NE SG line, post gauge conversion

 
  woodford Chief Commissioner

The latest publication from the ARTC suggests they have nearly finished the job. Is that true?
Duncs

Do not know but I would not be a bit surprised if it was nearly finished, the Albury train is rarely late these days and the ride is generally good to very good. There is STILL ballast being stockpiled at various points along the line, this though is very likely for use of the lines maintence team as the line is fairly well traveled with some very heavy axle load trains.

woodford

Sponsored advertisement

  woodford Chief Commissioner

Note: I was quite suprised on how good the improved the ride, neither line was very good but the West line (the old BG), was in an a VERY pathetic condition, I mean its was awfull.

woodford
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
http://www.artc.com.au/projects/brp/chronology/

This notes that as of June 2016, ballast maintenance will be transitioned to standard maintenance teams.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

On another thread I notice some criticsm of ARTC's handling of the Albury line, now as some may be aware I kept a close eye on both the regauging and the early part of the ballast rehabilitation program. I must say I believe this critcism is unfair.

Overall I was very impressed with ARTC's handling of both projects my only criticism is on the signalling. ARTC was going to install NSW signalling along the line and did NOT ask for the required permission from Victoria. This caused nearly a years delay while additional funding and the new signalling was ordered.



A VERY IMPORTANT POINT........................ THIS MEANS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The regauging NEVER was a track upgraded, I will repeat that, the regauging NEVER was a track up graded.............................

Hmmmmmmmmmmm now did I mention the regauging was not a track up grade.............. I believe I did!!
The regauging was not a track upgrade!



The regauging was just that a regauging no provision mas made for a track base upgrade. What was done was............

regauge the old BG (West line) and fit new concrete sleepers (Note 1),

redo all bridges, this included replacing the decks on around 75% of the timber deck bridges with new steel decks,

replace all track circuit level crossing warning systems with speed predictive controlers (USA made Harmon controlers were used)

Completely replace the signalling, the lines now use bidirectional Victoran standard signalling, and both lines regulary have trains in both directions.

All switching has backup power systems in case of mains failure, (the signaling and level crossing use the lines original lead acid back up batteries).

Note 1: Bridges's retaining the lines original steel beams retained the use of timber sleepers.


The ballast problems had two causes, both of these were outside of ARTC's control and there fixing was NOT part of the regauging. The problem with the West line came from Victoria putting no maintence into the BG track for more than 20 years, by the time the BG service was suspended the line was in an appalling state, with over 75% of the sleepers performing no function at all.

The old SG ballast problems originate from when the line was built, the build being to a very low standard with a lot of drainage problems, the reason why major problems did not originate sooner was the line had regular maintence crews around. The rot set in as soon as these dissapeared.  ARTC to there great credit has put an enormouse amount of work trying to correct this.

woodford
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

Hi Woodford

Another excellent post, thank you. You mentioned earlier that there are now only four unprotected level crossings remaining. Have heard from your contacts as to when they will be upgraded? I am assuming that as they are minor roads, they won't need boom gates, but just warning lights, bells and perhaps rumble strips.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

Hi Woodford

Another excellent post, thank you. You mentioned earlier that there are now only four unprotected level crossings remaining. Have heard from your contacts as to when they will be upgraded? I am assuming that as they are minor roads, they won't need boom gates, but just warning lights, bells and perhaps rumble strips.
Duncs
With two tracks and bi directional running  any lx protection either on unprotected crossings or existing crossings with flashing lights will be  boom barriers .

The Victorian 3 position colour light signalling was always going to be retained, as the NSW system is the odd man out by both Australian and International standards.  The protracted delay in installing the new signalling system was to do with Victoria and  ARTC reaching agreement re overlaps  etc  at potential  collision points .  ARTC have one set of standards and Victoria has another which is bit more conservative .  The tracks between  Seymour and  Wodonga are signalled with 20 minute headways with Down tarins  designed to use the West Line and Up trains the East Line .  However bi directional signalling is installed on both tracks with intermediate crossovers provided at Wangaratta and Benalla .  Under left hand running conditions trains can follow at 20 minute intervals. Under right hand running conditions any train running in the reverse (to normal) direction can only be one train at time in the sections  Wodonga - Wangaratta, Wangaratta - Benalla and Benalla - Seymour .
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

Hi Kuldalai

Thanks for that. But I have seen crossings with just flashing lights and bells (no boom barrier) on lot of single tracks where trains obviously run in both directions. Given we are talking about some very minor roads here, I would have though lights and bells would be quite sufficient..
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
On another thread I notice some criticsm of ARTC's handling of the Albury line, now as some may be aware I kept a close eye on both the re-gauging and the early part of the ballast rehabilitation program. I must say I believe this critcism is unfair.




A VERY IMPORTANT POINT........................ THIS MEANS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The re-gauging NEVER was a track upgraded, I will repeat that, the regauging NEVER was a track up graded.............................

Hmmmmmmmmmmm now did I mention the regauging was not a track up grade.............. I believe I did!!
The regauging was not a track upgrade!

The regauging was just that a regauging no provision mas made for a track base upgrade. What was done was............

regauge the old BG (West line) and fit new concrete sleepers (Note 1),

Woodford
woodford


In my opinion that's a silly comment...and feel free readers to dislike this all you wish....you can only do it once ExclamationLaughing

ARTC knew before they started that the track base was stuffed..yet, without renewing the drainage and by using the cheap  'side insertion' of the sleepers they should have been able to forecast the inevitable mud-holes.

By not renewing the track base they had no bed for the sleepers and the consequence was trains breaking apart due to the shocking state the track had become.

The RFR works, where concrete sleepers were used was a new track base first, including proper drainage then lots of ballast before the sleepers...

ARTC by laying new and very heavy concrete sleepers on a lousy track bed with destroyed drainage was like building a house without foundations...it's simply not sustainable long term.

Mike.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

On another thread I notice some criticsm of ARTC's handling of the Albury line, now as some may be aware I kept a close eye on both the re-gauging and the early part of the ballast rehabilitation program. I must say I believe this critcism is unfair.




A VERY IMPORTANT POINT........................ THIS MEANS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The re-gauging NEVER was a track upgraded, I will repeat that, the regauging NEVER was a track up graded.............................

Hmmmmmmmmmmm now did I mention the regauging was not a track up grade.............. I believe I did!!
The regauging was not a track upgrade!

The regauging was just that a regauging no provision mas made for a track base upgrade. What was done was............

regauge the old BG (West line) and fit new concrete sleepers (Note 1),

Woodford


In my opinion that's a silly comment...and feel free readers to dislike this all you wish....you can only do it once ExclamationLaughing

ARTC knew before they started that the track base was stuffed..yet, without renewing the drainage and by using the cheap  'side insertion' of the sleepers they should have been able to forecast the inevitable mud-holes.

By not renewing the track base they had no bed for the sleepers and the consequence was trains breaking apart due to the shocking state the track had become.

The RFR works, where concrete sleepers were used was a new track base first, including proper drainage then lots of ballast before the sleepers...

ARTC by laying new and very heavy concrete sleepers on a lousy track bed with destroyed drainage was like building a house without foundations...it's simply not sustainable long term.

Mike.
The Vinelander


Any one can believe what they wish, it no longer worries me, but........................

The NE regauging was a special project set up by the national government ARTC was only given enough funds to do thework I mentioned. They did not have the spare funds to do anything else. They were just supposed to shift one rail in 6.5 inchs.
This created a good number of issues, here is one of them.
THe BG line through Benalla skewed side ways into the  platform from where the old switching used to be, the loco drivers where stunned when they heard this and said to ARTC something like "You mean we are going to have slow a 2000 ton freight down to 50kph just to go through Benalla". ARTC said yes, the drivers then said this is not acceptable, ARTC to there credit had to drum up the funds to redo the base including change the level crossing and the layout of the switching to enable the freights to maintain line speed. This DID cause them quite a bit of grief as they did not have even that much (around one million dolllars) spare cash, doubtlessly some other work got cancelled to enable this to proceed.

Why is it so difficult to understand the problem railways have in Australia is largely caused by under funding?

Second point,

The side insertion method DID NOT DAMAGE THE BASE, I repeat, THE SIDE INSERTION METHOD DID NO DAMAGE TO THE BASE. I particularly kept a good look out for this and they (the reguaging teams) gave me the scope to get a close look. The ballast depth one they old BG was nearly 12 inchs deep below the sleepers, the machine operaters were keenly aware not to damage the base and they did not. I have personaly inspected the West lines track base dozens of times and there is never a sign of any damage

The mudholes were due as I said to poor maintence and poor original track laying.

I tried my best to give accurate unbiased reports if in the end the readers prejudices will not let them believe them that IS there loss.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Post script to the above design change at Benalla caused by de skewying the West line. This DID cause a lot grief because ARTC's engineering staff were not aware the Broken River bridge was a good deal more than a metre above the level crossing and as all three turnouts CANNOT be on a vertical curve, they did not fit between the bridge and the level crossing. It appears originally standard 80kph turnouts were used.  This was finally solved after quite a bit of "tooing and frowing" by fitting a 500 metre radius turnout (instead of the 2000 metre original) for the Oaklands line.

All this was not helped at the time by the Victorian governemet had not yet signed off on the Oaklands line, so ARTC took a punt that they would sign off.

I can tell you there was an awfull lot of heated words being thrown around over this whole shooting match, as far as I am concerned it did show ARTC does actually really care about the track.

woodford
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

Well said Woodford. I looked back over your photo gallery and it is clear that the side insertion was done properly.

Mike, for the RFR (in your case the Ballarat line) the original track was totally incapable of the 160kph line speeds envisaged, so it had to be completely replaced. I respectfully suggest you are getting these two examples confused. As Woodford has repeatedly, and correctly, pointed out. We have two totally different situations that occurred here.

If the original ballast on the NE line had been maintained properly, (especially the original BG line) we would not be having this discussion. The ATRC were only told (and resourced) to do a gauge conversion. Yes it would have been better if they have been allowed to totally replace the track, but we are where we are, and they have done a pretty good job in difficult circumstances.

Duncs
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

Hi Kuldalai

Thanks for that. But I have seen crossings with just flashing lights and bells (no boom barrier) on lot of single tracks where trains obviously run in both directions. Given we are talking about some very minor roads here, I would have though lights and bells would be quite sufficient..
Duncs
Those crossings with flashing lights only are quite old and the standard now is any new installations are boom barriers.
Following the V/Locity v Lorry full of marble slab at  Trawalla incident, the standard basically now is for DMU operation over 80kmh then boom barrier protection at virtually all roads .
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

Hi Kuldalai

Thanks for that. But I have seen crossings with just flashing lights and bells (no boom barrier) on lot of single tracks where trains obviously run in both directions. Given we are talking about some very minor roads here, I would have though lights and bells would be quite sufficient..
Those crossings with flashing lights only are quite old and the standard now is any new installations are boom barriers.
Following the V/Locity v Lorry full of marble slab at  Trawalla incident, the standard basically now is for DMU operation over 80kmh then boom barrier protection at virtually all roads .
kuldalai
OK Thanks for that
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Hi Kuldalai

Thanks for that. But I have seen crossings with just flashing lights and bells (no boom barrier) on lot of single tracks where trains obviously run in both directions. Given we are talking about some very minor roads here, I would have though lights and bells would be quite sufficient..
Those crossings with flashing lights only are quite old and the standard now is any new installations are boom barriers.
Following the V/Locity v Lorry full of marble slab at  Trawalla incident, the standard basically now is for DMU operation over 80kmh then boom barrier protection at virtually all roads .
kuldalai
The recent install of a new level crossing warning system I mentioned was a boom barrier install, although it was on a little used road. Note, two of the level crossing left with only signs are VERY seldom used paddock access points, its likely the track maintence crews use these most.

woodford
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Hi Kuldalai

Thanks for that. But I have seen crossings with just flashing lights and bells (no boom barrier) on lot of single tracks where trains obviously run in both directions. Given we are talking about some very minor roads here, I would have though lights and bells would be quite sufficient..
Duncs
Kuldalia said "With two tracks and bi directional running  any lx protection either on unprotected crossings or existing crossings with flashing lights will be  boom barriers ."

I believe the standard is for Boom gates where there are two tracks.

This very point was seen in Port Augusta when Government grants (Bi-centennial project) paid for the NG Pichi Richi Railway extension from Stirling North into Port Augusta. (Which runs parallel to the SG line) The operation of the NG line was delayed for a number of months because the grant did NOT cover the installation of boom gates at three level crossings in Port Augusta (which were flashing lights only).
PRR had to try and come up with the money to have them installed!
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

Hi Kuldalai

Thanks for that. But I have seen crossings with just flashing lights and bells (no boom barrier) on lot of single tracks where trains obviously run in both directions. Given we are talking about some very minor roads here, I would have though lights and bells would be quite sufficient..
Those crossings with flashing lights only are quite old and the standard now is any new installations are boom barriers.
Following the V/Locity v Lorry full of marble slab at  Trawalla incident, the standard basically now is for DMU operation over 80kmh then boom barrier protection at virtually all roads .
The recent install of a new level crossing warning system I mentioned was a boom barrier install, although it was on a little used road. Note, two of the level crossing left with only signs are VERY seldom used paddock access points, its likely the track maintence crews use these most.

woodford
woodford
The maintenance crews would have a detailed timetable of train movements, and the train drivers would have been briefed about their presence.

BTW is there a significant cost difference between having boom barriers and just having warning bells and flashing lights?
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
BTW is there a significant cost difference between having boom barriers and just having warning bells and flashing lights?
"Duncs"


Yes there is, boom barriers can more than double (or triple) the cost of a level crossing installation.
Even with an upgrade from lights only to boom barriers means that crossing trip points have to be moved further along the line as a boom system takes longer to operate.
Because Boom barriers are motorised, the crossing requires more power to be consumed, so back up battery systems need to be increased considerably in comparison to light only crossings.
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

BTW is there a significant cost difference between having boom barriers and just having warning bells and flashing lights?


Yes there is, boom barriers can more than double (or triple) the cost of a level crossing installation.
Even with an upgrade from lights only to boom barriers means that crossing trip points have to be moved further along the line as a boom system takes longer to operate.
Because Boom barriers are motorised, the crossing requires more power to be consumed, so back up battery systems need to be increased considerably in comparison to light only crossings.
Pressman
Thanks for that info Pressman

For these little used crossings, I therefore suggest warning bells and lights will be enough.

But obviously for more frequently used crossings, the full set up (including boom barriers) would be required.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

BTW is there a significant cost difference between having boom barriers and just having warning bells and flashing lights?


Yes there is, boom barriers can more than double (or triple) the cost of a level crossing installation.
Even with an upgrade from lights only to boom barriers means that crossing trip points have to be moved further along the line as a boom system takes longer to operate.
Because Boom barriers are motorised, the crossing requires more power to be consumed, so back up battery systems need to be increased considerably in comparison to light only crossings.
Pressman
As far as I am aware no standby batteries were changed when boom barriers were fitted, the probable reason for this is all sites appeared to be fittted with 12v 200AH batteries, and the current drain was less than 4 amps so thats around 50 hours of backup, also all signalling (certainly in the past) was designed to use the minimum of power and I do mean minimum.

woodford
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

Hi Kuldalai

Thanks for that. But I have seen crossings with just flashing lights and bells (no boom barrier) on lot of single tracks where trains obviously run in both directions. Given we are talking about some very minor roads here, I would have though lights and bells would be quite sufficient..
Those crossings with flashing lights only are quite old and the standard now is any new installations are boom barriers.
Following the V/Locity v Lorry full of marble slab at  Trawalla incident, the standard basically now is for DMU operation over 80kmh then boom barrier protection at virtually all roads .
The recent install of a new level crossing warning system I mentioned was a boom barrier install, although it was on a little used road. Note, two of the level crossing left with only signs are VERY seldom used paddock access points, its likely the track maintence crews use these most.

woodford
woodford
In the case of farm access crossings the recent practice on both the Echuca and Ararat lines has been to install what are termed as frangible gates .  Effectively these are fixed metal gates which are supposed to normally be locked against road traffic and open for rail traffic .  Before any movement of farm machinery etc over the crossing the person is supposed to ring Centrol and find out if there are any trains about .  The person may then open the gate cross the line, and is then supposed to close and lock the gates again against road traffic .  The wording of the instructions is really weird weasel words in that Centrol advice as to whether there are trains about or not, does not necessarily grant athority to cross the tracks.  My last two trips to Echuca, both sets of frangible gates on that line were locked back and raod tarffic was free to cross at any time, in contravention of the instructions.  So appears the locals are observing the safet instructions in the breach .
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

Hi Kuldalai

Thanks for that. But I have seen crossings with just flashing lights and bells (no boom barrier) on lot of single tracks where trains obviously run in both directions. Given we are talking about some very minor roads here, I would have though lights and bells would be quite sufficient..
Kuldalia said "With two tracks and bi directional running  any lx protection either on unprotected crossings or existing crossings with flashing lights will be  boom barriers ."

I believe the standard is for Boom gates where there are two tracks.

This very point was seen in Port Augusta when Government grants (Bi-centennial project) paid for the NG Pichi Richi Railway extension from Stirling North into Port Augusta. (Which runs parallel to the SG line) The operation of the NG line was delayed for a number of months because the grant did NOT cover the installation of boom gates at three level crossings in Port Augusta (which were flashing lights only).
PRR had to try and come up with the money to have them installed!
Pressman
All Victorian lx installations now are boom barriers on double or single tracks.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

BTW is there a significant cost difference between having boom barriers and just having warning bells and flashing lights?


Yes there is, boom barriers can more than double (or triple) the cost of a level crossing installation.
Even with an upgrade from lights only to boom barriers means that crossing trip points have to be moved further along the line as a boom system takes longer to operate.
Because Boom barriers are motorised, the crossing requires more power to be consumed, so back up battery systems need to be increased considerably in comparison to light only crossings.
Pressman
The warning time for  flashing lights and boom barriers is similar at 25 - 30 seconds .  The extra track circuitry comes into play on double lines in that one needs an outer holding track circuit .

Ignoring predictors, on a single line the track is circuited back to give a warning time of 30 seconds based on the maximum line speed. So for 100kmh the track circuit starts 1.7kms back from the crossing. With flashing lights this gives 30 seconds min warning time till the train reaches crossing, and with booms lights flash ten seconds, booms descent 10 seconds and minimum 5 seconds till train then reaches crossing .

On double track with booms with this circuitry alone the situation can arise where the booms would rise after the first train, only to start operating again after as little as a few seconds for a second train .  To prevent this happening the booms must be up for 30 seconds after train 1, or the booms will stay down for the second train .

This is achieved by installing an outer holding circuit on each approach going out in this case a further 1.7kms .  If a second train hits the approach holding circuit while train 1 is operating the crossing then the booms will stay down till the second train has cleared the crossing .
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

BTW is there a significant cost difference between having boom barriers and just having warning bells and flashing lights?


Yes there is, boom barriers can more than double (or triple) the cost of a level crossing installation.
Even with an upgrade from lights only to boom barriers means that crossing trip points have to be moved further along the line as a boom system takes longer to operate.
Because Boom barriers are motorised, the crossing requires more power to be consumed, so back up battery systems need to be increased considerably in comparison to light only crossings.
Thanks for that info Pressman

For these little used crossings, I therefore suggest warning bells and lights will be enough.

But obviously for more frequently used crossings, the full set up (including boom barriers) would be required.
Duncs
It doesnt matter what we think or suggest the Victorian standard is full boom barrier protection on all new level crossing installations and upgrades on double or single track .

In reality on a single track with good crossing visibilty and  low traffic volume, flashing lights offer a very good level of protection. Boom barriers become essential where visibility is restricted, train or road traffic volumes are high, and on double lines where a retreating tarin can hide the approach of a second train .

Likewise the Victorian standard of total grade separation on all new lines, should be more flexible in that in selected cases protected level crossings would be quite acceptable .
  woodford Chief Commissioner

BTW is there a significant cost difference between having boom barriers and just having warning bells and flashing lights?


Yes there is, boom barriers can more than double (or triple) the cost of a level crossing installation.
Even with an upgrade from lights only to boom barriers means that crossing trip points have to be moved further along the line as a boom system takes longer to operate.
Because Boom barriers are motorised, the crossing requires more power to be consumed, so back up battery systems need to be increased considerably in comparison to light only crossings.


Ignoring predictors, on a single line the track is circuited back to give a warning time of 30 seconds based on the maximum line speed. So for 100kmh the track circuit starts 1.7kms back .........................
kuldalai

Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, we are talking about the NE line here, it ONLY uses predictors, made by Harmon. The distance of the individual controlers loop back is 6000ft (1829m), At 130kph this distance would be covered in 50 secs. I cannot now remember the warning time they used.

woodford
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
No need for offence Mr Woodford and I do enjoy your posts.

No bias here and I'll report this as it happened at that time...

Soon after the 2010 election that Ted Baillieu won, and the NE was at a very low point with the original mud-holes being repaired with tonnes of ballast to fill the holes, apparently not caused by a destroyed track bed or side insertion of the sleepers...but I digress.

My mate a senior driver of the Albury service on that day took the newly appointed Hon Terry Mulder as PT Minister to Albury and both were met by the Border-Mail newspaper and my mate after 40 years on the job...
Not being shy of a camera and not being backwards in coming forwards with comments about the rough riding of the new track also got his photo on to the front page as well and was reported as saying the track was still very bad and that several times as Hon Minister Mulder rode in the fireman's seat of the N Class loco he was almost physically thrown from the seat as the train was travelling at the speed as posted for that section of the track.

To 2016...Now we know the NE has been an ongoing saga and it took several years to iron out most of the mud-holes and it's possibly only because of the dry and hot Summer there aren't more of them...only time and the breaking of the dry spell will tell.

My comments are NOT at all about the signalling...though that too has issues when travelling on the opposite tracks due to the enormously long sections, but I am commenting on the condition of the track at that time...almost 6 years ago.

Mike.

Sponsored advertisement

Display from:   

Quick Reply

We've disabled Quick Reply for this thread as it was last updated more than six months ago.