ARTC purchases $10m LORAM Shoulder Ballast Cleaner

 
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
"One of the most up-to-date rail track maintenance machines in Australia, dubbed ‘the Transformer’ by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) staff, will soon be hitting the tracks between Melbourne and Sydney, ARTC announced today.

The $10 million dollar, state-of-the-art, LORAM Shoulder Ballast Cleaner is currently in testing in South Australia after safe delivery from Minnesota, the United States last month.

The almost 100 metre-long shoulder ballast cleaner is expected to be in operation along the Melbourne – Sydney rail corridor in late August following completion of the testing and commissioning process."


http://www.artc.com.au/Article/Detail.aspx?p=6&np=4&id=397

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  Piston Train Controller

"One of the most up-to-date rail track maintenance machines in Australia, dubbed ‘the Transformer’ by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) staff, will soon be hitting the tracks between Melbourne and Sydney, ARTC announced today.

The $10 million dollar, state-of-the-art, LORAM Shoulder Ballast Cleaner is currently in testing in South Australia after safe delivery from Minnesota, the United States last month.

The almost 100 metre-long shoulder ballast cleaner is expected to be in operation along the Melbourne – Sydney rail corridor in late August following completion of the testing and commissioning process."


http://www.artc.com.au/Article/Detail.aspx?p=6&np=4&id=397
cootanee
Q1. Will it clean mud from the holes?

Q2. How long will it take to fix between Melbourne and Sydney understanding it will have to do both directions?
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Q1. Will it clean mud from the holes?

Q2. How long will it take to fix between Melbourne and Sydney understanding it will have to do both directions?
Piston

Q1. Shoulder ballast cleaning breaks open mud pockets and releases trapped water to restore drainage. http://www.loram.com/services/default.aspx?id=244

Q2. http://www.artc.com.au/Article/Detail.aspx?p=6&np=4&id=395
     http://www.artc.com.au/Content.aspx?p=250
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Whilst this is great news it also suggests to me:

1. we don't necessarily have the latest track maintenance equipment in Australia
2. We only now starting to invest in the right equipment to deal with some of these long term issues affecting the network
3. ARTC have decided to take the resolution of the problem in-house due to a lack of confidence in maintenance companies.

Thoughts?

Regards
Brian
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
The pictures of this machine and the engineering specs are simply amazing, it's a really incredible piece of equipment.  I really hope it does help to fix the problems of mudholes developing under our trunk lines -
  nscaler69 Deputy Commissioner

Location: There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots.
From the PDF on the ARTC link above.
Video of the machine in action is available at the following address:  https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jbhpqcongq67gkg/e4PwD3ojR0
The last video is worth looking at.
  Hendo Deputy Commissioner

Now they have taken a step into having their own maintenance work capability, like the old RIC, maybe they should also buy the Railvactm Vacuum Excavator to clean out the mud holes under the sleepers. http://www.loram.com/Services/Default.aspx?id=102 two good video links on its use are there


Cheers,
Hendo
  Groover Train Controller

Location: A long way from home
Q1. Shoulder ballast cleaning breaks open mud pockets and releases trapped water to restore drainage. http://www.loram.com/services/default.aspx?id=244

Q2. http://www.artc.com.au/Article/Detail.aspx?p=6&np=4&id=395
     http://www.artc.com.au/Content.aspx?p=250
cootanee
Impressive piece of kit.  I can see how it will work where there is some elevation and drainage will be restored.  However in an area such as Breadalbane, which is a drained lake, the water comes back with rain and the motion of the trains; drainage away is not a simple matter in that area because you are trying to drain the water table.  I could see it working around Tallong & Yass by restoring drainage.  However, I'm sure the civil guys have it sorted.

How long until Kibri produce a working DCC HO scale model?
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
From the PDF on the ARTC link above.
Video of the machine in action is available at the following address:  https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jbhpqcongq67gkg/e4PwD3ojR0
The last video is worth looking at.
nscaler69

Looks like an impressive machine.  Not being a railway engineer, why does ballast need "cleaning" and aren;t the issues on the Sydney to Melbourne railway line to do with mud holes and the track bed?

How does deploying this machine onto that corridor help fix this issue?

Regards
Brian
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Now they have taken a step into having their own maintenance work capability, like the old RIC, maybe they should also buy the Railvactm Vacuum Excavator to clean out the mud holes under the sleepers. http://www.loram.com/Services/Default.aspx?id=102 two good video links on its use are there


Cheers,
Hendo
Hendo

Would a track lifter http://www.loram.com/Services/Default.aspx?id=1186 also come in handy?  Why not invest and do the job from end to end?

Also, are the crew employed by ARTC as in they are not contractors?

Regards
Brian
  Hendo Deputy Commissioner

Looks like an impressive machine.  Not being a railway engineer, why does ballast need "cleaning" and aren;t the issues on the Sydney to Melbourne railway line to do with mud holes and the track bed?

How does deploying this machine onto that corridor help fix this issue?

Regards
Brian


Brian,

From another non-engineering person. Dirt, particularly clay soil, acts like glue and binds the crushed rock ballast together, trapping water. The pumping action of a train passing over brings more soil and water to the surface causing the mud hole. The machine breaks up the clogged ballast along the side of the track, but not entirely underneath the track like some other machines. Mudholes are somewhat akin to potholes in the road, continual traffic over a weak spot breaks the bitumen surface after the roadbase underneath is "pumped", by traffic, full of water enough to break the surface track, once the surface is broken the pothole quickly becomes bigger with more traffic.

Cheers,
Hendo
bevans
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Would a track lifter http://www.loram.com/Services/Default.aspx?id=1186 also come in handy?  Why not invest and do the job from end to end?

Also, are the crew employed by ARTC as in they are not contractors?

Regards
Brian
bevans

It comes down to money. ARTC scrapped the barrel to fund the Ballast Remediation Program including cutting back on the North Coast Curve Easing.

Let infrastructure run down over decades and any fix won't be quick or come cheap.
  Bugnash Station Master

What is the good of cleaning the shoulder ballast if the capping layer is damaged under the sleepers from poor side insertion methods?
  EMD-SD45X Chief Train Controller

What is the good of cleaning the shoulder ballast if the capping layer is damaged under the sleepers from poor side insertion methods?
Bugnash

Exactly right.
If the capping layer has been compromised then it needs to be replaced, a BLX wont do that, in fact it makes it worse.
Unless things have changed recently in the industry the "returns" that go back into track are never clean (still covered in sediment) so therefor don't help the situation.
The added "disturbance" to the track after a BLX has been through also keeps the Temp Speeds on until Tonnage has been reached and CWR adjustments have been done too.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
The issue of the capping layer being damaged as part of the Side insertion technique adopted for replacing timber sleepers with concrete is still going to be the big, big fix needed to fully overcome the problems with mudholes.  All of the remedial works of ballast cleaning, drainage improvements and lifting the track are all essential but if and the evidence is there that the capping layer has been damaged will mean there is still a major headache for ARTC. Much has been said about the state of the track prior to the upgrade and lack of investment all of which is true. But when mudholes appear on sections of railway that never had problems before then you have a fundamental problem. The new piece of kit will help but it won't fix the root cause which the ATSB report when released will no doubt raise.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
The issue of the capping layer being damaged as part of the Side insertion technique adopted for replacing timber sleepers with concrete is still going to be the big, big fix needed to fully overcome the problems with mudholes.  All of the remedial works of ballast cleaning, drainage improvements and lifting the track are all essential but if and the evidence is there that the capping layer has been damaged will mean there is still a major headache for ARTC. Much has been said about the state of the track prior to the upgrade and lack of investment all of which is true. But when mudholes appear on sections of railway that never had problems before then you have a fundamental problem. The new piece of kit will help but it won't fix the root cause which the ATSB report when released will no doubt raise.
Trainplanner

Side insertion wasn't the only thing happening over this period. It did rain big time following an 8 year drought. You can run anything on compacted dry dirt but add water and it's a different story. Much of the ballast and drainage systems (just like the sleepers) was at or near the end of its economic life - there's no getting away from that legacy of three decades of underinvestment.

Fact most of the Eastern network needed rebuilding from the ground up but no one was putting up the $$$ for that - sleepers, ballast, drainage, culverts/bridges etc. The situation when ARTC took up the NSW Lease seemed anyone's guess...

"...the condition of main-line routes reflected the maintenance of rail corridors that were "typically designed and constructed before 1960 (and frequently before 1930)". The report also observed that "In each state where ARTC had assumed control of the rail asset, substantial deficiencies in safety critical components had been identified. It is likely NSW will also contain undetected infrastructure flaws which impact on rail safety."

http://www.otsi.nsw.gov.au/rail/IR-Bethungra-final.pdf
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Evidence that the side insertion technique damaging the capping layer was validated when the concrete resleepering was undertaken in western Victoria following the north - south project. The track was actually lifted to ensure there was adequate clearance for the concrete sleepers to be inserted without damaging the capping layer. Even so there are localised locations where mudholes formed and these were where the capping layer was still compromised.

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