Long Haul VLocities

 
  Mr Gus Meister Junior Train Controller

Could we replace the locomotives on the long haul lines (Warrnambool, Echuca, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Albury, Ararat, Maryborough and Bairnsdale) with VLocities? Ararat and Maryborough I know always operate as VLocities but what about the other lines? Are there any advantages of taking a VLocity (with a cafe and first class) over a locomotive?

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  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Could we replace the locomotives on the long haul lines (Warrnambool, Echuca, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Albury, Ararat, Maryborough and Bairnsdale) with VLocities? Ararat and Maryborough I know always operate as VLocities but what about the other lines? Are there any advantages of taking a VLocity (with a cafe and first class) over a locomotive?
Mr Gus Meister
Speed.
  Mr Gus Meister Junior Train Controller

Could we replace the locomotives on the long haul lines (Warrnambool, Echuca, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Albury, Ararat, Maryborough and Bairnsdale) with VLocities? Ararat and Maryborough I know always operate as VLocities but what about the other lines? Are there any advantages of taking a VLocity (with a cafe and first class) over a locomotive?
Speed.
railblogger
And also the toilets/change rooms. Are the VLocities more comfortable than a locomotive?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Could we replace the locomotives on the long haul lines (Warrnambool, Echuca, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Albury, Ararat, Maryborough and Bairnsdale) with VLocities? Ararat and Maryborough I know always operate as VLocities but what about the other lines? Are there any advantages of taking a VLocity (with a cafe and first class) over a locomotive?
Mr Gus Meister
If you'll care to use the search box, you'll find out that V/Line is already doing just that.
  Mr Gus Meister Junior Train Controller

Could we replace the locomotives on the long haul lines (Warrnambool, Echuca, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Albury, Ararat, Maryborough and Bairnsdale) with VLocities? Ararat and Maryborough I know always operate as VLocities but what about the other lines? Are there any advantages of taking a VLocity (with a cafe and first class) over a locomotive?
If you'll care to use the search box, you'll find out that V/Line is already doing just that.
LancedDendrite
I did see this. I wanted to know what you Railpagers thought.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Could we replace the locomotives on the long haul lines (Warrnambool, Echuca, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Albury, Ararat, Maryborough and Bairnsdale) with VLocities? Ararat and Maryborough I know always operate as VLocities but what about the other lines? Are there any advantages of taking a VLocity (with a cafe and first class) over a locomotive?
Speed.
And also the toilets/change rooms. Are the VLocities more comfortable than a locomotive?
Mr Gus Meister
No.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

Could we replace the locomotives on the long haul lines (Warrnambool, Echuca, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Albury, Ararat, Maryborough and Bairnsdale) with VLocities? Ararat and Maryborough I know always operate as VLocities but what about the other lines? Are there any advantages of taking a VLocity (with a cafe and first class) over a locomotive?
Speed.
And also the toilets/change rooms. Are the VLocities more comfortable than a locomotive?
No.
railblogger
I reckon a VLocity is much more comfortable than a locomotive. Especially once you get more than a couple of people in the cab, as then you have to stand.

If the question was really "Are the VLocities more comfortable than a locomotive hauled train" then I would still answer yes, if the cars involved are N sets. These cars were designed for interurban distances, not long distance, and the 2+3 seating in economy is a real downer.
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
Echuca is operated by vlocities. Has been for years.

There are several issues with the longer railway lines that have seen Loco hauled car sets remain in use. Current policy has Sprinters and Vlocitys restricted to 80km/h over any lines with unprotected level crossings (no boom gates). The further from Melbourne you get, the more of these crossings there are. This restriction is due to their lighter weight providing less crash protection in the event of a high speed collision with a heavy vehicle.

This dates back a few years after a collision between a Vlocity and a truck carrying a large block of granite on the Ararat line at Trawalla. Several passengers in the Vlocity died that day. Findings of the coronial inquest included that had they been in a loco hauled train, they likely would have survived due to the superior protection provided by having the 115 tonne locomotive leading the train. It also found that if the crossing had of had boom gates, it is unlikely the truck would have been on the crossing when the train came through.

All level crossings between Ballarat and Ararat, as well as between Ballarat and Maryborough now have protected level crossings.

A project has been underway on the Echuca line for the last few years to upgrade all of their crossings, when completed (some would argue it already is) the line speed for railcars on that line is supposed to increase.

So for Vlocities to be introduced on other long haul journeys like Warrnambool, all crossings need to be upgraded. The Government have already announced that Warrnambool and Albury are next in line for this upgrade. Work has not yet started.

When work is complete on the Warrnambool and Albury lines upgrade, it is expected a modified variant of the Vlocity will be built for long haul trips, this is likely to be either a 4 or 5 car set, with similar amenities as the N sets have.
  Mr Gus Meister Junior Train Controller

Echuca is operated by vlocities. Has been for years.

There are several issues with the longer railway lines that have seen Loco hauled car sets remain in use. Current policy has Sprinters and Vlocitys restricted to 80km/h over any lines with unprotected level crossings (no boom gates). The further from Melbourne you get, the more of these crossings there are. This restriction is due to their lighter weight providing less crash protection in the event of a high speed collision with a heavy vehicle.

This dates back a few years after a collision between a Vlocity and a truck carrying a large block of granite on the Ararat line at Trawalla. Several passengers in the Vlocity died that day. Findings of the coronial inquest included that had they been in a loco hauled train, they likely would have survived due to the superior protection provided by having the 115 tonne locomotive leading the train. It also found that if the crossing had of had boom gates, it is unlikely the truck would have been on the crossing when the train came through.

All level crossings between Ballarat and Ararat, as well as between Ballarat and Maryborough now have protected level crossings.

A project has been underway on the Echuca line for the last few years to upgrade all of their crossings, when completed (some would argue it already is) the line speed for railcars on that line is supposed to increase.

So for Vlocities to be introduced on other long haul journeys like Warrnambool, all crossings need to be upgraded. The Government have already announced that Warrnambool and Albury are next in line for this upgrade. Work has not yet started.

When work is complete on the Warrnambool and Albury lines upgrade, it is expected a modified variant of the Vlocity will be built for long haul trips, this is likely to be either a 4 or 5 car set, with similar amenities as the N sets have.
Gman_86
I didn't know that Echuca was operated by VLocities. I understand the 80km/h restrictions, and that is a fair point to keep the locomotives. But surely there would've been a sign saying 'look for trains' at the tradgic crash. And that's great news that the Warrnambool and Albury lines are being upgraded. Also, isn't all the way out to Bairnsdale protected level crossings? Or is that just to Traralgon? If it is protected, why aren't all trains to Traralgon/Bairnsdale VLocities? Also, why don't they stable VLocities at Bacchus Marsh and use VLocities in morning peak, instead of a slow and sometimes dangerous locomotive.
Thanks, Mr Gus Meister
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
Under the current rumors is that Vlocitys will run the Bairnsdale service sooner rather than later in the next 5-10 years, given the work being done along the Sale-Bairnsdale section.
  Mr Gus Meister Junior Train Controller

Under the current rumors is that Vlocitys will run the Bairnsdale service sooner rather than later in the next 5-10 years, given the work being done along the Sale-Bairnsdale section.
speedemon08
Ok, so do VLocities run to Traralgon?
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
Under the current rumors is that Vlocitys will run the Bairnsdale service sooner rather than later in the next 5-10 years, given the work being done along the Sale-Bairnsdale section.
Ok, so do VLocities run to Traralgon?
Mr Gus Meister
Only 8 services out of the 40 are run by anything else, so yeah they do. In fact, it's common knowledge they run to Sale and return on a Sunday.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
There's scant details around about what the Long Distance VLocity will be. The most that's been publicly announced is:

...the Budget provides $311.1 million for 39 new VLocity carriages... This investment will also fund a major re-design of VLocity trains, to enable them to run on long-haul services, including on the North East Line.
Labor government’s Regional Rail Revival continues
All you get from that is:
  • It will be a diesel-hydraulic DMU design based on the VLocity...
  • Built by Bombardier in Dandenong...
  • Able to run on both Broad Gauge and Standard Gauge...
  • And a "major re-design" means that it will have improved crash protection.

But why a VLocity derivative to replace the N sets? Well, the improved top speed and acceleration of the VL sets over the Ns is immediately attractive. But so are the maintenance advantages such as an overlapping spare parts pool with the VL sets.

So seeing as we're on FoamPage, it's speculation time...

For a like-for-like replacement of the five-car N sets used on the Albury service (SN) each new train set would need 315 economy + 52 first class seats, a buffet, at least one Disability Discrimination Act-compliant toilet and some sort of checked luggage arrangement. For comparison, a 3-car VLocity set is arranged as DM(D)+TM+DM. They have 222 economy seats, one DDA-compliant toilet in the DM(D) car and a pair of open large luggage areas (designated for carrying bikes, surfboards, large suitcases etc) in each intermediate TM car.

Doing the math, you're looking at around a 5 car VLocity consist to achieve that sort of seating capacity and feature set. How that's achieved is where the real speculation begins.

One thing I predict will be added that isn't on existing VL sets are cab doors on the outside. It's one of those driver comfort measures that the RTBU always like to demand and the VLs are virtually the only trains on the Victorian network that don't have them. They'd eat up a bit of space at each cab end but that could be offset by having said doors open into a staff-only area for the conductor and buffet/refreshments attendant. In fact, the cab ends are probably going to be the parts of the Long-Haul VL sets that will differ the most from current VL sets due to cab doors, long distance feature requirements, an improved crash energy management system and so on.

As for the buffet, if V/Line isn't committed to retaining the N set buffet setup then serving trolleys and/or onboard vending machines could be implemented. This has been discussed widely here on Railpage so I won't bother going into the pros and cons.

One possible layout based on all of that could be to have a checked luggage compartment and first-class seating at one cab end and a combined galley + staff area, DDA-compliant toilet and economy seating at the other. Intermediate cars could be identical or an unpowered car provided in the very middle of the consist that has an extra auxillary generator or similar. 4/5 powered cars in a consist provides an adequate power-to-weight ratio for services on Victorian lines and would improve the fuel economy for such a long DMU.

Once again, this is all speculation and this has already been discussed to death around here.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Echuca is operated by vlocities. Has been for years.

There are several issues with the longer railway lines that have seen Loco hauled car sets remain in use. Current policy has Sprinters and Vlocitys restricted to 80km/h over any lines with unprotected level crossings (no boom gates). The further from Melbourne you get, the more of these crossings there are. This restriction is due to their lighter weight providing less crash protection in the event of a high speed collision with a heavy vehicle.

This dates back a few years after a collision between a Vlocity and a truck carrying a large block of granite on the Ararat line at Trawalla. Several passengers in the Vlocity died that day. Findings of the coronial inquest included that had they been in a loco hauled train, they likely would have survived due to the superior protection provided by having the 115 tonne locomotive leading the train. It also found that if the crossing had of had boom gates, it is unlikely the truck would have been on the crossing when the train came through.

All level crossings between Ballarat and Ararat, as well as between Ballarat and Maryborough now have protected level crossings.

A project has been underway on the Echuca line for the last few years to upgrade all of their crossings, when completed (some would argue it already is) the line speed for railcars on that line is supposed to increase.

So for Vlocities to be introduced on other long haul journeys like Warrnambool, all crossings need to be upgraded. The Government have already announced that Warrnambool and Albury are next in line for this upgrade. Work has not yet started.

When work is complete on the Warrnambool and Albury lines upgrade, it is expected a modified variant of the Vlocity will be built for long haul trips, this is likely to be either a 4 or 5 car set, with similar amenities as the N sets have.
Gman_86
Not quite
In the Cab - 1 x PN driver in the cab died, another PN driver in cab injured, V/locity driver seriously injured
In the pax area - 1 woman was killed via side impact as the load swung around (drivers mother), many others injured.

Had the train been loco hauled, obviously the first vehicle would not have contained passengers. The outcome of the drivers is open to debate and I won't speculate and anyone who does is guessing.

The Kerang incident (11 deaths) demonstrates that being a loco hauled train has no impact on safety if the truck hits the train from the side, although these types of accidents are less frequent. LX was controlled, but not fitted with gates.


In Qld, the CTT must slow to 100km/hr for unprotected level crossings, the same could apply in Vic if need be.


Personal opinion is that for years we have had it all wrong using bloody flashing lights at LX which are usually off to the side. The boom gates are purely visual and do F__A_ if needed to be used as a barrier and by the time they come down its often too late if you have missed the flashing lights.

For drivers, yes we are trained supposedly to use LX, but we all know they do not get they same respect or eye catching attention as normal traffic lights. Flashing lights are normally used for warning, not STOP. Really, why do we flashing lights and not just have the same thing we have at any other location where a STOP is required? Flashing lights are a hang up from the past when they didn't have normal traffic lights.

On a recent trip to Adelaide I was impressed to see the LX near Bowden where we stayed and walked past used NORMAL traffic lights. Want to improve LX safety, start by getting rid of Flashing lights and replace with normal traffic lights. Add boom gates if you must, but in suburban and other high traffic areas, I'd replace them with rising impact Bollards.
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

Anther issue is the running cost of the units. A loco hauled set with 6 carriages is cheaper to run than a six car DMU in terms of fuel consumption. I think at 5 cars it is even and at 4 cars the DMU comes out ahead. I take the point about speed, but as the long haul routes are probably going to stay on 115 - 120 kph I don't think that is a major factor. Plus a loco and six cars are cheaper to build than a six car DMU.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Anther issue is the running cost of the units. A loco hauled set with 6 carriages is cheaper to run than a six car DMU in terms of fuel consumption. I think at 5 cars it is even and at 4 cars the DMU comes out ahead. I take the point about speed, but as the long haul routes are probably going to stay on 115 - 120 kph I don't think that is a major factor. Plus a loco and six cars are cheaper to build than a six car DMU.
Duncs
Option 1: Buy V/locities, same platform as current trains. Easy access to parts and even procurement which would be local. Same training for crew and maintenance crew. No shunting required, DOO operation. Off-set, burn a bit more fuel. May have top end speed in some location compromised by LX, but higher end bonus in others due to lighter footprint and acceleration. Train has inbuilt traction and Aux redundancy to enable mostly self rescue home to Melbourne.

Option 2: Buy a completely different loco hauled train(s) which would require at least one spare loco and pax cars of each class.  Another set of spare parts, servicing, training for maintenance crew and loco crew and cabin crew. Train likely to be purchased off-shore, small production run, limited option for order of scale. Need to retain shunting facilities (loop) at terminus and training for train crews to shunt. Need two man crews? Off-set, save a bit of fuel. Retain top end speed through LX, but be compromised in other areas due to loco weight and lower power to weight ratio. Assuming single traction donk loco, train has no inbuilt traction or Aux redundancy meaning failure up to 350km from home will cause significant disruption to schedule and following services, could take half a day just to get a crew there to look at it.

Option 1 looks more favorable to me.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
For some of the reasons above I cannot see how  Vlocity could provide the capacity of an N set or more generically locomotive with coaches.  I much favour a clean slate look at what are the requirements derived from public involvement and then taking these requirements and shipping them out via a tender process.  Look at Vossloh express passenger locomotives with coaches including club car and wifi etc.  The Vlocity platform to my mind is not the best platform for longer distance and it is limited in capacity and expensive to run in larger configurations.

Take a close look at what the European networks are running.  They have some great solutions and even include on the SWISS network child play areas on the train.  Forget Vlocity and let's get into the 21st century of long distance rail travel.  Might even be possible to look at running Melbourne Horsham and Melbourne Wagga Wagga using this platform.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
What about speed? Should we be looking ahead to a time when line speeds may be increased to say 200km/h or is this not likely to happen during the life cycle of the next generation rolling stock? Even if speeds were increased on, say. SC to Bendigo trains running out to Swan Hill and Echuca could achieve reduced journey times over the whole trip if the stock was capable of a higher speed.

I know there has been some discussion on RP about the reported top speeds achieved by the XPT during testing, what about Vlocities, is it pretty much maxxed out at 160 or could it be pushed higher?

BG
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line

I know there has been some discussion on RP about the reported top speeds achieved by the XPT during testing, what about Vlocities, is it pretty much maxxed out at 160 or could it be pushed higher?

BG
BrentonGolding

Flat out with time to wind up along a straight stretch of level track, a VLocity is good for 185KPH, hence 160 is better for normal service speed.
Moreover any increase in speed means lots of tinkering with signals, TPWS and level crossing activation distances.

An interesting tidbit I heard recently on a Swan Hill train is when VLocities are introduced on the Swan Hill line...and that was good news for me as it is, but there's more, for when I travel to Mildura and apparently a later bus departure connecting with a later scheduled UP from Swan Hill is proposed to form the existing 21:20 ex Bendigo arriving SCS @ 23:15.

Only time will tell of course, however train crews have to know more than we do as normal paying passengers.

Mike.
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out

I know there has been some discussion on RP about the reported top speeds achieved by the XPT during testing, what about Vlocities, is it pretty much maxxed out at 160 or could it be pushed higher?

BG
Flat out with time to wind up along a straight stretch of level track, a VLocity is good for 185KPH, hence 160 is better for normal service speed.
Moreover any increase in speed means lots of tinkering with signals, TPWS and level crossing activation distances.

Mike.
The Vinelander
Wasn't the rumor that they tested to 200km/h but bits fell off the side?
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Flat out with time to wind up along a straight stretch of level track, a VLocity is good for 185KPH, hence 160 is better for normal service speed.
Moreover any increase in speed means lots of tinkering with signals, TPWS and level crossing activation distances.

Mike.
The Vinelander
Thanks Mike, and yes, I was really referring to what I presume will happen a fair bit down the track which is that the government will look at increasing line speeds on Geelong / Ballarat / Bendigo etc commuter lines but I realise that this would basically require a full rebuild.

Thinking along the lines of an RFR Phase II in 20 years time or so.

Just pondering with a 30 year or thereabouts lifespan on rolling stock whether it is worth planning for or not

BG
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
NSW 'fans keep on insisting Vline should buy their clapped out old XPTs when they are replaced.  Or we buy the same units as NSW.

Regards,
David Head
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
For some of the reasons above I cannot see how  Vlocity could provide the capacity of an N set or more generically locomotive with coaches.  I much favour a clean slate look at what are the requirements derived from public involvement and then taking these requirements and shipping them out via a tender process.  Look at Vossloh express passenger locomotives with coaches including club car and wifi etc.  The Vlocity platform to my mind is not the best platform for longer distance and it is limited in capacity and expensive to run in larger configurations.

Take a close look at what the European networks are running.  They have some great solutions and even include on the SWISS network child play areas on the train.  Forget Vlocity and let's get into the 21st century of long distance rail travel.  Might even be possible to look at running Melbourne Horsham and Melbourne Wagga Wagga using this platform.
bevans
The EU run much larger fleets and longer trains than V/line, they don't travel to remote locations and most of its is sparked. They also frequently run loco trailing and thus avoiding the need to shunt.

The internal layout and fitout is not part of the DMU vs loco hauled argument as the same existing in EU on both platforms including a childs play area.

The 21st century is moving away from loco hauled fleets. WA's Prospector has been very successful and reliable on its 2 x daily 650km run to Kal.

Removal of Shunting and in train redundancy to prevent total failures in distant parts of the network is what will win out at the end of the day, even if it has a penalty in fuel which going forward will be cheap enough.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
What about speed? Should we be looking ahead to a time when line speeds may be increased to say 200km/h or is this not likely to happen during the life cycle of the next generation rolling stock? Even if speeds were increased on, say. SC to Bendigo trains running out to Swan Hill and Echuca could achieve reduced journey times over the whole trip if the stock was capable of a higher speed.

I know there has been some discussion on RP about the reported top speeds achieved by the XPT during testing, what about Vlocities, is it pretty much maxxed out at 160 or could it be pushed higher?

BG
BrentonGolding
I think we all know speeds beyond 160km/hr are unlikely for many years to come and the biggest issue is not +160, its +100km/hr.
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
But surely there would've been a sign saying 'look for trains' at the tradgic crash.
Mr Gus Meister
Of course there was, it didn't help and I'm sure saying "drivers should stop at the crossing" is cold comfort to the families of the dead.

Also, isn't all the way out to Bairnsdale protected level crossings? Or is that just to Traralgon? If it is protected, why aren't all trains to Traralgon/Bairnsdale VLocities?
Mr Gus Meister
Vlocities already run in service past Traralgon as far as Sale on a regular basis, it is only past Sale there is an issue, namely the bridge over the Avon River at Stratford. This old bridge has many restrictions, including a very slow speed limit (10km/h from memory) and certain vehicles, including Vlocities just don't fit on it. This bridge is due for replacement in the near future, funding has already been put aside for this.

Also, why don't they stable VLocities at Bacchus Marsh and use VLocities in morning peak, instead of a slow and sometimes dangerous locomotive.
Mr Gus Meister
V/Line can and do stable Vlocities at Bacchus Marsh. V/Line usually prefer though to run them back to Melbourne empty to be used for other services. The reason Bacchus Marsh still gets regular locomotive hauled peak trains is simply due to its shorter travel distance. Its preffereble to run the slowest/oldest trains on the shortest routes, rather than the longer routes. These services however are progressively been upgraded to be operated by Vlocities as more new Vlocities come into service.

What makes you think the locomotives are dangerous?

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