Comeng Refurbishment ideas

 
  ljayvee6 Locomotive Fireman

Location: Near the Apm Siding
A lot of users on Railpage Australia™ have been discussing another refurbishment for the lovely old comengs that have serviced us for over 30 years, so I decided to make a thread, where we can discuss ideas for a new refurbishment.
My idea would be that the comengs receive major upgrades that include the following:
*New traction equipment
*Fully automatic doors
*New exterior similar to that of an unrefurbished comeng or a grey ghost
*New brakes and braking equipment
And new, more comfortable seating.

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  shaun001 Station Master

What do you mean by "new exterior similar to an unrefurbished Comeng"?
The things you pointed out are all essential. They are probably the only things needed with a big over haul so they'd be everybody's ideas as well.
It all comes down to money and whether it's worth spending so much.
And it's probably not. Not to that extent anyway!
I'd rather the Siemens fleet get a refurbish. The seats are horrendous, never mind about the Comengs.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I agree with everything except the stainless fluted body. Provided that there is no structural corrosion etc keep the body and junk the rest.
Probably buy new Chinese/Indian than overhaul here - we don't need jobs and expertise in Australia do we:?:Crying or Very sad
We'd rather pay our people the dole until/unless we can screw them out of that too.
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
The Comeng fleet don't really need any upgrades, aside from a good clean. If anything, just electronic (opening/closing) doors like X'Trap/Siemens and trams.

Speaking in foaming-gunzel-mode, compatibility through all three electric trains would be a good start, where acceleration and braking values are the same and any 3 car set can electrically and mechanically operate with any other 3 car set regardless of the manufacturer. Of course, this would require traction motors to be replaced in Comeng cars so they are not being dragged/pushed everywhere, an upgraded braking system on X'Trapolis cars (isn't this still the reason they are limited to 90km/h and can't go to Cranbourne, Sunbury, Werribee etc?) and couplers on Siemens cars and a number of platforms being shaved to take the width of the latter, not to mention any differences in electrical/electronic devices.
  monday Chief Commissioner

With between 4-10 years of serviceable life left in them (depending on what cars you're looking at, and ten years is really pushing it - the industry date at the latest withdrawal is supposed to be 2022, so 2024 is quite generous), don't even bother.

Keep them mechanically operable, clean them up as best as possible, and push them out the door for another handful of years.

Even now the first batch of Xtraps are a 1/3'rd of the way through their serviceable life.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
... an upgraded braking system on X'Trapolis cars (isn't this still the reason they are limited to 90km/h and can't go to Cranbourne, Sunbury, Werribee etc?) ...
Heihachi_73

My understanding is that it's the poor ride from the coil-spring suspension that limits them to that speed; however there could be an issue with braking too, I don't know.

Personally I blame Jeff Kennett for this mess - they should have insisted in 1997/98 that the franchise holders had to order from the same manufacturer with universal Melbourne network specs.  That one change could have saved all this mucking around with incompatible trains and subsequent engineering issues.
  TedHanson Junior Train Controller

Personally I blame Jeff Kennett for this mess - they should have insisted in 1997/98 that the franchise holders had to order from the same manufacturer with universal Melbourne network specs. That one change could have saved all this mucking around with incompatible trains and subsequent engineering issues.
don_dunstan

No doubt he is to blame for the rolling stock mess, but not only should there have been just one supplier there should also have only been one operator. At some stage, we might also determine a standard height above rails and stick to it.
  ljayvee6 Locomotive Fireman

Location: Near the Apm Siding
No doubt he is to blame for the rolling stock mess, but not only should there have been just one supplier there should also have only been one operator. At some stage, we might also determine a standard height above rails and stick to it.
"TedHanson"

Agreed.
I think we should see a comeng overhaul very soon.
The brakes are falling of the bloody trains!
  Some rail man Junior Train Controller

Location: CIA Headquarters in Washington D.C
I'd say both the Siemens and the Comeng's need a refurbishment but more the latter. The Comeng's need Automatic push-button doors like on the 3000 sets in Adelaide, more visible Desto boards on the front of the train (one EDI 3-car set is being trailed with this modification as we speak), new seats and seating arrangements (2+2 layout instead of 2+3) but for both most importantly a deep clean. The Siemens need to get better vandal-proof material, new seats, do something about all the scratchiti on the windows (some sets have windows completely covered in that s***), PID's that actually tell you the next stop instead of stops 10km back, and make the priority seats at the ends of the train easier to push down.
  Chrono Detector Assistant Commissioner

Location: Tram 57/59
I just wish both EDI and Alstom didn't change the seats when they first refurbished the trains, they should have left the original seats and replaced the cover, like the Hitachis and the Z, A and B trams, why did they even bother in the first place, complete waste of money that was and completely unnecessary.

Though I highly doubt they would change the seats in the future if the Comengs are refurbished again.
  Camster Chief Commissioner

Location: Geelong
Approx ten years since pretty much the whole fleet Comeng has been refurbished, I think the EDI refurbs have stood up better. When both were done, I preferred the Alstom refurbs, but I think they just looked better. Ride is more comfortable in the EDI refurbs.

Maybe like other posters have said, change the seating to 2x2.

I prefer the seats in the refurbished sets in some ways because you can tuck your legs under the seats, where are pre refurbishment, you could not do this. I believe Adelaides "Comengs" did not have this problem. Although I have only travelled in a few sets.
  AzN_dj Chief Commissioner

Location: Along route 69
Is there any physical limitation to a 40 year expiry to the Comeng Fleets? If they are still structurally sound, they could probably run up to 60 years on our network. While yes, we probably should look at getting replacements in the future, but is anyone able to point me to why we can't keep them for slightly longer than 2022?
  alstom_888m Chief Commissioner

Location:
Those shells will last forever. Plastic seats and panels can be replaced. However they are mechanically old and obsolete. They use old and inefficient DC equipment for traction (alternators are for the auxiliaries). Siemens and X'Trap use AC motors even though the transmission is DC.

If we were to switch to a 25kV system tomorrow the newer trains would need only minor modification (replacement of transformers, possibly pant replacement). Comengs would need some serious and expensive modification. It's a question of cost; buy new or rebuild old. Look no further than the A-class and Harris rebuild projects; it was better value for money to buy extra Comeng and N-class in 1985, and now we live in a more throwaway society than we did then.
  Flygon Train Controller

Location: Australia
Except we didn't so much throw the Harris's away as repurpose them them for loco haulage!

Though, with V/Line moving away from loco haulage, I can't exactly see gutted Comengs running about on V/Line routes in future...
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
With V/Line "moving away from loco haulage", that begs the question: What will happen to V/Line's N class fleet by then, replacing A classes on freight?
  alstom_888m Chief Commissioner

Location:
I think "true" N cars (i.e. not ex-Zs) will likely reach life expiry around the same time as the N class locos. If you marshalled the lot into 5 or 6 carriage sets you'd have a lot more locos than sets, so some may end up going to freight after the already 60 year old Z and H cars are finally retired. As they are powerful and reasonably modern I would expect to see them live on in freight service for years to come yet.
  calt Chief Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Metro style refurbishment of the Comengs is required as more people catch the train. One half of the carriage with 2x2 seating and poles, another half with bum seats with hand grasps and poles.
  Braddo Deputy Commissioner

Location: Narre Warren
Metro style refurbishment of the Comengs is required as more people catch the train. One half of the carriage with 2x2 seating and poles, another half with bum seats with hand grasps and poles.
calt

Imagine travelling from Dandenong to the city on a "bum seat". No thanks.
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
I'd rather stand upright over leaning on a "bum seat". The only thing those "cushions" do is cause pins and needles over long periods of time (and they are more of a "lower back rest" to those who aren't 7ft tall). Anyone who has travelled on a Citadis for over 20 minutes will know that feeling (the seats are just as bad).
  Edith Chief Commissioner

Location: Line 1 from Porte de Vincennes bound for Bastille station
I wonder what is the position of the owner (the government) in  all of this.  The current focus of major political parties is to be (re)elected.  They want to show new shiny things and to appear to be doing things, while not actually spending money to do so.  They know they have to add network capacity, but know the Comengs will not last forever.  How to keep them on long enough for someone else to replace them as well as add more capacity.

Do they want to spend money on Comengs ?  How much is just enough to keep them operating ? There will be someone doing sums of return on investment on new units versus repair/maintenance of existing units.  I would suspect that there will be selective repair/refurbishment of selected units while identifying a sequence for retirement and use of old units for spares.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I wonder what is the position of the owner (the government) in all of this. The current focus of major political parties is to be (re)elected. They want to show new shiny things and to appear to be doing things, while not actually spending money to do so. They know they have to add network capacity, but know the Comengs will not last forever. How to keep them on long enough for someone else to replace them as well as add more capacity.

Do they want to spend money on Comengs ? How much is just enough to keep them operating ? There will be someone doing sums of return on investment on new units versus repair/maintenance of existing units. I would suspect that there will be selective repair/refurbishment of selected units while identifying a sequence for retirement and use of old units for spares.
Edith

These figures have already been done and say that it is better (cheaper, I assume) to junk the entire Comeng and replace it with the likes of an Xtrap.
Australian content, jobs, skills, capacity etc count for nothing.
Buy from overseas and pay (or avoid paying) our own people the dole instead is the way to go......especially as the state government pays for the train and the federal government pays/avoids paying the dole. Never the two will meet!
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
That's about right, sadly. The ads for Chery (Made in China™) were on TV yesterday. RIP Holden and Ford, your big sixes and V8s will be missed.
  pandafalcon Station Staff

Current issues to Comeng refurbishment:
1) Bogie life

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/cracks-found-in-metro-train-bogies-20131223-2zumq.html

This one came to general attention last year through a leaked Metro report. Note that the bogies mentioned are the LHB type - which are the later batches.

2) Bodyshell status and life

Following on from the fleet split, the works to reunify the fleet, and a lot of other addenda to the fleet (such as digital train radio) the interior is significantly different to its original fit and fitment. Assessment of the existing fleet's bodyshell suitability to undertake a proper life extension, in terms of value for money. For example, if the bodyshell would, based on an engineering assessment, only last another 10 years past the current life before displaying unacceptable levels of wear and tear, the work to refurbish the entire current fleet of over 550 carriages may not achieve the desired cost savings of a full 35 year lifespan of new fleet.

3) Ease to refurbish to improve to 21st Century requirements

http://www.therailengineer.com/2013/11/28/class-317-half-old-half-new/

http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/traction-rolling-stock/single-view/view/re-engineered-emu-offers-new-train-for-less.html

Bombardier, at the behest of Angel Trains in the UK, did a refurb of a four car class 317 EMU, which is of a similar age to the Comeng. This shows the potential for life extension and what could be done with existing rolling stock. Significant replacement of existing electrical and propulsion equipment may affect the overall cost/benefit equation.

To sum up:

a) There are issues that are not insurmountable for the Comeng fleet if a proper full life extension was to be conducted.
b) The benefits of refurbishing the existing fleet have to be considered in light of costs - such as how much of the of the existing hardware is retained and what is renewed.
c) What are the predicted benefits to fleet reliability, performance and availability? What are the predicted benefits to operational costs?
d) A comprehensive vehicle refurbishment and life extension has been conducted elsewhere, so analysis of these projects would provide a further basis for developing a case.

I note that Victoria hasn't had the best history for "rolling" these projects out -

B Class locomotive refurbishment to A Class ended in favour of newer fleet of N class locomotives when costs between one or the other was negligible
Harris refurbishment to provide similar amenity to Comeng ended. I'm unfamiliar with WHY this was ended, but I could imagine the various issues of having to remove asbestos from insulation, upgrade wiring and interior to support air conditioning, would've been more complicated than ordering another batch of Comengs at the time.
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
Interesting read on the class 317, the refurbs almost look like a tram on the inside though.

However, being Australia we throw everything we have out and pay top dollar for the cheapest imports our corporate executives can find. Why make fridges, washing machines and TVs in Australia when you can order them by the boatload from China for $millions less? They even come with an added bonus, they last two years and one month (with a one year warranty, naturally) instead of 60 so you have to buy another one when the machine decides it doesn't want to work anymore! Bonus points again if it only decides not to work because the machine's "brain" has been programmed to render the device inoperable over a set amount of time regardless of condition (planned obsolescence, note myki expiry dates for comparison). But it doesn't matter because it's so cheap, right?
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Australian content, jobs, skills, capacity etc count for nothing.
Buy from overseas and pay (or avoid paying) our own people the dole instead is the way to go......especially as the state government pays for the train and the federal government pays/avoids paying the dole. Never the two will meet!
YM-Mundrabilla

Haven't you been listening to our PM and Treasurer - if you are unemployed then it's all your own fault, nobody else!  Nothing to do with deliberately stripping our country of engineering capacity or sending procurement contracts overseas.

It can't go on forever like that though, personally I think we're about to enter an era of mass unemployment the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Depression. One possible benefit of that could be the reintroduction of station staff and conductors on trams as respective governments become desperate to warehouse the unemployed...

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