SCT Announces Commencement of Dedicated Melbourne to Brisbane Freight Services

 
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Not sure if this is a thread about SCT or inland rail....

Can someone explain to me how coal trains, dual gauge or Qube fit anyway into the OP started this thread with?
seb2351

I apologise for my part in this.  In my defence Id prefer facts to be presented (and non facts be corrected) than let them run off on their own.  I have though strayed from this a little in the thread.

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  a6et Minister for Railways

Isn't it nice to see a company with some "get up and go" forging into markets that the others tried to walk away from years ago.

And a bonus for all you east coast shutter bugs to see the SCT and CSR classes plying the east coast rails

They didn't walk away from them. With upgrades to the pacific highway and the construction of the M1 (nee F3) the truck became much more competitive over much shorter distances to cover then used to be the case.
Oh simstrain, wake up and realise that most of Australia exists west of the great dividing range and your precious Pacific Highway!


SCT Logistics dates back to 1974 as a road transport operator, mainly on the East-West corridor. In early 1990's National Rail decided to discontinue using refrigerated and louvred vans, something SCT's customers wanted.
In my book (and others WILL agree) National Rail "walked away" from that mode of freight.


So SCT purchased some of the surplus vans and offered hook and pull contracts to V/Line and AN to haul their trains from 1995.
And they have grown from there.

Over the past 21 years 1.8km long strings of those white vans, emblazoned with the red SCT logo, have plied back and forth over the trans Australian rail line first between Perth and Adelaide/Melbourne, then Perth to Parkes and Adelaide to Parkes.
And now Melbourne to Wodonga and soon further.

A few years ago I heard the SCT CEO talk how they were a customer committed logistics company and would use the most efficient means of transport (Yes that's Road OR Rail) to satisfy their customer's needs. Maybe that's why they operate a massive fleet of trucks as well as their trains.


Now to most people that means they will use road transport where road is more efficient, and rail where rail is more efficient.
So when they announce they are to begin using their own trains instead of their own trucks in a specific corridor (Your sited Pacific Highway) well guess that they see which is more efficient and that appears to be different thinking than yours, isn't it?
Pressman
Pressman, good bit of history and thank you.

I have mentioned what appears to be a daily train, comes through the Central Coast area in the early PM, the loco's are Aurizon liveried and can be usually 2 and sometimes 3.  There are usually around 8-10 of the large vans at the front, much of the remaining long train has a variety of other brands and is predomiately containers, many of them are removalist type containers. I have not as yet seen an up train though.

I would assume that the train is hook & pull for SCT along with Aurizons own business.  I actually look forward to the Bromelton HUB opening especially if it means more business for rail, as I said earlier the benefits of rail in this type of area today is that containers and their use have certainly improved in the aspect of roll on/off between the two modes of transport, very much in the same way as the old TNT Flexivan expresses of the 60's - 70's, which died out as a result of the built in late running penalties.
  RadarJunkie Station Staff

Not sure if this is a thread about SCT or inland rail....

Can someone explain to me how coal trains, dual gauge or Qube fit anyway into the OP started this thread with?
seb2351

the topics are kind of linked thou.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
however your compliant was partly that the business with the DG  referenced earlier was not dated - the referenced document I posted addresses that.
arctic
Yes indeed, thanks for that. My big issue with the document posted by @James.au was that it was the Business Case, not a Proposed Construction document.

What document or reference do you have that shows it won't have DG?
arctic
Only my own confusion between the proposed DG on the Inland Rail route and the lack of any proposals to DG or gauge convert the QR systems south and west of Toowoomba. I apologise for this confusion... Embarassed

I still have doubts as to what will actually be built however! Seriously we all live in Australia, do we need the state differences, localised differences or below rail and above rail operator differences? Whatever is good for our country is what should be done.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

SCT aren't the only ones in the industry Pressman. For every SCT there are a thousand trucking companies that don't even think about rail east of the divide. There is a reason rail only has 7 percent of the Sydney to Brisbane freight task. It is because trucks are more efficient and faster east of the divide. If it works out for SCT then that is great, but don't be surprised if it doesn't.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Oh and trucks don't need to worry about whether the track is SG, BG or NG and can go point to point in one mode of transport. Regardless of how good SCT is at moving east to west traffic. It doesn't have any real competition and it is why the rail line has 90+% of the freight market on these routes. The north south stuff is significantly tougher against the vehicles with the rubber tyres because they are point to point capable and most trips are barely a working day from the major capitals.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

I wish SCT all the best because if they succeed then it will make the hume, newell and pacific highways much nicer to drive on with less heavy vehicles on the road, but this market is going to be a tougher nut to crack then the relatively easy east west path.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
SCT aren't the only ones in the industry Pressman. For every SCT there are a thousand trucking companies that don't even think about rail east of the divide. There is a reason rail only has 7 percent of the Sydney to Brisbane freight task. It is because trucks are more efficient and faster east of the divide. If it works out for SCT then that is great, but don't be surprised if it doesn't.
simstrain
Yeah because SCT don't know what they are doing and you do Laughing

SCT have been looking at the north south corridor for over a decade and have publicly stated in the past that they would only enter the North South if the number stacked up, so it's not a decision they will be taking lightly. For them it's not just rail vs road, it's about providing one stop solution to the customer.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Just a couple of points/clarifications.

For a6ET the SCT vans you currently see on the Brisbane run are a rake that is attached to an existing Aurizon train.   SCT had wanted right from the time it started operating to Brisbane (which was at the request of Heinz, a major client of SCT's) wanted to attach more wagons to the Aurizon train but as I understand it there was an initial problem with siding capacity in Brisbane.   More recently the issue appears (but not confirmed) that Aurizon may have seen giving SCT more space on its trains as potentially eating into some of SCT's own business.   That was only said to me in a passing comment but without being negative to Aurizon that could be the case as we know intermodal has been a real challenge for Aurizon to grow.

In regard to narrow gauge access for crossing the Toowoomba Range as part of Inland Rail, I understand this has been a bit of an on again - off again issue.   In the past that situation of whether to use a dual gauge Inland Corridor crossing of the range was based on some very significant growth forecasts for coal, but I'm guessing now that this would have changed significantly.   The fact that since those days further improvement works have been undertaken on the narrow gauge route may mean that the current route has sufficient capacity, but even so it must by its nature be a far less efficient operation because there are limitations on train size etc.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Question from me in from where does the Heinz loading originate?
  a6et Minister for Railways

Just a couple of points/clarifications.

For a6ET the SCT vans you currently see on the Brisbane run are a rake that is attached to an existing Aurizon train.   SCT had wanted right from the time it started operating to Brisbane (which was at the request of Heinz, a major client of SCT's) wanted to attach more wagons to the Aurizon train but as I understand it there was an initial problem with siding capacity in Brisbane.   More recently the issue appears (but not confirmed) that Aurizon may have seen giving SCT more space on its trains as potentially eating into some of SCT's own business.   That was only said to me in a passing comment but without being negative to Aurizon that could be the case as we know intermodal has been a real challenge for Aurizon to grow.

In regard to narrow gauge access for crossing the Toowoomba Range as part of Inland Rail, I understand this has been a bit of an on again - off again issue.   In the past that situation of whether to use a dual gauge Inland Corridor crossing of the range was based on some very significant growth forecasts for coal, but I'm guessing now that this would have changed significantly.   The fact that since those days further improvement works have been undertaken on the narrow gauge route may mean that the current route has sufficient capacity, but even so it must by its nature be a far less efficient operation because there are limitations on train size etc.
Trainplanner
Thanks Trainplanner.  Where is the Heinz loading shipped from?  Reason I ask is that it may also be linked to what I had heard at the Ettamogah site.

What this also shows is that there are likely many customers that are not looking to rail specifically after years of what we may have in the past classed as general goods and were turned away over the years as rail rationalised in the areas of LCL and other small freight haulage and only saw/see the big bulk and intermodal work as being sufficient. Many had been burnt and hurt and will no long deal with rail as far as seeing the likes of PN and even Aurizon as they represent basically the old style rail and offering nothing new to them.  Once bitten twice shy, thrice gone.

Those operators also have not invested in a complete area such as SCT have done,  SCT being a new operation since the old but now offer a whole of Logistics, or freight forwarder/manager meaning the whole spectrum of its business from point of pickup to point of unloading. The customer in the end only knows the business will work based on a one stop pick up and delivery service that also crueled old rail business with the many hands aspect.  The aspect of investment in rail with the R/S and loco's shows they are fair dinkum and here to stay. With the others finding it hard to capture the traditional markets again, and good on them.

If I have read things right, the concept of the ILR is that the trains that will run on it will not be short length 1.8km in length trains but more in the 2.5km long, initially likelihood of perhaps 2 trains a day each way for Bris - Melb - Bris. On top of that is the hope of other traffic from regional districts that include containers, also grain and Cotton.  Would seem to me that depending on the amount of coal that operates over the line, and is there any passenger trains along even the Ipswich - Toowoomba corridor the line could or will quickly reach capacity.

The alternative route from Warwick to Kagaru seems to me the better option for the purpose the line is meant for.
  phower Chief Commissioner

Location: Over on Kangaroo Island Sth Aust
Has any one heard  because of this expansion will SCT require some more reliable Locomotives or will they get some from CFCLA to assist as required
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

SCT aren't the only ones in the industry Pressman. For every SCT there are a thousand trucking companies that don't even think about rail east of the divide. There is a reason rail only has 7 percent of the Sydney to Brisbane freight task. It is because trucks are more efficient and faster east of the divide. If it works out for SCT then that is great, but don't be surprised if it doesn't.
Yeah because SCT don't know what they are doing and you do Laughing

SCT have been looking at the north south corridor for over a decade and have publicly stated in the past that they would only enter the North South if the number stacked up, so it's not a decision they will be taking lightly. For them it's not just rail vs road, it's about providing one stop solution to the customer.
bingley hall

I never said they don't know what they are doing. I said this will be a much tougher market to crack because the road has significant time advantages and a lot less distance then the east-west route. Less distance and time to cover makes the train less competitive in this market.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia

I never said they don't know what they are doing. I said this will be a much tougher market to crack because the road has significant time advantages and a lot less distance then the east-west route. Less distance and time to cover makes the train less competitive in this market.
simstrain

Agreed.  Part of the issue with this type of freight is customers have been badly burnt in the past through rationalisation being forced off rail probably never to return for a generation.  Vince Graham really caused issues with his approach at AN.

V/Line forced many customers off the network causing them to find alternatives.  Uncle Tobys for one.

PN forced the remaining traffic off which was a profit making LCL service under FA.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The SB and SM market is also a much different market and just because something has worked for them on the east west route from Melbourne to Perth. It doesn't mean it will succeed in getting more then the 7% market share rail currently has. Freight trains on the SB route still have to deal with the peak hour curfew to the north of Sydney. The NSFC part 2A would be a good help but that will require someone to find some funds.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Rail freight growth into Melbourne is dead for a generation thanks to Andrews and not wanting to fund rail into Webb Dock when he knew and POM knew is was vital to efficiency and port growth.  Forget that.

The best we can do now is a yard and terminal in the east and the north and more LCL freight in regional Vic.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
SCT aren't the only ones in the industry Pressman. For every SCT there are a thousand trucking companies that don't even think about rail east of the divide. There is a reason rail only has 7 percent of the Sydney to Brisbane freight task. It is because trucks are more efficient and faster east of the divide. If it works out for SCT then that is great, but don't be surprised if it doesn't.
Yeah because SCT don't know what they are doing and you do Laughing

SCT have been looking at the north south corridor for over a decade and have publicly stated in the past that they would only enter the North South if the number stacked up, so it's not a decision they will be taking lightly. For them it's not just rail vs road, it's about providing one stop solution to the customer.

I never said they don't know what they are doing. I said this will be a much tougher market to crack because the road has significant time advantages and a lot less distance then the east-west route. Less distance and time to cover makes the train less competitive in this market.
simstrain
No, but you implied it "If it works out for SCT then that is great, but don't be surprised if it doesn't."

And you are missing the point as usual and ignoring what I have already posted. With a company like SCT (and QUBEfor others watching out there) it's often not just about road vs rail it's about a whole of customer/supply chain solution. If you can make a quid on the whole chain, then it doesn't matter if you drop a dollar or two here or there on the rail leg providing it generates efficiencies elsewhere in the chain.

These guys are running a multi-million dollar business and have rarely put a foot wrong since they ramped up their rail business in 1995. They would be well aware to the very finest detail what the costs of hauling freight are by road on this corridor vs the rail alternative.

Do you seriously think they are saying to themselves "Well it worked for us on the east west route form Melbourne to Perth so it must work north south"?
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Also there has been significant investment in road warehousing that is nowhere near rail in NSW. Just take a drive along the Hume or the M1 north of Sydney to see that SCT is competing against extremely well entrenched road infrastructure that has occurred over 30+ years. Abandoning these for rail will mean significant reinvestment that companies will most definitely not want to do.
  HardWorkingMan Chief Commissioner

Location: Echuca
Customers left rail when rail no longer provided the service they required. VR (and others) ran trains on days of the week and at times that suited then with little to no regard of any commitment to the customer.  Back then (before internet, mobile phones, bar codes and more recently Radio Frequency ID Tags (RFID)) it was reliant on people doing the tight thing and neither the railways nor their staff took responsibilities for issues they created.

One example is even if people prebooked something to be carted there was no way to be sure it would.  I have been told stories by railwaymen (drivers and station staff) of turning up and there was no space so urgent parcels and other perishable goods or livestock were left behind.  Some examples are livestock being booked in then delivered to the station yards on the morning the train was due  with all the paperwork signed then coming back a fortnight later to find the original cattle still in the yard where they had been without food or water and most of them were in such poor condition they had to be put down.  It turns out that the train picked up extra, unbooked, loading at earlier stations so just left the cattle there.  Nobody contacted the poor farmer so the animals were left unattended.

A truck could come and load at the farm and the driver was responsible for the animals until delivered.  This made it much easier for the farmer so that even if the cost was higher it provided better value to the customer and they didn't have the losses either.

There are also stories of fragile parcels being thrown onto the platform from moving trains, milk cans being left on the station as they ran out of time to load them etc.

Finally Ford, International Harvester and other manufacturers used to have to fairly regularly stand down staff (without pay) as the parts they needed for their assembly line failed to arrive within days of the scheduled time. This meant they also had the costs (including productivity losses) of having the factory stop and start at unplanned intervals.  This is one of the reasons that Ford started running trucks from Geelong to Broadmeadows.  The reduction in the costs in the inventory in transit more than covered the increased costs of running the trucks and then there was the reliabilty which eliminated most of the plant shutdown and startups.

I am not anti-rail I am however against bad customer service which is not just common to rail, if there was a real alternative to Telstra for most of the country (especially outside capital cities) it would be suffering the same issues. Australia Post has dropped the ball and is making the same mistakes that rail did from the 1950's until the early 1990's.  Toll Road companies are equally as bad as are some trucking companies.

Thankfully sections of the rail industry can see this and are providing services the customer needs that they can make money on too. Hopefully these players are successful
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
These guys are running a multi-million dollar business and have rarely put a foot wrong since they ramped up their rail business in 1995. They would be well aware to the very finest detail what the costs of hauling freight are by road on this corridor vs the rail alternative.

Do you seriously think they are saying to themselves "Well it worked for us on the east west route form Melbourne to Perth so it must work north south"?
And the clue to their success I believe lies right there - in 1995. I really admire SCT and they seem to be growing steadily but incrementally. Not rushing into stuff just researching, running, making a profit and then ploughing some of that profit back into more market research and more services.

I am really enjoying watching the growth, IMHO it is business' like them and Qube with their innovative and flexible approaches to the freight task who hold the key to the future growth of rail in Australia.

BG
  a6et Minister for Railways

Customers left rail when rail no longer provided the service they required. VR (and others) ran trains on days of the week and at times that suited then with little to no regard of any commitment to the customer.  Back then (before internet, mobile phones, bar codes and more recently Radio Frequency ID Tags (RFID)) it was reliant on people doing the tight thing and neither the railways nor their staff took responsibilities for issues they created.

One example is even if people prebooked something to be carted there was no way to be sure it would.  I have been told stories by railwaymen (drivers and station staff) of turning up and there was no space so urgent parcels and other perishable goods or livestock were left behind.  Some examples are livestock being booked in then delivered to the station yards on the morning the train was due  with all the paperwork signed then coming back a fortnight later to find the original cattle still in the yard where they had been without food or water and most of them were in such poor condition they had to be put down.  It turns out that the train picked up extra, unbooked, loading at earlier stations so just left the cattle there.  Nobody contacted the poor farmer so the animals were left unattended.

A truck could come and load at the farm and the driver was responsible for the animals until delivered.  This made it much easier for the farmer so that even if the cost was higher it provided better value to the customer and they didn't have the losses either.

There are also stories of fragile parcels being thrown onto the platform from moving trains, milk cans being left on the station as they ran out of time to load them etc.

Finally Ford, International Harvester and other manufacturers used to have to fairly regularly stand down staff (without pay) as the parts they needed for their assembly line failed to arrive within days of the scheduled time. This meant they also had the costs (including productivity losses) of having the factory stop and start at unplanned intervals.  This is one of the reasons that Ford started running trucks from Geelong to Broadmeadows.  The reduction in the costs in the inventory in transit more than covered the increased costs of running the trucks and then there was the reliabilty which eliminated most of the plant shutdown and startups.

I am not anti-rail I am however against bad customer service which is not just common to rail, if there was a real alternative to Telstra for most of the country (especially outside capital cities) it would be suffering the same issues. Australia Post has dropped the ball and is making the same mistakes that rail did from the 1950's until the early 1990's.  Toll Road companies are equally as bad as are some trucking companies.

Thankfully sections of the rail industry can see this and are providing services the customer needs that they can make money on too. Hopefully these players are successful
HardWorkingMan
The curfew in Sydney has had a real dampening affect on rail as there is no margin for error. I don't when it was introduced but it has effectively killed off areas of transit flexibility for rail, from my understanding the curfew has 3 hours morning and night in both directions, a quarter of the day is lost to rail freight over the main working week.  With the big problem of locomotive breakdowns the main reason and we still cop that today even with modern diesels.

Commuters are a big block at election time, with many changing their votes and when the other mob goes about the same way, they just get off rail and drive. Yet, almost every day in morning and evening peak hours there are huge road jams often caused by a truck breakdown, one catching fire, or involved in a crash, no restriction on road transport only rail. Those 2 curfew blocks can be a big advantage to road transport.

Other aspect is that a goods train could leave Enfield on the edge of the peak and get to North Strathfield through the old saleyards at Flemo, which is now used by the ETR fleet, meaning the freight services are stuck at the signals protecting the various Car shed, Pippita and Olympic park trains. Western trains can get to Flemo triangle but it locks the Northern triangle. Southern trains can affectively go unafected by the curfew if it only applies as far as Campbeltown.

The northern line is cut off as the old down line is also used for Suburbans as far as Rhodes before turning back, and often use the relief line as well.

Add those aspects to the fact Rail has shot itself in both feet and hands by the way they alienated so many customers in the rationalisation years from the 70's through the 80's, that there are a lot of old customers with memories of how they were treated by the various state rail authorities under different brands and governments who pushed their own agendas and still do.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Sorry I don't know the source (pardon the pun even if it is spelt differently) of the Heinz traffic.   Turning to SCT's locomotive fleet, the CSR units SCT purchased for it new bulk division such as iron ore obviously became surplus when that traffic ceased in South Australia I think in mid 2015.   I'm not sure if SCT's initial plans call for a daily Melbourne to Brisbane train.  I'd be inclined to say no on the basis SCT have talked of an initial annual task of roundly 1.3 million tonnes per year.   If historical trends still apply, that would suggest more tonneage moving southbound but then that gives SCT the opportunity to perhaps price northbound freight lower in order to maximize the utilization of its wagon fleet.

Certainly on the east - west (WA) corridor there has always been a substantial imbalance of loading but even so SCT services seem to be able to generate quite a bit of eastbound (eastern states business).   I don't know what those ratios are.

As we all know rail's market share on the north-south corridor is very low so even a small change in mode shift to rail results in quite significant real tonnes.  Whilst at the moment SCT on the Aurizon trains only sends non-refrigerated traffic, SCT own a largish fleet of both reefer wagons and reefer containers as well as container flats.   That means in moving to dedicated trains they could offer the full suite of services like they do east-west which would give them the opportunity with their extensive road feeder network and new warehousing facility to capture all sorts of "less than car carload" as well as full car load and container loading.   Most significantly with rail having such low mode share there are surely opportunities to see a return to rail of previously lost traffic as well as new traffic rather than simply a poaching of business from the existing big 2.

As simtrain points out though a lot of business moving north-south has been on road for almost decades now so to woo that business back will require a highly attractive "service and pricing" package.   Even so there will be potentially as there is with Heinz a number of existing clients who are with SCT now who have operations in Queensland/NSW who would be being targeted by SCT I'm sure.  

No one however should under estimate the challenge in making this successful.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
What do the reefer wagons look like from SCT?
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
I'm not sure if SCT's initial plans call for a daily Melbourne to Brisbane train.
Trainplanner
1-3 weekly return services.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
I'm not sure if SCT's initial plans call for a daily Melbourne to Brisbane train.
1-3 weekly return services.
bingley hall

What terrific news.

Any ideas when this might start and will this include loading from Parkes and Barnawartha?

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