New rail bridge over Avon river at Stratford

 
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
There are several railway bridges across the system that have harsh speed restrictions for G & BL class locomotives (like 30 km/h)

The Barwon River (South Geelong)
The Moe River (Darnam, pre RFR)

Come to mind

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  tom9876543 Train Controller

The existing bridge Is roughly on a 20 chain curve.

Given that all trains stop at Stratford the requirement for a high speed bridge Is no existent ! 60 km/h would be plenty (even If goods trains started again they won't be going any faster that 65 km/h through town due to the 20 chain curve on the other side of the station)

Hard to see the new bridge going outside the existing railway reserve.
Nightfire

Sad to see short term thinking. "All trains stop at Stratford" is true today.
But the new bridge will be in use 200 years from now.
In 200 years the population of Bairnsdale could be 200,000.
And there will be demand for a "Bairnsdale Express", 160km/h from Bairnsdale to Melbourne only stopping at Sale, Traralgon, Warragul and Dandenong.

The Victorian government should buy the required land so the new railway line is on a 160km/h alignment (wouldn't even cost much as it's farmland).
But unfortunately short term thinking like yours will win out.
  gomer Train Controller

Location: Melbourne
Can not believe whats being said. The new bridge will be on a new alignment that no way can be 160k due to the curvature required and the next curve on the up is only 90k. Using the old bridge as a loop are you crazy, the infrastructure required (points,signals, TPWS) and maintenance required, your dreaming.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
You can be sure that there will be no gold plating, just a fit for purpose new bridge.

160 km/h express trains Is pure fantasy though a place like Stratford !


Wodonga got a high speed bypass because

The old line had the slowest curve between Melb and Syd.

The slow 1500 freight trains caused lengthy delays  In High Street.

The local Council wanted the land for developers.
  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

What is the heritage value of the existing bridge, engineering or otherwise? Its uniqueness seems to be that it's the only rail bridge across the Avon River (unless Maffra - Briagolong did), which will be lost when the new bridge is built. It's hardly in the same league as the swing bridge on the old part of the South Gippsland Highway just south of Sale.
  cabidass Chief Train Controller

u seem to like reading your own posts
trainbrain
I always find when I can't counter an argument or a viewpoint, or contribute constructively to a conversation in any way, it's best to make glib remarks about the person instead....
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
You can be sure that there will be no gold plating, just a fit for purpose new bridge.

160 km/h express trains Is pure fantasy though a place like Stratford !


Wodonga got a high speed bypass because

The old line had the slowest curve between Melb and Syd.

The slow 1500 freight trains caused lengthy delays  In High Street.

The local Council wanted the land for developers.
Nightfire
And not necessarily in that order! Twisted Evil
  cabidass Chief Train Controller

What is the heritage value of the existing bridge..
kitchgp
That's what the Heritage Council assesses.

When an application is made, as I understand it they look into what it is, how and when it was built, what function it served, it's existing condition, yada yada yada. You can likely get more specific detail from them.

http://heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/

In the case of Energy Brix/Morwell Power station, this is set to take about 60 days. And could be extended if there is cause for further inquiry.

Given the engineering group I linked on the previous page have flagged it (the bridge), anyone who thinks it will just get pulled down without further investigation is kidding themselves.

Personally I have no idea what the local sentiment is towards the bridge, but that usually becomes moot. Again, using Energy Brix as an example, if you speak to most people they want it torn down. But there only needs to be a very small interest from a very small group for the Heritage Council to take the request seriously.

I have spoken to people from that area, and there seems to be belief that the bridge was already heritage listed. But it's now clear that is not the case. So when there is a plan to demolish it, and this reality becomes wider knowledge, suffice it to say you will quickly get a group of people who will step up to try and preserve it.

Often people with small minds only see the cost burden of saving something like this bridge. But they fail to see the jobs created and economic activity that it can also create by keeping it. As well as an accurate preservation of our history.


All of the S class steam engines (Spirit of Progress) were scraped. And this has long been lamented by rail enthusiasts. Ironically their demise was the catalyst for the creation of the Australian Railway Historical Society, which ensures other rolling stock is preserved for future generations.


On another note I recall in the early naughties when Kennett wanted to remove the Sandrail bridge. As a young bloke I got a letter printed in the paper recommending it be preserved, with a railway car diner atop.

I got 1 out of 2. So I am quite happy with that.

On one hand, the river would be much more open without the old bridge.
On the other, an engineering piece of history is preserved for future generations.

Who's to say one is more deserving over the other....

Not I.
  Adogs Chief Train Controller


In the case of Energy Brix/Morwell Power station, this is set to take about 60 days. And could be extended if there is cause for further inquiry.

cabidass

A bit off-topic, but I doubt any of Energy Brix will be saved.  And to be honest, that's for the better.

You mentioned above that the cost of asbestos removal is being quoted as an issue - and that's absolutely correct.  Removing asbestos in a manner that would allow it to be preserved is a different kettle of fish to removing asbestos for demolition, and opens you up to massive legal risks in future if it happens that you've been encouraging public use of the building only to find there was any residual contamination and people get sick from it.  

As for the statement that workers were "safely" working in amongst the asbestos right up until 2014, I'd say two things in response.

Firstly - working in amongst it is probably safe (in theory) if it's in things like cement sheet and you aren't disturbing it.  But once you start pulling it out it becomes extremely dangerous very quickly.

Second - they never really were "safely" working in there.  Former SECV workers from the Latrobe Valley had a mesothelioma rate seven times above the national average, along with a life expectancy on average 15 years lower than the rest of us.  Literally hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation has been paid to former workers.
  cabidass Chief Train Controller

Trying not to digress:

Meso: Relates to breathing in fibers. Stable sheeting does not release fibers. If EB was emitting asbestos fibers, no one would be working there in 2014 amongst it.

Removal: It doesn't have to removed. It has to be made safe. That can be as simple as screwing it down and painting it. A hell of a lot cheaper than removal in any instance.

Avon Bridge: Same about lead paint. Pulling it down means grinding through any lead paint. Ensuring its safe for walkers can be as simple as painting over the old paint.

There is no black and white rule that says one action is cheaper/better than an alternative. It all comes down to specifics.

EB, Bridges, its all the same. Some people think its ugly and unsafe and expensive. Others see potential, long term job prospects, tourism and revenue streams.

You pull something down you get one lot of jobs. You repurpose, you get jobs for life. And a chance to preserve an element of history for your kids.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
I can't say how much I admire cabidass' love of heritage structures and his enthusiasm to preserve them.

But my (possibly impertinent) advice would be to "choose you battles carefully".

Sadly, we can't preserve everything and if we try, limited energy and resources are spread too thinly. However if a group (or even a determined individual) identifies one or two structures that can be saved without a huge annual expense, and then targets all their energy into promoting the reasons it should be preserved, then a win is possible. However a scatter gun approach of lots of little campaigns for lots of structures, rarely yields any positive results.

So for central Gippsland, the Energybrix complex has potential to be preserved. Once stabilised, it wouldn't cost a fortune each year to keep it and a campaign could focus on the important historical role briquettes played in the La Trobe Valley and Victoria's history and development. The small power station is a reminder of the former Yallourn A, B, C, D and E power stations that provided most of the state's power from the early 1920s. A really effective campaign to preserve it could be based upon that sort of heritage.

But in the eyes of the public, Stratford is just another rail bridge in a minor, out of the way village. More significantly, it would cost tens of thousands of dollars every year just to keep the bridge standing.

So if I were involved with heritage preservation in central Gippsland, I'd throw all my energy into saving Energybrix and accept that it would be almost impossible for a group with limited resources to mount a successful campaign to save the old Stratford rail bridge. Sad
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Likely they will just abandon the Iron bridge section, like the many Iron road bridges throughout Central Victorian Goldfields.

The deck gets pulled up and a fence erected at both ends (to make It look undesirable to access)
  cabidass Chief Train Controller

I can't say how much I admire cabidass' love of heritage structures and his enthusiasm to preserve them.

But my (possibly impertinent) advice would be to "choose you battles carefully".
Bogong

I must say I'm flattered by your objectivity.

(again trying to keep it on topic) When the Energy Brix campaign reared it's head, I suggested the same thing almost verbatim to those inviting me to be part of it - Pick your battles.

HW is now closed, and trying to fight for EB and HW simultaneously could be fraught with peril.
But the opposite is also true.

When there is enough noise to save two power stations, it can allow a wider voice, a wider pool of combatants, and a wider argument to preserving historical electricity generation plant for economic education and tourism.

So that should be considered in any battle plan.

And that's assuming one wants to preserve ALL of it. Few people even consider to possibility of preserving just part of the relative structures.


By way of the Avon bridge, I honestly don't know for sure if it's worth saving. On the face of it, given it's size and age, I hold the view that it's worth investigating. And I hold the view that there are benefits that could spawn from keeping it.

My sister lived in Bairnsdale, and she was under the impression that it was already heritage listed. Now I know that is anecdotal. But if that sentiment is expressed in any way in the wider populace, I can say with almost certainty that should the day come where someone proposes demolishing it, someone or some group will appear trying to save it.

But rather than deal in prophecy and supposition, let's be objective and analyical about it:-


The Avon Bridge Should be demolished


For:

  • It will be costly to maintain
  • If it's not maintained it will be unsafe, ugly and unaccessible
  • There are jobs in demolition


Against:

  • It is of historical value given it's age, design and construction
  • It will serve as a tourist attraction if repurposed
  • It will create jobs in the form of maintenance if kept (bricklayers, carpenters, fabricators, painters, labourers, yada yada)



I could go on but I really think they are the main ones.

What I never understand (with small communities), is they always see the cost burden as a negative. And rarely see the economic potential as a positive.

I've been facing the exact same thing in my local community for the last 5-6 years. And it really does my head in. Small communities continually complain about lack of funding and attention from governments of all levels. Yet when it comes to creating their own opportunity and 'unique selling point' in stimulating economic activity, it's as if they've been asleep under the hay bales for too long...

Demolition jobs will create a blip of economic activity for a month or so.

Restoration can create economic activity in perpetuity.

Again I'm not saying it should be kept (though it would be my personal preference on the face of it). I am saying for people to seriously consider the positives of keeping it. As there are unlimited possibilities.

And to demolish it without considering all of them would be a travesty.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
I can't say how much I admire cabidass' love of heritage structures and his enthusiasm to preserve them.

But my (possibly impertinent) advice would be to "choose you battles carefully".

I must say I'm flattered by your objectivity.

(again trying to keep it on topic) When the Energy Brix campaign reared it's head, I suggested the same thing almost verbatim to those inviting me to be part of it - Pick your battles.

HW is now closed, and trying to fight for EB and HW simultaneously could be fraught with peril.
But the opposite is also true.

When there is enough noise to save two power stations, it can allow a wider voice, a wider pool of combatants, and a wider argument to preserving historical electricity generation plant for economic education and tourism.

So that should be considered in any battle plan.

And that's assuming one wants to preserve ALL of it. Few people even consider to possibility of preserving just part of the relative structures.
cabidass
A few years ago I attended an Engineering Heritage Australia presentation about power station heritage and preservation based on this paper: Thermal Power Station Heritage In Australia. Regarding the heritage value of Hazelwood vs the Morwell Briquette Factory (aka Energy Brix), the author asserted that Energy Brix's heritage significance was high - 3rd overall in his list. Hazelwood didn't even rate; he assigned it low heritage significance and in fact assigned Loy Yang A & B as having higher heritage significance than both Yallourn W and Hazelwood. I would tend to agree from a purely engineering standpoint. Hazelwood, whilst the first truly modern large-scale power station in the Latrobe Valley, was essentially a 'mass-produced' replica of Yallourn E power station. However, I do think it has cultural significance particularly within the Latrobe Valley and that this should justify at least partial preservation.

Another priority regarding power station heritage preservation in the Latrobe Valley should be to fund further upgrades at PowerWorks (aka the old SECV Morwell Visitors Reception Centre) to eventually turn it into a Museum Victoria-affiliated site and a central repository of Latrobe Valley and SECV heritage artifacts.
  gippslander Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland, Vic
I agree with Bogong's comments that we need to carefully choose our heritage battles.
However, the future of the Avon rail bridge is not just about the structure itself.
It is also a river management issue and no doubt the catchment management people
will have a view about the possible consequences of two closely located bridges and the impact
it will have on the river flow. Despite what some people think, the available funds for
heritage structures in Victoria are actually very limited. For my money, there are more worthy
structures like the rapidly disintegrating Stoney Creek bridge near Nowa Nowa.

And in the case of the Energy Brix facility, there is a limited bucket of money held by the
State Electricity Commission for remediation of the vast site (yes, the SEC still exists, despite Jeff K).
I think there is about $28m left according to the most recent SECV annual report.
If the asbestos was removed and the buildings were stabilised just as static ruins, there would still
be an empty industrial complex without a beneficial purpose. Like the Avon River bridge, the EBAC
facility needs to have a reason for preservation and repurposing. I can't see investors flocking
to convert the site into a movie studio, arts centre or museum without a vast injection of funds
from the public purse.
  lkernan Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
And in the case of the Energy Brix facility, there is a limited bucket of money held by the
State Electricity Commission for remediation of the vast site (yes, the SEC still exists, despite Jeff K).
gippslander

http://www.secv.vic.gov.au for those interested.
  tom9876543 Train Controller

The new bridge should be designed with an 160km/h alignment.
Yes it costs more now, but in 200 years time, it will seem like the obvious choice.
I have drawn the approximate path the new line should take.
It will require new bridge over the river, Airley Rd and Princes Hwy. But it is worth it when looking at the long term.

Proposed 160km/h alignment
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
The new bridge should be designed with an 160km/h alignment.
Yes it costs more now, but in 200 years time, it will seem like the obvious choice.
I have drawn the approximate path the new line should take.
It will require new bridge over the river, Airley Rd and Princes Hwy. But it is worth it when looking at the long term.

Proposed 160km/h alignment
tom9876543
Hah, good luck with that! Governments (of both sides) rarely look beyond the four year electoral cycle.

Maybe a (rare) fiscally responsible government, might spend a bit extra to build infrastructure to higher standard than is immediately necessary. But remember the first Stratford railway bridge only lasted 30 years and the present bridge was probably only designed to last twice that long, which is why it is in such bodgy condition today.

In any case it would be irresponsible to spend too much on the new bridge, as the extra money would need to be diverted from other worthy causes such as "widows and orphans", debt reduction, building other rail infrastructure, etc.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
The new bridge should be designed with an 160km/h alignment.
Yes it costs more now, but in 200 years time, it will seem like the obvious choice.
I have drawn the approximate path the new line should take.
It will require new bridge over the river, Airley Rd and Princes Hwy. But it is worth it when looking at the long term.

Proposed 160km/h alignment
tom9876543
So what about the 20 chain curve at the down end of Stratford Station ?
  hbedriver Assistant Commissioner

Any new Avon River bridge doesn't really need to be high speed, as all trains will be stopping nearby (or just started) anyway, so won't be that fast in any case. Really anything more than an 80km/h curve would be pointless.

As to retaining the old bridge, it's sole function would be to remind people of the consequences of rushed planning, inadequate engineering, and bad stream management practises. Cost would be high due to cost of maintaining that pier mid-stream which has been tilting for a hundred years. Sounds like two good reasons for any Government to destroy the evidence!
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
From my perspective, I don't see even for the very, very long term that when building a new bridge you totally realign it for 160km/hr but optimize it so there is as has been mentioned above you do run freighters and "express passenger trains" you can gain a small benefit in terms of speed/travel time.   For me the biggest issue has to be around future proofing it to handle increasing axleload weights overtime.   So I'd be suggesting as ARTC are actually doing that when you get a new structure like this you make it capable of 30 tonne axleload.

In just the space of 12 to 15 years or there abouts, we have seen axleload limits on interstate and other routes slowly increase from 19/21 TAL through to 23/23.5 TAL and now trains actually running at 25 TAL.   ARTC has upgraded a number of bridges and future proffed them for 30 TAL.

I don't know what the actual cost difference would be for a 30TAL versus 25TAL at Stratford but given the life of these structures which we know are longer than 100 years, it would be extreme shortsighted not to future proof the bridge.   Yes it seems impossible to contemplate 30 TAL trains running in Gippsland if you think about intermodal freight.   However there are mineral sands and other commodities in the region that have been hinted at being railed to Port Wilson as one example.   Who knows what else would appear in terms of freight in the next century or for the sake of future proofing 1 new bridge!!
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
The new bridge should be designed with an 160km/h alignment.
Yes it costs more now, but in 200 years time, it will seem like the obvious choice.
I have drawn the approximate path the new line should take.
It will require new bridge over the river, Airley Rd and Princes Hwy. But it is worth it when looking at the long term.

Proposed 160km/h alignment
tom9876543
Now that looks like a $95 million project! Makes you wonder where they're going to spend the leftovers on after they've built the more realistic replacement bridge... Level crossing upgrades to enable DMUs to travel to Bairnsdale at line speed?
  cabidass Chief Train Controller

And in the case of the Energy Brix facility, there is a limited bucket of money held by the
State Electricity Commission for remediation of the vast site (yes, the SEC still exists, despite Jeff K).

http://www.secv.vic.gov.au for those interested.
lkernan

Yes the SECV still exists. But from memory it morphed into a new government body.

I thought it was VicPower (or something similar). But I can't find it now.

Last I went searching the SECV website (above) didn't exist. So maybe they've changed it up a bit...
  cabidass Chief Train Controller

I agree with Bogong's comments that we need to carefully choose our heritage battles....
gippslander
Re: Limited funds - Yes. There is no magic pudding. But that doesn't mean you don't put forward a proposal. Too many say no, and bite of their nose to spite their face...

Again, someone is guaranteed to make a heritage claim on the bridge. And in my opinion, rightly so.

Re: River flow - Depends on how the new bridge is built. It may be deemed to have limited environmental impact. That is up to the designers/engineers/EPA. It's pointless using it as an objection, before there is any indication it will be one.

Re: Asbestos - Again, it DOESN'T necessarily have to be removed. More often than not it can be STABILISED. People have been working amongst it till 2014.. So unless a heap of vandals have been smashing it all with sledgehammers over the last 3 years (within a gated facility), it is quiet literally SAFE. Again, it's not an objection.

Re: Purpose - Yes. Someone will come up with one. I've already illustrated the bridge as a 'loop' for extension of the walking trail. Or a half bridge as a viewing platform. Every day we hear 'obesity epidemic' in the news. Yet while funds may be limited for heritage preservation, it is LESS limited for heritage and health purposes. It ticks two boxes, not just one.... Add in "all abilities access", and you have the disability team on board as well....

That's 3 pools of funding.....

It's pointless chest beating from the keyboard and saying it won't happen cause of X, Y, and Z. When it's quite obvious that it could succeed for A, B, and C...

Are there concerns? Yes.
Are there considerations? Yes.
Does all options need to be carefully considered? Yes.

But it's pointless saying 'no', just cause in your mind there isn't a workable path forward. Yet with a bit of open-mindedness, and objective and analytical thinking, there is one.
  cabidass Chief Train Controller

Proposed 160km/h alignment
tom9876543

I like it.
Whether it will happen I can't say.

In my opinion it will only succeed if there is likelyhood of an express from Bairnsdale to Sale that skips Stratford.

Get enough people who demand that, and you get your bridge.

However I dare say that the planners already have proposals on the drawing board ready for consultation. So better get a wriggle on.....

Find out who owns the land your line will travel on, and ask if they've been approached by PTV/VicTrack.....

If VicTrack own it, the odds in favour just increased...
If it's in private ownership, and they've never heard of it, the odds just decreased...

1+1=2

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