Inland railway Melbourne - Brisbane

 
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
That's because the existing standard gauge route doesn't go through anywhere other than Sydney that can generate container traffic...and there's already a container port there. Via the Newell corridor the Inland line will pass through Australia's most productive agricultural hinterland. Much of the ag container traffic moving through Botany could move through Brisbane instead. The Newell corridor is the biggest road freight haul market in the country not paralleled by a railway...those trucks means there's freight, nearly thirty million tonnes in fact.
Sulla1
30 million tonnes of road freight today on the Newell highway?  I don't think so!

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  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

30 million tonnes of road freight today on the Newell highway?  I don't think so!
"donttellmywife"


That's Auslink's own figures - it includes freight moving between Melbourne and Brisbane plus the freight generated within the corridor (but not necessarily using it). The entire East Coast corridor (Melbourne to Cairns) has a combined total of nearly sixty million tonnes.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
So, if all this freight is available, why wont the private sector build the line?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

So, if all this freight is available, why wont the private sector build the line?
"MD"


Because an operator won't take on risk and debt to build when someone else can show up and take their best business, while PPPs need significant government support and very long term contracts with operators who might come and go. The freight isn't the problem, it's the regulatory environment...the current situation doesn't create sufficient motivation for a provider or operator to abandon the low risk, low freight-share status quo.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
That's Auslink's own figures - it includes freight moving between Melbourne and Brisbane plus the freight generated within the corridor (but not necessarily using it). The entire East Coast corridor (Melbourne to Cairns) has a combined total of nearly sixty million tonnes.
Sulla1
If its the Auslink figure I think it is, then it is from the North-South corridor study, and is for all modes.

Need to be a little mindful of how much of that tonnage is realistically able to be moved by rail.  The end to end tonnage is only of the order of 5 Mtpa.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
If its the Auslink figure I think it is, then it is from the North-South corridor study, and is for all modes.

Need to be a little mindful of how much of that tonnage is realistically able to be moved by rail.  The end to end tonnage is only of the order of 5 Mtpa.
donttellmywife


The studies are pretty comprehensive when it comes to freight types, volumes and contestability as well as laying out future scenarios.

There's no reason to fudge the figures and I doubt anyone in Railpage has done the same depth of research. If anything you would be better off letting guvmnt off the hook by playing up the negative case.

Both sides would be able to turn around and announce hand on heart "Now is not the time" Wink
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
I disagree.  NOW IS THE TIME.   The lead time that is needed to turn the the various feasibility studies into a comprehensive, well developed engineering and business case is both a costly and lengthy excercise in itself.  There are two proposals on the table the private sector generated proposal which outlines are very high quality, faster route using a combination of existing lines (totally rebuilt) together with extensive new trackage and the ARTC proposal which cobbles together existing routes with less new trackage to fill the gap.

Even if funded tomorrow such a comprehensive exercise will take a couple of years.   Once the detailed costs and true scale of the project are then defined there is then the decision on how to fund it.  Is it a private partnership model or is it a straight fully fundeed government project.  That could take another year or so.

Either way the funds then have to raised and that is provably another two years or so.   And lastly we have the construction.  How long etc but lets be optimistic and say 4 to 5 years given the tunnelling in Queensland, land acquisition, environmental approvals etc.  That rule of thumb exercise indicates a minimum of 8 to 9 years if we started now.

Given cost and poltics it will take longer than that.  So yes know is the time if you want to see this by around 2020 something!!!
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Is that private proposal really on the table for this?  The various personalities have gone awfully quiet lately...

It's one thing to be advancing (perhaps not all that quickly, as the case may be) a project that has the backing of a major customer and major operator, its quite another to be heading out into the capital risk territory associated with big infrastructure projects that don't have any solid commitments and a sub-marginal financial case.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
That's the mob I assume was being referred to.  ATEC are the common element between the Surat Basin link and AIRE, but there is a big difference between a line that is effectively underwritten and paid for by a coal mine development in the late stages of feasibility studies, and a more speculative line for general freight.  A squatter has taken over their website (if it ever existed).

(I've seen comments that this was a 50/50 joint venture between ATEC and ARTC - is this really true?)

There's also GATR, but they seem to have gone really quiet.  Their website is still there, but rather dormant.

What do these private guys really bring to the table, apart from enthusiasm?  To really advance this what's needed is either a) funds or b) a bankable take-or-pay commitment to use the line over the years ahead.  It's not like there's a patent or similar over the idea of an inland line - if I was the main intended customer for the Surat Basin thing I'd be inclined to tell any other interested party that didn't bring funds or bankable commitments to naff off.

If you haven't seen it already - a few presentations on http://www.inlandrail.com.au/ .  (Over the last fifteen minutes (of consecutive RP uptime, not clock time...) I entertained myself by re-reading this thread... ahhh the memories... but didn't see this one mentioned.)
  MacAttack Beginner

Location: Warrnambool, Victoria
So frustrating to see how quite this whole project has gone. Last I read was that the most likely to go ahead section was Towoomba to Gladstone on narrow guage. I would hope a sensible government (oxymoron) would at least fund dual gauge construction or compatability for the future.

I also note in all the reading that no quantative analysis is given to savings produced when future upgrading of roads at large cost is delayed due to the freight transfer to rail.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
2026 is a few years away. In the meantime, expect to see that promised $300m re-announced a few more times.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
There was a symposium in March.

http://www.minister.infrastructure.gov.au/wt/speeches/2014/wts004_2014.aspx
  Groover Train Controller

Location: A long way from home
There was a symposium in March.

http://www.minister.infrastructure.gov.au/wt/speeches/2014/wts004_2014.aspx
cootanee

What can you say.  A whistle stop tour beating the drum.  Seems as there were as many words devoted to roads as to the rail project.  Nothing concrete to announce.  It's a miracle we got the SSFL.  The SSFL may represent the upper limit of infrastructure funding and management these days.  I wish someone in the audience had asked "when will it start?"
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I just can't see the political will to build that line ATM . Too many other projects in NSW like NW and SW Rail Links plus the second airport and decentralisation to Parramatta .
We can only hope the works on the metro north in Sydney and Gosford show a positive result because nothing else will in the foreseeable future for rail freight to Brisbane .
A Fassifern to Hexham or even Dungog link would do far more for East Coast intercapital rail freight in the next ten years than a bits and pieces railway linked up inland .
  M636C Minister for Railways

I just can't see the political will to build that line ATM . Too many other projects in NSW like NW and SW Rail Links plus the second airport and decentralisation to Parramatta .
We can only hope the works on the metro north in Sydney and Gosford show a positive result because nothing else will in the foreseeable future for rail freight to Brisbane .
A Fassifern to Hexham or even Dungog link would do far more for East Coast intercapital rail freight in the next ten years than a bits and pieces railway linked up inland .
BDA

The government haven't ever said that they'd build the line.

They want private enterprise to build it.

Pacific National could build it if they thought it would make money. So could Aurizon...
In fact they could go in half each....

They are building the loops at Gosford now.

Would Fassifern to Teralba direct help? The earthworks are already there. I walked that line 42 years ago...

Your best chance for improvements from the State and Federal Governments are small incremental changes that also benefit passenger services. Fassifern to Teralba could save five minutes for Sydney to Newcastle (Wickham?) services and would remove two sharp curves.

Similar changes could be applied around Hawkmount. A third track up Cowan Bank on a straighter alignment could allow faster passenger trains and provide more slots for freight on this slow section.

But Pacific National could build a new line from Fassifern to Dungog direct, up to Pilbara standards, if they wanted to and thought it would make them money.

No government will pay for additional rail infrastructure parallel to existing lines purely for freight. The SSFL was probably justified on improving commuter services to Macarthur and Leppington.
Every commuter is a voter or potential voter. No container or steel coil gets a vote.

M636C
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The government haven't ever said that they'd build the line.

They want private enterprise to build it.

Pacific National could build it if they thought it would make money. So could Aurizon...
In fact they could go in half each....

They are building the loops at Gosford now.

Would Fassifern to Teralba direct help? The earthworks are already there. I walked that line 42 years ago...

Your best chance for improvements from the State and Federal Governments are small incremental changes that also benefit passenger services. Fassifern to Teralba could save five minutes for Sydney to Newcastle (Wickham?) services and would remove two sharp curves.

Similar changes could be applied around Hawkmount. A third track up Cowan Bank on a straighter alignment could allow faster passenger trains and provide more slots for freight on this slow section.

But Pacific National could build a new line from Fassifern to Dungog direct, up to Pilbara standards, if they wanted to and thought it would make them money.

No government will pay for additional rail infrastructure parallel to existing lines purely for freight. The SSFL was probably justified on improving commuter services to Macarthur and Leppington.
Every commuter is a voter or potential voter. No container or steel coil gets a vote.

M636C
M636C


Private enterprise isn't going to build the inland rail line without significant government help - just like the case for the Alice Springs to Darwin line.  The financials reported in the alignment study make that clear.  The financials also made it clear that there was no pressing need to build this line in the near future.  By all means plan for it, perhaps even start construction on bits that have local traffic demand, but bringing it forward too early is just going to result (in my opinion) in the existing via Sydney route suffering further underinvestment.

In terms of the existing line, note that the concept is typically Fassifern (or Hexham - there are two parts to the project) to Stroud Road.  Going to Dungog still leaves you with the dog leg and curvature associated with the transition from the Williams River valley through to the Karuah River valley (to use broad geographic terms) - plus I suspect it would be a longer and more difficult deviation that would cost more to build - spend more for less benefit.

Fassifern to Teralba is an almost inconsequential deviation, that might be worth doing as a separate project, but doesn't solve the issue of line capacity, line curvature and urban amenity associated with the trip into Broadmeadow from the south.  

(The first two issues can help the financial case for the Fassifern to Hexham deviation, in my view the latter is more likely to be the "soft" economic issue that helps swing the bigger project, more so than any benefits to interurban services.  Without the economic support, the financials looked pretty sad from memory - while it may have saved some time it was going to be expensive given the terrain to be crossed - hence I don't think you will not see Aurizon or PN or whoever stumping up the cash on their own to build that deviation.)

I agree that the smaller deviations are more palatable.  You could combine Fassifern to Teralba with an easing of the curve immediately to the south of Fassifern, perhaps bundled up together as a passing lane/refuge style project (since there may be a need for local passenger services to still access Booragul).

One cross against those two smaller projects in particular is that they might become stranded investments if the larger Fassifern to Hexham deviation is built.  I can't remember (perhaps because I haven't seen) getting a bottle of red wine vinegar, I mean... seeing where that proposed larger deviation heads off - it may depend a bit on what Centennial are doing (or have done historically, in terms of subsidence) with their deposits in the area.

Significant investment by "government" (via ARTC) has recently happened in the Hunter parallel to existing lines without there being any real benefit to the handful of passenger services that use the line.  This investment happens because the customers are willing to pay for the increase in line capacity that the investment unlocks.  While the business case for the SSFL was probably not as strong, I would also expect it to have been carried by freight capacity and reliability increases, rather than passenger capacity benefits (perhaps you could turn things around - given passenger requirements there was insufficient capacity for freight).

Referring to posts in other threads about the inland rail project - there's not much point building incremental additions to massively more capable standards if the network that it is connected to doesn't have the capability for the higher axle loads and is unlikely to ever have the capability, due to the cost associated with upgrading the existing network and an absence of a likely heavy haul customer.  In the case of Fassifern to Stroud Road it may make sense to design to a higher capability because that deviation is connected to the Newcastle heavy haul network and there are likely (existing, even) customers not far from each end of the deviation that would benefit from the higher standards and hence might be willing to pay for the upgrade of the existing track.

Similarly, the previous study explicitly looked at going via Shepparton.  It didn't stack up.  That analysis obviously depends on the underlying assumptions used, and they can (and should) be challenged, but I rather a decision for that scale of investment was made based on a transparent argument than "we reckon it will be much better".  Besides which, there's nothing stopping a via Shepparton route being built as a second (or third or fourth, given the way things are likely to play out) stage - you might have wasted a bit of money on the Cootamundra bypass (assuming it had been built by that stage), but that would be pretty small bikkies compared to the work required to go via Shepparton.

Anyway, I've stuck my neck out - swing away.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Thanks for the thoughts DTMW but you don't need heavier perway  than exists under wires because that's already better than TFNSW lets on . If ARTC allows 23.27 TAL on 53 Kg rail/concrete 60 would be better .
No relaying Fassi Teralba would be useless when you think of the junctions required and NSW Trains ability to trap you in no mans land , the time saved would be trivial and still points all traffic at Broadmeadow - useless unless that or Newcastle is the terminating location .

If you could exit the Short North at Fassi the Spark runners would be ecstatic , greater capacity for them and a win for all Brisbane bound traffic inc CL . I'd say if the Xs could run direct from Stroud to Fassi there's an hour or more saved straight away , probably two for the intercity freighters . No following the bendy bus ex Dungog or the inevitable snail from Telarah/Maitland to Islington , no 25 km/h bludge round Isso jct or the crawl through Broadmeadow Yard . No crawl out the Adamstown end blocking up and down main lines or squashing along on TFNSWs pathetically reduced yellow speed boards .

No Government would ever build freight lines like the coal roads to Maitland or SSFL next to passenger lines .
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Also somewhere along the bypass would be a great place to have a "run through" locomotive servicing facility with just fuel oil and water . Two adjacent lines about 2000m long with bowsers either end , stop for quick splash and dash and still be time wise a long way ahead of the Stroud Maitland Broady Fassi farce . Could cheap out and have containment bays and fill from road trucks .
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
...No government will pay for additional rail infrastructure parallel to existing lines purely for freight. The SSFL was probably justified on improving commuter services to Macarthur and Leppington.
Every commuter is a voter or potential voter. No container or steel coil gets a vote.

M636C
M636C


The Federal Guvmnt didn't fund the SSFL.
ARTC had to borrow/issue bonds to finance it. Between 2010 and 2013, its debt went from $60m to over $1.1B. How much more debt could ARTC carry?

It's unlikely the Inland Railway will happen without some guvmnt funding similar to what was promised for the second Sydney Airport infrastructure.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
When you are set up by the Feds with the backing of the Feds and compartmentalised in a corporation attached directly to the Feds it's difficult to see it as not being - the Feds .  
If the bypass is built by them inc the "servo" every operator gets access to both .
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
... it's difficult to see it as not being - the Feds .....
BDA


My comment was specifically about how the SSFL was funded. It was banks' money not the guvmnts. ARTC is a company with the feds as the majority (and now sole) shareholder. It is not a federal department or even answerable to a federal department.
It pays interest on its loans and pays corporate taxes. ARTC is not guaranteed any funding by the feds. It's simplistic to expect ARTC to fund the inland railway or anything because it has direct access to the guvmnt's money.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
If you could exit the Short North at Fassi the Spark runners would be ecstatic , greater capacity for them and a win for all Brisbane bound traffic inc CL . I'd say if the Xs could run direct from Stroud to Fassi there's an hour or more saved straight away , probably two for the intercity freighters . No following the bendy bus ex Dungog or the inevitable snail from Telarah/Maitland to Islington , no 25 km/h bludge round Isso jct or the crawl through Broadmeadow Yard . No crawl out the Adamstown end blocking up and down main lines or squashing along on TFNSWs pathetically reduced yellow speed boards .
BDA

I don't think there's a great push for additional passenger services on that section of the line - the existing operations can handle the demand with plenty of spare capacity and you are severely limited by paths available at the Sydney end.

If by the X's you mean the former CountryLink XPT services - I think it highly unlikely that they would drop Broadmeadow from their stopping pattern - it is a relatively major source of passengers.  Consequently I don't think they would use the southern half of the bypass.  There's also the chance that they would not use the northern half of the bypass in order to maintain service to Maitland and Dungog.

An alternative would be to build a new interchange station on the bypass line, but the location of that interchange station would pretty much be out in the middle of nowhere.
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
I think it highly unlikely that they would drop Broadmeadow from their stopping pattern - it is a relatively major source of passengers. Consequently I don't think they would use the southern half of the bypass. There's also the chance that they would not use the northern half of the bypass in order to maintain service to Maitland and Dungog.

An alternative would be to build a new interchange station on the bypass line, but the location of that interchange station would pretty much be out in the middle of nowhere.
donttellmywife

A site such as Hexam has good train services from the main population centres as well as buses. Extending an odd one or two of the frequent Dungog services to Stroud Road or Taree would take care of all interconnectivity problems.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Extending an odd one or two of the frequent Dungog services...
Rodo

That description is a bit of a stretch. On weekends and holidays the number of local services is the same as the number of former CountryLink services.

The Hexham area (north west of the existing station) is the most likely spot for any additional interchange, but it is in the middle of nowhere - with limited chance of any significant future development in the immediate locality because of the propensity for flooding.

Two other possibilities, depending on alignment, include something closer to Cameron Park, which has access to the M1 north/south and the M15 east/west - sort-of-hence this was the chosen site for the HSR service. But it is off the existing public transport network.  (Edit: the other possibility I intended to put here (most days I can count to three without too many mistakes - but not today apparently) is at the far southern end of the line - perhaps Fassifern itself.)

Anyway, that bypass is not going to be justified on the basis of XPT travel time savings. By the time the bypass is built it is a reasonable question as to whether there will even be an XPT.

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