Variable-guage trains now a mature technology - implications for Vline procurement ?

 
  mm42 Chief Train Controller

An little-reported aspect of the recent high-speed train crash in Spain is that it was a variable-guage train that can change from narrow to standard guage during passenger service. This is now a mature technology with over 800 variable-guage passenger cars in regular service in Spain, but I doubt if PTV nor Vline are aware of it because it's a development outside the Anglophone world.  

According to the websites below (and Google translator), the Spanish rail manufacturer Talgo/Bombardier have now built 495 variable-guage long-distance cars capable of speeds up to 250 km/hr (powered by AC, DC or diesel), and commenced service in 2009. An earlier model built by CAF/Alstrom has at least 344 cars in operation, has the same maximum speed, and commenced operation in 2006.

If variable-guage bogies could be ordered at little extra cost, how could they simplify Vline's operations ?

1. Variable-guage trains to Albury could use the double track broad guage to Seymour, then change to standard guage from Seymour to Albury. There would be more train paths available, and a greater reliability than when confined to the single track ARTC route south of Seymour. There could be cost savings in not having to pay ARTC charges for track paths south of Seymour.
2. The Albury service would not require a dedicated spare standard guage train set, but could be part of a larger pool of spares.
3. The freight network could be converted to standard guage operation without curtailing passenger services.
4. The Mildura line could be standard-guaged and Maryborough-Melbourne services change guage at Ballarat.pparton could still be serviced if the Seymour-Shepparton track were standard guage, by trains changing guage at Seymour.
5. Ararat services could be extended to Horsham.
6. The Overland could be replaced by a variable-guage train. This could save an hour on the Ararat-Melbourne sector by travelling via Ballarat, and save on ARTC track charges.
7. The Ballarat-Ararat line could be standard-guaged to provide an alternative freight path, and Ararat services change guage at Ballarat.


Any thoughts ?  Or does Victoria only accept technologies from the Anglophone world ?

http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/nuestros_trenes/alvias130_ficha.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RENFE_Class_120_/_121

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  M636C Minister for Railways


If variable-gauge bogies could be ordered at little extra cost, how could they simplify V/line's operations ?

mm42

I think the quick answer is "they can't be ordered at little extra cost".

A cheaper answer would be to convert all non-metropolitan lines in Victoria to standard gauge.

The "problem" with the Overland is that not enough people use it. I don't think running it via Ballarat is likely to improve that much, even if it could be done at no additional cost.

M636C
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
How much longer can Victoria (or any single state of Australia for that matter) continue with the parochial head-in-sand attitude of if it can't be built here at minimal cost then it's not worth doing?

Of course we can import technology (at a suitable cost) and of course we can build these trains here under license.  Or we can import them.  The historical gauge issue should long ago have been dealt with but remains instead as a noose around the rail industry's neck in this nation.

And while it's not really relevant here my opinion on the Overland is that a train which runs twice a week is of little use to most people which is one reason so few use it.  If it ran daily (or better still twice daily) each way then the uptake would probably be far greater.  "Build it and they will come".
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
Victoria should either convert to standard gauge or remain as a working museum for the next 100 years. I won't mention 'close', as our government would jump on that option in a heartbeat, being only too happy to convert the rail industry to trucks, infrequent, early-finishing buses and spaghetti-junction tollways (and I bet they'd love to make the freeways and tollways 50km/h too, or maybe 45 with their "wipe off 5" propaganda, complete with a time-based e-Tag type device, so when gridlock happens you are charged more and more by the second like a taxi).

The only reputable form of public transport in Melbourne is a tram.
  gy Junior Train Controller

Interesting Posts.
Yes Victoria should standardise the Country lines and be done with it.
We (The Colonies) made a mistake in 1854. What have we done since?
If you divide the total amount of rail standardise in kilometres since 1854 (159 years) we have not exactly done much.
For the Politically minded who blame Liberals/Labor none of them can stand up and "say look at me".
In previous post regards Standising Victorian Country lines people reply what are the advantages and where will all the extra freight come from.
Maybe no extra freight will materialise but consider the recent change of Qube taking over the Maryvale Paper train. They had the wagons but had to find bogies for the broad gauge. Now there are spare 4' 81/2" bogies lying idle. All of this requires investment ($) that is not earning anything.
This all adds up and remember the Trucking Industry supplies the vehicle only and no infrastructure that accomadates trucks of all sizes and weights.
Therefore the technology improvements of variable gauge trains should be investigated and the proven system should not allow us to forget standardisation is the ultimate goal.
Regards PTE.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Unfortunately, the heading of this post may lead people to believe that the Victorian Government is interested in modern railways.
It's not even interested in the ancient set we have now, let alone expanding it.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
An little-reported aspect of the recent high-speed train crash in Spain is that it was a variable-gauge train that can change from narrow to standard gauge during passenger service. This is now a mature technology with over 800 variable-gauge passenger cars in regular service in Spain, but I doubt if PTV nor Vline are aware of it because it's a development outside the Anglophone world.  

If variable-gauge bogies could be ordered at little extra cost, how could they simplify Vline's operations ?

Any thoughts ?  Or does Victoria only accept technologies from the Anglophone world ?

http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/nuestros_trenes/alvias130_ficha.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RENFE_Class_120_/_121
mm42
There may be a few devils-in-the-details of Variable Gauge Axles (VGA):

* can VGA be fitted to locomotives?
* can VGA be fitted to freight wagons since most traffic on Victorian BG lines is freight?
* if VGA were any good, why wasn't it fitted to the orphaned BG Oatlands line, just recently converted to SG ?
* since Australia is surely a good market for VGA, why haven't the Talgo people tried to sell VGA here?
* can VGA also handle Narrow Gauge in Qld and WA? Indeed all three gauges BG/SG/NG?

Numerous Variable Axles methods were proposed in Australia, and US/Canada from the 1880's, but all were rejected for Australian use. At least some of these designed weren't robust and reliable, and frightened the railway authorities off VGA for the rest of time. It is hard to say why exactly the Talgo VGA stuff IS robust and reliable.

* Lastly, the Talgo Variable Axle technology is 40-50 years old and may already be obsolete.

Clearly, if VGA were introduced, BG/SG breaks of gauge issues would disappear:
* a possible significant cost being increased deadweight due to the extra weight of VGA bogies.
* Few if any non-bogie (4-wheel) waggons remain in the rolling stock fleet.
* Port Hastings would at a stroke be connected to the national SG network.
* Wolseley to Mt Gambier could be reopened.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
In the 19th and 20th Century, Variable Gauge Axles seem to have a number of names including:

* Sliding Axles
* Telescopic Axles

which may or may not amount to the same thing.

Some of the VGA systems include:


This is an incomplete list. Others mention that they were about 20 such systems without documenting what the 20 system actually were. The different systems were probably mutually incompatible, and they were all rejected without attempting to say why one system may have been better or worse than another.
  L1150 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Pakenham Vic.
[img]http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb462/Chappy63/Talgo1a.jpg[/img]
[img]http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb462/Chappy63/TalgoBogie.jpg[/img]

Here is a couple of pics from the History of Railways magazine.
A gauge change station at Port Bou (presumably in Spain) and a Talgo gauge changeable bogie. Note that the original Talgos didn't have bogies with two axles in the conventional style but each car only had a single two wheel bogie at the rear of the car. As you can see from the pic the wheels are independent, not fixed to a single axle so, I understand that the ride of the original Talgos was not particularly good especially on curves as the "cone effect" does not operate because  each wheel rotates independently.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney

Here is a couple of pics from the History of Railways magazine.
A gauge change station at Port Bou (presumably in Spain) and a Talgo gauge changeable bogie. Note that the original Talgos didn't have bogies with two axles in the conventional style but each car only had a single two wheel bogie at the rear of the car. As you can see from the pic the wheels are independent, not fixed to a single axle so, I understand that the ride of the original Talgos was not particularly good especially on curves as the "cone effect" does not operate because  each wheel rotates independently.
L1150

IIRC, the upside down horseshoe part is where passengers pass from car to car, the Talgo cars having a very low profile, and also a low platform height.

The carriages are also very short and articulated, with the front of each carriage resting on the carriage ahead. The very first carriage has to rest on a special wagon with at least two axles, a bit like a "road-railer".

It is not clear if the train of such carriages can work in reverse at speed.

Can this system be adapted for freight, which might have a much heavier load per waggon?
  M636C Minister for Railways

IIRC, the upside down horseshoe part is where passengers pass from car to car, the Talgo cars having a very low profile, and also a low platform height.

The carriages are also very short and articulated, with the front of each carriage resting on the carriage ahead. The very first carriage has to rest on a special wagon with at least two axles, a bit like a "road-railer".

It is not clear if the train of such carriages can work in reverse at speed.

Can this system be adapted for freight, which might have a much heavier load per waggon?
awsgc24
All Talgo trains have a single axle rather than a bogie.

Current Talgo trains have a single steered "axle" between each car and a single axle on each terminal car end.

The steering is by links to the axle ends from the car bodies on each side.

These trains run just as well in each direction.

The description just above only applied to the pre WWII prototype set and the 1950 ACF built Talgo trains.

All production Spanish built sets are bi-directional. The original Catalan Talgo VG sets were this "Talgo III" type.

Talgo have built "variable gauge axles" which can replace standard axles in four wheel and bogie freight stock, but they are basically the same system as illustrated in the post above but with a simple straight bar between the independent wheels using the same mechanism illustrated above to change gauge. The weight of the car is supported on nylon blocks at the "axle" ends on the outer raised rails while the unloaded wheels are guided from the old gauge to the new gauge by the angled rails in the conversion unit.

As stated above there is no guidance in curves since the wheels turn independently.

The ride in a Talgo at 145 km/h is hard with some side to side oscillation, not as good as a well set up bogie car. In the same way, the ride in the original German ICE 1 sets was better than the original TGVs.

Of course, there are variable gauge locomotives and power cars but these are much more complex but they retain what are effectively independent wheels.

While I'm not saying that the Spanish financial problems are all down to Talgo variable gauge trains, these things are very expensive and could probably never be economically justified in this country.

The real answer for Victoria is to convert those regional lines that retain enough traffic to standard gauge and to close the remainder. There is no cheap technological answer to break of gauge.

The real problem is the retention of broad gauge longer than it was justified, such as on the Albury line.

M636C
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
How would you convert country lines such as Bairnsdale, Warnambool  or Swan Hill to standard guage?
There has to be a sound economic argument for guage conversion, not just "it would be nice" type arguments.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
How would you convert country lines such as Bairnsdale, Warnambool  or Swan Hill to standard guage?
There has to be a sound economic argument for guage conversion, not just "it would be nice" type arguments.
MD
Network isolation would be a reason. You'd be unable to pool locomotives and rollingstock if broad gauge were to be retained. Besides. We're talking about shifting one rail in six-and-a-half-inches. I don't think the over-all costs would be huge, unless you rebuilt the whole line as the ARTC did with concrete sleepers; new signalling, et al.

The only other problems you'd have would be the suburban network.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

How would you convert country lines such as Bairnsdale, Warnambool  or Swan Hill to standard guage?
There has to be a sound economic argument for guage conversion, not just "it would be nice" type arguments.
"MD"


Well, if it's not done, expect freight traffic in regional Victoria going the same way it went South Australia. It's a survival argument, not a "wouldn't it be nice".
  Flygon Train Controller

Location: Australia
Network isolation would be a reason. You'd be unable to pool locomotives and rollingstock if broad gauge were to be retained. Besides. We're talking about shifting one rail in six-and-a-half-inches. I don't think the over-all costs would be huge, unless you rebuilt the whole line as the ARTC did with concrete sleepers; new signalling, et al.

The only other problems you'd have would be the suburban network.
Barrington Womble
What would the economic cost of converting all the relevant lines and converting all the necessary rollingstock over the time period where the lines are standardized, and how quickly would this have to be done?

I'd assume you'd need to standardize pretty much all of the Metro rollingstock (alongside V/Line) to avoid the operational difficulties with the dual gauge lines, and the associated lines. And that this would have to be done very quickly, to avoid the slight inconvenience that closing entire railway lines in the urban network would cause.

Much more than happy to be corrected on anything erroneous I may have posted, of course. But given how terrified Government seems to be of paying a massive sum upfront to get something that is necessary to be done quickly, for what's 'merely' a very long term benefit, it's a question that intrigues me, and the scope of it that also has me captured. For all I know, only the Western suburban lines would have to be standardized, but I'm not sure I grasp the operational difficulties.
  712M Chief Commissioner

It would be a great excuse to quad Sunshine to Sunbury and Caulfield to Pakenham. It won't ever happen however..
  Simbera Train Controller

I'd assume you'd need to standardize pretty much all of the Metro rollingstock (alongside V/Line) to avoid the operational difficulties with the dual gauge lines, and the associated lines.
Flygon
Not necessarily. With Regional Rail Link separating Geelong and Ballarat totally from the Metro system, that could be done with less fuss than ever before. Doing Bendigo as well would require you do extend the RRL tracks from Sunshine out to Sunbury but there is a case to be made for that to be done anyway - or alternately, until such time as you wanted to do that, you could DG the RRL tracks so BG Bendigo trains could run alongside SG Ballarat and Geelong trains. It wouldn't affect the speed limits in that section of the track as it's already 80km/h. Either way it wouldn't require you to alter Metro rolling stock. The only real problem with this is that it makes Melton electrification more difficult, as you'd need to quad most of the line, but as V/Line train frequencies increase that's going to become necessary anyway (which is exactly why RRL is being built in the first place).

Doing the Shepparton/Tocumwal line to bring it into the fold with the Albury line shouldn't be operationally difficult and from what I hear is happening anyway - so that shouldn't affect Metro at all.

Bairnsdale/Traralgon might be more difficult - I'm not as familiar with that neck of the woods, but it's my understanding that the corridor needs amplification ASAP so it's possible it could be incorporated into that without disrupting Metro too much (again, DG may be an option for sections of the track). Even if this line couldn't be done until a lot later than the rest, large gains would be had from doing everything else and just leaving this one line on BG - especially since such a large percentage of freight is over in the West where the other lines are, and therefore the largest gains are to be made from having a single gauge.
  ab123 Chief Train Controller

It wouldn't affect the speed limits in that section of the track as it's already 80km/h.
Simbera

The limit will be faster than 80kph when completed.
  712M Chief Commissioner

The problem with leaving Gippsland as the sole BG country line is that you are essentially isolating freight from going to anywhere outside the metro network. I don't think the line would be justified if they are just running passenger trains.
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
The problem with leaving Gippsland as the sole BG country line is that you are essentially isolating freight from going to anywhere outside the metro network. I don't think the line would be justified if they are just running passenger trains.
712M
Triplicate metro trackage between Caulfield-Dandenong with 4th line standard gauge, then 3rd line to Pakenham. Have passing loops and loops for platforms that dual gauge for the length of the platform where needed
  MikeyJackson Locomotive Driver

Location: Footscray, Victoria, Australia
interesting idea. are you saying sg all the way to Gippsland?
  Simbera Train Controller

The limit will be faster than 80kph when completed.
ab123
I was under the impression it wouldn't be, due to the signalling restrictions of having it right next to the Metro lines? I may be confusing speed for capacity, happy to be corrected.

EDIT: to clarify, I read that there can't be more signalling on the RRL lines, thus allowing trains to run closer together, because they would be right next to the Metro lines and this might be misinterpreted. That's where I was getting that from. Again it's possible I've misunderstood.
  ab123 Chief Train Controller

Not correct, I have read that here too but it is wrong. The signal spacings would be further on the RRL to allow for faster line speeds.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

The reality of the situation is this .

- Freight will always be the primary driver of any further gauge standardization .

- If a traffic originates in country Victoria and travels to Geelong, Melbourne or elsewhere in Victoria then it travels on bg and there is no benefit to be gained by converting to sg .

- Where sg becomes an issue is if the traffic originates on sg and needs to go Interstate, or is in big volume and potentially only has access to bg and needs to go Interstate on sg.

-  Also where regions are partially sg like the West and North East then there is some case to convert the remaining bg lines to standard gauge.

The only likely further gauge standardizations are likely to be :

-  Conversion of the Mildura line to sg if it is decided to build a connecting sg line from there to meet the Sydney - Broken Hill line.
- Conversion of the Seymour - Tocumwal line to sg as part of any long mooted Inland railway to Brisbane.

Given the current State Government priority to rail freight we will be luck if everything freight wise intrastate is not being moved around in extended B doubles .
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
The value  of VGA technology depends on traffic densities, and network conserations.

VGA is most valuable on lightly used branch lines.

Gauge conversions is better on heavily used branch lines connected already to the SG network.

VGA trains can of course go anywhere at the drop of a hat.

VGA trains carry some extra deadweight, so there may be axleload issues.

It helps if the locomotives are VGA as well.

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