concrete, presumably there might be more level crossings done in the same material.

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