Culcairn-Corowa Railway Revival, soon?

 
  Westby3026 Locomotive Driver

This is something of a suprise. The culcairn-Corowa branchline could very well get a new lease on life in the not so distant future.

And I'm not talking about a rail-trail.

I'm talking trains! Heritage/Tourist trains!

There is a group calling themselves the 'Culcairn-Corowa Heritage Railway' that are about to create an association that will (possibly) run trains on the mothballed line.

Personally, I think it will take quite a bit more then just craning a cph on the tracks and taking tours, as we all know negotiating insurance, usage rights, improving infrastructure (what's left) etc. is a massive job, but I am excited in what could happen just the same.

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  a6et Minister for Railways

This is something of a suprise. The culcairn-Corowa branchline could very well get a new lease on life in the not so distant future.

And I'm not talking about a rail-trail.

I'm talking trains! Heritage/Tourist trains!

There is a group calling themselves the 'Culcairn-Corowa Heritage Railway' that are about to create an association that will (possibly) run trains on the mothballed line.

Personally, I think it will take quite a bit more then just craning a cph on the tracks and taking tours, as we all know negotiating insurance, usage rights, improving infrastructure (what's left) etc. is a massive job, but I am excited in what could happen just the same.
Westby3026
Without wanting to put a damper on the operation, the question is how much of the line is being seriously considered for use?

Seriously speaking if the line which is in a large grain area is seen as not being viable for such services, I'm not too sure how succesful a heritage/tourist operation could survive in the area, especially given the distance from the major cities.

I am always in support of sensible rail retention & re-openings but another group - another line with another set of needs for finances is a big ask. If the propossal was on a more scenic area, closer to other groups meaning a combining of resourses could happen without set agenda's for their own pet projects would be a better optrion really.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Thank you for the post.

What makes rail uncompetitive when you have large grain movements ?

This is a question which boggles the mind. Road maintenance per tonne is much higher than rail maintenance per tonne.

Can't ever understand it.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Thank you for the post.

What makes rail uncompetitive when you have large grain movements ?

This is a question which boggles the mind. Road maintenance per tonne is much higher than rail maintenance per tonne.

Can't ever understand it.
freightgate
That is the eternal $$1m question isn't it?

While outdated a bit, do a google maps search & go along the line from Culcairn & there are some decent silo's along the line.  The old adage the was put in place when David Hill made the comment regarding several branch lines of "Low volumne wheat only lines are not viable" certainly applied when other grains were stopped from rail haulage as well as general freight.

Problem with the general freight though is that the are not many decent sized towns along the line to provide general freight.  Corowa also is a lot closer to Melbourne than Sydney & I think still served by rail which makes that end the most viable for freight services to the area.

The other aspect is the closeness of Albury - Wodonga which theoretically could have a rail service then road to Corowa, easy mainline to service compared to the old slower branch line
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
A short run from Corowa station (which I believe is in rather good order, tracks and all) . Proceeding 2 or 3 km northward to the edge of town, this should not be a difficult section of track to rehabilitate. It has quite a few level crossings but these should not present a great danger as speeds would be rather low.

This sort of operation has some chance of being viable .
  ivahri Train Controller

I would have thought that if such a venture was viable that Wahgunyah and the associated attraction of Rutherglen would have taken off. No offense intended but from Corowa for 3km and back is not going to appeal to many- there is bugger all to see... Surely if there is a dedicated bunch of rail enthusiasts wanting to run trains for the sake of running trains (as distinct from a tourist operation), then Albury is the logical place for it to be established... and yes I appreciate the hurdles and costs- but at least you actually have a live railway.

Cheers


Richard
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
3km will show the tourist nothing more than old buildings along the line and a few dirt road level crossings.

Currently there are fences across the line or the first 10 or so kms.

The line is in port shape. The station area is in good shape and well looked after being the information office.

The yard is there but points have been removed.

Two tracks cross the main road heading north but the crossing is long gone.
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
Yes Freightgate,

I did not describe it as a sure fire success but as an addition to the railway stations information centre. At least it is not too ridiculously ambitious. Running trains to Culcairn or so is, of course.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Hope field is around 12kms from corowa and would make sense to do.

There was a late grain silo at this location and a loop.

Makes you wider why grain is not being collected along this line as there are a few receival sites from memory.
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
It does surprise me that the grain haulage on the section Culcairn-Brocklesby was not continued as that was quite a large terminal.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
I have visited Thirlmere twice by special train, and there was more than enough of interest before the return journey.

Central to Thirlmere is not too long a trip.

Plus you could catch a train to CMIIAW Bargo with a say 4km walk or taxi trip to the Thirlmere Museum. (This road may not have a footpath).

Thirlmere also has a signal box of about 20 levers and will be hooked up to points and signals eventually.

It is unlikely that I could ever get to a Corowa museum as easily as Thirlmere. Also, don't spread museum resources too thinly.
  JoppaJunction Chief Train Controller

Location: Banned
It does surprise me that the grain haulage on the section Culcairn-Brocklesby was not continued as that was quite a large terminal.
Rodo

Was not aware that it had ceased.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Was not aware that it had ceased.
BenGibbons
While the ground level views on Google earth are outdated, the road crossing at Culcairn is covered over, also the line at Brokelsby has trees growing up.

Once off street view, which are generally only a year old show a lot of growth on the line, & several breaks, a large miningn operation near Walla Walla also appears to have encroached on the line.

One thing to notice though is the general state of the paddocks which indicate a reasonable size wheat harvest seemed to have been provided in 2014.
  johnboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Up the road from Gulgong
This is a question which boggles the mind. Road maintenance per tonne is much higher than rail maintenance per tonne.

Can't ever understand it.
freightgate
I can... "user pays". A company who wants to use a rail line has to pay for that rail line. Roads, used by 'everyone' is paid by the taxpayer. For the quantity being moved to certain distances and to certain locations in today's terms it is much cheaper for transport companies to use road in a lot of cases. If the rail was cheaper for them, we would have lines open everywhere.


Back to the subject, as there are many other more groups with a feasible tourist operation proposals and they can not get them going, I can't see how this fairly remote location will ever work. I can't see how they would fund it.

This line has been highlighted in rail-trail news a reasonable amount, including last week:
http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/2818166/future-proof-rail-before-we-start-trail-jackson-says/
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
A Culcairn-Corowa heritage railway is of course ridiculously ambitious. A short line for a very few km north of Corowa does not appear to be totally unfeasible and a rail trail beside the formation could be easily constructed. There is no point in constructing a rail trail north of Hopefield as there are numerous quiet roadways joining all the villages right through to Culcairn. These are highly suitable for walking and cycling.

The roadbed of this branchline should be kept intact, so in the future it could be relaid with heavier rail and used to haul out the vast amounts of grain cropped in the region.

Corowa is not exactly a remote location and quite a popular destination for day trips from Albury and Wangaratta.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Thank you for the post.

What makes rail uncompetitive when you have large grain movements ?

This is a question which boggles the mind. Road maintenance per tonne is much higher than rail maintenance per tonne.

Can't ever understand it.
freightgate
Generally speaking there can be alot of reasons.

For starters: Route distance for rail maybe excessive compared to road, speed of the line and axle load.

Both of these mean your expensive train with two drivers (plus track workers) has a higher hourly charge out rate per tonne of grain moved.

For example, a $10m train travelling at 100km/hr can do roughly twice the work than a $10m trains travelling at 50km/hr. Hence the slower trains must charge more for the work done to offset costs. Plus we have the added issue that the older rolling stock is being retired in recent years.
  Westby3026 Locomotive Driver

It's disappointinh that the people pushing for these lines to be closed by an act of parliament and turned into "trails" have no understanding of the history, one person in a local newspaper article said the line hadn't been used in 40 years. That's far from the truth. Once things like rail corridors are closed, they are gone for good.
  ivahri Train Controller

"Once things like rail corridors are closed, they are gone for good."

I've heard this mantra so many times and all I can say is "Are they?"

So the right of way to Camden from Campbelltown should have been preserved since 1963? Or how about the Castle Hill line from Westmead? What about Kurrajong?

Funny thing... technology evolves (unlike some rail enthusiasts) and what was an appropriate rail corridor 40 or 50 years ago probably will not be now. Castle Hill will see passenger trains again in a few years- not single carriage steam hauled trains that a cyclist could overtake, but a real train that actually may meet the needs of the current population, and not just the yearnings of a few dribblers... Tax payers are sick and tired of lunatic minority groups expecting public assets to be locked up AND maintained all just to satisfy you. If you don't want to put your hands in your own pockets to do something with the line don't expect the rest of NSW to do it for you.

Unless you know something about a dramatic rise in Corowa's population in coming years that will need a train service to Culcairn, or a large mining development that is going to fund the rebuilding of the line... wake up! It ain't going to happen!

Cheers


Richard
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
"Once things like rail corridors are closed, they are gone for good."

I've heard this mantra so many times and all I can say is "Are they?"

So the right of way to Camden from Campbelltown should have been preserved since 1963? Or how about the Castle Hill line from Westmead? What about Kurrajong?

Funny thing... technology evolves (unlike some rail enthusiasts) and what was an appropriate rail corridor 40 or 50 years ago probably will not be now. Castle Hill will see passenger trains again in a few years- not single carriage steam hauled trains that a cyclist could overtake, but a real train that actually may meet the needs of the current population, and not just the yearnings of a few dribblers... Tax payers are sick and tired of lunatic minority groups expecting public assets to be locked up AND maintained all just to satisfy you. If you don't want to put your hands in your own pockets to do something with the line don't expect the rest of NSW to do it for you.

Unless you know something about a dramatic rise in Corowa's population in coming years that will need a train service to Culcairn, or a large mining development that is going to fund the rebuilding of the line... wake up! It ain't going to happen!

Cheers


Richard
ivahri
Well said Richard.

On one hand, railway corridors are important because once they're gone, they're gone. However, this is a double-edged sword - just because a railway corridor exists, doesn't make it competitive. The irony is, by removing the windy steam-era rail corridor, then future freight tasks might see fit to build a railway corridor in keeping with the 21st century which makes rail competitive. People suggest we retain these railways for grain trains, but how does it benefit anyone to have a grain train slowly chugging around the hills, when a smart investment would be to build a straight line over/through the hills with grades that pose little problem to modern motive power? THAT is the kind of investment to keep trucks off roads, not windy branch lines with lightly laid track.
  a6et Minister for Railways

"Once things like rail corridors are closed, they are gone for good."

I've heard this mantra so many times and all I can say is "Are they?"

So the right of way to Camden from Campbelltown should have been preserved since 1963? Or how about the Castle Hill line from Westmead? What about Kurrajong?

Funny thing... technology evolves (unlike some rail enthusiasts) and what was an appropriate rail corridor 40 or 50 years ago probably will not be now. Castle Hill will see passenger trains again in a few years- not single carriage steam hauled trains that a cyclist could overtake, but a real train that actually may meet the needs of the current population, and not just the yearnings of a few dribblers... Tax payers are sick and tired of lunatic minority groups expecting public assets to be locked up AND maintained all just to satisfy you. If you don't want to put your hands in your own pockets to do something with the line don't expect the rest of NSW to do it for you.

Unless you know something about a dramatic rise in Corowa's population in coming years that will need a train service to Culcairn, or a large mining development that is going to fund the rebuilding of the line... wake up! It ain't going to happen!

Cheers


Richard
ivahri
Yes much of what you say is right, especially with the Rouse Hil line & likely the Corowa line which I had already pointed out.

I would disagree though with the Camden line though. Even when the line was closed the only real obstacle on that line was just one hil & the associated grade.  The electrification to Campbeltown ensured that whole area would be a future transport hub, already witht he SWRL about to open there are again calls for a line to Camden.

Even when the line was closed it was recognised as being short sighted, & sure the old Pansy services were adequate to a point for the line at that time but the whole region knew that it would become part of suburbia.  The old line upgraded could have served the area well at a fraction of the cost that it take if the Camden is ever to get a rail service again, & its still growing.
  Railway searcher Beginner

Location: The Entrance, New South Wales, Australia
"Once things like rail corridors are closed, they are gone for good."

I've heard this mantra so many times and all I can say is "Are they?"

So the right of way to Camden from Campbelltown should have been preserved since 1963? Or how about the Castle Hill line from Westmead? What about Kurrajong?

Funny thing... technology evolves (unlike some rail enthusiasts) and what was an appropriate rail corridor 40 or 50 years ago probably will not be now. Castle Hill will see passenger trains again in a few years- not single carriage steam hauled trains that a cyclist could overtake, but a real train that actually may meet the needs of the current population, and not just the yearnings of a few dribblers... Tax payers are sick and tired of lunatic minority groups expecting public assets to be locked up AND maintained all just to satisfy you. If you don't want to put your hands in your own pockets to do something with the line don't expect the rest of NSW to do it for you.

Unless you know something about a dramatic rise in Corowa's population in coming years that will need a train service to Culcairn, or a large mining development that is going to fund the rebuilding of the line... wake up! It ain't going to happen!

Cheers


Richard




Richard, your talking about 5-10 years ago, now all heritage groups have to provide their own maintenance to rail track, locos, carriages and infrastructure that they use, unless, there is a grant given for a specific purpose of heritage refurbishment, and insurance costs.
Heritage groups provide five valuable things, which are:-

firstly they provide volunteer work that if it were totalled would be over 100 million a year.

Secondly, many of the volunteers are retired rail workers themselves and are passing on their knowledge and experience to the younger members in the rail heritage groups.

Thirdly the groups provide activities for the public to do in its spare time,

Fourthly, they occupy the rail corridors and infrastructure that they use, and if it weren't occupied, then scum groups such as Rail-trail will walk in and burry the lines altogether, and the chance of getting the corridor back is extremely difficult.

Fifthly, I believe that the state rail is in a few decades of regression, but will soon enter a stage of revitalisation, which will be caused by financial/social demand such as the Culcairn-Corowa line, being of a harvest area.

This will be achieved by the consistent lowering of rail laying cost, along with corridors already existing, and the increase in passenger/freight demand.
The sleepers used now are environmentally friendly being concrete, and suppose to last 100 years!, so the government takes into account that upon rebuilding a line, maintenance is low!.

Negativity in the rail community only gives aggressive non-rail developers a chance to get their foot in the door!
Already many rail corridors around Australia have been lost, and the NSW community has to band together and say loudly "not in NSW".
I have nothing against them sharing a rail corridor, so long as there is no permanent building built, or the operation of heritage groups and the track/infrastructure impeded in anyway, nor communities that are fighting to have corridors re-instated!.
unfortunately there will always be developers that think they can just walk in and do what they want!, but the rail community could easily stop it if it wanted!
ivahri
  wurx Lithgovian Ambassador-at-Large

Location: The mystical lost principality of Daptovia
Thank you for the post.

What makes rail uncompetitive when you have large grain movements ?

This is a question which boggles the mind. Road maintenance per tonne is much higher than rail maintenance per tonne.

Can't ever understand it.
freightgate
Neither can I.

Of course, I'm sure that accidentally-on-purpose allowing the said line to deteriorate past a point where maintenance will be passed as economically viable by the bean counters, and the ever-powerful truck lobby, has nothing whatsoever to do with this.....

I have to say though, the idea of a revived and working Corowa branch, for whatever purpose is a lovely idea, putting momentarily aside the apparent impracticality of it all.
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Thank you for the post.

What makes rail uncompetitive when you have large grain movements ?

This is a question which boggles the mind. Road maintenance per tonne is much higher than rail maintenance per tonne.

Can't ever understand it.
freightgate
Cost. Plain and simple.

On average, for a grain train running at full load your profit is in the last 5-8 wagons. The moment you start consists shorter then full load for the locomotive power, then your profit is being eaten away.

Furthemore, additional costs to consider include:
- Track access
- Accreditation
- Wagon PM scheduling
- Employee skills maintenance
- Locomotive availability/economy

All of these add up. Additionally, unless your rail line is of such standard that you can load, unload and load again at rates comparable to trucks, then your never going to get ahead. Old sidings designed for short grainy's, old school loading set ups and congestion at bottleneck junctions all contribute to make trucks the more favourable choice.
The issue of bottlenecks is a good one. For example, say a truck driver finds a problem with his trailer- he waits on the side of the road to fix it. Compare this to say Cootamundra yard, where a wagon which is red carded during grain season:
- Needs to be shunted out
- Wait for available road to shunt onto
- Wait for access to the main line for the signal
- Hold up every other train waiting to use the yard.

A 15 minute shunt rapidly turns into a 2 hour affair, all the while trains are banking up across the network, incurring penalty fees which further strip away at your profit. Lets remember, I said earlier that if your running at less then full load, your giving away profit. That red carded wagons you removed just knocked 25% off your profit for that train alone, and you havent even left the yard!!!
  johnboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Up the road from Gulgong
...and a grain company does not have to worry about tonne/kilometre charge if they go by road. Costs much less for the amount to be moved.

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