Poor planning risks Murray Basin Rail Project success

 

News article: Poor planning risks Murray Basin Rail Project success

[center]The State Government decision to run dual gauge line between Maryborough and Ballarat set to sour the overall benefits of the Murray Basin Project.

  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Why the need really for DG when you could go all SG and run velocity trains from Geelong to Maryborough via Ballarat and potentially at a later date Ararat and beyond.

Get the network out west all over to SG and be done with it.

Poor planning risks Murray Basin Rail Project success

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  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Firstly, this is by the RRA.  

Secondly, I'm not sure it is locked in that it will be DG between MB and Ballarat.

The project has already seen one modification in that what was planned to be DG between Warrenheip and Gheringhap is now just SG as revealed in the project tender documents for the current phase (i.e. works packages 1 and 2) of the project.  Also included in this was the standardisation of the Murrayville line.

Lets wait and see what the tender documents look like for the next phase of the contract (i.e. works package 3 I am assuming), which would be the line between MB through Ballarat to Warrenheip (which we have seen some indication of in the Horsham passenger study.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Firstly, this is by the RRA.  
james.au
Yep. Don't know why you bothered with Secondly really. Firstly said it all.

BG
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia


The project has already seen one modification in that what was planned to be DG between Warrenheip and Gheringhap is now just SG as revealed in the project tender documents for the current phase (i.e. works packages 1 and 2) of the project.  Also included in this was the standardisation of the Murrayville line.

Lets wait and see what the tender documents look like for the next phase of the contract (i.e. works package 3 I am assuming), which would be the line between MB through Ballarat to Warrenheip (which we have seen some indication of in the Horsham passenger study.
james.au

James do you yourself think there should be dual gauge?  It seems to be the less complexity the better and what is saved in rail laying and maintenance and management of the network together with lower speeds meaning less productive track we should be looking at a single standard gauge on that part of the network?
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
The project has already seen one modification in that what was planned to be DG between Warrenheip and Gheringhap is now just SG as revealed in the project tender documents for the current phase (i.e. works packages 1 and 2) of the project.  Also included in this was the standardisation of the Murrayville line.

Lets wait and see what the tender documents look like for the next phase of the contract (i.e. works package 3 I am assuming), which would be the line between MB through Ballarat to Warrenheip (which we have seen some indication of in the Horsham passenger study.

James do you yourself think there should be dual gauge?  It seems to be the less complexity the better and what is saved in rail laying and maintenance and management of the network together with lower speeds meaning less productive track we should be looking at a single standard gauge on that part of the network?
bevans

Honestly @bevans, when you have a session where we can pick our own ranks I will be asking for the rank of "The Standardiser".....

Essentially, my view is the whole network should be SG.  Having said that I don't think we should go and convert track to SG unless there is net economic benefit to do so.  So the Melbourne Metro + intercity network (like Ballarat, Geelong, Seymour etc etc etc) will probably always be BG.  

I like the plan that @kuldalai put forth a year or so ago and that I picked up and sent off to the ministers office to see what the response would be.  SG MB to Ballarat, SG Ararat.  I also sent this to Horsham Council and the Regional Freight Alliance who were all interested in it, and it looks like it made it into the Horsham plan in some manner.  More SG track out that way will allow for different service patterns.  I like the idea of the MB-BAllarat-Geelong service for example, and Horsham-Ararat-Ballarat.  With the new SG VLos being designed for the Albury route, there is no reason that more couldn't be made to do the Western Vic routes, and you could even then look at whether another Western Vic route, the Warrnambool line could go over to SG (after the GV lines).  This would further extend the business opportunities for freight operators.

Will it happen?  I am not sure.  I don't bet $$ when I bet but I would say that there is a good chance that we could see MB-Ballarat go just SG given the cost savings this would bring to the project.  If you asked me a few months ago i would have said no, it would be DG, but the announcement of the SG Vlos has altered the balance back towards SG only IMHO.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

So that begs the question - when can we expect SG vlo trains to hit the rails?

If next year, then don't bother with dual gauging Maryborough to Ballarat. Otherwise it's either dual-gauge or delay full SG gauge conversion of this section until just before SG vlo trains are operational.  

A delay would mean the Avoca line will take all SG freight for a while.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Surely it can't take too long to do the designs for a new fleet?  Id say that is a datapoint in the decision process though.
  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

The VLocitys are supposed to be designed for conversion to SG. All it should take is to acquire 12 SG bogies. Convert one 3-car VLocity to SG for use between Ballarat and Maryborough. The spare 6 bogies can be used to convert a replacement VLocity to cover major maintenance. In the event of unforeseen unavailability buses can be used to bridge the gap, for however long it takes to do the diesel-hydraulic conversion of a replacement set.  The under-utilisation of a SG Maryborough 3-car VLocity would be cheaper than DG between Maryborough and Ballarat and avoids the 80kph vs 100 - 130kph problem. SG between Ararat and Ballarat would create a bigger, hence more flexible, SG VLocity fleet as would Ballarat - Geelong services.

A major consideration for Ballarat - Geelong services is that it would require DG between North Geelong and at least far as Geelong. Having to interchange to BG at North Geelong is not going to get the service off to a flying start.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
The above is a good post.

Just bite the bullet and get the SG rolling stock side of the deal underway for the western areas.  Convert Ararat to Ballarat and Ballarat to Maryborough and Maryborough to Castlemaine.  Run SG only from Ballarat to Geelong with SG into Geelong Railway Station.

Base the VLocity cars out of Ballarat running on 3 routes and extend later to Horsham.  No Brainer.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

A question, has the state government actually allocated ANY funds for SG VLocity's. A s far as I can see so far its all talk and as they say "talk is cheap". Experience shown on the SG service is that little trust can be placed in either VLine or the state government when it comes to SG passenger services.

If one wish's SG services for Maryborough, Arrarat and Albury Vline would need a pool of at least 12  SG Vlocity sets, as well as that vastly improved SG access to Southern Cross will be required. We would be looking at something like $360 million for the rolling stock alone and  gods knows what the costs for better SG access to the station, not mention FAR better SG pass rolling stock maintence facilities.

Its likely SG only access to Maryborough and Arrarat will spell the end of decent rail passenger service's to both these destinations, judging by the performance of the Albury service.

Do not let the ideallism of an extensive SG network blind you to the State government and VLInes totally pathetic performance on the Albury line, the Albury train simply CANNOT be trusted.

This will be my final post for an unspecfied period as after today (31st July) I have no internet access at all as Optus shuts down there 2G network tomorrow.

woodford
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Its likely SG only access to Maryborough and Arrarat will spell the end of decent rail passenger service's to both these destinations, judging by the performance of the Albury service.

Do not let the ideallism of an extensive SG network blind you to the State government and VLInes totally pathetic performance on the Albury line, the Albury train simply CANNOT be trusted.

This will be my final post for an unspecfied period as after today (31st July) I have no internet access at all as Optus shuts down there 2G network tomorrow.

woodford
woodford

Lets not let the Albury experience torpedo the merits of SG track either.  It sounds to me that the Albury service is impacted by (in no particular order) a small fleet, a line that may (or may not) damage that fleet, and a poor fleet reliability.  With such a small number of trains, it is no wonder.  Even if you did nothing to the Albury line but had more SG fleet in operation, you could spread the fleet around the SG network and reduce any possible (and not yet proven) link between track quality and train damage.  

Re your 2G service, when you get another form of connection woodford, you are going to be amazed at the speed increase!
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
@woodford is suggesting the costs of actually embracing SG access for Ararat and Maryborough together with rollibgdtock might actually be a lot more than keeping SG and Bg in place.  What about the other costs of performance and lack of flexibility in the network.  I can see the argument for SG into and out of ballarat.

If that many SG VLocity sets are required and I am not convinced VLocity trains are the best idea for Albury then servicing at Dynon is always the option. As for the western sets and into Geelong as suggested why not use the existing Ballarat East facilities?  Do they currently service VLocity sets?
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
@woodford is suggesting the costs of actually embracing SG access for Ararat and Maryborough together with rollibgdtock might actually be a lot more than keeping SG and Bg in place.  What about the other costs of performance and lack of flexibility in the network.  I can see the argument for SG into and out of ballarat.

If that many SG VLocity sets are required and I am not convinced VLocity trains are the best idea for Albury then servicing at Dynon is always the option. As for the western sets and into Geelong as suggested why not use the existing Ballarat East facilities?  Do they currently service VLocity sets?
x31

SG is the way of the future as far as freight is concerned and unless its on a busy pax corridor (e.g. SCS-Ballarat), BG is just not going to survive as its freight users want.  In a possible future, there could be more than just Albury on SG with SG and upgraded VLos.  Shepparton, Warrnambool, and the Western Victorian regions could make a viable network that operates alongside freight service to get the most out of the network.

Remember also that these trains will not be like the current VLos, but will have long distance facilities e.g. buffets and other features in them (according to press releases anyway).
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

@woodford is suggesting the costs of actually embracing SG access for Ararat and Maryborough together with rollibgdtock might actually be a lot more than keeping SG and Bg in place.  What about the other costs of performance and lack of flexibility in the network.  I can see the argument for SG into and out of ballarat.

If that many SG VLocity sets are required and I am not convinced VLocity trains are the best idea for Albury then servicing at Dynon is always the option. As for the western sets and into Geelong as suggested why not use the existing Ballarat East facilities?  Do they currently service VLocity sets?

SG is the way of the future as far as freight is concerned and unless its on a busy corridor (e.g. SCS-Ballarat), BG is just not what freight users want.  In a possible future, there could be more than just Albury on SG with SG and upgraded VLos.  Shepparton, Warrnambool, and the Western Victorian regions could make a viable network that operates alongside freight service to get the most out of the network.

Remember also that these trains will not be like the current VLos, but will have long distance facilities e.g. buffets and other features in them (according to press releases anyway).
james.au
Like the NSW Explorers already have but in a better package and probably they can use the designs on the drawing board for the new NSW Explorer/XPT replacements. A no brainer.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Are the explorers configured internally for longer distance running?
  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

The VLocitys are supposed to be designed for conversion to SG. All it should take is to acquire 12 SG bogies.................
kitchgp


The above suggestion is to convert an existing VLocity to SG. It doesn't require a dedicated fleet and doesn't require significant extra rolling stock, as it replaces a BG VLocity. When major maintenance is due on the SG set it could be rotated with a BG set that has just completed the maintenance. Maryborough has 4 weekday one-way services time-tabled which means the SG set would be utilised about 4 hours per weekday. Services could be timed to connect with a 6-car BG VLocity at Ballarat.

The cost of the above can be measured by the difference in utilisation between the SG VLocity and the VLocity fleet average, the cost of the routine conversions and the cost of 6 spare bogies sitting on the shelf. Compare SG-only Maryborough - Ballarat to the cost of either DG or retaining BG-only. BG-only means all NW trains have to proceed via Ararat to access Geelong or Melbourne (an extra 130km, plus extra congestion on the Melbourne - Adelaide SG between North Geelong and Ararat) and DG adds extra cost and complexity, and limits the BG VLocitys to 80kph.

If it is decided to do so, Ararat - Ballarat SG wouldn't require extra rolling stock either, as BG VLocitys already operate the service. On the other hand, Ballarat - Geelong would, as a BG service doesn't currently exist.

Long-distance VLocitys, SG or BG, for Swan Hill, Warnambool, Albury and Bairnsdale (Horsham - Geelong?) is a separate issue.

Distances (approx):
Maryborough - North Geelong via Ararat        288km
Maryborough - North Geelong via Ballarat      153km
Maryborough - Ballarat                                         70km
Ararat - Ballarat                                                      92km
Ballarat - North Geelong                                       84km
Horsham - North Geelong via Ballarat             238km
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
The VLocitys are supposed to be designed for conversion to SG. All it should take is to acquire 12 SG bogies.................


The above suggestion is to convert an existing VLocity to SG. It doesn't require a dedicated fleet and doesn't require significant extra rolling stock, as it replaces a BG VLocity. When major maintenance is due on the SG set it could be rotated with a BG set that has just completed the maintenance. Maryborough has 4 weekday one-way services time-tabled which means the SG set would be utilised about 4 hours per weekday. Services could be timed to connect with a 6-car BG VLocity at Ballarat.

The cost of the above can be measured by the difference in utilisation between the SG VLocity and the VLocity fleet average, the cost of the routine conversions and the cost of 6 spare bogies sitting on the shelf. Compare SG-only Maryborough - Ballarat to the cost of either DG or retaining BG-only. BG-only means all NW trains have to proceed via Ararat to access Geelong or Melbourne (an extra 130km, plus extra congestion on the Melbourne - Adelaide SG between North Geelong and Ararat) and DG adds extra cost and complexity, and limits the BG VLocitys to 80kph.

If it is decided to do so, Ararat - Ballarat SG wouldn't require extra rolling stock either, as BG VLocitys already operate the service. On the other hand, Ballarat - Geelong would, as a BG service doesn't currently exist.
kitchgp

Actually that makes a lot of sense.  How quick could bogie exchanges be done?  The time and cost to do this would also be added to a benefit cost calc of the plan, but I would imagine that it wouldnt be that much.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Excellent post and a very practical approach.  He should be working for V/Line
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.
Excellent post and a very practical approach.  He should be working for V/Line
x31

I second, that, there are a couple of posters on here that seem to formulate a very clear picture of what is to be achieved and how to go about it. It seems a lot of these projects get lost with too much science, involved.
Most complicated tasks can be solved simply, if they are not over thought, too much.

Use the KISS, system - Keep It Simple, system.

BigShunter.

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