Based on a drivers cab You Tube video that is used for training purposes, which gives us a great view of the track layout the driver is going through, I would prefer to see the following upgrades to the Kyneton to Bendigo section:
- Expand the passing loop on the down line approach into Castlemaine. The original bridges are still there and only one track path is in use. That track was not moved when the RFR was constructed, so the extra line can be re laid in the approach to Castlemaine, thus extending the passing loop by up to 3 kms.
- There are two tracks coming into the down side at Kangaroo Flat (so an identical set up to what I suggest for Castlemaine) which is a very good passing loop. But the problem is that the line then singles into Bendigo station. There is ample space to run the second track all the way from KF into Bendigo. So an instant extra passing loop.
- Then expand the 160 kph sections between Castlemaine into Bendigo. There are some sections that have a mash up of timber and low profile concrete sleepers, no doubt with 47 kg rail under them. This needs to go to 60kg rail and mainline concrete sleepers asap. I am very confident that some (if not all) of these 130 kph sections can at least go up to 145 kph, and then up to 160 kph in some areas.
These upgrades can be done quickly and at reasonable cost. Train speeds and overall performance would benefit immediately.
After which we can look at electrification, which cuts the travel time even further as EMUS accelerate faster than DMUS and being lighter in axle load on the track, can travel faster for longer. Even if we stay at the 160kph speed limit, we get substantial improvements in performance. Of course with EMUS, speeds of 180 - 200kph are now achievable.