Murray Basin standardisation

 
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
What I read between the lines here is that they are talking to industry, and working out the solution required.  It could be a delaying tactic, given what is elsewhere reported (ie the rumours of rail issues), but it could be part of a broader announcement to come to integrate both projects as stated.

Though I'm not sure how long it should take to consult stakeholders, unless there is some difficult technical discussion to happen too?

Also, in this, I cant see why the diamond at Ararat would be delayed because of the Ballarat line upgrade.  The most likely explanation i can make sense of (and this is probably loaded with confirmation bias) is that it may not be needed, at least in Ararat, should they decide to SG the Ararat line, and instead put in a pair of points.

Some more quotes

This budget provides 130 million of track and signalling upgrades in Maryborough, Ararat and Ballarat, and that is part of the Murray Basin rail freight project that will help separate passenger and freight trains through the Ballarat area.
Minister Allan

One of the key issues is that at the time the Murray Basin project was originally envisaged, Ballarat was not. The Ballarat project has come along since. There are major occupations and disruptions that have to happen. For Murray Basin the key is converting from broad gauge to standard gauge. You cannot do that. It will be in chunks so that the freight —
Evan Tattersall
BTW Evan Tattersall is the Acting Coordinator-General, Major Transport Infrastructure Program.

In discussion as to the role of Rail Projects Victoria:

Mr TATTERSALL — Murray Basin, only as an interface with the Ballarat line that I was referring to before.
Mr D. O’BRIEN — So you are focused on passenger rail rather than freight?
Mr TATTERSALL — It is passenger rail, but the work we actually do as part of the Ballarat project also facilitates freight to come through that area of Ballarat, which is why you have got this complex interface.
Tattersall and O'Brien

Part of me wonders if one of the reasons is that the department doesn't have the bandwidth/capacity to deal with this issue and its lower on the priority list.  There area a number of projects discussed in this transcript.  Perhaps leaving Sea Lake and Matanganang for another 12 months on BG whilst they work out the interface with the Ballarat line project will be on the cards?  I am very much hoping this isn't the case as the current route from Mildura to Geelong must be adding hours to travel time for the container train....

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  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Looking more into this it is a smoke screen.  What does Ballarat have to do with rail quality issues between Ararat and Maryborough?  The only possibility is the gauge conversion of the line between Ballarat and Ararat.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Looking more into this it is a smoke screen.  What does Ballarat have to do with rail quality issues between Ararat and Maryborough?  The only possibility is the gauge conversion of the line between Ballarat and Ararat.
bevans
Ballarat might have everything to do with the rest of the staging.

The rail quality issues I would agree are separate.  And would not be getting the amount of attention that they are on these boards if the rest of the project was on time.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
There could of course be a decision pending on SG only Ballarat to Maryborough?
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Well, the project has had its scope changed, and this is the point I was getting to, so if you can just bear with me. Because of the work that is being undertaken on the Ballarat line upgrade, and this is the area around Ballarat — and Evan may want to talk in a bit more detail on the technical aspects — there is an overlap between the passenger and freight movements in this area. The way the Murray Basin project was additionally scoped and in terms of its delivery, when stage 2 was coming to its conclusion, then you would move into stages 3 and 4, which were the branch lines on Sea Lake, Manangatang and then the work through on the Gheringhap bit of the project to Warrenheip. We needed to look at how we changed that progress, and we have done that on the basis of the feedback we have had from industry. We have been doing a lot of work with industry. We have got an advisory group, which Peter Tuohey has been chairing, that gives us direct feedback. What they are asking us for — the freight industry and stakeholders — is to go back and have another look at the staging and the delivery of those final parts of the work because of the work that is now also happening at Ballarat. It is all in the same geographic area, and we need to make sure from the freight industry’s point of view — they want to keep the lines open so they can get their goods to market, and we have been asked to look at how we stage the works in that framework.

The answer I have given you repeatedly is that stage 3 will go ahead when we have concluded the negotiations with industry, because we want them to tell us what is the best time frame to deliver stage 3 that does not affect their economic viability and that does not affect their ability to get their product to market. I would have thought that that is a fairly fundamental point to address before we embark on stage 3 of the project.
Transcript!
potatoinmymouth
https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/paec/2018-19_Budget_Estimates/transcripts/Verified_Allan_-_Public_Transport_2018-19_BE.pdf

A bit to chew on here.  And it turned into quite a slanging match!
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/paec/2018-19_Budget_Estimates/transcripts/Verified_Allan_-_Public_Transport_2018-19_BE.pdf

A bit to chew on here.  And it turned into quite a slanging match!
Carnot
Yeah to me it looked like the Nat/Lib member was trying to score points over Labour on so many of the projects.  Must be an election year....
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Looking more into this it is a smoke screen.  What does Ballarat have to do with rail quality issues between Ararat and Maryborough?  The only possibility is the gauge conversion of the line between Ballarat and Ararat.
Ballarat might have everything to do with the rest of the staging.

The rail quality issues I would agree are separate.  And would not be getting the amount of attention that they are on these boards if the rest of the project was on time.
james.au
The way I read it is that the Ballarat Line upgrade has changed the timing of the SG line through Ballarat.  Fair enough.

But it is strange that the minister won't provide a date on when Sea Lake and Manangatang conversion will happen.  My impression is that the lack of loops on the SG at present would just about make it impossible to path SG trains via Ararat and ARTC tracks after these lines are also done.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Looking more into this it is a smoke screen.  What does Ballarat have to do with rail quality issues between Ararat and Maryborough?  The only possibility is the gauge conversion of the line between Ballarat and Ararat.
Ballarat might have everything to do with the rest of the staging.

The rail quality issues I would agree are separate.  And would not be getting the amount of attention that they are on these boards if the rest of the project was on time.
The way I read it is that the Ballarat Line upgrade has changed the timing of the SG line through Ballarat.  Fair enough.

But it is strange that the minister won't provide a date on when Sea Lake and Manangatang conversion will happen.  My impression is that the lack of loops on the SG at present would just about make it impossible to path SG trains via Ararat and ARTC tracks after these lines are also done.
Carnot
Yes.  Agreed.  And building said loops for the area may not be warranted in the longer run if there are other changes in the Maryborough-Ballarat corridor that may make them redundant.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
The way I read it is that the Ballarat Line upgrade has changed the timing of the SG line through Ballarat.  Fair enough.

But it is strange that the minister won't provide a date on when Sea Lake and Manangatang conversion will happen.  My impression is that the lack of loops on the SG at present would just about make it impossible to path SG trains via Ararat and ARTC tracks after these lines are also done.
Carnot

I accept this is a potential view but I cannot see how this would be the case.  We already know the line between Ballarat and Warrenheip (southern line to Gheringhap) will not be linked into Ballan (no junction) which we have noted is not a good outcome as it restricts capacity for those 8-10 kms.  So how would the Ballarat Line upgrade 40 kms from Ballarat have any impact?
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Can someone link me to where we discuss the Ballarat line upgrade in detail, so I can understand more about it?  It looks like it doesnt have a dedicated thread in the Victorian forums so its probably buried away somewhere.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
https://www.railpage.com.au/search?search_query=melton%20electrification*&mode=query&search_areas=idx_forum_threads provides some insight but we probably need to pick one thread and pick it up from there.

I will cross post into the selected thread.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
https://www.railpage.com.au/news/s/jacinta-allan-ducks-questions-on-murray-basin-rail-project but hard to really place any credibility with Peter Walsh has she is right in that they caused huge damage to the regional rail network.  He can hardly be critical.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/440m-rail-works-suspended-halt-to-upgrading-the-manangatang-and-sea-lake-tracks/news-story/0bf58109f479ea8456768be5c7cd9968

A SIX-MONTH delay in the $440 million Murray Basin rail works has forced the suspension of upgrades and standardisation of the Sea Lake and Manangatang broad-gauged rail freight lines.

Grain and other freight companies say the suspension is due to Victorian Government delays in upgrading the Maryborough to Ararat line.

Starting works now would force all northwest freight trains on to the Ararat line, congesting the line and slowing the freight journey to Geelong by two to three hours.

Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh said the Labor Government had derailed the project, halting works that were meant to begin in March.

However, Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said work had not stopped and V/Line was working closely with industry to minimise the impacts and complete the project.

Rail Freight Alliance chief executive Reid Mather said the Government had given assurances the project had not been abandoned. “Because they’re behind schedule they’ve got to be cautious and make sure the keep the pathways open,” he said.
The Weekly Times

Ok so this is now getting towards some sort of forward movement on what is happening.  Maryborough-Ararat took more to do than they expected, slowing the rest of the project.  But no mention of the Ballarat Line Project and its impacts?
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
And a little light news viewing for the morning.  Doesn't really add more but at least you can see the Minister being consistent.

Edit
OK embedding the video didnt work but if you go to 9 News Central Victoria on facebook you can play the video.

  Jack Le Lievre Assistant Commissioner

Location: Moolap Station, Vic
And a little light news viewing for the morning.  Doesn't really add more but at least you can see the Minister being consistent.

Edit
OK embedding the video didnt work but if you go to 9 News Central Victoria on facebook you can play the video.

james.au
I am so glad that it isn't just Railpage that think RRA are a credible go-to source of information.
  KiwiTiger12 Beginner

Just overheard conversation here at Auckland Airport. Couldn’t help but hear it as they were talking so loud.

But two gentlemen were discussing the project and the fact that 80kms of rail will need to be relaid due to the welding technique on the old rail. Now I’m not an engineer but they remarked that by welding using an electric current through the rail has impacted the metallurgy of the older rail, and weakened it considerably. The project managers were advised to use a different welding technique but declined it on cost.

They also remarked about the project management style being too bureaucrat based and inexperienced, with a budget focus. Experienced heads are now being bought in at a rapid and costly rate. State Government will now have to go to the Federal Government with hands firmly out.

For what it’s worth.

Haere Ra
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
I wonder who was advising who and if there was a reasonable expectation that such damage to the rail could be done. And therfore if there might be a legal cade about it.

Thanks for the report.
  wobert Chief Commissioner

Location: Half way between Propodolla and Kinimakatka
Just overheard conversation here at Auckland Airport. Couldn’t help but hear it as they were talking so loud.

But two gentlemen were discussing the project and the fact that 80kms of rail will need to be relaid due to the welding technique on the old rail. Now I’m not an engineer but they remarked that by welding using an electric current through the rail has impacted the metallurgy of the older rail, and weakened it considerably. The project managers were advised to use a different welding technique but declined it on cost.

They also remarked about the project management style being too bureaucrat based and inexperienced, with a budget focus. Experienced heads are now being bought in at a rapid and costly rate. State Government will now have to go to the Federal Government with hands firmly out.

For what it’s worth.

Haere Ra
KiwiTiger12
Shouldn't the repairs be on the contractor, that's why governments bailed out of all project building. So they didn't cop the criticism, and the taxpayer wasn't on the hook.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Just overheard conversation here at Auckland Airport. Couldn’t help but hear it as they were talking so loud.

But two gentlemen were discussing the project and the fact that 80kms of rail will need to be relaid due to the welding technique on the old rail. Now I’m not an engineer but they remarked that by welding using an electric current through the rail has impacted the metallurgy of the older rail, and weakened it considerably. The project managers were advised to use a different welding technique but declined it on cost.

They also remarked about the project management style being too bureaucrat based and inexperienced, with a budget focus. Experienced heads are now being bought in at a rapid and costly rate. State Government will now have to go to the Federal Government with hands firmly out.

For what it’s worth.

Haere Ra
Shouldn't the repairs be on the contractor, that's why governments bailed out of all project building. So they didn't cop the criticism, and the taxpayer wasn't on the hook.
wobert
The problem then ends up in the courts as blame is attempted to be apportioned to everyone and everybody.  Insurers are probably in the mix too.  Messy.  And with lots of delays.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Just overheard conversation here at Auckland Airport. Couldn’t help but hear it as they were talking so loud.

But two gentlemen were discussing the project and the fact that 80kms of rail will need to be relaid due to the welding technique on the old rail. Now I’m not an engineer but they remarked that by welding using an electric current through the rail has impacted the metallurgy of the older rail, and weakened it considerably. The project managers were advised to use a different welding technique but declined it on cost.

They also remarked about the project management style being too bureaucrat based and inexperienced, with a budget focus. Experienced heads are now being bought in at a rapid and costly rate. State Government will now have to go to the Federal Government with hands firmly out.

For what it’s worth.

Haere Ra
Shouldn't the repairs be on the contractor, that's why governments bailed out of all project building. So they didn't cop the criticism, and the taxpayer wasn't on the hook.
wobert
It depends on who told who.  If the government told the contractor to use the particular method that is rumoured to have caused the problem then the government hasn't got a leg to stand on...
  potatoinmymouth Chief Commissioner

The question once again becomes why V/Line was given the lead. Every major rail project in the last 15 years has been managed by the Transport Department in its various guises or by special-purpose bureaucracies within it (RFR, RRL, Metro Tunnel etc.) So why not this one? V/Line simply doesn’t have the experience of leading big, staged, multi-contractor affairs.

It smells of V/Line playing a game of “we’re just like VR!”
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Guys just a cross post to those of you who haven't/dont read the Ballarat thread - I've posted some thoughts in there on the Ballarat part of the project.

https://www.railpage.com.au/f-p2104786.htm#2104786
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
The question once again becomes why V/Line was given the lead. Every major rail project in the last 15 years has been managed by the Transport Department in its various guises or by special-purpose bureaucracies within it (RFR, RRL, Metro Tunnel etc.) So why not this one? V/Line simply doesn’t have the experience of leading big, staged, multi-contractor affairs.

It smells of V/Line playing a game of “we’re just like VR!”
potatoinmymouth
I suspect the formation fo Rail Projects Victoria has been in part driven by this.
  potatoinmymouth Chief Commissioner

The question once again becomes why V/Line was given the lead. Every major rail project in the last 15 years has been managed by the Transport Department in its various guises or by special-purpose bureaucracies within it (RFR, RRL, Metro Tunnel etc.) So why not this one? V/Line simply doesn’t have the experience of leading big, staged, multi-contractor affairs.

It smells of V/Line playing a game of “we’re just like VR!”
I suspect the formation fo Rail Projects Victoria has been in part driven by this.
james.au
And in my (very inexpert) opinion, it's a positive step. So far Mr Tattersall et al have proved quite adept and it is to be hoped they keep up the good work.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

On the issue of age of track and welds,  thermit v. flash butt  . Skitz gives an excellent overview earlier on page 46 in this thread .

Observations of track welding between Maryborough & Ararat late November 2017 from  the highway adjacent to the re built line were observed to be as thermit welds . (Whereas earlier posts have suggested possibly flash butt welds.)

Whilst there are such beasts as mobile flash butt welders, the normal practice in Victoria has been to use flash butt welding at Spotswood for new rail, and on site thermit welding for conversion of jointed track to CWR track . In the latter case the normal practice is to remove the fishplates and crop a foot or so off each end of the jointed rail . Basically the rails are then drawn together and welded under a defined weather temperature range . The finished weld is then ground flat at the join on the rail head and side faces .  The cropping of the rail ends means that a new piece of closure rail needs to be inserted in the track regularly to make up for all the end pieces with the holes that are cropped off . At most level crossings between Ararat and Maryborough late last year were big heaps of the cropped fishplate off cuts.

The 80lb rail involved although quite old showed visibly very little wear on either face prior to the upgrading project . Originally the line was laid with 60lb rail, and it is not clear when it was relaid with 80lb rail .  Typical VR practice was to cascade serviceable rail from mainlines to cross country and branchlines to upgrade the track quality . Skitz and others are better equipped to explain assess the issues involved in converting rails of considerable age to CWR track .

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