Regauging Victoria's railways (!)

 
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
I'm not suggesting anything here but I have been wondering how complicated would regauging Victoria's railways, including Melbourne suburban, be relative to what it's worth.
Imagine being told that all water mains in your town are going to be replaced at once and you will have no running water while they do it. Converting between track gauges differing by more than the width of the rail, for example from cape gauge to standard, is pretty trivial compared to replacing every water main at once. One can buy standard gauge rolling stock, and provide dual gauge track where it shares tracks with existing cape gauge rolling stock, with three rails where one is shared between cape gauge and standard gauge rolling stock.
While three-rail dual Irish and standard gauge track is also possible, it requires narrow footed rails and dangers of brake blocks dropping in a narrow gap between the rails limit broad gauge vehicles to 80km/h.
Another type of dual gauge track is where tracks of two different gauges are interlaced, but this means longer sleepers and greater horizontal clearance relative to the maximum train width.

Certainly converting a railway network between gauges without any interim dual gauge track, and thus no track sharing between old and new vehicles, would involve an awful lot of disruption.

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  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
I'm not suggesting anything here but I have been wondering how complicated would regauging Victoria's railways, including Melbourne suburban, be relative to what it's worth.
Imagine being told that all water mains in your town are going to be replaced at once and you will have no running water while they do it. Converting between track gauges differing by more than the width of the rail, for example from cape gauge to standard, is pretty trivial compared to replacing every water main at once. One can buy standard gauge rolling stock, and provide dual gauge track where it shares tracks with existing cape gauge rolling stock, with three rails where one is shared between cape gauge and standard gauge rolling stock.
While three-rail dual Irish and standard gauge track is also possible, it requires narrow footed rails and dangers of brake blocks dropping in a narrow gap between the rails limit broad gauge vehicles to 80km/h.
Another type of dual gauge track is where tracks of two different gauges are interlaced, but this means longer sleepers and greater horizontal clearance relative to the maximum train width.

Certainly converting a railway network between gauges without any interim dual gauge track, and thus no track sharing between old and new vehicles, would involve an awful lot of disruption.
Myrtone
DTD - Done to Death. Converting the Melbourne Suburban Stock alone would break the Victorian Budget. BG
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
The only parts of the Victorian network that need to be gauge converted are freight lines. That's where all the benefits are.

Dual gauge is a compromise that works fine for short distances but is not an acceptable substitute for gauge converting mainlines.

Conversion of the Melbourne Suburban network is never going to happen, the costs are prohibitive and the benefits marginal. As the Regional Fast Rail lines are in effect extensions of the suburban network (even post-RRL some trains run on Metro tracks), they too are impractical to gauge convert at this stage. The most likely way Satan's Gauge will snake its way further into Melbourne is through freight bypass lines, either on its own or as dual gauge.


Concrete sleepers and concrete slab track are the main obstacles to gauge conversion these days. The Melbourne Suburban network is riddled with non gauge-convertible low profile concrete sleepers. The City Loop (MURL) tunnels are 100% concrete slab track. The CD9 ('Skyrail') level crossing removal will use slab track on the viaducts and it is highly unlikely to have gauge convertible fasteners embedded in said track.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
The only parts of the Victorian network that need to be gauge converted are freight lines. That's where all the benefits are.
LancedDendrite
And how do they do that?

Dual gauge is a compromise that works fine for short distances but is not an acceptable substitute for gauge converting mainlines.
LancedDendrite
In order to convert between gauges without too much disruption, dual gauge track is an interim must.

Conversion of the Melbourne Suburban network is never going to happen, the costs are prohibitive and the benefits marginal. As the Regional Fast Rail lines are in effect extensions of the suburban network (even post-RRL some trains run on Metro tracks), they too are impractical to gauge convert at this stage. The most likely way Satan's Gauge will snake its way further into Melbourne is through freight bypass lines, either on its own or as dual gauge.
LancedDendrite
It may be costly, but that aside, how much disruption would there be in the process?

As for converting between gauges differing by less than the width of the railhead, for example between cape gauge used in Queensland and Western Australia and the European metre gauge, that would mean shutting down parts of a network for conversion while the rest still operates.

Concrete sleepers and concrete slab track are the main obstacles to gauge conversion these days. The Melbourne Suburban network is riddled with non gauge-convertible low profile concrete sleepers. The City Loop (MURL) tunnels are 100% concrete slab track. The CD9 ('Skyrail') level crossing removal will use slab track on the viaducts and it is highly unlikely to have gauge convertible fasteners embedded in said track.
LancedDendrite
Even if the sleepers and slabs were gauge convertible, there would still be the obstacles mentioned above.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Myrtone said...........

"It may be costly, but that aside, how much disruption would there be in the process?"

Now you probably do not want to hear this but...................

You simply cannot put the cost of gauge converting the suburban network aside, the cost would be so high it will likely never be taken seriously. As to any disruption, Melbourne would VERY likely not tolerate the shutdown of the suburban network for even a single week.


Comment........"Satans gauge" I like that..............................

woodford
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
And how do they do that? [gauge conversion]
Myrtone
Depends on the track standard.

For wooden sleepers, you remove the fasteners on one rail, move the rail so that you reach the desired gauge and then re-fasten it to the sleeper. Concrete sleepers are an issue as you need to have gauge-convertible fasteners to do gauge conversion; otherwise you need to replace the whole sleeper with a gauge-convertible one.

For points it's quickest to swap out the entire mechanism, although you can modify the mechanism by shortening some of the diverging rail.

In order to convert between gauges without too much disruption, dual gauge track is an interim must.
Myrtone
You get the same amount of disruption to a given line when installing dual gauge track compared to 'just' converting the gauge. If your intent is to convert a self-contained group of lines (or lines that have easy interconnection with other lines of both gauges), then dual gauge is unnecessary.
  davesvline Chief Commissioner

Location: 1983-1998
Suburban will never happen purely on cost.

Can someone explain to me how the cost of SG the Mildura and surrounding lines has more of a business case than the coal lines and other freight on tin pot guage in QLD, particularly up to Townsville??
Surely they get a hell of a lot more traffic justifying SG to allow more competition? This is after all the main argument for SG freight lines in Victoria, but we don't hear boo about their case for or against. Why??

Sure it's slightly off topic, but there must be a reason and i find this apparent disparity bemusing.

Regards
  billjohnston Station Master

Something that would be useful would be to adopt a long term plan to convert the supply for the suburban railway to 25kv ac. The current system causes significant corrosion costs across the network amongst all the utilities, and significantly increases cost of extensions due to the number of substations required.
Of course it should have been started 20 years ago before the current round of substation upgrades, however many still need to be done and this cost is also significant considering how many remain.
If the next batch of trains to be purchased are dual voltage the subsequent purchases can be straight 25kv. If the program runs over a number of years the current fleet does not need to be converted, just replaced as they are retired. 25kv ac to Geelong is significantly cheaper than 1500v dc. Of course it is now possible with RFR being isolated from the rest of the system.
Bill Johnston
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
@davesvline - one of the problems in the Murray Basin is that the BG rolling stock is too costly to run.  This is because there has been minimal (or no) investment in rolling stock as there is not enough traffic on the BG network to warrant it.  This has lead to falling investment in the lines themselves, causing a spiral of decline.  The current works will reverse this - and in my view will be followed by the Goulburn Valley lines, and possibly others (Warrnambool comes to mind as a remote possible, as well as some solution for the remaining grain traffic on the Swan Hill line).  By standardising, the existing fleet of SG locos and rolling stock used across the rest of the SG network can be used more efficiently.  This is a key source of the economic benefits through lowering the cost of rail transport.

In Qld, the coal traffic provides a vastly greater amount of traffic to support its own fleet of trains, much like the Rio and BHP trains on the Pilbara.  In all three, there has been significant investment in the rolling stock to haul it, and the lines it travels on.  Based on the limited interchangeability of locos between the NSW coal network and other mining traffic elsewhere and the intermodal network more broadly, there would be some, but probably not a significant amount of  economies of scale by standardising the Qld Coal network.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
You simply cannot put the cost of gauge converting the suburban network aside, the cost would be so high it will likely never be taken seriously. As to any disruption, Melbourne would VERY likely not tolerate the shutdown of the suburban network for even a single week.
woodford
What I mean is are there factors other than cost that make it impractical?

Depends on the track standard.

For wooden sleepers, you remove the fasteners on one rail, move the rail so that you reach the desired gauge and then re-fasten it to the sleeper. Concrete sleepers are an issue as you need to have gauge-convertible fasteners to do gauge conversion; otherwise you need to replace the whole sleeper with a gauge-convertible one.
LancedDendrite
But as long as the sleepers are gauge convertible, it's possible to lay a new rail with another rail shared by both different gauge rolling stock.

You get the same amount of disruption to a given line when installing dual gauge track compared to 'just' converting the gauge. If your intent is to convert a self-contained group of lines (or lines that have easy interconnection with other lines of both gauges), then dual gauge is unnecessary.
LancedDendrite
In order to run both gauges of rolling stock on the same line, you need dual gauge track in order to do the fleet renewal bit-by-bit. If you 'just' convert the gauge, than all rolling stock needs to be replaced or regauged at the same time as the track is modified.

On a large network, it's not feasible to 'just' convert the gauge, refer to the comparison with water main replacement above. And does anyone here know what a self-contained group of lines is meant to be?

Suburban will never happen purely on cost.
davesvline
Are you sure it's purely on cost?

Something that would be useful would be to adopt a long term plan to convert the supply for the suburban railway to 25kv ac. The current system causes significant corrosion costs across the network amongst all the utilities, and significantly increases cost of extensions due to the number of substations required.
Of course it should have been started 20 years ago before the current round of substation upgrades, however many still need to be done and this cost is also significant considering how many remain.
If the next batch of trains to be purchased are dual voltage the subsequent purchases can be straight 25kv. If the program runs over a number of years the current fleet does not need to be converted, just replaced as they are retired. 25kv ac to Geelong is significantly cheaper than 1500v dc. Of course it is now possible with RFR being isolated from the rest of the system.
billjohnston
I know this doesn't exist anywhere in the world yet but how about a high voltage D.C system? More power with single wire overhead that A.C, and no phase breaks. H.V.D.C would be stepped down with onboard DC-DC converters.

I imagine that converting the overhead wiring to a different voltage, with all dual voltage trains, would be pretty trivial compared to replacing all water mains across the metropolitan area within the same time-frame.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
I got my hopes up again, didn't I?

But as long as the sleepers are gauge convertible, it's possible to lay a new rail with another rail shared by both different gauge rolling stock.
Myrtone
Only for wooden sleepers. For concrete, you need dual gauge sleepers (not gauge convertible ones).

In order to run both gauges of rolling stock on the same line, you need dual gauge track in order to do the fleet renewal bit-by-bit. If you 'just' convert the gauge, than all rolling stock needs to be replaced or regauged at the same time as the track is modified.
Myrtone
Irrelevant for freight traffic. As for passenger traffic, with adequate planning you can gauge convert the rollingstock in about the same amount of time it takes to gauge convert a railway line. See: V/Line Albury service.

I know this doesn't exist anywhere in the world yet but how about a high voltage D.C system? More power with single wire overhead that A.C, and no phase breaks. H.V.D.C would be stepped down with onboard DC-DC converters.
Myrtone
You get all of the disadvantages of DC electrification (bulky rectifier substations), without any commensurate benefits. The benefit of 25kVAC et al. electrification over lower voltage (600-3kV) DC is that the trackside infrastructure has a much lighter footprint.
As for the 'benefits' of your idea... power delivery has never been a problem for 25kVAC systems. High Speed Rail trains consume as much as 25MW each - and they don't pose a problem for the electrification system.
Phase breaks? They aren't the problem you seem to think they are. I know I'm talking to a brick wall when it comes to that area of discussion though.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Only for wooden sleepers. For concrete, you need dual gauge sleepers (not gauge convertible ones).
LancedDendrite
All wooden sleepers are gauge convertible, that's not the case for concrete sleepers.

Irrelevant for freight traffic. As for passenger traffic, with adequate planning you can gauge convert the rollingstock in about the same amount of time it takes to gauge convert a railway line. See: V/Line Albury service.
LancedDendrite
How could it be relevant for passenger traffic but not freight traffic? As for passenger traffic; Remember that regauging a large network, if feasible, must be done bit-by-bit, as re-electrification is.

Fleet renewals are almost certainly done with a phased approach, being done as new rolling stock becomes available. During fleet renewals, there is a time period where the old and new vehicles share tracks. If the line is being regauged at the same time as the fleet is renewed, this would thus involve dual gauge track.

You get all of the disadvantages of DC electrification (bulky rectifier substations), without any commensurate benefits. The benefit of 25kVAC et al. electrification over lower voltage (600-3kV) DC is that the trackside infrastructure has a much lighter footprint.
LancedDendrite
No, you do not get the disadvantages of a lower voltage D.C system. The span between substations is equal to or maybe greater than the with A.C.
The benefits of A.C, when A.C electrification was introduced, were as follows; The line voltage could be higher that the operating voltage of the motors as A.C voltage can be stepped up and down just with a transformer. Additionally, the power supply to the motors could be controlled with a tap-changer rather than a combination of resistors and series-parallel switching, both now replaced by switched-mode motor controllers.

With DC-DC converters rather than plain old transformers to step down the voltage, 30kv D.C would combine same benefit over a low voltage (550v-3kV) DC as 25kV AC, with the advantages of low voltage D.C.

As for the 'benefits' of your idea... power delivery has never been a problem for 25kVAC systems. High Speed Rail trains consume as much as 25MW each - and they don't pose a problem for the electrification system.
Phase breaks? They aren't the problem you seem to think they are. I know I'm talking to a brick wall when it comes to that area of discussion though.
LancedDendrite
I didn't say power delivery was a problem for either A.C or D.C systems, but D.C delivers more power than single phase if the peak voltage of both are equal. The value of current, whether direct or alternating, that produces a given amount of power dissipation in a resistive load is pretty much the weighted average. With D.C, the weighted average (or root mean squared - R.M.S) is the same as the peak voltage. Given an A.C voltage of 25kv R.M.S, the peak voltage is approximately 35,3551/3.

An A.C electrified network, with power supplied from the national grid, has at least three sections on different phases, or alternatively, could conceivably have two sections on different phases if the three phase is converted into two phase before distribution. Phase breaks are needed between different sections on different phases and this involves a neutral section, power supply to the train being interrupted during this.

A D.C electrified network with only one substation, doesn't need neutral sections at all.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
No, you do not get the disadvantages of a lower voltage D.C system. The span between substations is equal to or maybe greater than the with A.C
Mytone

I'm not sure entirely what you mean by that but 25kVA subs can be spaced as much as 25km apart as they are in Qld and 1500VDC systems are around a mile.

You need neutral zones regardless for isolation purposes. Only the old train technology in Qld likes to scare the crap out of those unfortunates sitting under the transformer when the train goes over a neutral zone, newer technology is a bit more civil and goes un noticed.

If you are going to spend the money on gauge conversion of Vic, you don't do each line bit by bit stuffing around with high cost DG infrastructure. You close it and reopen it a few weeks later in which time the rolling stock has been sorted, just like they did on the SA line 25 years ago.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
I'm not sure entirely what you mean by that but 25kVA subs can be spaced as much as 25km apart as they are in Qld and 1500VDC systems are around a mile.
RTT_Rules
30kV D.C might also have substations spaced as much as 25km apart or maybe more.

You need neutral zones regardless for isolation purposes. Only the old train technology in Qld likes to scare the crap out of those unfortunates sitting under the transformer when the train goes over a neutral zone, newer technology is a bit more civil and goes un noticed.
RTT_Rules
For isolation purposes, only air-gaps are needed.

If you are going to spend the money on gauge conversion of Vic, you don't do each line bit by bit stuffing around with high cost DG infrastructure. You close it and reopen it a few weeks later in which time the rolling stock has been sorted, just like they did on the SA line 25 years ago.
RTT_Rules
I'm not sure what you mean, but you can't convert the whole network at the same time, refer to the comparison with water main replacement above.
If you convert line by line, there needs to be dual gauge track where different gauge lines share tracks, if there isn't then how is the fleet stored and maintained if done line by line?

Dual Victorian and standard gauge track either requires two narrow footed rails with quite a narrow gap between railheads, or interlacing of the two tracks of different gauges.

Regauging a large network, without too much disruption, requires interim dual gauge track. If done at the same time as a fleet renewal, there must be dual gauge track at places and times where the old and new fleet share the same tracks.

If the gauges differ by more than the width of the standard rail, then dual gauge track is pretty trivial, hence conversion between gauges differing that much is pretty trivial compared to replacing every water main over a wide area at the same time.

The question is how complicated would converting a large network from Victorian to standard gauge be, given that issues with dual gauge track where the gauges differ by less than the width of standard rails. The fleet would be too large to regauge or replace it all at once.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
I was only revering to traction power that is likely to be used, there are plenty of other options like 3000V AC etc, 30,000VDC has too many issues to be a serious contender.

If the electrical safety standards are similar to what we have at work, when the pano crosses from one section to the other at no time must to create a connection from one section to the other. Likewise can a train be designed with 2 panos that could be in each section but connected together within the train. Basically for safety reasons you cannot have one section out of service and should by a chance a train actually run through could create a connection between the off and the operating section. Thats my under standing and could be incorrect for rail.

DG track is expensive and costly and limits speed. If we look at Vic regional and assumed it was to be converted to SG, you would shut down train services during the conversion over laying extensive amounts of DG, potentially. If the DG was needed anyway then this is different. Overall the whole lot could be done quite quickly considering the bulk of the network is in low frequency grain train areas that could afford to have no trains for a few months. But there is no need to shut the whole thing down as it won;t be all converted anyway.



.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
A hypothetical - if Sydney and Melbourne did have the same electrical standards, loading gauge, platform heights, track gauge, signalling systems, and was identical for train running in all respects, do we think that perhaps the trains on such a hypothetical network have any degree of interchange?  Or would both populations of trains stay within the bounds of Sydney and Melbourne and not swap between the two?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Ultimately dual gauging the broad gauge network before standardising will just add more costs. Dual gauging will require an extra 2894km of rail to be acquired for the third rail, and then 2894km of rail will become redundant when the third rail is eventually removed...this just adds to the cost of replacing all of the broad gauge concrete sleepers and associated infrastructure, plus creating a second period of major trackwork (which will have be crewed and paid for) - one to add the third rail and new track infrastructure, and then a second one to remove the third rail. Standardising at the initial relay of sleepers would be far cheaper than dual gauging and then standardising - and cost is ultimately going to be the deciding factor in standardising at all. Adding more cost just makes it more unlikely to happen on a given corridor.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
This thread has to be the longest fairy story I ever saw.
  doyle Junior Train Controller

No one is making you read it your comment is irrelevant
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
A hypothetical - if Sydney and Melbourne did have the same electrical standards, loading gauge, platform heights, track gauge, signalling systems, and was identical for train running in all respects, do we think that perhaps the trains on such a hypothetical network have any degree of interchange?  Or would both populations of trains stay within the bounds of Sydney and Melbourne and not swap between the two?
james.au
The commuter trains are owned by the respective states, so the answer is no they would stay at home. Adelaide DMU's and Melbourne DMU's I believe are interchangeable and I doubt ever have.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Ultimately dual gauging the broad gauge network before standardising will just add more costs. Dual gauging will require an extra 2894km of rail to be acquired for the third rail, and then 2894km of rail will become redundant when the third rail is eventually removed...this just adds to the cost of replacing all of the broad gauge concrete sleepers and associated infrastructure, plus creating a second period of major trackwork (which will have be crewed and paid for) - one to add the third rail and new track infrastructure, and then a second one to remove the third rail. Standardising at the initial relay of sleepers would be far cheaper than dual gauging and then standardising - and cost is ultimately going to be the deciding factor in standardising at all. Adding more cost just makes it more unlikely to happen on a given corridor.
Sulla1
The engineering required for the points and safe working systems is enough reason to say no. Just break it up into practical chunks, close it down and move the rail. Perhaps there maybe a stepped reduction in services as loops etc get taken out and likewise back to full operations. While the tracks are closed and being converted the trains would be getting the same treatment.
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
As others have said, the suburban network will not be converted, the cost would be astronomical, the benefit would be minimal and the people would not tolerate the disruption. Due to these reasons there will likely never be the political will to consider it. End of story

As for country lines, that is another story, BG will remain for the foreseeable future as far as the RFR lines go - Geelong (Waurn Ponds), Ballarat (Wendouree), Bendigo (Eaglehawk,Epsom), Seymour, Traralgon - as the recent investment in track upgrades and modern rollingstock would make the cost prohibitive and redundant.

Waurn Ponds - Warrnambool could be done (with DG between North Geelong and Waurn Ponds) if there was considerable interest from freight operators - which currently there is not - the cost could be justified.

Seymour - Tocumwal, icluding Toolamba to Deniliquin via Echuca and branches to Dookie and Moulamien, probably has the best case for conversion outside the current Murray Basin project. Already has considerable freight traffic (grain, rice from Deniliquin, general freight from Tocumwal and Mooroopna) and there is room for growth. Would likely need the SG between Melbourne and Seymour duplicated to run efficiently, while BG would need to remain to Seymour for local services which need to access the suburban network still. This would also likely require a decent % of federal funding as it does span two states and I doubt NSW government would be friendly to the idea of spending big bucks on a project that would mostly benifit Victoria, and the VIC government isn't likely to want to fund upgrades to lines in NSW. Federal funding isn't out of the question with current governments.

Bendigo - Echuca, likely to remain BG as the only freight task at the moment is Grain from Elmore, which can easliy remain on the BG, if a bigger freight task was to come up, there may be a relevant business case to convert, but not yet.

Bendigo - Piangil, similar to Warrnambool, if there was a considerable lift in freight from the current levels, the business case could be there including the re-activation and conversion of the line from Eaglehawk to Inglewood to provide access to the rest of the SG network (remembering the Inglewood lines will be SG in just a couple of years) with DG access to Bendigo to provide a break of guage at Bendigo for Swan Hill pass to change at Bendigo (Passengers would travel on BG to Bendigo, change to a SG train at Bendigo for the rest of the journey to Swan Hill, while BG trains to/from Melbourne could still run as far as Eaglehawk)

Traralgon - Bairnsdale has no benefit in being gauge isolated from the rest of the Gippsland line. so expect that to remain BG.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
A hypothetical - if Sydney and Melbourne did have the same electrical standards, loading gauge, platform heights, track gauge, signalling systems, and was identical for train running in all respects, do we think that perhaps the trains on such a hypothetical network have any degree of interchange?  Or would both populations of trains stay within the bounds of Sydney and Melbourne and not swap between the two?
The commuter trains are owned by the respective states, so the answer is no they would stay at home. Adelaide DMU's and Melbourne DMU's I believe are interchangeable and I doubt ever have.
RTT_Rules
Agreed, that is the only precedent I could think of and was thinking the same.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
I was only revering to traction power that is likely to be used, there are plenty of other options like 3000V AC etc, 30,000VDC has too many issues to be a serious contender.
RTT_Rules
More on that in another thread.

DG track is expensive and costly and limits speed. If we look at Vic regional and assumed it was to be converted to SG, you would shut down train services during the conversion over laying extensive amounts of DG, potentially. If the DG was needed anyway then this is different. Overall the whole lot could be done quite quickly considering the bulk of the network is in low frequency grain train areas that could afford to have no trains for a few months. But there is no need to shut the whole thing down as it won;t be all converted anyway.
RTT_Rules
Your comments are valid for dual Victorian and standard gauge track, but what about dual cape and standard gauge track, given that the latter pair differ by more than the width of standard railway rails?

A hypothetical - if Sydney and Melbourne did have the same electrical standards, loading gauge, platform heights, track gauge, signalling systems, and was identical for train running in all respects, do we think that perhaps the trains on such a hypothetical network have any degree of interchange?  Or would both populations of trains stay within the bounds of Sydney and Melbourne and not swap between the two?
james.au
How would trains be transferred between the two? When railways first came to this country, both the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria agreed on the Irish gauge of 5'3''. Yet New South Wales changed its mind after Victoria started construction.

Ultimately dual gauging the broad gauge network before standardising will just add more costs. Dual gauging will require an extra 2894km of rail to be acquired for the third rail, and then 2894km of rail will become redundant when the third rail is eventually removed...this just adds to the cost of replacing all of the broad gauge concrete sleepers and associated infrastructure, plus creating a second period of major trackwork (which will have be crewed and paid for) - one to add the third rail and new track infrastructure, and then a second one to remove the third rail. Standardising at the initial relay of sleepers would be far cheaper than dual gauging and then standardising - and cost is ultimately going to be the deciding factor in standardising at all. Adding more cost just makes it more unlikely to happen on a given corridor.
Sulla1
Once again, refer to the comparison with the water main replacement above. A large network must be dual gauged before standardisation, otherwise, there would be too much disruption during the changeover. Let's assume that the sleepers are gauge convertible; Then dual gauging before standardisation would indeed be less disruptive than closing the line for regauging.
Standardising at the initial relay of the sleepers would mean replacing or regauging all rolling stock within the time-frame of the track replacement, and I doubt this would be done with a very large fleet of train sets.
Just remember than dual Victoria and standard gauge track requires two narrow footed rails. When converting between gauges differing by more than the width of the standard rail, an extra rail is laid at the beginning of the transition, and another removed at the end of it. Is it any more complicated when the gauges differ by less that the width of a standard rail?

The commuter trains are owned by the respective states, so the answer is no they would stay at home. Adelaide DMU's and Melbourne DMU's I believe are interchangeable and I doubt ever have.
RTT_Rules
In Melbourne, we don't have suburban D.M.Us, suburban sets from one of those cities would need to be modified to run in another, yes, this does apply to single decker trains.

As others have said, the suburban network will not be converted, the cost would be astronomical, the benefit would be minimal and the people would not tolerate the disruption. Due to these reasons there will likely never be the political will to consider it. End of story
Gman_86
You pretty much got it. The people would not tolerate the disruption of this conversion, just as they would not accept having no running water for an extended period of time while their city replaces all the water mains.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Ok a couple of points on comments made
(in relation to gauge conversion) You close it and reopen it a few weeks later in which time the rolling stock has been sorted, just like they did on the SA line 25 years ago.
"RTT_Rules"

If your referring to the Melbourne - Adelaide line, the closure was way longer than a "few weeks".
Whilst the section from Murray Bridge to Bordertown was actually gauge converted in only 8 days, it was because AN had spent months installing gauge convertible concrete sleepers in the 12 months prior. However this short conversion period did not include gauge converting of crossing loop turnouts. The gauge conversion between Adelaide and Murray Bridge and between Melbourne and Bordertown took a lot longer.
And when the line did finally re-open it was with the barest minimum number of operational crossing loop, which restricted the number of trains that could travel on any particular day.
I believe the Overland did not operate for over 4 months (which helped it lose a lot of patronage which it never recovered)
Also a lot of freight was lost to road and it took years to get it most of what was lost back to rail.

Gauge conversion of existing metropolitan passenger lines is basically not worth the effort.



30kV D.C might also have substations spaced as much as 25km apart or maybe more.
"Myrtone"

Interesting you pull this one out of thin air! The highest voltage DC system in use is 3kV DC which requires substations at a maximum of 7.5kms apart.
The Russians built only a single line and a single train set to operate at 6kV DC in the 1970's as an experiment and it was never expanded. (so does that give a hint on any advantage?)
So where does this mythical 30kV dc come from?

25kV AC is the Internationally accepted standard for High Voltage Overhead these days

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