Country rail realignments , 101 reasons why they never took place

 
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I was reading an old Rail History mag yesterday , the 50 years of Blue Mountains electrification one , and it occurred to me that so much has been done to speed up rail transit times - except actually realigning/regrading the lines themselves .
That mag spoke about how EMUs and elec locos reduced the running times of freight and pass trains to Penrith and eventually Lithgow . It mentions same deal on the short North and Illawarra as well .
Higher powered diesel electrics came in the 80s and the XPTs sped up country pass trains .
Staff and Block telegraph safe working was replaced by automatic or remote controlled signalling in many places which kept the wheels rolling longer .
Over time rail weights increased and concrete or steel sleepers replaced wooden ones so in theory the perway becomes stronger .

So , what to do when the perway is strong , the traction powerful , the safeworking more efficient .

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  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Well, there's really only one reason... and that's cost.  

In many cases realignment has the unfortunate requirement of being very lumpy from a cost point of view - you have to spend a lot of money upfront.  That means that there needs to be a lot of extra demand expected to result from the savings in the near term (or your existing users need to be saving a lot of money as a result of time savings) as a consequence of the realignment in order to justify that upfront cost.  The number of cases in which you will unlock significant extra demand has been small - once you have a workable connection, that satisfies most of the latent demand, things are less sensitive to further improvements in that connection.  

In some cases it may then be not all that competitive from a dollar per minute saved point of view.  A train with higher power to weight ratio is a potentially faster train everywhere it runs, not just over the specific section that you might realign.  Safeworking changes over an entire line (particularly those enabled by progression in available technology) may only come at a fraction of the cost of a typical significant realignment.

A lot of the things that you listed that have historically lead to improved transit times have also offered significant benefit in other areas, such as cost savings, safety improvements, capacity or capability increases.  They would not have been justified on transit time alone.

Take the main north/north coast line for example.  You often mention the proposed Fassifern-Hexham-Stroud Road bypass as a worthwhile project (perhaps it is or will be one day - it certainly seems like a sensible project to have considered).  I can't remember exactly what sort of total cost was being looked at for that combined project - but lets say it was a billion dollars (that cost, and the following time savings and train numbers - are all inventions by me - but they are probably not far off the mark).  Perhaps it saves 30 minutes for a train using the full length of the bypass - noting that's only a subset of the total trains heading north, because some will still want to go into Newcastle proper - so say four trains a day use it.  If you were an operator, would you spend a billion dollars up front to save two hours of consist time a day?  Will that save you much in operating costs?  Will your customers appreciate the faster time, such that they will be willing to pay more?  Will a saving of 30 minutes suddenly open up vast new markets, such that you start running five through trains a day?  If you wanted to run five through trains a day, could you even do that, or would you just hit a constraint elsewhere in the network?

(Really - what would swing that specific upgrade is a combination of the time saving to existing demand (the existing demand might be expected to contribute via increased access fees to the cost of the upgrade), the prospect of new demand (access fees from the new demand helping to offset the cost) and [most importantly here] other benefits to society - such as a reduction in congestion and loss of amenity in suburban areas.  For that specific upgrade new demand and social benefit/loss of amenity aspects converge somewhat - due to proposed coal traffic from the Central Coast to the ports in Newcastle, but that's a pretty scenario specific situation.)

This isn't an blanket argument against realignments by any means - it's just a simple statement of the context in which those sorts of projects compete for capital.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Thirty minutes ? You obviously don't know the Fassifern to Dungog area from a rail alignment point of view . I would say more like 120 minutes IF you could get a straight through run on the suggested new alignment .
You can't know about the much reduced - to slug levels - speeds RC changed to or the almost certain crawl through Broadmeadow Yard at ~ 20 km/h for virtually ALL through non XPT services . You don't know how long we sit at Islington Jct waiting for the ex Newcastle DMU that we can easily out run . And then crawl along behind them to Maitland Telarah or Dungog itself . The whole , or was it hole , existing alignment was never intended to get any trains at all from the short North to the North Coast railway . It was designed to head towards Broady and Newcastle which is a fair way east of Hexham , and through at times steep windy areas infested with RC Tin Cans - lots and lots of them . And twice a day they shut the short north down for tin plague migrations .
The current Pacific Highway (expressway) doesn't go anywhere near Newcastle for some curious reason , actually heads through Hexham very strange ...
Now if this line was built and assumes by ARTC it wouldn't have OHW making it useless to EMUs - just like SSFL . It wouldn't go towards a city where freight traffic has no need to access then turn west for some distance only to go north again .
Look at this symbol $ . It starts at the bottom at Fassi , the lower left hand curve is Broadmeadow and the upper righ hand curve is Telarah . The two short strait bits are Fassi and Dungog and contain no Sydney Newcastle or Newcastle to Maitland/Telarah/Dungog traffic at all .

Now you can have double line RVD/CTC/high horsepower locos and high speed rollingstock , but does it get you through the Fassi Dungog section of the Sydney Brisbane railway any faster ? No chance in hell .
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Thirty minutes ? You obviously don't know the Fassifern to Dungog area from a rail alignment point of view . I would say more like 120 minutes IF you could get a straight through run on the suggested new alignment .
You can't know about the much reduced - to slug levels - speeds RC changed to or the almost certain crawl through Broadmeadow Yard at ~ 20 km/h for virtually ALL through non XPT services . You don't know how long we sit at Islington Jct waiting for the ex Newcastle DMU that we can easily out run . And then crawl along behind them to Maitland Telarah or Dungog itself . The whole , or was it hole , existing alignment was never intended to get any trains at all from the short North to the North Coast railway . It was designed to head towards Broady and Newcastle which is a fair way east of Hexham , and through at times steep windy areas infested with RC Tin Cans - lots and lots of them . And twice a day they shut the short north down for tin plague migrations .
The current Pacific Highway (expressway) doesn't go anywhere near Newcastle for some curious reason , actually heads through Hexham very strange ...
Now if this line was built and assumes by ARTC it wouldn't have OHW making it useless to EMUs - just like SSFL . It wouldn't go towards a city where freight traffic has no need to access then turn west for some distance only to go north again .
Look at this symbol $ . It starts at the bottom at Fassi , the lower left hand curve is Broadmeadow and the upper righ hand curve is Telarah . The two short strait bits are Fassi and Dungog and contain no Sydney Newcastle or Newcastle to Maitland/Telarah/Dungog traffic at all .

Now you can have double line RVD/CTC/high horsepower locos and high speed rollingstock , but does it get you through the Fassi Dungog section of the Sydney Brisbane railway any faster ? No chance in hell .
BDA

So call it 90 minutes.  Does it stack up?

I'm familiar enough with the current alignment.  You prompted me to look up more details associated with the bypass proposals.  The North South Corridor Study in 2006 said 17 minutes saving for the southern half, for $550 million spend, and 50 minutes saving for the northern half, for $480 million spend.  The southern half is the more developed of the two - due to level crossing issues in Newcastle.

(The current alignment is where it is due to historical aspects, plus the technology of the day meant that the numerous river crossings and flood plains closer to the coast were prohibitively expensive to cross directly.  The early form of the Pacific Highway (the initial variant of which (and the early proposed alignment of the F3) very much went into Newcastle) similarly was further west to the north of Newcastle than it otherwise might have been.)

I'm sure that one day, perhaps even one day soon, they'll do this.  But the current reality is that it doesn't fly on the basis of a bare handful of direct trains a day - other factors need to come into play.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Yes yes and a lot has changed in 7 years including Sydney/NSW Trains plans . Even if it was said that the southern half saved 17 minutes that would have to be based on a comparison of a straight through run , on the main , at Broadmeadow . This never happens because as I said we are almost always checked between Kotara and Adamstown which means over the 25 km/h points into Broadmeadow to sloth through the yard at ~20 km/h . Crawl stick to stick up towards Woodville and Islington Jct to sit for 10-30 minutes and follow the all stations ship box to Maitland/Telarah/Dungog , once clear of the moronic 25 km/h points at Isso Jct that is . No down trains pass on the main and nothing comes past westbound out of Newcastle , sloth along again at 50 this time where we could/should be doing 100-115 . 17 minutes means squat in these situations and let me tell you no two trips north or south through these areas is EVER the same even for the same trains on or slightly ahead of their slots .

It doesn't matter where the old roads ran because we are living in the here and now so THE only comparison that means anything is with what exists now .
Rail freight is dieing because its being strangled , infrastructure is not being updated like roads are and competition from the overlord means they rule supreme .
Socialists Govts are full of it because they promote carbon taxes and road freight transport at the same time - go figure . The next lot may not do much better for rail but at least they won't blow our tax bux on BER BATS NBN etc , maybe some things with more lasting value than the Labi*/Green consortium have .
  djf01 Chief Commissioner


Now you can have double line RVD/CTC/high horsepower locos and high speed rollingstock , but does it get you through the Fassi Dungog section of the Sydney Brisbane railway any faster ? No chance in hell .
BDA

I still think you are barking up the wrong tree trying to make rail more competitive on time.  Rail (in Australia) always has the disadvantage of terminal transfer overhead and having to run to annoying things like timetables.  Rail's advantage should be cost (and yes, time is a component of this) and that is where the capex should be targeted at: getting more tonnage through lower pricing (as distinct from lower profits).

For mine, this means making the routes even longer and windier to knock the tops of some of the 1:40 DOWN grades would help immensely, as would ARTC charging policies that explicitly reward high tonnage/low Upside-down RazzW trains.
  marhleet Train Controller

sort of the same argument, cost, as to why the Hume Highway wasn't levelled so all the hills are gone, would save an hour or two for every truck and massive fuel savings but who would benefit the most and who would pay
  a6et Minister for Railways

The whole question & problem with the short north & lower NCL is the variations of traffic that are reguired to compete with each other. While the section from Fassifern north is bad enough, there was a survey conducted by one of the combined NCLE, chambers of commerce & valley councils some few years back prior to the 2006 one, & a plan of the propossals was published in a Railway Digest, showing the various options for overall improvements to Public transport including bus, rail links radiating from NCLE, including the so called by pass to Hexham. Can't remember the dollar terms but reality has it the costs would be a bit more these days as nothing has been done over the various tracks.

The primary bypass, was not from Fassifern but actually from Dora Creek & skirted to the west of Hawk Mount, & still came into the Hexham area as proposed later. The bypass was to take away all the 1/40 grades with dual track, & all the primary interstate intermodal services would operate on the line.  Included was also some relatively easy realingments from Wyong through to Wyee - Morriset, along with some realingnment of the S curves just to the north side of Morriset.  The concept being that the removal of trains that traversed the northern & more southern areas would totally be eliminated from the main NCLE suburban areas.  That would leave the existing line as is, for commuter & local coal services to Morriset, Fassifern, & other power stations in the areas.

It was considered that the old single line alignment from the top of Fasssifern through to Teralba could also be brought into operation for trains not required to stop at Booragul &/or that section could remain as a passing line for both directions, the old line would be doubled & the speed increased.

I still have the article somewhere with the excellent map shown in it.  Primarilly speaking the concept that was put was very much based on a mid line increase of rail traffic, & the overall affect on the main suburban areas bounded by the Adamstown - Islington Jct  through & past the PTW entry & affect of main line crossovers with long trains, & then through to Kooragang area.  A removal of through trains that had no need to go through that area was seen as a huge cost saving to all current & future users of rail.

At the time, it was also proposed that Hexham would become the primary centre for any transhipping & other wayside operations for Intermodel & other long distance freight services.  The overall concept provided for the new by pass lines to have minimal grades & nomimal overall track speed of 110Km/h.

One actually wonders how much savings in overall transit time of intermodal services between Sydney & the Hexham exchange would be in comparison to what is expected to benefit the line with the piecemeal NSFL work.  With the likelihood of the Wallarah mine coming on board over the next few years, that coal was also shown in the old plans but it would have gone by the new by pass & entered Kooragang or PTW by the Hexham end.  Thus that traffic also is going to place some extra burdens on the line north of around Wyee.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Yes yes and a lot has changed in 7 years including Sydney/NSW Trains plans . Even if it was said that the southern half saved 17 minutes that would have to be based on a comparison of a straight through run , on the main , at Broadmeadow . This never happens because as I said we are almost always checked between Kotara and Adamstown which means over the 25 km/h points into Broadmeadow to sloth through the yard at ~20 km/h . Crawl stick to stick up towards Woodville and Islington Jct to sit for 10-30 minutes and follow the all stations ship box to Maitland/Telarah/Dungog , once clear of the moronic 25 km/h points at Isso Jct that is . No down trains pass on the main and nothing comes past westbound out of Newcastle , sloth along again at 50 this time where we could/should be doing 100-115 . 17 minutes means squat in these situations and let me tell you no two trips north or south through these areas is EVER the same even for the same trains on or slightly ahead of their slots .
BDA
So call it 90 minutes.  Does it stack up?

One billion dollars, borrowed at a government bond rate of say 5%, you are looking at $50 million a year in interest.  If it is relevant for four general freight trains per day, 365 days per year - you are looking at over 30,000 dollars for each service.  That's something like double their current access charge for the whole trip.

That's being rather extreme, because there is coal traffic that would use both halves of the bypass, but the coal miners priorities are 1) capacity and 2) cost.  Transit time is irrelevant in its own right (it may factor into cost and capacity), so I doubt the coal traffic is all that keen to stump up too much cash.

(I suspect (I don't know - I've never seen any detail on the proposals beyond a proposed alignment for the southern half squiggled onto a map and discussion using about ex-coal-mine land tenure) that the reason the saving for the southern half is less is because they've only allowed for a single track and there will be some contention as a result.  Plus the proposed alignment from memory does curve out to the west a bit due to the local topography.  But I could be completely wrong.)

I know there are issues with the east coast alignments - go a little further south and things become almost chronic (it must be bad - they are spending money on it!).  But to get back to your original post - the reason that alignments are not being fixed at any great pace is simple - cost!  And if the train operators don't want to pay for it (which they don't, because pissant quantities of intermodal rail freight isn't exactly lucrative) then you are begging from the government, which means that any project then has to get in line with all the other government projects and argue its merits.  That line of potential government funded projects is very long and mostly subject to the political whim of the day.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Whats on road isn't pissant yet huge amounts of tax payers bux went into interstate roads . Then the roads became more direct and increased in capacity . Are the transports costs cheap ? Is the energy use economic ? Is the road death toll acceptable ? Do road freight carriers pay their way ?
Nope nope and nope and who picks up the tab ? We all do of course so how good do you feel about that ?
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Whats on road isn't pissant yet huge amounts of tax payers bux went into interstate roads . Then the roads became more direct and increased in capacity . Are the transports costs cheap ? Is the energy use economic ? Is the road death toll acceptable ? Do road freight carriers pay their way ?
Nope nope and nope and who picks up the tab ? We all do of course so how good do you feel about that ?
"BDA"
...subject to the political whim of the day.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Whats on road isn't pissant yet huge amounts of tax payers bux went into interstate roads . Then the roads became more direct and increased in capacity . Are the transports costs cheap ? Is the energy use economic ? Is the road death toll acceptable ? Do road freight carriers pay their way ?
Nope nope and nope and who picks up the tab ? We all do of course so how good do you feel about that ?
BDA
"Pissant", without explanation is unfair on my part, but the tonnage associated with a handful of intermodal trains a day is small, relative to the total capacity of the line for traffic that isn't particularly time sensitive.

I'm all for road user charging reform.  That to me is a far more fundamental problem than alignment.  Fix that and I fully expect that you'll see a progressive increase in demand for rail freight.  The additional revenue associated with that increased demand then makes the business case for alignment improvements far better, and in a manner that's independent of political whim.  Knock off some of the cheaper dollar per minute (or really, dollar of capital spent per dollar of operating cost saved) projects, and your competitive position improves further, potentially bringing some of the bigger alignment projects into play.  We are not talking overnight changes here and there are some "chicken and egg" aspects that will require taxpayer assistance to get the ball rolling or to cover community imposed alignment costs (urban area access), but all up I think this approach has far more likelihood of sustained success.

If you don't reform the relative cost position of the two modes and embark on construction of a rail super-highway, you run the risk of spending large amounts of money only to still have the bulk of freight remain on road - either because the cost to customer of rail is still higher than road, or because the unavoidable total delivery time hit associated with the need to tranship at either end (as mentioned by djf01) fundamentally keeps rail out of the picture for time sensitive stuff.  Worse, what gets built is far more likely to be something that satisfies the general politic, rather than the real needs of the industry.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Four trains a day , some of you must have four fingers to count with .

MB2/BM2 MB4/BM4 AB6/BA6 BS6 WB3/BW4 MB7/BM7 and six XPT services a day to the NCR , maybe more . Even the X would save considerable time if it interchanged Broadmeadow people at Maitland or Hexham if accessable .
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
...subject to the political whim of the day.
Watson374

I recall the other lot (i.e. not the mob that BDA despises) announced the Hexham-Stroud realignment in one of its budgets - guess that didn't happen Rolling Eyes
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Four trains a day , some of you must have four fingers to count with .

MB2/BM2 MB4/BM4 AB6/BA6 BS6 WB3/BW4 MB7/BM7 and six XPT services a day to the NCR , maybe more . Even the X would save considerable time if it interchanged Broadmeadow people at Maitland or Hexham if accessable .
BDA
As I wrote in my first post - the number of trains was just a guess on my part at the number of relevant services.  Shoot me.  More significant than what you've listed is the fact that I'd forgotten about the Gloucester coal basin trains.  That said I don't believe all the services you've listed run everyday and I believe a fair proportion of them (all except the MB/BM services?) would still require a run back into Newcastle.  You would have a better idea.

I think it is unrealistic for the XPT to use the bypass, especially the northern half.  Broadmeadow is a significant stop for the service and there are other stations that would be missed.

Pick your numbers for transit time, pick your numbers for services that benefit.  Does it stack up?

I reckon that if you didn't have the prospective conflict between coal and suburban services and the issues with the freights running through suburban areas, the southern bypass wouldn't be on the radar (it being less effective in terms of time saved per dollar spent than the northern half).  With the path conflict and suburban amenity issues present, I reckon there would be just as much likelihood of the bypass southern bypass proceeding if the bypass did absolutely nothing for through freight transit time - it is very much secondary in the justification.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
A few years before the ARTC NSW Lease was finally consummated there was an audit which identified and estimated and prioritised ($/min saved) a raft of improvements along the North South DIRN. Significant realignments/ deviations are viewed as 5 year projects from approval through to delivery - for anyone who's been through a project EIA especially with property resumptions etc. understands that. Above all it takes money.  

However neither the LNP then or Labor now have backed them - good times or bad. Yes a pox on both their houses as I'm sure you could fund them by cutting back education funding or tax cuts for people on the double plus side of the average wage depending on where your prejudice lies.

Simple - no bucks no bang.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
And yet the Hunter Hwy/bypass , or whatever its called , is going through fairly quickly .

The mob you say I despise has blown plenty of billions on projects that clearly are not going to pay off and few "blown" on land transport would at least have left us with something of benefit . Its not to say that they would have done this anyway but its not like what they did do had the support of the people which is why the majority of people aren't going to vote for them . Think what you like but Juliar knew full well that the carbon dioxide tax was poison but the lack of Greens support was certain death for the Labor Party being in power . The Greens wanted a Carbon Dioxide tax and held Labor to randsome over it . You could be excused for thinking that Labor was more interested in being in power than listening to what the majority of people want , now they have to pay the price for attempting to rule rather than govern in a "democracy" that gets to hire and fire governments . Just a shame so much money was wasted on things with little or no lasting value . Money that is badly needed on things , of which rail transport , could make a difference .
The Greens are the biggest morons , they went pushing for HSR when we all know that road transport is super hungry for petrolium fuel and better rail links that would support more freight on rail would consume less fuel and emit less greenhouse gasses so a win for everyone .
Wonder if Governments think hmm less fuel less tax - SHOOT , we can't have that !
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
And yet the Hunter Hwy/bypass , or whatever its called , is going through fairly quickly .

The mob you say I despise has blown plenty of billions on projects that clearly are not going to pay off and few "blown" on land transport would at least have left us with something of benefit . Its not to say that they would have done this anyway but its not like what they did do had the support of the people which is why the majority of people aren't going to vote for them . Think what you like but Juliar knew full well that the carbon dioxide tax was poison but the lack of Greens support was certain death for the Labor Party being in power . The Greens wanted a Carbon Dioxide tax and held Labor to randsome over it . You could be excused for thinking that Labor was more interested in being in power than listening to what the majority of people want , now they have to pay the price for attempting to rule rather than govern in a "democracy" that gets to hire and fire governments . Just a shame so much money was wasted on things with little or no lasting value . Money that is badly needed on things , of which rail transport , could make a difference .
The Greens are the biggest morons , they went pushing for HSR when we all know that road transport is super hungry for petrolium fuel and better rail links that would support more freight on rail would consume less fuel and emit less greenhouse gasses so a win for everyone .
Wonder if Governments think hmm less fuel less tax - SHOOT , we can't have that !
BDA

Yet again it's a one sided viewpoint against the mob you now don't despise http://www.railpage.com.au/f-po-quote-1831262.htm

Rather than using a thread to simply parrot your the media naz-ties view of the world and derogatory language Howard perhaps you should try and list all the rail realignments and deviations that their lot has funded.

Short list will do... no?

(P.S do you know how long the HVE was on the NSW wish list and how advanced the planning was? Do you think your lot wouldn't have coughed up the yarn (keeping the knitting theme) - yeah right Rolling Eyes)
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
They are not "my mob" smart alec and I will continue to lay the boot into any government in Can'tbra who continues to avoid these issues . Remember the term lil Jonny Rotten , who d'ya reckon I was refering to ?
And why do you you think all these intercity and intercapital roads tend to be direct and where possible avoiding residential areas ? I'll substitute for eyes and ears that don't work , these routes WORK for road traffics including many commuters who have been FAILED by rail transport because it cannot cope now let alone into the future . Yep thats right the number of cars that pour out of Central Coast residential areas way before daylight paint a clear picture of the rail corridors blatent FAILURE to move people let alone anything else . The situation is bad now and getting worse so what are we doing about it ? Why of course we are justifying reasons to do jack ship about it and bleating about mining and carbon dioxide taxes like they are going to save the day . And yes the wind farms installed at great cost are doing jack about overall power generation . Roof top solar rorts , yeah doing JS as well .
Semis , B doubles and soon to be B triples go from strength to strength outside metropolitan areas , not that magnificent interstate freeways were built with them in mind - surely .
I leave you with this , should interstate rail freight wither starve out and die there no way the governments will keep these corridors open just for XPTs . It didn't do so with the Casino branch and won't for a couple of pass trains a day to Melbourne and Brisbane . More people will die on or near the road links and the fuel usage and pollution volumes will continue to rise .
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
They are not "my mob" smart alec and I will continue to lay the boot into any government in Can'tbra who continues to avoid these issues . Remember the term lil Jonny Rotten , who d'ya reckon I was refering to ?
And why do you you think all these intercity and intercapital roads tend to be direct and where possible avoiding residential areas ? I'll substitute for eyes and ears that don't work , these routes WORK for road traffics including many commuters who have been FAILED by rail transport because it cannot cope now let alone into the future . Yep thats right the number of cars that pour out of Central Coast residential areas way before daylight paint a clear picture of the rail corridors blatent FAILURE to move people let alone anything else . The situation is bad now and getting worse so what are we doing about it ? Why of course we are justifying reasons to do jack ship about it and bleating about mining and carbon dioxide taxes like they are going to save the day . And yes the wind farms installed at great cost are doing jack about overall power generation . Roof top solar rorts , yeah doing JS as well .
Semis , B doubles and soon to be B triples go from strength to strength outside metropolitan areas , not that magnificent interstate freeways were built with them in mind - surely .
I leave you with this , should interstate rail freight wither starve out and die there no way the governments will keep these corridors open just for XPTs . It didn't do so with the Casino branch and won't for a couple of pass trains a day to Melbourne and Brisbane . More people will die on or near the road links and the fuel usage and pollution volumes will continue to rise .
BDA
Neither side of politics has much cred when it comes to interstate rail.

Neither the LNP then or Labor now have backed rail realignments/deviations - good times or bad. A pox on both their houses as I'm sure one could fund them by cutting back education funding or tax cuts for people on the double plus side of the average wage depending on where one's prejudice lies.

As for the continual nasty name calling, whether it's John Howard or Julia Gillard it's not necessary to make some point. If you think that puts rail on the political agenda then you're going to be disappointed.
  NotebookMan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Wahroonga NSW
And yet the Hunter Hwy/bypass , or whatever its called , is going through fairly quickly .

The mob you say I despise has blown plenty of billions on projects that clearly are not going to pay off and few "blown" on land transport would at least have left us with something of benefit . Its not to say that they would have done this anyway but its not like what they did do had the support of the people which is why the majority of people aren't going to vote for them . Think what you like but Juliar knew full well that the carbon dioxide tax was poison but the lack of Greens support was certain death for the Labor Party being in power . The Greens wanted a Carbon Dioxide tax and held Labor to randsome over it . You could be excused for thinking that Labor was more interested in being in power than listening to what the majority of people want , now they have to pay the price for attempting to rule rather than govern in a "democracy" that gets to hire and fire governments . Just a shame so much money was wasted on things with little or no lasting value . Money that is badly needed on things , of which rail transport , could make a difference .
The Greens are the biggest morons , they went pushing for HSR when we all know that road transport is super hungry for petrolium fuel and better rail links that would support more freight on rail would consume less fuel and emit less greenhouse gasses so a win for everyone .
Wonder if Governments think hmm less fuel less tax - SHOOT , we can't have that !
BDA
Federal money for roads is much more forthcoming than for rail. But a certain knitwit on the right of the chamber is no help to you there.

No argument against the proposition that fuel taxes are fundamentally biased against rail. But I wouldn't want to blame Labor alone for that, although they have been a significant part of the problem.

Failure to support rail as the medium of choice for long haul bulk freight is ecological vandalism. The Greens could certainly reconsider their priorities about that.

Now, a little bit of political rant. Stop reading here if you are not interested.

I have some sympathy with voters who are frustrated by the last three years of Federal parliament, but all too few of them understand what they are talking about. Basically the voters tossed a coin which came down on its edge. What to do? Another election straight away? It was talked about, but it would cost $100M, and how would the voters know any different to what they did the first time? Not have a government at all? Then the pubic servants don't get paid, and that's a disaster for the country. So we are reduced to following the constitution, which says that any group capable of commanding a majority in the lower house can form a government, with no moral judgements on what compromises that might entail, and that the government so formed, unless it self-destructs by losing a no confidence motion, gets to rule for the statutory period of three years. Tony Abbott sniffed the wind in case there might be a couple of brown noses that would sell their souls to him, came up empty, and turned his back. That left Julia Gillard as the last hope. Now when you have a bitser of a government, Labor + Green + Independent, you get a bitser of a mix of policies. Labor did not have a mandate to implement its promises unilaterally, neither did the coalition. Instead, the electorate encouraged the Greens and Independents to prove that they were not there just to put posteriors on seats. Yes, I know that no sensible individual would be happy with the result. But the vote count in an election is a statistical abstraction, individual choices put through a blender. The fact is that both sides of parliament got their faces slapped by the vote, and the cross-benchers fed off the dregs.

So you could certainly say that Labor was interested in staying in power. You could also say that Tony Abbott was a compulsive head kicker with a consuming interest in gaining power, by standing back and letting someone else make the compromises necessary to run a government, then making a fuss to manipulate public opinion. I am not at all convinced by his simulations of concern for the common good.

Central to Abbott's campaign was the Juliar tag. Some people should make a better effort to learn the language, others should be careful not to believe all that they are told. A lie is something you know to be untrue when you say it. Gillard's carbon tax promise was made a week before the election, and anyone who thinks that she knew then that the Greens would be able to twist her arm in a hung parliament when all the votes were counted is talking about a smarter Gillard than the one I know. Gillard was stating the policy of the Labor party, not some hypothetical coalition with the Greens. She was guilty of a sweeping statement, and one that will go down in political history as a major gaffe. By all means avoid naming the unmentionable Kevin Rudd, but don't distort your message in the process. But politicians in general find sweeping statements as natural as breathing. None of them want to repeat the John Hewson mistake of trying to explain the GST on a cake, and so they overcompensate by keeping it idiot simple to impress the swinging voters. I hate their love of oversimplification, and, by that criterion, Gillard deserved some of what she got, but I also know a beat-up when I see one.

I'll say it again: in a hung parliament, with a compromise minority government, you get compromises that undo election promises made on the assumption of an absolute majority. Otherwise, you may not have a government at all: total paraysis. Australia had not had a minority government for about seventy years, and everyone had got out of the habit of taking the possibility seriously. The two party preferred vote was blindly assumed to be the only thing that mattered. A mistake, but not a deliberate deception. After all, Gillard and Swan were responsible for talking Rudd out of the carbon tax during his Prime Ministership.

Am I an apologist for Gillard? I would like to think that I'm a supporter of anyone in her invidious position. As for her personally, I think she made some bad choices, inherited more from Rudd, and was close to a nervous collapse when strength was most required. Her greatest popularity arose from some outbursts that would have made good segments on "Grumpy Old Women", which says something about the nature of the general public, too. (Perhaps that's part of the secret of Rudd's popularity.) But when I compare her with Abbott, I can't help but show sympathy for her.

End of rant. Apologies to anyone who hates political rants, but kept on reading anyway. I shall not make a habit of this.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller


And why do you you think all these intercity and intercapital roads tend to be direct and where possible avoiding residential areas ? I'll substitute for eyes and ears that don't work , these routes WORK for road traffics including many commuters who have been FAILED by rail transport because it cannot cope now let alone into the future . Yep thats right the number of cars that pour out of Central Coast residential areas way before daylight paint a clear picture of the rail corridors blatent FAILURE to move people let alone anything else . The situation is bad now and getting worse so what are we doing about it ? Why of course we are justifying reasons to do jack ship about it and bleating about mining and carbon dioxide taxes like they are going to save the day .
BDA


Road was able to kill rail due to, among other things:
- the abundance of cheap oil energy, a prerequisite of the fuel thirsty motoring industry,
- powerful oil and motoring lobbies that were able to steer government policy to effectively subsidize their industries, create demand for their new products, brainwash the public and eliminate monopolistic/rail-favouring transport regulation
- the rise of cheap debt to fund motor vehicle purchases (moreso in the US),
- the postwar Golden Age when ordinary people were seeing real gains in material wealth (now dead),
- the speed, convenience, flexibility, feeling of freedom/independence, privacy and other psychological factors that compel people to blow huge sums of money on motoring instead of season rail tickets, which combined with propaganda and the Golden Age gave birth to the die hard motoring culture,
- the scattering of costs away from single vertically integrated operators that could easily be labelled as costly and inefficient to millions of subsidised motorists and trucking companies (private citizens being able to manage their finances as badly as they want), and
- the high infrastructure, safety and regulatory costs of rail (getting worse)

But at the root of it is cheap oil, something that is becoming a thing of the past. In Australia and North America, while coal was king, rail was king. Once oil became king, trains and trams were shunted into a siding* by road and air and coal relegated to electricity generation.

With a few exceptions, the country rail alignments that have survived are where we left them when we collectively switched to oil and road transport decades ago.

Rail will continue to get shafted so long as road (and air) transport remains viable and there's no guarantee that it will ever make a full comeback.

*or in the case of Sydney's trams, thrown on the barbecue... Sad



And yes the wind farms installed at great cost are doing jack about overall power generation . Roof top solar rorts , yeah doing JS as well .
BDA

Mmmmmm alternative power generation methods like solar, wind and tidal will never be able to replace what coal and natural gas are doing for electricity in the broader economy now, let alone continue to grow to support the mythical "never ending growth economy" and myth of eternal progress. Not feasible, not going to happen. Does that mean they should be avoided altogether? I don't think so. However, we need to be realistic about what they can and can't do and not squander billions on silly short term indicative planning.





Semis , B doubles and soon to be B triples go from strength to strength outside metropolitan areas , not that magnificent interstate freeways were built with them in mind - surely .
BDA

Bigger trucks must represent a drive towards higher profits that require minimal government/taxpayer funding using existing road infrastructure that has popular support and already had billions wasted on it. Totally dependent on cheap(ish) oil, heavily subsidized in one way or another due to political support and a powerful lobby and dangerous. And I love the forecasts of B-Triples allowing "almost a million fewer B-double-equivalent trips over a 30-year period", no doubt calculated with some sort of mythical industry growth rate in mind.





I leave you with this , should interstate rail freight wither starve out and die there no way the governments will keep these corridors open just for XPTs. More people will die on or near the road links and the fuel usage and pollution volumes will continue to rise .
BDA

I hope the economics of road transport start to shift in favour of rail before interstate rail freight does disappear. Energy (diesel, petrol) constraints may have that effect. High fuel prices and the broader economic effects could also be very harmful to rail, but rail might be able to stick it out longer while there is still demand for people and goods to be moved around.

In the meantime, statements like this are an indication of one of the problems facing country rail:
...existing road user charging system for heavy vehicles underrecovers road costs attributable to classes of vehicles that compete directly with railways. This confers a competitive advantage on long distance road transport operators.

The century-plus old alignments may in fact turn out to be much more adequate for transport demands in the future than we presently believe, but they need to remain open and in reasonable condition to be of any use.




Now, a little bit of political rant. Stop reading here if you are not interested.
NotebookMan

Not a bad rant, actually.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
...


End of rant. Apologies to anyone who hates political rants, but kept on reading anyway. I shall not make a habit of this.
NotebookMan

Yes I tend to agree with the rant. Don't mind political opinion as long as it is balanced and objective and not simply another opportunity to offload political baggage.

The bottom line is that neither side has backed rail infrastructure with the sort of funding most of us believes it deserves. If I wanted to score points comparing Fed $$$ spending on the DIRN over the past 20 years, Labor trumps LNP - but it's still just little league so why bother.

What is needed is CONSISTENT funding commitment to the DIRN.
Imagine if ARTC was guaranteed even $300m a year for new infrastructure projects. It could plan and deliver realignments/deviations over time.

Note that major road projects such as the HVE receive federal funds progressively - not a single lump sum upfront.
  PClark Chief Commissioner

Travelling on the Main South it is possible, in several places, to observe where the right-of-way has been re-aligned.  The original alignment is obviously steeper than the new one, however it is shorter and straighter.  The most significant example being the Bethungra Spiral.


In steam days gradient reduction was all-important as it could reduce the need for double-heading or bank engines, involving two crews per train.


One must ask whether a train like an XPT could not make better time on the original, steeper, alignments given that they are often significantly shorter and straighter.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
Travelling on the Main South it is possible, in several places, to observe where the right-of-way has been re-aligned.  The original alignment is obviously steeper than the new one, however it is shorter and straighter.  The most significant example being the Bethungra Spiral.


In steam days gradient reduction was all-important as it could reduce the need for double-heading or bank engines, involving two crews per train.


One must ask whether a train like an XPT could not make better time on the original, steeper, alignments given that they are often significantly shorter and straighter.
PClark

You may recall that under the One Nation program, the spiral was closed for considerable renovation. The down line was used instead.

What is frustrating is that all the studies have been done going back years - the improvements, savings and general costs are on the record.

101 reasons why not are mostly lack of money. The ballast remediation project for example is funded to a large extent from curtailing the north coast curve easing.

Indeed if you went through every federal budget over the past 20 years, picked out the rail promises and looked what was actually delivered. Surprised

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