Rail Budget Cuts

 
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
http://au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/latest/a/-/newshome/17856994/fears-of-long-delays-after-sydney-rail-shake-up/
I thought this might interest a few...

It's worth noting though that when Labor began their spending spree on trackwork, a large amount of the network was still wooden sleepered, with older overhead and supports. Since they have been spending big on maintenance over the years, large chunks of the network are now concrete sleepered with new, high tension overhead, often with multiple contact wires to support newer rolling stock.

One could argue that the budget in this area has not been "cut" so much as the money is no longer needed on major rail reconstruction, and it can now be diverted elsewhere. Of course, that doesn't make for a good news story!

A recent example of "smart money" was the tearing up of the redundant, expensive crossovers at Ashfield last weekend (at least, the start of it) to straight rail the section. This is great, as it replaces money hungry, maintenance intensive crossovers (a notable weak spot when it comes to track failures) built on poor ground with wooden sleepers with straight, new track with concrete sleepers. This will free up regular maintenance spending, provide a better track surface for trains to run on, and hopefully allow the lifting of the speed on the suburban line from 50 to 80 through that section, speeding up the trains. If the government wasn't spending money, they'd have happily spiked them out of use, and just left them there, keeping the 50 boards in place and the rough track in situ. Instead, they've ripped them out, dug out the old ballast and roadbed, and rebuilt the track from the bedrock up.

Must be a slow news day.

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  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
http://au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/latest/a/-/newshome/17856994/fears-of-long-delays-after-sydney-rail-shake-up/

A recent example of "smart money" was the tearing up of the redundant, expensive crossovers at Ashfield last weekend (at least, the start of it) to straight rail the section. This is great, as it replaces money hungry, maintenance intensive crossovers (a notable weak spot when it comes to track failures) built on poor ground with wooden sleepers with straight, new track with concrete sleepers. This will free up regular maintenance spending, provide a better track surface for trains to run on, and hopefully allow the lifting of the speed on the suburban line from 50 to 80 through that section, speeding up the trains. If the government wasn't spending money, they'd have happily spiked them out of use, and just left them there, keeping the 50 boards in place and the rough track in situ. Instead, they've ripped them out, dug out the old ballast and roadbed, and rebuilt the track from the bedrock up.
"Raichase"


The crossovers being removed from Ashfield have been booked out and quietly rusting away for a year already.
They were expensive to maintain but also very useful in that busy six track section.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Excellent commentary, Raichase.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller


It's worth noting though that when Labor began their spending spree on trackwork, a large amount of the network was still wooden sleepered, with older overhead and supports. Since they have been spending big on maintenance over the years, large chunks of the network are now concrete sleepered with new, high tension overhead, often with multiple contact wires to support newer rolling stock.

One could argue that the budget in this area has not been "cut" so much as the money is no longer needed on major rail reconstruction, and it can now be diverted elsewhere.
"Raichase"


Good point and I'm sure there is a lot of truth in it, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the thrust of the story is untrue, again with the minister seemingly keeping quiet about it, unless there was a more detailed submission edited out. Time will tell. Reduced spending due to reduced need for spending is one thing, and if that's all it is, good... If they have actually cut into funding needed to maintain reliability, the next NSW ALP government should be elected in time to increase spending and cop the blame for the cost blowouts.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
Good point and I'm sure there is a lot of truth in it, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the thrust of the story is untrue, again with the minister seemingly keeping quiet about it, unless there was a more detailed submission edited out. Time will tell. Reduced spending due to reduced need for spending is one thing, and if that's all it is, good... If they have actually cut into funding needed to maintain reliability, the next NSW ALP government should be elected in time to increase spending and cop the blame for the cost blowouts.
HeadShunt
I'm suggesting that "all that glitters is not gold" - just because the media paint something as such, it doesn't mean we should be brainwashed into believing it. I have just picked ONE example from ONE aspect of the budget to comment on. I have little doubt that similar reasoning could have been found for all of the so called "cuts", they just don't spring to mind immediately.

That said, I cannot provide evidence to the contrary that your comments about cutting impacting on reliability to be incorrect. The main point I was trying to make is that everyone is quickly rushing to condemn the recent brand shift, when really there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. I'm trying to advocate a "wait and see" approach, because we all know hindsight is 20/20...

The crossovers being removed from Ashfield have been booked out and quietly rusting away for a year already. They were expensive to maintain but also very useful in that busy six track section.
Somebody

I'm aware the points have been booked out for some time. That removes the impact of them "failing" through lack of detection throwing signals back to stop, true. That doesn't remove the cost of inspecting and maintaining them so that they don't fail after repeated train movements. That doesn't mitigate for the fact that they were wooden sleepered on an otherwise concrete section of track. That doesn't remove the tangle of additional OHW required to facilitate trains changing tracks. That doesn't fix the poor quality track bed that they were on. Booking them out doesn't magically create a giant windfall in the budget, there are still many "weak points" that could delay the network were they to fail. Removing them, digging the roadbed out and starting again means we now have brand new track to work with.

As for their usefulness, I'd dispute that. I can think of a mere handful of occasions in which they actually would have been useful in a delay. As for using them during trackwork, Train Planning is competent enough to work around one set of missing turnouts, and trackwork since they were booked out has been carried on with a minimum of fuss. They were slow points, and involved crossing opposing traffic, so any time saved by changing tracks would be lost from the 25km/h speed, or by blocking an opposing movement.

Better to rip them out, along with all of the 25km points at Homebush, Strathfield and Macdonaldtown, and replace them with 50-60km/h crossovers at Strathfield and Macdonaldtown to speed up trains changing tracks and prevent delaying opposing services.

Blindly clinging to steam-age infrastructure and paying through the nose for little benefit is a fools game. The government and the infrastructure section know this, and are acting accordingly. Fantastic, this is the sort of thing that continues a long trend of consistent capital works on our existing railways to bring them out of the dark age of steam and into the 21st Century.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
I'm aware the points have been booked out for some time. That removes the impact of them "failing" through lack of detection throwing signals back to stop, true. That doesn't remove the cost of inspecting and maintaining them so that they don't fail after repeated train movements. That doesn't mitigate for the fact that they were wooden sleepered on an otherwise concrete section of track. That doesn't remove the tangle of additional OHW required to facilitate trains changing tracks. That doesn't fix the poor quality track bed that they were on. Booking them out doesn't magically create a giant windfall in the budget, there are still many "weak points" that could delay the network were they to fail. Removing them, digging the roadbed out and starting again means we now have brand new track to work with.

As for their usefulness, I'd dispute that. I can think of a mere handful of occasions in which they actually would have been useful in a delay. As for using them during trackwork, Train Planning is competent enough to work around one set of missing turnouts, and trackwork since they were booked out has been carried on with a minimum of fuss. They were slow points, and involved crossing opposing traffic, so any time saved by changing tracks would be lost from the 25km/h speed, or by blocking an opposing movement.
Raichase
I agree the costs of maintaining them outweighed the benefits. That analysis was made and it was decided that the money could be better spent elsewhere, hence the decision to remove them.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
I agree the costs of maintaining them outweighed the benefits. That analysis was made and it was decided that the money could be better spent elsewhere, hence the decision to remove them.
MILW
I'm glad you agree with me - I recall hearing plenty of moaning about it at one stage or another!
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

I'm suggesting that "all that glitters is not gold" - just because the media paint something as such, it doesn't mean we should be brainwashed into believing it. I have just picked ONE example from ONE aspect of the budget to comment on. I have little doubt that similar reasoning could have been found for all of the so called "cuts", they just don't spring to mind immediately.

That said, I cannot provide evidence to the contrary that your comments about cutting impacting on reliability to be incorrect. The main point I was trying to make is that everyone is quickly rushing to condemn the recent brand shift, when really there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. I'm trying to advocate a "wait and see" approach, because we all know hindsight is 20/20...
Raichase
I fully appreciate the "all that glitters is not gold" point, and I also apply that to what Gladys has been saying about the reforms, too, but not because the media tells me to. Like you I don't know if reliability will be impacted, it's merely a possibility, and as I said there is a lot of truth to support the view you expressed regarding the "cuts". Whether or not we comment on here right now we are all waiting and seeing. No doubt the weapon of hindsight will be armed and ready to fire when required, and those proven wrong in their spin, claims and pessimistic predictions will be notified accordingly.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
I'm glad you agree with me - I recall hearing plenty of moaning about it at one stage or another!
Raichase
There were valid concerns about the loss of flexibility during service disruption but I don't think anyone was under the illusion that the economic argument would support retention of that infrastructure.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
There were valid concerns about the loss of flexibility during service disruption but I don't think anyone was under the illusion that the economic argument would support retention of that infrastructure.
MILW
I doubt you can call them "valid concerns" if they were not economically viable.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
I doubt you can call them "valid concerns" if they were not economically viable.
Raichase
A thousand people stuck on trains between Illawarra Junction and Strathfield due to a delay affecting one line that could have been bypassed using the crossovers was one of the main concerns and this scenario has arisen many times. The benefits of removing the crossovers were seen to outweigh the benefits of keeping them, but that does not mean there were no benefits to keeping them, they were just not economically viable. Those involved have known these crossovers would be removed for many years now. It just took ages for it to happen.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
A thousand people stuck on trains between Illawarra Junction and Strathfield due to a delay affecting one line that could have been bypassed using the crossovers was one of the main concerns and this scenario has arisen many times. The benefits of removing the crossovers were seen to outweigh the benefits of keeping them, but that does not mean there were no benefits to keeping them, they were just not economically viable. Those involved have known these crossovers would be removed for many years now. It just took ages for it to happen.
MILW
They require the incident to occur in a very specific place for the crossovers to provide any benefit at all. To suggest that they were worth sinking millions into each year for a "just incase" scenario is madness.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
They require the incident to occur in a very specific place for the crossovers to provide any benefit at all.
Raichase
Say a train is stopped on the Local between Ashfield and Illa Jn waiting for an ambulance, police or has failed. If anything had left Strathfield behind it which is not unusual, it would now be stuck. It has happened more than once. Granted, that alone does not make the crossovers viable, but it was a case where the flexibility came in handy.


To suggest that they were worth sinking millions into each year for a "just incase" scenario is madness.
Raichase
Again, I don't think anyone was under the illusion of that infrastructure winning the viability argument in 2013. When proposals like that are made all options are examined, cases are made to support each, they are judged and a decision is made. It doesn't mean the other options are 100% madness, they just aren't viable given the network priorities. Obviously at some point in the past they were viable or they would never have been built, but no longer. The whole layout was reconfigured around 1983 so they were still viable back then.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
Say a train is stopped on the Local between Ashfield and Illa Jn waiting for an ambulance, police or has failed. If anything had left Strathfield behind it which is not unusual, it would now be stuck. It has happened more than once. Granted, that alone does not make the crossovers viable, but it was a case where the flexibility came in handy.
MILW
That's exactly what I mean - a very specific circumstance. You're talking about trains being "stuck" inbetween Strathfield and Ashfield, a very small section of network. There are further sections without crossovers.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
That's exactly what I mean - a very specific circumstance. You're talking about trains being "stuck" inbetween Strathfield and Ashfield, a very small section of network. There are further sections without crossovers.
Raichase
Yes and it's the same reason the network is probably going to continue losing crossovers that are only essential under "very specific circumstances", including in the Strathfield area. No more lane changing. It is simpler and cheaper, but less flexible.

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