Southern line sinking under prolific TSRs

 
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Temporary, isn't it?
Typhon

Well, I wanted to write temporary, don't know why I wrote track...

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  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
Well, I wanted to write temporary, don't know why I wrote track...
seb2351

I assumed it was a dig at how long some of them are there for? Laughing
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I assumed it was a dig at how long some of them are there for? Laughing
Raichase

Good point, there have been TSR's out here longer then I have been driving the route!
  Typhon Assistant Commissioner

Location: I'm that freight train tearing through the sky in the clouds.
I assumed it was a dig at how long some of them are there for? Laughing
Raichase


Good call! Razz
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Trust me Coota it's cheaper for the industry to have a few more crossing locations than it is for the operators to add power to their trains .
BDA

Actually... "it depends".

ARTC went to some effort and expense to build extra lines up the grades in the Hunter so the lowest performance trains didn't block the faster ones .

I wonder if access fees covered those , or was it governmental prerogative for a bulk export product - and narky voters


Access fees are (or will) cover the cost of those - the costs have been included in the asset base for the relevant segments of the system.  You have a customer (the mines, the rail operators are just intermediaries) that is generally willing to pay (they don't really have a choice) and generally able to pay.  Voters didn't really come into it.

The extra lines were put in to increase rail capacity ahead of demand rather than improve transit time.  Not so much an issue of a difference in allowing faster trains to overtake slower trains - more to do with just having more trains (though it's all inter-related).

It is easier to justify spending money on infrastructure when you can then sell more stuff - simplistic made up numbers follow but lets say ARTC spent a billion dollars to get an extra 10 million tonnes per year of rail capacity.  ARTC might want something like an extra 100 million dollars a year in access revenue to cover that - so as long as the mines are making more than $10 per tonne margin on those additional tonnes they'll agree.

With the southern line you are really talking about spending money to reduce cost (or perhaps increase the quality of service) - because realistically - there's still spare capacity.  Again, simplistically, made up numbers etc - you want to spend say a billion on some extra loops?  You still need to agree to pay an extra $100 million a year or so in additional access revenue (assuming ARTC actually try and recover all their capital costs on the interstate - which typically they haven't by a long shot).  How many extra boxes are you going to move/how many litres of fuel are you going to save/how many hours of crew or loco time can you cut, etc... to match that?  That spend is for just one line - compare that figure to the total operating costs of the interstate part of your favourite interstate (i.e. non-coal) rail operator.  Unlike the coal scenario you generally can't just pass that cost onto your customers, because they have a choice - they can send their boxes by road.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
You either can't read or you don't think like someone who knows the areas I mentioned .
Yerrinboul and the levelish section between Fish River and Gunning . These would need about as much extra line constructed as Yass did to achieve what it does - zip .
To turn a short double line section into - hello - a section of Double line Bi Di takes a few signals and about four crossovers assuming its Bi Di on both sides . A billion dollars - don't think so .
The trouble is some people think that viable railways are all about how much time fuel crewing hours are saved overall . A rational person realises that each operator doesn't give a rats about the overall because their own viability is what they care about - think survival .
Pray tell all where the extra capacity comes from because while gunzels may sit track side for hours and see no trains that doesn't mean bottlenecks don't exist . There can be vacant lines but no paths , the examples of trains sitting for hours at Jindalee Harden Yass because XPTs have priority is real . How many trains ride the rails ahead of these Xs ? I'll tell you - SFA and rescheduling freighters does - SFA about it . And like I keep telling you people again and again and again these trains almost always use one platform at places like Goulburn and Yass . Do they tie up both lines at these places when they go Bi Di - you work it out .
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
You either can't read or you don't think like someone who knows the areas I mentioned .
Yerrinboul and the levelish section between Fish River and Gunning . These would need about as much extra line constructed as Yass did to achieve what it does - zip .
To turn a short double line section into - hello - a section of Double line Bi Di takes a few signals and about four crossovers assuming its Bi Di on both sides . A billion dollars - don't think so .
The trouble is some people think that viable railways are all about how much time fuel crewing hours are saved overall . A rational person realises that each operator doesn't give a rats about the overall because their own viability is what they care about - think survival .
Pray tell all where the extra capacity comes from because while gunzels may sit track side for hours and see no trains that doesn't mean bottlenecks don't exist . There can be vacant lines but no paths , the examples of trains sitting for hours at Jindalee Harden Yass because XPTs have priority is real . How many trains ride the rails ahead of these Xs ? I'll tell you - SFA and rescheduling freighters does - SFA about it . And like I keep telling you people again and again and again these trains almost always use one platform at places like Goulburn and Yass . Do they tie up both lines at these places when they go Bi Di - you work it out .
BDA

Fair enough - I read "passing lanes" in previous posts, saw the reference to the additional tracks in the Hunter and your posts elsewhere comparing the Hume/Newell/Pacific with single track freight railway.  It should be pretty obvious which bits of the network I am more familiar with.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had a signalling system that removed some of the artificial restrictions associated with the classic unidirectional block signalling that is currently in use.  Imagine what that might do for capacity and transit time!  Some sort of advanced train management system?  I wonder if ARTC have thought of that.

Note that the rail operators don't seem to think that there is a significant capacity issue on the North-South network, outside of the non-ARTC Sydney-Newcastle rat run.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Yes there is actually , most freighters are held back at Telarah or Islington Jct so that they get the privelage of following all stations rail motors . Feels really good standing around at Isso for 10-20 minutes to follow the slug fish tank to Maitland or Telarah .

ATMS , this doesn't do SFA for fast trains following slow ones . All it means is that the virtual signal at stop behind the slow train is mobile . We need physical crossovers so actual Bi Directional running can take place . All ATMS does is remove the physical signals and stops non compliant trains . Since the points need power for operation the supplies are there for signals and the hardware/software that controls points can do signal indications .
Best case scenario would be Bi Directional signalling first and new crossovers soon after , like on the Illawarra from Waterfall south .
Even the North East standard gauge in Victoria is set up for limited Bi Di from Seymour to Albury , needs more crossovers but the basics are in place .
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Yes there is actually , most freighters are held back at Telarah or Islington Jct so that they get the privelage of following all stations rail motors . Feels really good standing around at Isso for 10-20 minutes to follow the slug fish tank to Maitland or Telarah .

ATMS , this doesn't do SFA for fast trains following slow ones . All it means is that the virtual signal at stop behind the slow train is mobile . We need physical crossovers so actual Bi Directional running can take place . All ATMS does is remove the physical signals and stops non compliant trains . Since the points need power for operation the supplies are there for signals and the hardware/software that controls points can do signal indications .
Best case scenario would be Bi Directional signalling first and new crossovers soon after , like on the Illawarra from Waterfall south .
BDA


But being held back, as you describe, is primarily a transit time issue, not a capacity issue (though they are linked - a path with excessive transit time is not really an available path, you expect transit time to increase as spare capacity decreases).

For that specific section of line have a look at http://www.artc.com.au/library/Islington%20Junction%20to%20Acacia%20Ridge%20Monday%20to%20Sunday%206%20April%202014.pdf. By visual inspection (i.e. I don't actually know - I'm just looking at indicative gaps in the Telarah-Islington segment) - outside of an hour of two of peak period, you probably have a spare two paths per hour available per direction - say thirty paths per day per direction available now in the "slug fish tank" bit. Currently, passenger plus freight there's say fifteen services per day per direction heading north of Telarah? There might be an issue with when those paths are available (because perhaps you want to run all your extra services in the "peak" period), but as a thumbsuck - you'd probably be looking at doubling the number of utilised paths before you start to look at significantly boosting capacity from Telarah to Islington (before that point I suspect you would have hit limits to the north of Telarah and you aren't going to fit many more services further south than Broadmeadow).

ATMS gives you bidirectional signalling without less hassle where you don't currently have it. There's also the relaxation of the tie between physical signalling block size and train speed/mass.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Ok lets assume ATMS is in place as of today between Goulburn , Joppa Jct actually , and Yass . Two low performance trains leave each location at the same time but after 30 minutes faster trains follow on and catch them in short order .
Please tell me how ATMS will make any improvement to the plights of the fast trains following the slow ones . There are no remotely controlled crossovers to allow Bi Di running and if the "controllers" were stupid enough to do it from either end there would be opposing movements .

Islington Jct - Telarah .
Big issue is that the double line ends just north of Telarah platform and - you guessed it - Telarah platform is on the up main line so bendy bus blocks up main from arrival to departure .
There is room to have a dead end platform road on the other side of the platform so the NCR isn't blocked by parked fish tank but that's apparently too hard .
Isso end for up freighters . It starts with a busy level crossing and turns you to the right at 25km/h (yes in 2014) and 98% of the time you are routed through Broadmeadow Yard at 25km/h . The icing on the cake is the 25/km/h junction at the south end of Broady Yard and you block the up and down mains to Sydney going out that end . Einstein can tell you that long freight trains take considerable time to clear each of these areas at 25 km/h - but not the 10 -20 minutes it takes for the all stations bendy slug to turn up . Once clear of Isso or Maitland the superfreighters blow the doors of bendy slugs running times - and maybe that's the issue - NSW Trains struggling to save face .
You would cut considerable distance and time off the Fassifern to Dungog leg , and all those stone age junction low speeds , if the direct link existed but that's another story .
But do note that ATMS won't get you through any of these sections any faster because the issue is again a slow train leading faster ones , plus I'm reliably informed that ATMS doesn't significantly increase junction speeds either for some unknown reason .
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
How does ATMS know which track of a double tracked line a train is on.
GPS accuracy at best is only 5 M and can be a lot worse depending on how many satellites are visible at the time.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
ATMS doesn't provide you with additional physical infrastructure - but it lets you use the existing infrastructure (and any new infrastructure that you happen to build) more effectively.  (It also isn't going to change maximum speed through a junction - that's again is more a function of the physical design of the junction, but in giving a more "real-time" communication of authority to the driver than line side signalling it may allow more timely approach to junctions where the driver would otherwise be preparing to stop.  But we've been here before.  It's not a magic bullet and I'm not pretending it will be, but it will help.)

You can look at the committed train plan for that section to get a feeling for how likely your scenario is to eventuate - obviously the more likely it is to happen, the more transit time minutes saved, the better the argument.  Per direction I can see perhaps two or three services a day where a fast train might get to run down a slow train.  Both directions at once doesn't look very likely.  Here are my standard disclaimers - this is just by inspection, not by detailed consideration, a plan is just a plan, and most plans never turn out like they were planned - so perhaps circumstances conspire to make this happens more often than indicated - I don't know - but you're clearly not in the situation where you are routinely trying to thread large numbers of mixed capability trains down that section of line.  Perhaps it makes sense to spend money on today, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in ten years - I don't know.

A terminating passenger set sitting at Telarah blocks the up main, but there's been a short passing loop there for a few years now (or a long one there for many more years) to allow south bound services to get past.  I suspect (so subject to correction) the only reason a south bound freighter would be held north of Telarah is because if they let it past then the passenger set would eventually run the freighter down - perhaps while the freighter was trying to get into Broadmeadow.  

(There was some discussion around delay associated with access to Broadmeadow as part of the justification for the NSFC related Hexham passing loop.  To me that justification was worded more around spaces to hold freight trains in Broadmeadow yard and further south rather than conflicts getting into the yard, but I would have thought Broadmeadow yard itself had plenty of space - so that doesn't quite make sense to me.)

We're all off topic, but much of this stuff (and you can pull inland rail in too in the bigger picture) is linked together in various ways anyway.  Perhaps we should be talking about the north of sydney stuff in the NSFC thread in Infrastructure and leave this thread for the shorter term TSR issues.

MD - you can use the existing track circuits and perhaps things like track side beacons to get very specific about where a train is.  Plus, if the points are set for a certain line (which the signalling system will know about) then the train had better go that way, or you have far bigger problems than knowing which line it is on.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Ok lets assume ATMS is in place as of today between Goulburn , Joppa Jct actually , and Yass . Two low performance trains leave each location at the same time but after 30 minutes faster trains follow on and catch them in short order .
Please tell me how ATMS will make any improvement to the plights of the fast trains following the slow ones . There are no remotely controlled crossovers to allow Bi Di running and if the "controllers" were stupid enough to do it from either end there would be opposing movements .

Islington Jct - Telarah .
Big issue is that the double line ends just north of Telarah platform and - you guessed it - Telarah platform is on the up main line so bendy bus blocks up main from arrival to departure .
There is room to have a dead end platform road on the other side of the platform so the NCR isn't blocked by parked fish tank but that's apparently too hard .
Isso end for up freighters . It starts with a busy level crossing and turns you to the right at 25km/h (yes in 2014) and 98% of the time you are routed through Broadmeadow Yard at 25km/h . The icing on the cake is the 25/km/h junction at the south end of Broady Yard and you block the up and down mains to Sydney going out that end . Einstein can tell you that long freight trains take considerable time to clear each of these areas at 25 km/h - but not the 10 -20 minutes it takes for the all stations bendy slug to turn up . Once clear of Isso or Maitland the superfreighters blow the doors of bendy slugs running times - and maybe that's the issue - NSW Trains struggling to save face .
You would cut considerable distance and time off the Fassifern to Dungog leg , and all those stone age junction low speeds , if the direct link existed but that's another story .
But do note that ATMS won't get you through any of these sections any faster because the issue is again a slow train leading faster ones , plus I'm reliably informed that ATMS doesn't significantly increase junction speeds either for some unknown reason .
BDA

Firstly, I agree that ATMS will not do much for capacity on the South, and I think it will do even less between Adelaide and Port Augusta where opposing trains will have to wait in a siding until the section is clear. You might get extra capacity if you were able to "fleet" trains in either direction and run two or three trains in each section.

As to Maitland - Newcastle, there are four tracks with some bidirectional running allowed. But two tracks are effectively reserved for the extensive coal traffic that keeps Pacific National profitable. If PN were willing to delay their coal trains, they could let their container trains through on those roads clear of the passenger trains.

Remember that Sydney Trains own all four tracks, even if they are leased to ARTC and passenger priority applies because of this. The XPTs and Explorers make it through the slower traffic pretty well. But Newcastle is a big city and every passenger on the Hunters and Endeavours is a voter or a potential voter, but, of course containers don't get a vote.

M636C
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
If PN were willing to delay their coal trains, they could let their container trains through on those roads clear of the passenger trains.
M636C

The organisations that end up actually paying for the access to the coal lines might get rather cranky with PN if they actually did that.
  M636C Minister for Railways

The organisations that end up actually paying for the access to the coal lines might get rather cranky with PN if they actually did that.
donttellmywife

But PN won't do it because they make more from the coal than the container traffic (maybe not per tonne, but overall).

In fact the Maitland Newcastle section would carry the heaviest traffic of any state system and the passenger trains aren't the problem.

A fifth track wouldn't go astray, since unloading delays tend to leave coal trains parked on the up coal line for most of its length. Once the terminals catch up, the volume shipped goes up again.

M636C
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
My experience is that crossing too or from the coal roads , again on 25 km/h crossovers , takes more time than it's worth but we do run on them from time to time . In fact on one occasion I ran Bi Di on the down coal road to run around an up coal train .
M if you wanted to be pedantic you could say at times there are more votes in those containers than there are bums in these bendy busses but if you're a customer in Melbourne or Brisbane you vote doesn't count does it .
Also I once asked a loaded coal hopper if it had the vote which it didn't , and didn't feel like throwing itself in front of a race horse either .
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
If you look at how the double track in Victoria between Seymour and Wodonga is arranged, its bi di track all the way
but its signalled as if its normal double track , ie the west line is used for down trains and the East line for up trains.
The lines can be reversed or can both be down or up, but in the reversed case the block sections are far longer, ie
Seymour to Benalla is 1 section , as is Benalla to Wang and Wang to Wodonga.
So for normal running , the track is signalled for 15 minutes train spacing, but can be used as bi di track with much longer train spacing.
Harden to Yass and Yass to Goulburn is where this sort of thing would have some benefit for very little cost,as both are basically uphill all the way
until you get to Cullerin.
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

If you look at how the double track in Victoria between Seymour and Wodonga is arranged, its bi di track all the way
but its signalled as if its normal double track , ie the west line is used for down trains and the East line for up trains.
The lines can be reversed or can both be down or up, but in the reversed case the block sections are far longer, ie
Seymour to Benalla is 1 section , as is Benalla to Wang and Wang to Wodonga.
So for normal running , the track is signalled for 15 minutes train spacing, but can be used as bi di track with much longer train spacing.
Harden to Yass and Yass to Goulburn is where this sort of thing would have some benefit for very little cost,as both are basically uphill all the way
until you get to Cullerin.
MD

So the best option is to get rid of loss making passenger trains so that money making freights have a good run. Replace the trains with decent buses and make better use of the new highways which Abbott seems to want to spend a lot of money on. Or if people want to travel by train, their choice should be reflected in higher fares and then they would see air travel as far more attractive.

In the USA AMTRAK is reasonably expensive to travel, particularly the long distance trains such as the Empire Builder, Chief and Zephyr. However, those trains are held up for freight trains. Easier over there as the railroads own their own tracks. But it does indicate where priorities should be. They make their money out of freight, and that is why passenger trains are largely irrelevant in the USA.

Passenger trains here are just a political football. If the pollies did not think they get some votes out of them then passenger trains would disappear very quickly. I am not referring to routes that have high passengers densities, but rural routes that have light passenger loads. The only runs with high passenger densities are suburban and some urban runs. All XPT services only cart around concession fare holders so transferring those passengers to buses would be a good move. Probably quicker too and much cheaper.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Close to impossible to get rid of the XPT services, as country pass trains are still seen as some kind of essential service which the Govt has to provide.
Might be possible to reduce the services a bit ,or change the train type to Xplorers, but thats about all you can hope for.
Rescheduling the freights , so that there is less interaction with the pass train schedules is about the only hope.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
If you look at how the double track in Victoria between Seymour and Wodonga is arranged, its bi di track all the way
but its signalled as if its normal double track , ie the west line is used for down trains and the East line for up trains.
The lines can be reversed or can both be down or up, but in the reversed case the block sections are far longer, ie
Seymour to Benalla is 1 section , as is Benalla to Wang and Wang to Wodonga.
So for normal running , the track is signalled for 15 minutes train spacing, but can be used as bi di track with much longer train spacing.
Harden to Yass and Yass to Goulburn is where this sort of thing would have some benefit for very little cost,as both are basically uphill all the way
until you get to Cullerin.
MD


It would be interesting to know often those bi di arrangements are used for general operations as opposed to track work. If you have conflicting traffic someone is going to be disappointed. Probably been modeled by ARTC anyway.

The present guvmnt isn't inclined to throw money at rail 'problems'. I have no doubt BDA's experiences happen. How often? How significant overall? Someone would want to crunch the numbers Shocked

If things where that bad, the guvmnt should seriously ask ARTC to lay down the law with operators. Don't turn up within a reasonable time then tough lose your path. Don't exit a section within a reasonable time for no good reason, provide ARTC with a resolution strategy which is enforceable with monetary or operational penalties.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
The Bi Di gets used every day at Goulburn and Yass to get the Xs on the town side platforms .
I've run round Wheaties at Yass often enough and occasionally at Harden , this is when control remembers to pull them up .

The black gap between Yass and Goulburn - 318km to 225km - will continue to be a problem while ever low hp/tonne ratio trains run up that section .
No doubt in days of old there was the opportunity to run through slow trains at places like Jerrawa , Gunning , Fish River and Razor Back siding . Probably Bredalbin as well .
Obviously the people who built the double track alignment knew that a section of 93 km with tight curves and long grades was too long . Refuges existed in those days but being too short for todays trains have been removed .
The modern cheap approach is to add controlled crossovers and signals and use either main as a passing loop .

The Victorian experience is basically 15 minute headways meaning a pathetic four trains an hour . To put this into perspective if the track speed was 60 km/h the next train is 15 km away . If it's 100 old mates 25 km away . That's in the right running direction because it's 60 minute plus headways going Bi Di .
Wonder what genius thinks this is good asset utilisation .
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The Victorian experience is basically 15 minute headways meaning a pathetic four trains an hour . To put this into perspective if the track speed was 60 km/h the next train is 15 km away . If it's 100 old mates 25 km away . That's in the right running direction because it's 60 minute plus headways going Bi Di .
Wonder what genius thinks this is good asset utilisation .
BDA

At the risk of harping on - ATMS helps fix that*.

Asset utilisation typically refers to actual use, not potential capacity.





*  If it works.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Yes and with 4 trains or 14 , are they going to get there any sooner if they can't get round the first train ?
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
What exactly does a Rail freight operator get for their money when buying a train path?
Does ARTC guarantee that the train will be allowed to run on that train path, and wont be put away to allow a late running XPT to overtake.
With BDAs scenario of a slow train being put in front of a fast one , its necessary to know why this is happening.
Is it because the slow train operator has paid more money for their train path, and thus get priority.
If a freight train gets to Sydney late after leaving Melbourne on time , and is delayed for no fault of the freight trains operator, does ARTC refund their access charge?
Is it time to abolish train paths altogether.
Rail infrastructure is expensive to build.
Its lunacy to try and run all the freight trains in a small window of the day, and then try and build the infrastructure to cope with that demand.
If you applied the same logic to Sydney airport, and all the airlines wanted to just operate their planes just between the hours of 2 PM to 7 Pm , you would need
about 10 runways.
Rail operation between Sydney and Melb isn't uniform and there are periods of the day when for hours on end you wont see a single freight train, and then later on you see a lot all in a short time frame.
.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Just as an example , to use BDAs example of Yass to Goulburn for up trains , here is the list of a days worth of trains
from ARTCs MTP, for Wednesday.
3529 grain
3MB4 Intermodal
8926n grain
PS6 Intermodal
3920N grain
PS7 Intermodal
XW4 steel
3928N grain
ST24 XPT
MC1 Intermodal
3930 grain
AB6 Interm
MC2 Interm
MB2 Interm
3922N grain
PS6 Interm
MB7 Interm
ST22 Xpt


Total 18 Trains.
Over a 24 hour period that's an average of less than 1 train an hour.
Don't need double track for that, let alone more passing refuges.
The problem is the scheduling.
Have a look at the MTP and you will see why.

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