Grain Harvest 2020-21

 
  justarider Chief Commissioner

Location: Free at last, free at last
I fear that too much bureaucratic inertia and detachment from regional Vic will mean that nothing will happen.  One thing that might make it happen is that it gets included in MBRP funding after the Oct 6 Federal Budget, even if it doesn't go SG until 5 years time. (Ie. Make it a serviceable BG track first).
Carnot
Yeah Nar,

Making it SG anytime this decade just extends the MBRP debacle.

As Gman points out, the demand is now.
The Fed magic pudding won't cut it for the big bucket of cash needed - much more than just re-open and hope.  
Means Vic has to stump up now, or the opportunity is missed and no point even starting.

BTW if they really pulled their finger out, how long would it take to build a new SG (second) track from Maryborough to Geelong?
Apparantly more than the 2 years like 1862 - such progress we have with modern builds.

cheers
John

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  Carnot Minister for Railways

The State Govt is short of $. They won't 'upgrade' or repair to operation any track without Fed money atm. Decision for Rainbow to Dimmy reopening was pre-Covid really.  They might consider it if Graincorp and others pitch in. (Ie. Similar to Sunrice partially funding Echuca-Toolamba reopening in 2013).
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.
If that is the case (and I suspect it is) than at best it may get sorted out in the early part of next year.

Very poor.
Gman_86
Well I won't say it probably doesn't matter too much because it does matter, it hardly installs faith in anybody in the industry to know they have a reliable rail network to operate their trains on but an industry as whole to know they can shift grain when ever they like not when the Govt sees fit to fix a stuffed up line.

I don't want to start sounding like Winston Churchill, but now having said that, let me say this, if they don't fix the line up till early next year, it's not until well after harvest they start to shift grain anyway.

I'm sure all the grain companies will be wondering if they will be using some rail and mostly trucks to shift grain.

BigShunter.
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
Short of money?

Both state and federal government's have been throwing money around like drunk playboys all year.

As has been said repeatedly, 10 to 12 weeks worth of work, worth less than $20 Million. That money isn't an awful lot by their standards.

Funds being available isn't the problem. It's just a matter of the people who call the shots giving a damn.

V/Line management are too busy ducking for cover at the moment, and as for the state government, well blind Freddy can see that they're attention has been elsewhere the past 3 or 4 months.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

But as we all know, reopened freight lines aren't all bright and shiny for spin doctors to advertise like a new train station, LX seperation, tunnel, or fancy building.

Thus it's low on the priority list. Sadly.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

I'm not sure what Castlemaine has to do with it. Nowhere did I suggest opening the Castlemaine - Maryborough line. That line is dead.

The Inglewood - Eaglehawk line though as has routinely been pointed out, would take relatively little work to bring back to operational.
Sorry Gman my bad.

It is of course Eaglehawk that is referenced. Got my Bendigo outer burbs upside down.
justarider
The reality is that if it were not for the floods some years back Inglewood - Eaglehawk would still be open and used daily by grain trains from the Korongvale Group lines and also by the Ultima Inter-modal train and 100 plus export containers a week from Bridgewater. Forget Murray Basin standardization - separate issue. The only reason the link is not open is because of the flood damage and that VLP being principally a pax Operator made little or no effort to lobby Governments for funds to repair the flood damage. The line is actually 47kg full plated rail in long welded lengths on wooden and concrete sleepers and with around $ 25 - $ 35m is easily resuscitated to a fit for purpose 40 to 50 kmh goods speed first up. The main works are a tie renewal cycle, and re-decking of a bridge at Marong. The junction at Inglewood needs certain track components replaced, and around 2 kms of track washed away by floods needs replacement near Bridgewater.  

The forthcoming closure of the North line at Millbrook on the Ballarat line, will release lots of broad gauge mainline sleepers in good enough condition for further use on a cross country goods line, plus around 8kms of 107lb rail with years of serviceable life remaining, plus 5 sets of boom barriers. So re-opening Inglewood - Eaglehawk is a no brainer in terms of short term job  creation , takes hundreds of trucks off the roads, will see regular daily trains apart from grain, and in future allows extension of VLP pax services to Marong. The line and top are excellent, very little fouling of ballast, probably needs a 1 in 4 tie renewal and minimal top up of ballast to realize 40 - 50kmh for freight trains. Then by working Southbound loaded trains via Bendigo and Northbound empty via Maryborough, one has no bg crosses between Gheringhap and Inglewood, and frees up valuable paths on the dg bottlekneck between Maryborough and Dunolly to run more sg grain trains on the Mildura line.

The extra Southbound grain trains can run largely late evening and overnight as ditto Ultima Intermodal trains having no or minimal impact on Bendigo passenger services.

The latest grain harvest forecasts from ABARE for Victoria are upped again on both February & June projections and with all the recent rains in the right quamtities at just the right time we are staring down the barrel potentially at an absolute bumper harvest for grain and canola, best for over a decade.

https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/agricultural-outlook/australian-crop-report/vic

If we do not re-open  Inglewood - Eaglehawk to a minimum 50kmh speed now then the Murray Basin network in its current state of conversion will simply NOT be able to handle the bumper grain harvest we are facing and in the case of the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines their ability to run two grain trains a day on each line will simply not be realized as there is insufficient network capacity to handle extra bg trains South of Dunolly. NO railway re-activated 90 extra road trucks for each extra  grain train that cannot be run , potentially for many months well into 2021.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
I think you'll find PN running a lot of three loco lashups on their 40 wagon grainies now, especially on those that routinely get into strife at Warrenheip, Porcupine Hill, and Taradale....
Carnot

I never even thought about Porcupine Hill, (perhaps you meant on the DOWN). I would have thought the Tunnel Hill rise from Castlemaine to the Elphinstone tunnel would have been worse, so thanks for that additional info.

I remember travelling with deceased mate TK on Christmas day on the UP Swan Hill a few years ago where it was a full 10 car train with 2xN class locos...however one of the N's was dead so one N did all the work. Castlemaine to Tunnel Hill was very heavy going and that was with dry rails...but it was a standing start at Castlemaine...something a freight would not be doing out of Castlemaine these days.

Which is the worst rise for a loaded train...Warrenheip because it's actually taking all the graineys OR the others as mentioned by 'Carnot' on the Bendigo line which aren't getting any graineys because of the Marong-Eaglehawk line being booked out of service...and NO cash for upgrade this year...at this stage Exclamation

I'll be interested to read any informed replies.

Mike.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
The reality is that if it were not for the floods some years back Inglewood - Eaglehawk would still be open and used daily by grain trains from the Korongvale Group lines and also by the Ultima Inter-modal train and 100 plus export containers a week from Bridgewater. Forget Murray Basin standardization - separate issue. The only reason the link is not open is because of the flood damage and that VLP being principally a pax Operator made little or no effort to lobby Governments for funds to repair the flood damage. The line is actually 47kg full plated rail in long welded lengths on wooden and concrete sleepers and with around $ 25 - $ 35m is easily resuscitated to a fit for purpose 40 to 50 kmh goods speed first up. The main works are a tie renewal cycle, and re-decking of a bridge at Marong. The junction at Inglewood needs certain track components replaced, and around 2 kms of track washed away by floods needs replacement near Bridgewater.  

The forthcoming closure of the North line at Millbrook on the Ballarat line, will release lots of broad gauge mainline sleepers in good enough condition for further use on a cross country goods line, plus around 8kms of 107lb rail with years of serviceable life remaining, plus 5 sets of boom barriers. So re-opening Inglewood - Eaglehawk is a no brainer in terms of short term job  creation , takes hundreds of trucks off the roads, will see regular daily trains apart from grain, and in future allows extension of VLP pax services to Marong. The line and top are excellent, very little fouling of ballast, probably needs a 1 in 4 tie renewal and minimal top up of ballast to realize 40 - 50kmh for freight trains. Then by working Southbound loaded trains via Bendigo and Northbound empty via Maryborough, one has no bg crosses between Gheringhap and Inglewood, and frees up valuable paths on the dg bottlekneck between Maryborough and Dunolly to run more sg grain trains on the Mildura line.

The extra Southbound grain trains can run largely late evening and overnight as ditto Ultima Intermodal trains having no or minimal impact on Bendigo passenger services.

The latest grain harvest forecasts from ABARE for Victoria are upped again on both February & June projections and with all the recent rains in the right quamtities at just the right time we are staring down the barrel potentially at an absolute bumper harvest for grain and canola, best for over a decade.

https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/agricultural-outlook/australian-crop-report/vic

If we do not re-open  Inglewood - Eaglehawk to a minimum 50kmh speed now then the Murray Basin network in its current state of conversion will simply NOT be able to handle the bumper grain harvest we are facing and in the case of the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines their ability to run two grain trains a day on each line will simply not be realized as there is insufficient network capacity to handle extra bg trains South of Dunolly. NO railway re-activated 90 extra road trucks for each extra  grain train that cannot be run , potentially for many months well into 2021.
kuldalai

This sensible info...virtually as it is needs to be sent to Transport Infrastructure Minister Allan asap, to save her face from wearing lots of egg in a few months. However with signal lights being installled on the new BLU works just this week at Ballan and new tracks with gaping gaps still to be completed, the old Bungaree Loop will still be in place...probably till Christmas, so it's slightly late for a holus-bolus transfer of materials to Marong...but still a great idea.

Mike.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Bendigo line still gets grainies loaded at Piangil, Woorinen, Mitiamo, Deniliquin, and Elmore. Mostly the short SSR rake hauled by two S class locos and the occasional 40 wagon PN rake.  

Some of the recent failures have been as follows on both Ballarat and Bendigo routed trains:

- Catastrophic engine failure.
- Ran out of fuel (VL on Ultima hay). Made worse by no opportunity to refuel at Maryborough these days. At least you can refuel at Bendigo still. So another plus in having Up trains via there.
- Big oil leaks.

Just to name a few.

PN had a failure at Porcupine Hill a month ago. The next PN grainy that week had three locos instead of the usual 2 locos...

Warrenheip is a long steep haul out of Ballarat, and often wet.  Similar in grade and distance to Chewton Bank. At least a failure at Warrenheip won't block passenger trains.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

The reality is that if it were not for the floods some years back Inglewood - Eaglehawk would still be open and used daily by grain trains from the Korongvale Group lines and also by the Ultima Inter-modal train and 100 plus export containers a week from Bridgewater. Forget Murray Basin standardization - separate issue. The only reason the link is not open is because of the flood damage and that VLP being principally a pax Operator made little or no effort to lobby Governments for funds to repair the flood damage. The line is actually 47kg full plated rail in long welded lengths on wooden and concrete sleepers and with around $ 25 - $ 35m is easily resuscitated to a fit for purpose 40 to 50 kmh goods speed first up. The main works are a tie renewal cycle, and re-decking of a bridge at Marong. The junction at Inglewood needs certain track components replaced, and around 2 kms of track washed away by floods needs replacement near Bridgewater.  

The forthcoming closure of the North line at Millbrook on the Ballarat line, will release lots of broad gauge mainline sleepers in good enough condition for further use on a cross country goods line, plus around 8kms of 107lb rail with years of serviceable life remaining, plus 5 sets of boom barriers. So re-opening Inglewood - Eaglehawk is a no brainer in terms of short term job  creation , takes hundreds of trucks off the roads, will see regular daily trains apart from grain, and in future allows extension of VLP pax services to Marong. The line and top are excellent, very little fouling of ballast, probably needs a 1 in 4 tie renewal and minimal top up of ballast to realize 40 - 50kmh for freight trains. Then by working Southbound loaded trains via Bendigo and Northbound empty via Maryborough, one has no bg crosses between Gheringhap and Inglewood, and frees up valuable paths on the dg bottlekneck between Maryborough and Dunolly to run more sg grain trains on the Mildura line.

The extra Southbound grain trains can run largely late evening and overnight as ditto Ultima Intermodal trains having no or minimal impact on Bendigo passenger services.

The latest grain harvest forecasts from ABARE for Victoria are upped again on both February & June projections and with all the recent rains in the right quamtities at just the right time we are staring down the barrel potentially at an absolute bumper harvest for grain and canola, best for over a decade.

https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/agricultural-outlook/australian-crop-report/vic

If we do not re-open  Inglewood - Eaglehawk to a minimum 50kmh speed now then the Murray Basin network in its current state of conversion will simply NOT be able to handle the bumper grain harvest we are facing and in the case of the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines their ability to run two grain trains a day on each line will simply not be realized as there is insufficient network capacity to handle extra bg trains South of Dunolly. NO railway re-activated 90 extra road trucks for each extra  grain train that cannot be run , potentially for many months well into 2021.

This sensible info...virtually as it is needs to be sent to Transport Infrastructure Minister Allan asap, to save her face from wearing lots of egg in a few months. However with signal lights being installled on the new BLU works just this week at Ballan and new tracks with gaping gaps still to be completed, the old Bungaree Loop will still be in place...probably till Christmas, so it's slightly late for a holus-bolus transfer of materials to Marong...but still a great idea.

Mike.
The Vinelander
It is understood the case for the early re-opening as fit for purpose 40 - 50kmh operation of Inglewood Eaglehawk has been put to to Ministers Allan and Horne by multiple parties since mid year but no announcements as yet.  Unfortunately this project is seen politically by many as re-open Inglewood  Eaglehawk, OR complete Murray Basin standardization as original plan. Removing the politics the two are completely separate, and potentially complementary issues.
Timing wise it should be a 10 to 12 week project if we attack it with vigour and there appears two options with an eye to using some readily available re-claimed materials (if we are smart) from the soon to be abandonded North  Line at Millbrook .

1. Thinking outside the box (if that is allowed these Nanny State days) -  Commission Millbrook Loop separately ahead of the mid December tt change say by early November, maintaining existing pax tt but with crosses at Millbrook Loop instead of on the longer North Line.  Thus allowing earliest release of sleepers, rails and bb installations to allow Inglewood - Eaglehawk to re-open by say mid February 2021.

2. If the above is genuinely not possible for a real and valid reason, then decommission the old North line mid December allowing Inglewood - Eaglehawk to re-open from early April 2021.

The bumper grain harvest off the two bg lines is not a two week wonder in that all Operators are going like a cut cat to get remainder of last years crop cleared before this years harvest starts. Then we start seriously with this years harvest direct to Geelong storages, then as harvest gains momemntum we start storing in regional silos and bunkers, and then we clear all that backlog from the regional silos for months and months on end to the ports.

Minister Horne recently said some 30 plus grain trains had operated from Rainbow since line re-opening of that line saving 90 road truck movements for each train that had been able to run =  2700 road truck movements to & from ports avoided.
In the case of currently throttling the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines to only 1 grain train a day, the resultant overflow to road if the low cost expedient of re-opening Inglewood - Eaglehawk is not enacted by early 2021 will be many times worse in terms of avoidable truck movements than the case of the Rainbow line quoted above.

Re BLU the missing bits of track on the Down side of Ballan and both ends of Bacchus Marsh are relatively small now and RPV have proven on past occasions that they can indeed complete such "Blue Hills" sagas fairly quickly when they have to meet a deadline. Therefore those small missing sections of track can realistically be completed at both locations within the next 6 weeks.
  Richard stroker Junior Train Controller

I agree with the issue of train lines being a better way to transport bulk grain rather than road .

Firstly the "bumper harvest " has not yet happened, it looks promising, but who knows what can happen between today and the actual harvest.

Secondly , where is all the harvest going to ? Where is it getting moved to ? Shipping schedules are way out of whack and at least 3 weeks behind .

Where does the "bumper harvest "
Get stored or moved to if it's not on a ship ?
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

I agree with the issue of train lines being a better way to transport bulk grain rather than road .

Firstly the "bumper harvest " has not yet happened, it looks promising, but who knows what can happen between today and the actual harvest.

Secondly , where is all the harvest going to ? Where is it getting moved to ? Shipping schedules are way out of whack and at least 3 weeks behind .

Where does the "bumper harvest "
Get stored or moved to if it's not on a ship ?
Richard stroker
Grain season generally works like this.
- one goes hell for leather to clear all grain out of country silos and covered ground storages to storage at export ports by Autumn.
- Harvest starts around November and intitially goes to ports and both exported and stored in silos and covered ground storages there.
- As harvest intensity picks up trains and road cannot keep up with sheer volume of grain so it is stored in country silos and covered regional sites, and then cleared on an on going basis to export ports either for immediate export or for storage at ports.
- So the transport task continues long after the harvest through Autumn and well into winter .

The ABARES forecasts are based on expected rainfalls and as I wrote in a previous post the required rains have fallen in recent weeks and even this weekend in the right areas as the right time in the right sort of quantities to deliver the forecast bumper grain harvest . Only TOO much rain(as distinct from no more rain) would spell and end to the forecast bumper harvest this year.
  Donald Chief Commissioner

Location: Donald. Duck country.
You forgot the spring panic when another big harvest is looming  and the country storages need to be cleared before this year's load.
Edit: Removed underline.   No idea why underline or italics appear when using my phone.
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.
I agree with the issue of train lines being a better way to transport bulk grain rather than road .

Firstly the "bumper harvest " has not yet happened, it looks promising, but who knows what can happen between today and the actual harvest.

Secondly , where is all the harvest going to ? Where is it getting moved to ? Shipping schedules are way out of whack and at least 3 weeks behind .

Where does the "bumper harvest "
Get stored or moved to if it's not on a ship ?
Richard stroker
Ok Dick I will poke a bit more at ya.

The bumper harvest is covering a lot of the Wimmera & Mallee, so it's a huge area that is pretty flush with very good crops. Last year things were a bit tight on it East of Horsham, with the West Wimmera having a booming time. So it's just shear volume all round this year.

Yes there could be hail damage but this is really going to be a small localised area in the scheme of things. Probably at this stage 2 major things could have the wheels getting a bit wobbly, if it came in very hot, this happened in 2009. fried a lot of grain before it was ripe or with the apparent la nina or el neno what ever, if we got a heap of rain combined with humidity, crops would start to get moldy.

A few fellows I have ben in contact with have already said there's enough moisture to get their crops to harvest, with any further rain just adding more volume to their crops.

And I see what you mean, we can only delivery grain to port as fast as they can take it but if say the Port of Geelong is full with 70,000 tonne of wheat, takes a couple of days, say to load a ship, that ship heads off but there's another ship out in the harbour tooting their horn wanting their 70,000 tonne, it's going to take a good few weeks to get that quantity of grain in. So with the impending cockup with the broad & standard gauge arrangement it will be a tough assignment.

BigShunter.
  Greensleeves Chief Commissioner

Location: If it isn't obvious by now, it should be.
QUBE made another run on the Murray Basin over the weekend, returning back to Ararat this morning with a load of grain headed for Moree.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbIy753ZyiU
  rwatts Junior Train Controller

Location: Adelaide SA
Several years ago when the Wimmera was having a pretty good season, I was talking to my cousin Gary from near Warracknabeal about how the harvest was looking.  He explained that unfortunately other grain producing countries were also having or just had good seasons also and so the prices were not looking real flash.  Gary mentioned that more and more of the farmers have built up significant on-farm storage capacity and would try to hold on to their grain and hope for prices to improve later.

Eventually of course the crops must be sold to pay the bills but I wonder if this will (or already has) impact upon the pattern of grain shipments to an increasing significance.

Richard.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
50 wagons = 25% improvement over the norm?
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
Is it possible to run double length trains on the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines?

What I am getting at is, could an operator (lets say PN for instance) run a double length consist (that is 4, 5 or even 6 locomotives and 80 hoppers) from North Geelong through to Dunolly and on to the branch line as far as one pick up point, split half of the train at the first loading point, and then continue the second half of the train further down the line to a second pick up point. Both trains are loaded at the same time, then the furthest train comes back up the line, connects up with the other half and continues on again as 1 double consist all the way back to North Geelong.

This would allow 2 trains per line to run each day, while still only using 1 path on the congested Dunolly to North Geelong section.

Is this doable with the current infrastructure in place?

Or am I forgetting something?
  cbinyon Chief Train Controller

Location: London, England
Is it possible to run double length trains on the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines?

What I am getting at is, could an operator (lets say PN for instance) run a double length consist (that is 4, 5 or even 6 locomotives and 80 hoppers) from North Geelong through to Dunolly and on to the branch line as far as one pick up point, split half of the train at the first loading point, and then continue the second half of the train further down the line to a second pick up point. Both trains are loaded at the same time, then the furthest train comes back up the line, connects up with the other half and continues on again as 1 double consist all the way back to North Geelong.

This would allow 2 trains per line to run each day, while still only using 1 path on the congested Dunolly to North Geelong section.

Is this doable with the current infrastructure in place?

Or am I forgetting something?
Gman_86
There is a 1200 metre length limit on all Vline/ Victrack lines in the state. How long is a 40 block grainy with 2/3 locos? I remember it being around 800-900 metres, correct me if I'm wrong.

If we're after quick fixes for this season, as detrimental as it sounds could they possible dual gauge the 2 to 3 roads at Maryborough to enable crosses between both gauges at the same time? Not sure if it's operationally possible/ allowed but it could ease some congestion. I believe the roads can stage a 40 block grain train with 3 locos?
  Carnot Minister for Railways

What's left of the Maryborough yard is on brand new single gauge concrete sleepers and fancy gauge splitters and turnouts.  I doubt they will rip all that up and start again in hurry.  They spent months stuffing around with all that in 2017-18 alone.

The best option in the short term is reopening Inglewood to Eaglehawk.  But from what I've seen so far, there seems to be a rush to spend infrastructure money on roads and road bridges instead....
  trainbrain Chief Commissioner

I believ BG and SG good trains have already crossed, unsure of the dates but the BG would naturally be using the platform road.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

BG can only use platform road at Maryborough. Between Ballarat and Korong Vale there are no places for two BG trains to cross. Zero.
  justarider Chief Commissioner

Location: Free at last, free at last
BG can only use platform road at Maryborough. Between Ballarat and Korong Vale there are no places for two BG trains to cross. Zero.
"Carnot"

What do I miss with your fixation on trains crossing?

@Gman hit it on the head nearly with his suggestion of bigger trains. Instead of 1 big, run 2 normal.

Just run a conga line one way.

IE.
in the AM, 2 up trains from each of Yelta, Sealake, Manangatang. About 1hr separation, or wharever the safe working allows.
in the PM, run the down reverse.

If you need more, then just need to be more attentive to a train running up your R$e. Heaven forbid we actually employ some guards.

thoughhts?
John
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
The conga line approach has been used on regional branch lines in NSW.  I remember seeing them go out and come back in as a kid.

So nothing new, just needs to be planned for.
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.
Reckon Gman_86 & justarider both have reasonable suggestions, the up coming harvest may not quite be a crisis but how about wavering a few rules and help the team out here....eh

Dragging 50 wagons of grain from Birchip to the far North of NSW, WT really, how about using the approach, the above have mentioned, make the trip worth while.

Say you live in Birchip and for what ever strange reason your going to take a trailer load of wood to one of your kids in Morree, you go to the shed look at the 6 bee 4 trailer and think naa, so you harness up the 7 x5 ( 50 wagons equivalent ) mean while the 8 x 5 tandem is sitting next to the 10 x 5 tandem fitted with the hungry boards, what would you be hooking onto the Big Landcruiser, know what I'd be doing.  

Last year a 100 wagon consist was run from the Wimmera into NSW and split into 2 consists, that's the way to shift grain, some cooperation with the traffic control, train had priority running A1.

BigShunter.

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