Inland Rail promise finally to be fulfilled

 

News article: Inland Rail promise finally to be fulfilled

Construction of the long-awaited Inland Rail is scheduled to start next year following a $300 million allocation from the federal government.

  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Construction of the long-awaited Inland Rail is scheduled to start next year following a $300 million allocation from the federal government.

The project has been discussed for many years as a way of moving freight from the regions to the ports more quickly and economically.

The team responsible for delivering the project, the Inland Rail Implementation Group, met community members and stakeholders at the Narrabri Bowling Club yesterday to explain its progress and direction.

The inland route, known as the far western corridor, passes through Albury, Stockinbingal, Parkes, Narromine, Gwabegar, Narrabri, Moree and North Star before heading into Queensland through Yelarbon.

It will continue through Inglewood, Milmerran, Oakey, Gowrie, Rosewood and Kagaru and finish in Brisbane.

Narrabri Shire Mayor Cr Conrad Bolton said it was logical that the Narrabri area would be the site for one of the inter-modal hubs on the route.
"Inland Rail promise finally to be fulfilled"


View the full story

With all due respect I think I'll believe it when I see it. Is $300 million enough to build the line? And what will the money actually go towards?

Sponsored advertisement

  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
How do these mentally deranged people get elected to public office?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
How do these mentally deranged people get elected to public office?
bingley hall

Because no sane, competent, moral person would stand!
Worse still the media and the population at large actually believe them...........
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
View the full story

With all due respect I think I'll believe it when I see it. Is $300 million enough to build the line? And what will the money actually go towards?
GeoffreyHansen

No its no where near enough, its a multi billion $ project. The $300m (if I understand correctly) is to do the works to upgrade to Nth Star over a year or so and start on Rosewood to Karagau connection. This project is planned to take about 10 years to build and come stream fully around 2025 which was always the ARTC proposed year.

During the time of construction there will be a number of milestones undertaken to improve services along current corridores before the final gap is filled. Again, assuming I have this right.

Previous funding
- There is ongoing works on the Vic NE SG to fix the issues and create a long term reliable dual track
- Completion of the passing lanes from Coota to Melbourne
- Upgrade of the Coota to Parkes line, (with passing lanes?)

Current funding
- The $300m upgrades of the Narabri to Nth Star line to improve I assume maybe train weights, length, control.... for existing services.
- Rosewood to Karagau line to enable existing coal/grain trains to by-pass the Brisbane western suburbs and open up more slots for commuter services. The current freight timetable prohiits the ability to enable 15min services for Ips. There is also a coal dust issue in Brisbane that is gaining traction, this takes the trains away from the suburbs.

The next practical project I think is the Toowoomba by-pass to Rosewood upgrade, which is mostly new alignment and by-passing existing towns and Toowoomba which will then enable the move to heavier axle loads from the current tiny 15.75t and modern length trains, currently limited to barely 650m. In short the Sth Qld coalies are 100% reliant on 30-40 year old rolling stock and locos which we were hand me downs from CQ coal fields a newer equipment arrived. This supply would now be near exhausted. So within 10 years QR would need to buy a fleet of modern small locos and wagons, or upgrade with belonging to the 21st century on modern track.

By-passing of Toowooba is also a must. You cannot have trains run down the main street in the 21st century. Slows the trains and causes too many problems.

After this, the line from Gowrie the border near Goondiwindi. Once complete, the SW NG network from Toowoomba can be closed saving the Qld taxpayer alot of money. Again tiny grain trains that are probably loosing money can be replaced with longer, heavier equipment and be open to competition. A few short branches of regauged lines maybe required to retain rail connections to current customers.

The extension to Nth Star then enables NSW NW grain and cotton to access Brisbane and compelte the Inland.

regards
Shane
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
By-passing of Toowooba is also a must. You cannot have trains run down the main street in the 21st century. Slows the trains and causes too many problems.
RTT_Rules

Shane,

Can you please tell me where in Toowoomba trains "run down the main street"? I can't say I've ever noticed this!

But, yes a new alignment is required, especially on the ranges.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
If this project is to be completed I believe other new market entrants could move into the rail market.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
After this, the line from Gowrie the border near Goondiwindi. Once complete, the SW NG network from Toowoomba can be closed saving the Qld taxpayer alot of money. Again tiny grain trains that are probably loosing money can be replaced with longer, heavier equipment and be open to competition. A few short branches of regauged lines maybe required to retain rail connections to current customers.
RTT_Rules

And the Western line would be rebuilt to standard gauge as far as Miles (where a link to Gladstone would start)

Where would the Southern Downs Steam Railway fit Into things ?
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
If this project is to be completed I believe other new market entrants could move into the rail market.
bevans

Out of curiosity, given how

  • Highly competitive the current industry is (look at how companies snatch contracts from each other)

  • How road still rules the market share

  • How highly cost prohibitive it is for new entrants to crack the holy grail of NSW accreditation



Where are these new players to the rail market come from?

I think the more realistic option you will find is that existing players such SCT and QUBE will be in a greater position to place pressure on the big players (PN and Aurizon- as long as coal is not involved). Look at SCT for example, they have a distribution centre at Parkes in preparation for a rail line that is still a line on a piece of paper!
Qubes aggressive market strategy will also play dividends when they have access to paths that have been locked away on the North-South corridor at present by tight timetabling and Pax train priorities.

After living in NSW for a most of life, and for a decade under a certain government hearing rail project announced and re-announced I wont be getting my hopes up until the sleepers start getting laid. Until then, its just political pandering to distract the National party members.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
View the full story

With all due respect I think I'll believe it when I see it. Is $300 million enough to build the line? And what will the money actually go towards?
GeoffreyHansen

Not a snowflakes chance Exclamation

Though a significant part of the alignment exists in NSW in one way or another, however all of it requiring an upgrade, in Queensland it's a different story altogether with most of the track being green-fields and the descent of the Toowoomba Range OR a tunnel, either option is big $$$$

Mike.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line

Where would the Southern Downs Steam Railway fit Into things ?
Nightfire

The Inland railway as planned goes nowhere near Warwick or Stanthorpe.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
And the Western line would be rebuilt to standard gauge as far as Miles (where a link to Gladstone would start)

Where would the Southern Downs Steam Railway fit Into things ?
Nightfire

Personal prediction. If the SDSR is still in existence in the late 2020's, they will need to be prepared to take over a section of track, relocate or face being gauge isolated as the NG track around them will be closed.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Not a snowflakes chance Exclamation

Though a significant part of the alignment exists in NSW in one way or another, however all of it requiring an upgrade, in Queensland it's a different story altogether with most of the track being green-fields and the descent of the Toowoomba Range OR a tunnel, either option is big $$$$

Mike.
The Vinelander

The $300m is just a kick off. The project has bipartisan support and hence should continue. Over 10 years the funding required is less than $400mpa and there is scope for other players to throw some money in like Qld govt. As I said above, the Inland provides an opportunity to enable the SW NG which is currently a cost to the taxpayer to be closed and increase tonnages of grain and coal to the POB will generate more revenue.

regards
Shane
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Shane,

Can you please tell me where in Toowoomba trains "run down the main street"? I can't say I've ever noticed this!

Graham4405


You live at Dalby and in all your travels you have never seen a train on a road in Toowoomba?

The line needs to be pulled out of Toowoomba, the days of running railways through a city or even a town along a street, across the the street what ever should be behind us. No body but a few gunzels taking photos is a winner with this arrangement.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

The Queensland Government has committed $50-million to build new 1000m crossing loops at Harlaxton and Ballard and $17-million to improve tunnel clearances allowing maxi-cube containers to reach Toowoomba and beyond by rail for the first time so it doesn't look like the old line is getting replaced any time real soon. To be honest, if that $300-million had been spent on replacing/strengthening bridges within the existing Toowoomba corridor 20-tonne or 26.5-tonne axle loads to maximise the efficiency of the current line probably could have been achieved.

Taking things a step further, easing the existing 100m radius curves to 200m - most of which could be done within the existing corridor - the existing Toowoomba line could be made standard gauge ready for a fraction of the price of the "big tunnel". Staged low cost improvements to the current line appears to be the only realistic way forward instead of waiting for more reports and studies on a single unfunded (and perhaps unfundable) Toowoomba Range replacement project.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
The $300m is just a kick off. The project has bipartisan support and hence should continue. Over 10 years the funding required is less than $400mpa and there is scope for other players to throw some money in like Qld govt.........
RTT_Rules

Dream on.

For the next four years there is no planned federal funding for it in the budget.

Can't believe how no-one has picked up on this.
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

Dream on.

For the next four years there is no planned federal funding for it in the budget.

Can't believe how no-one has picked up on this.
bingley hall

So in affect the Coalition, who claims there is a financial crisis and was elected on that basis, is prepared to waste $300M on a study that will lead no where???
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
So in affect the Coalition, who claims there is a financial crisis and was elected on that basis, is prepared to waste $300M on a study that will lead no where???
nswtrains

I think the Coalition is fully aware of the need to build this line, and a study is a great way to show your doing something without actually laying down track.

BUT, the biggest thing remains: regardless of what the study says, there is no funding for construction works. This study is more to do with the alignment and getting the project "shovel ready" then anything.

Its not a case of throwing away money, merely distracting the people until funding can be found (more then likely when/if the second term of their government arrives)
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

I think the Coalition is fully aware of the need to build this line, and a study is a great way to show your doing something without actually laying down track.

BUT, the biggest thing remains: regardless of what the study says, there is no funding for construction works. This study is more to do with the alignment and getting the project "shovel ready" then anything.

Its not a case of throwing away money, merely distracting the people until funding can be found (more then likely when/if the second term of their government arrives)
"seb2351"


It's just more reports...$315-million of federal money has been committed to studies on this line since 2007. The $300-million we're talking about was first committed by the previous government in 2012. After nearly three years there's still no new track, no survey pegs and no private funding. By comparison, the federal government handed over $191.4-million in April 2001 and got the Alice Springs to Darwin railway built and opened in the same period of time that this current $300-million has been in play. Project delivery is not the primary focus of Canberra with this line...instead it's a barrel of pork to be rolled out at the next half-dozen elections.

Now if that $315-million so far committed to this paper project had actually been presented to the private sector as a Federal co-contribution we might actually have an Inland Railway - or new parts of it - running already.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Depending on how you define things, I think the Alice Springs to Darwin rail line still comfortably takes the cake in terms of the amount of lead time from commitment (commencement of construction even) through to completion.  The idea that the northern and southern rail lines would be connected had been around since the northern and southern lines started construction (so ~120 years pre completion), and building the line was a obligation on the Commonwealth arising from the cessation of the Northern Territory by South Australia in 1910 (so ~90 years pre completion).

Also remember that in addition to the Federal funding there was an even greater commitment from the SA and NT governments.  Perhaps the Qld government is willing to come partly dressed to the party given the expense and potential regional benefit of the Toowoomba connection, but if you asked the NSW government to chip in however many hundred million over the next few years I doubt you'd get much love.

A bit over half of the construction cost of the NT line was from private investors.  The potential opportunity for private investors to get involved in this project has been shouted from the rooftops since day one, but I'm not hearing much from people willing to to spend their money (which is different from hearing from someone willing to spend someone else's money) on this project.

The reports to date have highlighted that it doesn't make economic or financial sense to be in a hurry to build the line - "positive economic net presence value at 7% real discount rate when operations commence between 2030 and 2035".  Therefore it isn't that surprising that you don't find large funding commitments in the next couple of years.  But given there is the expectation that eventually (two decades isn't that far away from an infrastructure planning perspective) the line will be worthwhile it makes sense to start reserving the corridor.  It also makes sense to have a look and see whether it makes sense to build or upgrade bits of the system that might unlock local demand ahead of the full system.  Beyond the inevitably political posturing that's associated with these things, that's what the $300 million is mostly about.

That $300 million is less than 10% of the capital cost of the complete line (~$4 billion).  Alone it probably wouldn't even cover the land acquisition costs along the route.  It would be completely irresponsible to just jump in and blow $4 billion of taxpayers money on this project without significant amount of upfront planning, evaluation and design.  Some perspective is required.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Dream on.

For the next four years there is no planned federal funding for it in the budget.

Can't believe how no-one has picked up on this
bingley hall

100% agree with Don'tTellMywife. NT line has been in plan for 100yr, there was even a sign at the end of the Alice track indicating future extension for how many decades? there was also alot of work done to sort out the money side for a few years prior to the announcement, it didn't just happen. There was also buggerall in between Alice and Darwin and the only built up areas they went through were mostly the former ROW and in at least one case even a former bridge. The project was so commercially successful that no private money will willingly given to a general rail freight project again for a long long time.

Back to Bingley's, Seb2351, NSWtrains and Sulla1 comments
My understanding is this
- The project for spending the $300m wont get off until mid 2015
- I do not know how long they have to spend that money, 2-3 years? so why would there be funding for the next step when this is likely to be around 2017-2018? Of course it will be an election promise for the 3rd term of the LNP, just like they will use this project for their 2nd term campaign.

From the news story
Three sections of the track have been identified as priority projects and, according to Mr Anderson, will immediately improve rail transport in those local areas.
They include a major upgrade of the network between Narrabri and North Star, an upgrade from Parkes to Narromine, and construction of the Rosewood-Kagaru section near Ipswich, Queensland


I therefore take this to read the $300m is to pay for upgraded track to Nth Star in NSW + about 50km of track to run from Rosewood to Kagaru in Qld. I assume both these projects will take about 2-3 years. The NT line, they built 1700km of track across 95% of Sweet F__ All landscape wise, who was to complain about the route, a few farmers and camels? It was the worlds fastest railway construction project for a damn good reason. Meanwhile it takes 3-4 years to build a few km of track in suburbia for a damn good reason.

The Qld track route is undefined and semi rural to rural. As this route will involve connecting NG to the interstate to get to Acacia Ridge, they also need to finish the Dual gauging of the interstate.

There are very significant reasons why the Rosewood to Kagaru section needs to be built soon! I also point out that this gets zero $ from the Qld govt yet the benefits are all for the Qld govt. ie more coal, remove coal dust from suburbia (a growing issue in Brisbane, real or perceived) and more slots for commuter services + the ability to run 15min services off-peak on the Ips line. During the Fed election, LNP made a few loose references (that I recall) for improving rail freight access to Brisbane Port.

The ARTC (the govt organisation vested with the task of managing and improving the Interstate network) has in its own report stated the line is not needed until 2025 and that timing will effect the NPV. ie bring forward its gets less, push out it gets more. From a Qld perspective, the current coal locos and assume wagon fleet used in the Sth fields will be life expired around 2025, so a good time to buy something new and off the shelf standard gauge, rather than something that needs to fit in a 150yr old very narrow tunnel with light feet. The grain fleet is in the same boat.

By 2017-18, the Fed and Qld budgets should be much healthier and in a position to open the purse to start funding this. $4B over 7-8 years is still
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Thou shalt believeith it, when I seeith it!
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Depending on how you define things, I think the Alice Springs to Darwin rail line still comfortably takes the cake in terms of the amount of lead time from commitment (commencement of construction even) through to completion.  The idea that the northern and southern rail lines would be connected had been around since the northern and southern lines started construction (so ~120 years pre completion), and building the line was a obligation on the Commonwealth arising from the cessation of the Northern Territory by South Australia in 1910 (so ~90 years pre completion).

Also remember that in addition to the Federal funding there was an even greater commitment from the SA and NT governments.  Perhaps the Qld government is willing to come partly dressed to the party given the expense and potential regional benefit of the Toowoomba connection, but if you asked the NSW government to chip in however many hundred million over the next few years I doubt you'd get much love.

A bit over half of the construction cost of the NT line was from private investors.  The potential opportunity for private investors to get involved in this project has been shouted from the rooftops since day one, but I'm not hearing much from people willing to to spend their money (which is different from hearing from someone willing to spend someone else's money) on this project.

The reports to date have highlighted that it doesn't make economic or financial sense to be in a hurry to build the line - "positive economic net presence value at 7% real discount rate when operations commence between 2030 and 2035".  Therefore it isn't that surprising that you don't find large funding commitments in the next couple of years.  But given there is the expectation that eventually (two decades isn't that far away from an infrastructure planning perspective) the line will be worthwhile it makes sense to start reserving the corridor.  It also makes sense to have a look and see whether it makes sense to build or upgrade bits of the system that might unlock local demand ahead of the full system.  Beyond the inevitably political posturing that's associated with these things, that's what the $300 million is mostly about.

That $300 million is less than 10% of the capital cost of the complete line (~$4 billion).  Alone it probably wouldn't even cover the land acquisition costs along the route.  It would be completely irresponsible to just jump in and blow $4 billion of taxpayers money on this project without significant amount of upfront planning, evaluation and design.  Some perspective is required.
"donttellmywife"


There's only 357km of new build standard gauge needed to fill in the missing links...and possibly more than half of that will be within existing narrow gauge corridors. Add to that the new Toowoomba and Little Liverpool Range crossings already have reserved corridors, the only land acquisitions likely to be needed will be between Millmerran or Oakey and Boggabilla/North Star and between Rosewood and Bromelton (some of which may also be reserved). In 2003 the 108km Bauhinia railway to the Rolleston coal mine cost $213-million to build across similar country between NSW and Toowoomba. No doubt the standard gauge connection east of Toowoomba dramatically escalates the costs...but the real perspective is how little $4-billion is expected to buy. Industry or private investors may have a better idea of how much they need to spend to achieve this project than the government. As I've said before...the government can settle this by offering the industry the best commercial conditions to build and operate this line and if no one wants to play trains then we can have this $300-million spent on something helpful rather than more filing cabinets for the next report.
  br30453 Train Controller

There are very significant reasons why the Rosewood to Kagaru section needs to be built soon! I also point out that this gets zero $ from the Qld govt yet the benefits are all for the Qld govt. ie more coal, remove coal dust from suburbia (a growing issue in Brisbane, real or perceived) and more slots for commuter services + the ability to run 15min services off-peak on the Ips line. During the Fed election, LNP made a few loose references (that I recall) for improving rail freight access to Brisbane Port.
RTT_Rules

The Rosewood to Kagaru section has been estimated to cost 1 billion dollars.

For much less than this you could put roofs on the coal wagons and alleviate the coal dust problem.

Until the proposed Acacia Ridge to the Port link is built the coal trains would still traverse the line from Dutton Park to Lytton Junction, so what have we gained by a long diversion through Kagaru.

This section is through the suburbs where the main complaints are heard.

The Acacia Ridge to the Port link magically appeared before the last federal election.

Get rid of Rudd and put a Liberal member in and we will stop the coal dust.

So the locals re-elected Rudd and the coal dust is still there.

Having been involved in looking at possibilities for any such route I believe there is no possibility of a surface route.

A tunnel has been mentioned but a what cost and with what ventilation problems for diesel operation

A 15 minute off-peak service could be run now on the Ipswich line if there was sufficient stock to operate the services.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
You live at Dalby and in all your travels you have never seen a train on a road in Toowoomba?

The line needs to be pulled out of Toowoomba, the days of running railways through a city or even a town along a street, across the the street what ever should be behind us. No body but a few gunzels taking photos is a winner with this arrangement.
RTT_Rules

Exactly my point. Nowhere in Toowoomba does this happen. Yes, there are level crossings, but nowhere does the train run along any street, let alone "the main street". I'm not saying that the alignment can't be improved upon however!
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
There's only 357km of new build standard gauge needed to fill in the missing links...and possibly more than half of that will be within existing narrow gauge corridors. Add to that the new Toowoomba and Little Liverpool Range crossings already have reserved corridors, the only land acquisitions likely to be needed will be between Millmerran or Oakey and Boggabilla/North Star and between Rosewood and Bromelton (some of which may also be reserved). In 2003 the 108km Bauhinia railway to the Rolleston coal mine cost $213-million to build across similar country between NSW and Toowoomba. No doubt the standard gauge connection east of Toowoomba dramatically escalates the costs...but the real perspective is how little $4-billion is expected to buy. Industry or private investors may have a better idea of how much they need to spend to achieve this project than the government. As I've said before...the government can settle this by offering the industry the best commercial conditions to build and operate this line and if no one wants to play trains then we can have this $300-million spent on something helpful rather than more filing cabinets for the next report.
Sulla1

Your comment about private investment being more hard nosed about what is actually required is a fair enough point.  A related benefit is that it would provide some resistance for the inevitable inclination for this line to try and be everything for everyone along the route (with the downside that you'll inevitably disappoint some when you decide the line won't service their region or intended traffic).

The $4 billion odd total cost is for a ultimate system that has 600 km of greenfield track, length wise (but not cost wise) most of which is in NSW (mostly Narromine to Narrabri) and not near an existing narrow or standard gauge corridor.  

That's not the minimum length of track that you need to build to make the connection, but your transit time will suffer if you don't.  Some here have argued that what's been proposed is not ambitious enough - we should be constructing more greenfield track and to a higher standard than assumed by the study.  What degree of that spend is worthwhile, and when that spend is worthwhile, is what has to be worked out as more information becomes available, though the last study should give a pretty good indication of how things will fall.

You can't just go applying capital costs from one project to another, without understanding what drives the cost - existing land use, topography, number and nature of water crossings, soil type, etc.  Describing the ground that the Rolleston line crosses as being similar to the proposed alignment between northern NSW and Toowoomba is a bit of a stretch.

I'm not sure what you mean by "the best commercial conditions".  It is very unlikely the line would make sense financially in the next couple of decades - it doesn't currently even make economic sense.  Significant government support - I'd say billions - for its construction cost would be required.  You don't offer that level of support without having a good idea of what it is you are supporting.  Before you could package things up in a manner that allowed private investors to decide whether they wanted to invest or not you'd probably have to do much of the sort of preliminary work that's being talked about as part of the $300 million anyway.

Sponsored advertisement

Display from:   

Quick Reply

We've disabled Quick Reply for this thread as it was last updated more than six months ago.