Pilbara Perway , how do the standards differ from the National Std Gauge ?

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BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Always wondered about this , from what I hear the best is built to 40 tonne axle load standards using 68 kg rail .
How is it that they ca get to 40TAL where we struggle with 23-25 because its not like they're using double the rail and sleeper sizes the national standard gauge system has . Also its not like it never rains or they never get floods in the Pilbara region either .
Can someone who goes there tell us the story .
 
awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
Always wondered about this , from what I hear the best is built to 40 tonne axle load standards using 68 kg rail .
How is it that they ca get to 40TAL where we struggle with 23-25 because its not like they're using double the rail and sleeper sizes the national standard gauge system has . Also its not like it never rains or they never get floods in the Pilbara region either .
Can someone who goes there tell us the story .
- BDA

Fortescue is running 40T axle loads, and is planning a little higher.

On the Pilbara lines, all trains are ore trains and run at the same maximum speed. Cant (Superelevation) can be optimised for this speed.

On eastern state main lines such as the Main South, fast XPT and slower Freights share the same tracks, and cant can't be optimised for both at the same time. You have to choose one or the other or a compromise. Many US railroads reduced the cant on their lines to suit just freight trains once passenger trains ceased operation.

Interestingly. the NSFC from Epping-Thornleigh might have cant optimised for just freight.

Optimising the contours of rails and wheels is a kind of black art, studied instensly at University level for decades, under the auspicies of the International Heavy Haul Association (IHHA). Optimised profiles reduces wear and tear. It helps that rolling stock on these lines in the Pilbara is pretty much all the same. Conventional railways such as in NSW cannot control these profiles as rigorously.

One might add that gradients and especially curves are much worse in NSW than in the Pilbara.
 
YM-Mundrabilla Chief Commissioner

Location: Mundrabilla or Narvik if I get half a chance
awsgc24 has pretty much said it all but if we take the FMG line as an example:

It carries only one basic commodity.
It was built as a 40 tonne axleload track to handle loaded wagons at 90km/h from the outset by people with a vision.
Rolling stock is homogeneous so far as bogies, bearings, brakes, wheel profiles etc are concerned.
Train braking was ECP from the start.
The rolling stock was designed by the best rolling stock designers in the country to minimise tare and length but maximise payload.
The sleepers were specially made with additional wires.
Sufficient ballast was provided.
The company recognises that their railway is their lifeline.
Virtually all rolling stock outside the Hunter Valley is incapable of greater than a 23 tonne axleoad due either to bogies or wagon bodies many of which are over 40 years old.

Another key is the difference between a positive 'how can we do it?' attitude and a 'how can we stop it?' one. And we all know which attitude applies where!
 
cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and to see a train on the SSFL!
Don't forget significant $¥£ profit justifying it!

What is a Pilbara perway standard anyway ?
 
BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Obviously one on which you can run 40 TALs at 90 Km/h rather than 23/80 . It would specify curve radius and super elevation that caters for 40/90 . A guessing person would think it grew out of US domestic standards and maybe improved upon them .
Yes cost also interesting to know . The fact that they exist proves it can be done here in Australia and it makes me wonder if the contractors that built these railways , no doubt at a competitive price , could do similar things elsewhere - at competitive rates . Is it known what it cost per km to build them and how that compares to a km of national std guage - in open country that is not Hawksbury River bridge or Woy Woy tunnel .
 
cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and to see a train on the SSFL!
Obviously one on which you can run 40 TALs at 90 Km/h rather than 23/80 . It would specify curve radius and super elevation that caters for 40/90 . A guessing person would think it grew out of US domestic standards and maybe improved upon them .
Yes cost also interesting to know . The fact that they exist proves it can be done here in Australia and it makes me wonder if the contractors that built these railways , no doubt at a competitive price , could do similar things elsewhere - at competitive rates . Is it known what it cost per km to build them and how that compares to a km of national std guage - in open country that is not Hawksbury River bridge or Woy Woy tunnel .
- BDA

Starting with a clean slate was a huge advantage. These railways developed in isolation and weren't beholden to particular state rail standards.

In the pursuit of economies of scale and the advantage of buying the required locomotives off the shelf (i.e. North American) and considering significant involvement of US companies and investment it isn't surprising where they headed all those years ago - and good on them too. However without a booming market (assuming China didn't shake off the GFC as quickly as it did) not only would this latest line not been built, FMG itself may not be around now.

FMGs 700kms and 10 bridges... extrapolating this to the DIRN? Apart from ballast and rail, there would be formation and bridges, clearances for a bigger loading gauge including double stacking, throw in Melbourne - Brisbane realignments and associated property resumptions required to obtain the full potential... assuming you have the money and time before you realise the benefits across the network - and then the operators have to be prepared/able to invest accordingly. Avocados and Oranges!
 
awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
Also, while gradients can be as steep as those on government railways, changes of gradient are probably less frequent, so that very long trains do not experience more than one grade at a time. This reduces buffing forces.
 
BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
The point of this was the physical perway meaning rail sleepers and the ballast and sub base - not alignment gradients and super elevation .
It would be interesting to know what they did to increase the axle load carrying ability from around 30 up to 40 .
I don't think it was to do with locomotive axle loads , more the wagons to raise the gross to 160 on four axles .
It sounds like the same head hardened 60kg/m rail on concrete sleepers with a bit more reo in them .
 
awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
The point of this was the physical perway meaning rail sleepers and the ballast and sub base - not alignment gradients and super elevation .
It would be interesting to know what they did to increase the axle load carrying ability from around 30 up to 40 .
I don't think it was to do with locomotive axle loads , more the wagons to raise the gross to 160 on four axles .
It sounds like the same head hardened 60kg/m rail on concrete sleepers with a bit more reo in them .
- BDA


IIRC, the Pilbara railway rails are heavier than 60kg/m (the heaviet on Govt. railways), at least 65kg/m.

The sleepers are closer together, so that there are more sleepers/km.

The subbase, etc., would also have to be stronger.

Cannot speak for the strength and weight of the concrete sleepers.

Curves and turnouts where 2km trains operate, even in yards, have to be of greater radius, to avoid pulling intermediate wagons off the rails, and to reduce wear on both rails and wheels. A photo of the yard of the Fortescue line shows this.
 
62440 Deputy Commissioner

The rail in the Pilbara is all AS68 kg/m which is a direct evolution from 136 RE as used in class 1 railways in the UK. BHP started calling it 68 RE until it was included in AS 1085.1 supplied to Australian requirements. It is generally supplied in head hardened these days, Hamersley used carbon on tangent tracks but moved to fully HH in recent years. Look out for through hardened and micro alloy rails. This section is a world wide standard and all rail mills are capable of producing it. It is rolled to an incredibly high standard. Standard length was 25m for years based on ship hatch size though most mills can supply longer. Rails are shop welded to 400m (FMG is longer, I think 500m) and all field welds are flash butt.
Sleeper design and spacing meet requirements for 40+TAL.
The ruling grade in the Pilbara is 0.33% and vertical curves are designed for the speed. The climb out of the Fortescue Valley is 0.55% on the BHP and a new route has been designed.
Rail/ wheel profile design is a black art and whole conferences study just that From memory, BHP and Hamersley were just different enough to prevent sharing tracks.
In essence, as above, the railways were built in greenfield, the original lines did not have the technical inputs available today. Over 100 alignments were studied by FMG. Flood mapping, heritage surveys and geology are in-depth inputs.
That covers part of the below rail, I'll leave others to describe how train operation is controlled to optimise operation. Continuous measurement and condition assessment is vital, one overloaded wagon or one wheel flat can cost millions. One train path lost is in the order of $2M lost sales so costs of raising standards are not significant on that side of the ledger.
Twiggy has certainly pushed the envelope from BHP which was regarded as the world benchmark in heavy haul.
 
awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
The rail in the Pilbara is all AS68 kg/m which is a direct evolution from 136 RE as used in class 1 railways in the UK.
- 62440


Surely you mean "US".
 
62440 Deputy Commissioner

TYpo, well spotted. Of course the US, the UK has only recently increased from 113. World standard for general main lines is 60 UIC which is not readily interchangeable with AS 60 which section is only used in Australia.
 
awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
Typo, well spotted. Of course the US, the UK has only recently increased from 113. World standard for general main lines is 60 UIC which is not readily interchangeable with AS 60 which section is only used in Australia.
- 62440

What is the difference between UIC60 and AS60?

My guess is that AS60 has a footing width, such that it can replace the lighter AS50 and AS53, especially on concrete sleepers?  For example, on the Alice Springs Darwin Railway.
 
62440 Deputy Commissioner

What is the difference between UIC60 and AS60?

My guess is that AS60 has a footing width, such that it can replace the lighter AS50 and AS53, especially on concrete sleepers? For example, on the Alice Springs Darwin Railway.
- awsgc24

AS60 is 146 mm foot width, the same as AS53 (the old 107#), UIC 60 is 150, a small but important difference. Heights are comparable and web thickness is the same. AS 50 and AS 47 (the old 94#) have a 127mm foot width.
 
M636C Minister for Railways

The rail in the Pilbara is all AS68 kg/m which is a direct evolution from 136 RE as used in class 1 railways in the USA.
- 62440

That is assuming that the 119lb/yd Japanese rail and the 132lb/yd RE that Hamersley and Mt Newman respectively used originally has all been replaced.

I'm sure you'd find that on sidings and in yards even now...

Of course Goldsworthy Mining was laid with AS 94lb/yd if I recall correctly. There was a double transition through 119lb/yd to 132lb/yd at the Goldsworthy Crossing near Port Hedland Airport with two sets of joggled fishplates.

I think that line was relaid with removed 132lb/yd from the Newman line when BHP took over.The line and level was so bad that locomotves with Alco Hi Ad bogies rolled badly, and the few Dash 8s with GE Floating Bolster bogies were preferred.

M636C
 
awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
AS60 is 146 mm foot width, the same as AS53 (the old 107#), UIC 60 is 150, a small but important difference. Heights are comparable and web thickness is the same. AS 50 and AS 47 (the old 94#) have a 127mm foot width.
- 62440


IIRC, the Tarcoola Alice line was partly laid with 40kg secondhand rail with "fillets" so that the rails could be upgraded later on to 53/60kg rail with the fillets removed.
 
Nightfire Chief Commissioner

Location: Gippsland
People are talking a lot about the rail sizes (kg per metre) to maximise a railways maximum axle load, that's all very good, but one element that limits the maximum axle load of a railway Is the strength of the bridges on that particular line.

As some bridges on the national standard gauge system are well over 100 years old.
 
awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
People are talking a lot about the rail sizes (kg per metre) to maximise a railways maximum axle load, that's all very good, but one element that limits the maximum axle load of a railway Is the strength of the bridges on that particular line.

As some bridges on the national standard gauge system are well over 100 years old.
- Nightfire


A standardised method of measuring the strength of rail bridges was devised by a Mr Cooper in the US.
 
Sulla1 Chief Train Controller

People are talking a lot about the rail sizes (kg per metre) to maximise a railways maximum axle load, that's all very good, but one element that limits the maximum axle load of a railway Is the strength of the bridges on that particular line.

As some bridges on the national standard gauge system are well over 100 years old.
- Nightfire


Pity Queensland's North Coast Line in that regard...two of the most significant bridges on that line, the 1891 Burnett River Bridge in Bundaberg and the 1899 double track Alexandria Bridge over the Fitzroy River in Rockhampton were both designed for 8-ton axle loads and are now carrying 20-tonne axle loads and facing the very real possibility of having to be upgraded to 26.5-tonne axle loads at some point in the next decade. The Alexandria Bridge remains one of the worst examples of short sighted engineering, within four years of construction higher axle load locos were appearing and having to travel at restricted speed over the structure, trains were banned from meeting on the bridge and the second track was eventually removed.
 
M636C Minister for Railways

As some bridges on the national standard gauge system are well over 100 years old.
- Nightfire

Many of these bridges have already been upgraded, of course.

The Menangle Bridge had additional piers added at the midpoint of the spans to allow 57 class locomotives in the 1920s, and that bridge was sixty years old then...

Similar modifications were made to the Wagga flood plain viaducts in the 1970s, I think.

Even the little single span bridge over Run O'Waters creek at Joppa Junction has had an additional pier and reinforced concrete butressing for the brick abutments.

As I think I've posted on other threads, the Hawkesbury River Bridge was built to a Cooper E60 rating, and in 1946 was the only bridge in Australia designed to that standard.

QR use the Cooper bridge ratings. The bogie frames of the (90 tonne) EE 1300 class were modified from those of the (60 tonne) 1620 class by increasing the wheelbase by 300mm to reduce the bridge stress according to Cooper's formula. The moulds for the bogie frames were cut and a block of wood inserted. You can see the join in the finished castings.

But Australian engineers have been upgrading bridges since just after 1854. It isn't an insuperable problem.

Some readers here would be familiar with cover of the book Bridges Down Under, showing a 90 class running through a "pony truss" on the coal lines. Since the book was published, that bridge was replaced with reinforced concrete ballasted deck girders.

M636C
 
BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Typo in my last post , supposed to read 68 KG HH rail as used in WA but supports heavier 40T axle loads .
If this is the case and 68HH happily supports 40 TAL then 60 should romp in 25 TAL .
I think it's time Team Feds , ARTC , went to the NSW Govt which has the leash of TF NSW and got an understanding of why they are playing games with allowable axle loads and speeds . If a problem truly exists and dough is needed to fix it then so be it .
Road freight traffic is not a bonus in the congested Sydney Metropolitan area nor anywhere between "Unanderra and Islington Jct" so it's in this State Govts interest to do something about it .
Do you think just maybe improved perway on the lines rail freight traffic uses would be cheaper to fund than building truck ways through the same areas ?

ILF is no engineering feat but making it leak/loss proof isn't a cake walk . Across the desert there's few people to notice or maybe care but its a different situation in the eastern states , lots of eyes and cameras - say from Fish River to Top Bridge ...
Search locomotive in line refuelling systems .
 
62440 Deputy Commissioner

The 132# became 66 kg and was a UP section in the US. Goldsworthy was 47 jointed and they were still buying AS50 with bolt holes up to 1990.
NSW uses AS60 as do most main line systems and I understand this is used for 30 TAL depending on sleeper spacing. VicRail preferred AS53 and even paid for new rolls when BHP decided to drop it. QR also liked AS53.
BHP rail production was set up for the Trans railway and produced an 80# section. This rail was later cascaded into the Tarcoola to Alice and the Whyalla branch. Ironic that BHP new rail travelled over the very first BHP rail which was branded 1915.

The # symbol denotes pounds per yard, divide by 2 to convert to kg/ metre.
 
M636C Minister for Railways

Goldsworthy was 47 jointed and they were still buying AS50 with bolt holes up to 1990.
- 62440


Goldsworthy purchased loco GML 10 in 1990.

Their next two locos became BHP Iron Ore 5647 and 5648 in 1992.

So I guess that dates the takeover to between 1990 and 1992.

Presumably the relaying with used MNM rail followed the BHP acquisition of MGMA.

M636C
 
awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
AS60 is 146 mm foot width, the same as AS53 (the old 107#), UIC 60 is 150, a small but important difference. Heights are comparable and web thickness is the same. AS 50 and AS 47 (the old 94#) have a 127mm foot width.
- 62440


Presumably concrete sleepers are only compatible with AS53 and AS60 rails, and if you want to put in concrete sleepers on 50kg or lighter rails you either have to rerail to AS553 rail, or put in those "fillets".
 
crypticone Chief Train Controller

Location: Blue Mtns
Presumably concrete sleepers are only compatible with AS53 and AS60 rails, and if you want to put in concrete sleepers on 50kg or lighter rails you either have to rerail to AS553 rail, or put in those "fillets".
- awsgc24

Kiama to Nowra has a lot of 47 kg rail,and it has Concrete sleepers, 47 kg and 50 kg has a fatter insulator(biscuits) the other insulator can work on 53 60 and 68 kg rail, you can have black plastic ones,white plastic, with a steel insert and a steel one as well.
Also 50 kg is has the same foot as 47 but 13mm higher, and 60 and 68 is the same foot and head, but 68 is bigger in the web . I havean old Pilbara video and iam sure the sleepers that were replacing the timbers were 335kg, that's 53 kg heavy than the NSW large ones. Hope this helps.
 

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