NE SG line, post gauge conversion

 
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Hold up there, valued opinion by many on here......

Never sell yourself short Woodford. Your posts over many years have been very insightful to many of us.

Keep them coming!
SamTheMan79


I am not selling myself short, the line is delibrately used, Its intended to indicate the subjects up for discusion as I am not sure of my position and others on the board with more track maintence experience will hopefull comment. I have a couple of other phrases I have used to mean the same thing. I still take great care in writing posts.

Thanks for the response though its nice to know someone is still paying attention.
How broadcasters constantly talk with little response is beyond me.............

woodford

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  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Yes Woodford please keep your excellent reports coming.   Inregard to my earlier posts I have also been dealing with engineers and others who were directly involved in the north east upgrade and other similar ARTC projects such as the western Victoria, Parkes to Stockinbingal and Parkes to Broken Hill schemes, so my input has come from what I believe are genuinely informed sources.   It is myunderstanding that the subsequent revisions to the side insertion technique were most definitely due to (a) the depth of the original ballast bed being deficient, (b) the condition of the original ballast (now well described) and (c) the risk of the capping layer being potentially compromised because the concrete sleeper has a deeper profile than the timber sleepers they were replacing.

The subsequent refinements of the technique resulted onother corridors with (1) a layer of fresh ballast being dropped ahead of any resleepering, (2) the existing track then being partially lifted so as then to ensure (1) there was adequate ballast depth of ballast in which to insert the sleepers noting of course that the concrete sleeper also has a deeper profile.

Now whether decision makers knew or did not know what therisks/consequences of the original technique were going to be is something we are likely to never know but the reality was that the original technique was modified not only once but three times in total.   I am also aware that it was the intention torelay the west track with new 60kg/m rail under the original plan but this option was discarded due to funding issues, a number of which were related to the Hunter Valley Corridor Upgrades, which I assume means funds may have been diverted from the north-south project, making the already scarce funds having to be stretched further.

I recently visited the Bethungra Spiral – Junee area wherethe Sydney bound track was only concrete sleepered very, very recently.   It used let’s call it the Mark 4 version ofthe technique.   The quality of that workis without exaggeration absolutely first class.
The ballast is clean for its entire depth, the drainage is to a veryhigh standard with the sides of the top of the formation sloped and raked to ensure the ballast is very well drained.
It has all the hallmarks of a very high standard of track even if it isstill using the existing 50/53kg/m rail.
The trains I noted travelling across that section rode very smoothly.


Whichever way we look at it there is no doubt that lessonshave been learned and it is just highly regrettable that as per the ATSB report we have an issue here that will take a long time to overcome which is a great setback for all.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
LMFAO , go for another cab ride over the Junee Bethungra section on the up (north bound) line and repeat what you just typed .
This section is quite slow now for a line that is mostly 100-115 , ok one 95 , and where you lose the bulk of the time lost between Junee and Cootamundra . The ride on the ok bits is better but the 40/60/80 track speed restrictions dotted along it aren't .
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Yes Woodford please keep your excellent reports coming. Inregard to my earlier posts I have also been dealing with engineers and others who were directly involved in the north east upgrade and other similar ARTC projects such as the western Victoria, Parkes to Stockinbingal and Parkes to Broken Hill schemes, so my input has come from what I believe are genuinely informed sources.
Trainplanner


Now I am not delibrately trying to run anyone down here but I have found the only ___RELIABLE___ source is your own eyes. At least 90% percent of what one is told will be incorrect usually because of the source having a preconcieved idea of what should be happening.
Nearly all the info I write comes from observations with my own eyes and mind. ANYONE giving me information ________MUST________ back it up with proper evidence and few will be able to do that. Its true because someone said IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH if one wish's to retain a reputation for accuracy.

I will stick to my guns here, my own observations indicate that the side insertion method was NOT to blame for the current state of the track.

I appear to have gained a reputation around this place for accurate information. This accuracy has been acheived by making sure all information published ___IS___ backed by reliable observational evidence, heresay is just that heresay NOT MATTER WHO IS GIVING THE INFORMATION.
A second point is I take great care in writing the reports to make sure it conveys the correct information, this takes much effort. A typical 300 word report will take between 90 and 120 minutes to write. Even this post has now taken 45 minutes to write and will likely take another 20 minutes to complete.

Note: One does get told reliable information on rare occasions, unfortunately its usually not possible at the time to tell its reliable or get evidence to back it up. Around 6 months prior to the start of the  regauging I had conversion with an old but still currrent (at the time, he's retired now) driver at Seymour station. He gave me a complete and very accuarte picture of what was to happen, when all other sources were coming up with rubbish. I did not get the evidence to back up his story till another 18 months went by. It was only then that I published this information.

woodford
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I work trains from time to time between Sydney and Junee and I trust my eyes and ears . Slowing down for Temp Speed Restrictions and noting a rougher ride and discolouration of the ballast or mud is also a good indication . Seeing is believing .
  sthyer Deputy Commissioner

In Australia, the railways are the states responsibility and are therefore regulated by them. Any one doing any anything to the railways in say Victoria MUST get the approval from the states regulating authority.

The NE SG tracks have a maximum speed limit of 130kph, I believe Victoria rates the track as class 2.

woodford
woodford

Woodford, you were absolutely correct the day you wrote this email. On May 19, the National regulator, ONRSR, took over in Victoria, so now it's no longer a state based regulator. Thus ARTC can talk to the one single regulator for tracks it controls in NSW, VIC and SA. Other states will follow in due course.

Will this make a big difference? Probably not, it's not like the regulator has been responsible for limiting ARTC's ability to do the track up properly. Will state based political inteference still affect outcomes for rail in each state? Sigh... probably.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Woodford, you were absolutely correct the day you wrote this email. On May 19, the National regulator, ONRSR, took over in Victoria, so now it's no longer a state based regulator. Thus ARTC can talk to the one single regulator for tracks it controls in NSW, VIC and SA. Other states will follow in due course.

Will this make a big difference? Probably not, it's not like the regulator has been responsible for limiting ARTC's ability to do the track up properly. Will state based political inteference still affect outcomes for rail in each state? Sigh... probably.
sthyer


I was aware there was  a drive for National regulation, it would certainly be a good idea to give this new body a real tough going over to see if it is capable of solving anything. Given the lack of interest shown by most people and governments in railways  I would not die of shock to find its a toothless tiger.

Its web site http://www.onrsr.com.au/ gives little information outside of self promotion other than its been set up under the Rail Safety National law (South Australia) Act 2012. The possibilty its been set up to give rail companys free rein with safety issues cannot be ruled out.

The act is 179 pages long availible at.....
http://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/A/RAIL%20SAFETY%20NATIONAL%20LAW%20%28SOUTH%20AUSTRALIA%29%20ACT%202012/CURRENT/2012.14.UN.PDF

Given Australias state responibilities how relelvent is an act passed in SA to any other part of the country, will a court challenge in another state invalidate the act in that state?

A change as  serious as this needs to be validated by at least by the office showing it has teeth outside of SA to stand up to rail companies willing to cut safety costs and endanger many lives just for a bigger profit margin.

Who said that............... Who said I am cynical!!!!!! Smile

Never take life to seriously we will never get out of it alive!

woodford
  HcoteJunct Junior Train Controller

And another thing:

If you get a chance (bit difficult these days); have a close look at the damage to some of the brand new concrete sleepers north of Broadford. I observed this damage being done on three occasions during the re-railing of the line with 60kg/m stock and was horrified at the lack of care the workers were taking.

The old rail was rolled into the middle of the track and then dragged by an excavator to the disposal site. Trouble was all those old welds on the rails had formed a large burr on the bottom of the rail that damaged the edge of the concrete sleeper as the rail was dragged along. Some of the damage is significant - not just surface cracking. Being on top of the sleeper, water will gradually seep in (especially in areas of poor boxing) and reduce the life of the sleeper - by how much, its anyone's guess.

Several writers have stated that the original formation was built on the cheap and in later years maintenance was poor. The original line was designed at a time of much shorter/lighter trains than we see today. It was built on wooden sleepers, had jointed rail and minimal ballast - but it worked.

Roll forward several decades and a plan is in place to upgrade the line with heavier rail and concrete sleepers to allow heavier, faster and longer trains. But the foundations were not considered. Bit like putting a five ton load on a box trailer - yeah it will probably work for a bit but in a short time it will fail. And the guy who said yeah it will be ok, I've done it before is nowhere to be seen. Surely commonsense must come into play at some stage - especially when you employ professionals. I'm too old now to be amazed that it took three different methods to insert the sleepers. There was no push back, there was no care and the cost to our community will be great for many years to come.

We used to innovate, we used to have a manufacturing and engineering industry that made us proud. We used to be able to build massive projects. Now we just seem to accept mediocrity, and import just about everything.

As I said before, this must change - my comments were not political at all - just an observation, that minor projects are being touted as nation building (both major political parties are guilty of this misinformation).

If the NE line was the first in the world to ever be upgraded then I would be far more tolerant of the issues encountered. Surely there has to be some talent out there.

These opinions are mine, based on direct observation.

Cheers
Scott
  arctic Deputy Commissioner

Location: Zurich
Glass is half empty? The fact that the side insertion method was *revised* three times means that there was in fact push pack and care. If there truly was none, then there would have been no revisions.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
I really enjoyed reading your post Scott. I agree wholeheartedly.

When I was in the workforce great pride was shown in the work we did.

Outsourcing as bought all care and no responsibility. It is ripe throughout this country.

I sometimes wonder if we could build a coffee table let alone design  one.

Our national rail network is in crisis and has been for years. We do not value what is valuable as do not maintain assets for the good of business and the community.

Not wanting to politise this post at all but Australia lacks leadership and so do our rail operators.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Given Australias state responibilities how relelvent is an act passed in SA to any other part of the country, will a court challenge in another state invalidate the act in that state?
woodford

The act establishing the ONRSR as the regulator for a particular state is passed in each state. The SA act and regulations, which were written in a manner that was not particularly state specific to begin with, are used as the starting point, with minor modifications to integrate the act into the legal framework of the particular state - for example to specifically designate the responsible minister or some state based authorities that the act interacts with.

These state specific acts are easily found using an appropriate web search of the legislative collections for the states concerned.  For example - here is the act introducing the legislation into NSW: http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/maintop/view/inforce/act+82a+2012+cd+0+N.

So there would be no basis for a court challenge on the basis of this legislation coming from somewhere else.

This organisation has not "been set up to give rail companys free rein with safety issues", as simple inspection of the act and regulations would show.  This change is just one more step in repairing the constitutional cock-up made when the states federated - a cock-up that has done many orders of magnitude more damage to rail in Australia than any of the issues mentioned in this thread.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
And another thing:

If you get a chance (bit difficult these days); have a close look at the damage to some of the brand new concrete sleepers north of Broadford. I observed this damage being done on three occasions during the re-railing of the line with 60kg/m stock and was horrified at the lack of care the workers were taking.

The old rail was rolled into the middle of the track and then dragged by an excavator to the disposal site. Trouble was all those old welds on the rails had formed a large burr on the bottom of the rail that damaged the edge of the concrete sleeper as the rail was dragged along. Some of the damage is significant - not just surface cracking. Being on top of the sleeper, water will gradually seep in (especially in areas of poor boxing) and reduce the life of the sleeper - by how much, its anyone's guess.

Several writers have stated that the original formation was built on the cheap and in later years maintenance was poor. The original line was designed at a time of much shorter/lighter trains than we see today. It was built on wooden sleepers, had jointed rail and minimal ballast - but it worked.

Roll forward several decades and a plan is in place to upgrade the line with heavier rail and concrete sleepers to allow heavier, faster and longer trains. But the foundations were not considered. Bit like putting a five ton load on a box trailer - yeah it will probably work for a bit but in a short time it will fail. And the guy who said yeah it will be ok, I've done it before is nowhere to be seen. Surely commonsense must come into play at some stage - especially when you employ professionals. I'm too old now to be amazed that it took three different methods to insert the sleepers. There was no push back, there was no care and the cost to our community will be great for many years to come.

We used to innovate, we used to have a manufacturing and engineering industry that made us proud. We used to be able to build massive projects. Now we just seem to accept mediocrity, and import just about everything.

As I said before, this must change - my comments were not political at all - just an observation, that minor projects are being touted as nation building (both major political parties are guilty of this misinformation).

If the NE line was the first in the world to ever be upgraded then I would be far more tolerant of the issues encountered. Surely there has to be some talent out there.

These opinions are mine, based on direct observation.

Cheers
Scott

HcoteJunct

Sad but very true in so many ways.
The talent and experience has just about gone in many areas - sold down the drain as a result of privatisation, bean counters and politicians. I am aware of well over 200 years of experience in various fields of rail having been lost to the industry in recent months as a result of less experienced people taking over as they are perceived to be cheaper for today anyway (and they either know everything or don't know that that they don't know anyway).
  woodford Chief Commissioner

The act establishing the ONRSR as the regulator for a particular state is passed in each state. The SA act and regulations, which were written in a manner that was not particularly state specific to begin with, are used as the starting point, with minor modifications to integrate the act into the legal framework of the particular state - for example to specifically designate the responsible minister or some state based authorities that the act interacts with.

These state specific acts are easily found using an appropriate web search of the legislative collections for the states concerned. For example - here is the act introducing the legislation into NSW: http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/maintop/view/inforce/act+82a+2012+cd+0+N.

So there would be no basis for a court challenge on the basis of this legislation coming from somewhere else.

This organisation has not "been set up to give rail companys free rein with safety issues", as simple inspection of the act and regulations would show. This change is just one more step in repairing the constitutional cock-up made when the states federated - a cock-up that has done many orders of magnitude more damage to rail in Australia than any of the issues mentioned in this thread.
donttellmywife


Thanks for the info,
woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner


We used to innovate, we used to have a manufacturing and engineering industry that made us proud. We used to be able to build massive projects. Now we just seem to accept mediocrity, and import just about everything.

As I said before, this must change - my comments were not political at all - just an observation, that minor projects are being touted as nation building (both major political parties are guilty of this misinformation).

If the NE line was the first in the world to ever be upgraded then I would be far more tolerant of the issues encountered. Surely there has to be some talent out there.

These opinions are mine, based on direct observation.

Cheers
Scott
HcoteJunct


The problem that railways have in Aus is essentially everyones love of road transport and the railways simply are not being given the funds to build a decent system. Until a crisis occurs (such as major fuel shortages) nothing will change and then it will very likely to late to stop a major financial disaster.

The regauging of the NE line was just that a reguaging, ARTC was given the funds to move one rail in 6.5 inches (ie regauge the, line), fit new sleepers, redo the signalling  and rebuild some bridges, THEY WERE NOT GIVEN FUNDS TO DO ANYTHING ELSE. They did not even have funds to straighten the track in removed yards, for this money was obtained from the mainetence budget. I have spoken to both ARTC senior mangement and the contractors senior managment and ARTC were agvised well and would have liked to do a proper job but they simply DID NOT HAVE THE FUNDS. Why us this so hard for people to understand. Until the electorate wishes to pay for a decent transport system neither the government or its agents, such as ARTC, can do anything, given the current state of the media.

In the current state Aus is in it will be pointless to change or replace a setup such as ARTC as anything else will suffer exactly the same limitations, the population simply does not wish to pay for decent services. What makes the whole thing sad is that neither major political party has ANY VISION at all to change that and that in reality is there job.

Australias population and the major parties very soon will have to seriously "bite the bullet" and start allowing major infrastructure to be funded. If this is not done Australia WILL end up as another third world country.

woodford
  HcoteJunct Junior Train Controller

What I don't understand is why any an entity, or a person or a politician for that matter would allow such situation to develop. It does not matter whether the project will cost $1,000 or $100,000,000.

If the entity knows that the course of action will be detrimental and that entity continues with that course of action then that is negligent.

If a customer came to me and said "Scott can you fix my doohickey?" I would have a look at the project, cost it and then tell the customer. Now lets say the repairs were going to cost $500 but the customer only had $100. My options are refusing the job or doing a patch up job that will get the customer on his way, but not for very long. If I take the latter course of action, I risk my reputation and future earnings. But if I relented and did the job I would make sure the customer fully aware of all the facts before I started.

So I reluctantly do the job, and as expected the customer comes back a few days later and complains. "Bad luck" I say, as I shrug my shoulders and say that "I wish I had a bit more money to do the job properly".  This is the attitude that I can't understand, and it deeply saddens me.

Simplistic? Probably but definitely not pessimistic. Good project management is just that, delivering a project properly, not half baked.

In my opinion the west line should have been left to rot. It was so degraded that any reasonable person could clearly see that it needed major work, not just a re-gauge to bring it up to standard. A staged approach something like I outlined in an earlier post would have provided the best outcome, as at the moment and for the foreseeable future, the traffic on the line does not warrant full duplication.

What concerns me the most is the upgrade of the original standard gauge line between Melbourne and Wodonga. This involved a total replacement of sleepers and rail (north of Broadford). What staggers me is that no attention was paid to the foundation of the track and the consequences of this action are plain to see. Ironically, the only decent sections of track along the line are in the passing lanes which were constructed from the base up. So clearly the art of building track has not been totally lost.

You may say that it is easy for me to criticise on the basis of hindsight. It is. But when the outcome is well and truly known before the project even starts, that is what dismays me.

I do not hanker for the past. There was not much "good" about the old days except for one thing - that people were accountable for their actions. Today we have a society devoted to deflection and nothing good will ever come from that. I just wish there was a process in place for people to learn commonsense, rather than learning to continually re-invent the wheel.

Cheers
Scott
  woodford Chief Commissioner

This is now well into personal opinion territory which is outside my "terms of reference" but.............

I believe Scott you are simplifing the problem to much. Governements usually do not act until the pressure gets to much to bare. In the case of the NE line while it may well have been better to leave it untill one could do a top job, I personlly believe closing the Albuty BG was not an option the state governement could have survived. In reguaging the line then the governement was very likley simply doing its best to survive.
I will come back to my statement which few appear to agree with (not that that bothers me). The people of Victora and Australia simply must understand if the wish for a good living standard and economic success they must be willing to spend money on good transport systems.
If one is doing a paid job for someone and they will not pay you properly, then its there fault if they get a poor job, You simply cannot do the job properly if you do not get paid properly. If the people will not pay for a decent system, its there fault that the system is poor, not the government, ARTC, VLine or whoever.

Unsigned opinion piece
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Remember in the end in a democracy the government is not "them" its "us", the government of the day simply being our "representatives". If democratic governments or its agencies are doing a poor job in the final analysis its our fault.

"Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite.

  • Every nation gets the government it deserves.[1][2]

  • Letter 76, on the topic of Russia's new constitutional laws (27 August 1811); published in Lettres et Opuscules.



Joseph de Maistr"


woodford
  HcoteJunct Junior Train Controller

I agree, I am a rather simple person!

Up until now I have deliberately not specifically directed blame, rather expressed an opinion based on direct observation of result.

For what its worth I do not blame the government. Governments (we the people) of the day will always try to limit the amount they spend and try to obtain the best result for the minimal amount of outlay.  Hence the development of PPP's which defer expenditure to become someone else's problem way into the future.  It is the role of those who actually use the Government (taxpayers) money to use it effectively. To an layperson, consider this. If rail only carries 10% of the contestable freight between Melbourne and Sydney then it should only get 10% of the infrastructure spending. As a fierce supporter and defender of rail I hate writing that.

I lay the fault directly at the feet of the ARTC, which is a company (owned by the Australian Government [people]).

ARTC Charter
The Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd (ARTC) is a company under the Corporations Act whose shares are owned by the Commonwealth of Australia, which is represented by the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, and the Minister for Finance.


ARTC's corporate charter is to:
Provide seamless and efficient access to users of the interstate rail network;
Pursue a growth strategy for interstate rail through improved efficiency and competitiveness;
Improve interstate rail infrastructure through better asset management and coordination of capital investment;
Encourage uniformity in access, technical, operating and safe working procedures; and
Operate the business on commercially sound principles.

I have been directly involved in project management of modest aviation programs in the order of $10 to $20 million. I have dealt with all three levels of government, interested parties, affected communities and the sponsor of the project.  The only way to deliver the project in an accepted form is through communication. One must gather all the facts, know exactly what is being asked for, and when the impossible is requested, have a viable alternative to be able to put on the table that effectively saves face of all involved. Difficult yes, but in the end a fairly simple task that requires the time to plan.

My grandfather said to me a long time ago "Son, if you are going to do something, then do it right the first time."

It was wonderful advice that is sadly lacking in today's society.

Cheers
Scott
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
The problem I think is financial which basically reads governments . Whenever I post that people in governments are OUR representatives not us theirs brain dead morons rush to defend them . You'd really have to be flat lining to believe that governments vote themselves into office .

The rail infrastructure woes in NE Victoria don't sound very different to those in southern NSW . On this side of the river there were major delays when the so called drought was on with its hot conditions . WOLOS caused major delays in NSW and no doubt Victoria to the point where the Xs couldn't get to Melbourne in time to make their scheduled return .
Much much bitching and finger pointing at governments . In the said era standards changed and it was no longer desirous to the latte lapping inner city trend setters metrosexuals , call them what you like ie Clovers mob , to allow trees to be cut for sleepers and treated in such a way that the Green voting termites didn't eat them .
I have every reason to believe that some self ingratiating turd woke up and shouted Eureka - concrete sleepers are the answer to out WOLO woes . Tree huggers will rejoice because no need to fell saw poison and plant . The resident bean roaster would have said whats the figure cause conn crete sleepers sound exy . Turd would have gone to the concrete casters and said give us conn crete sleepers on a wood budget and we'll make you rich .
There would have been a few homo sapiens inside ARTC that knew full well that concrete sleepers would fix some of the ills like Wolos and calm the commo kermits at the same time . They also would have known that the track bed was in serious trouble but fixing it was biiig bux and the pollies needed a quick dirty "fix" . Marsian and Fullovit know how to play the game and that's avoid the truth and do the politically popular thing , spend some money and boast to the proles what champions of society , and government , they are .

Notice the denial tactics ARTC went through when it became apparent that the fix became a botch and the train delays became so great that they couldn't deny it any longer . The media gets great pix of the worst mud ho er seas and the whole lot is looking politically hot . Magically money appears to wash egg off political face and band aids start to reduce the physical damage to the perway and trains running over it .
But now , wait for it - wait - for - it shi er I mean precipitation happened again and the same old sores break open again .
Australian Rack Trak Corp , cause it feels like rack rails , invests in a side cleaner and some genius comes up with ballast specific chain saw so they can rip the ballast soup out from under the sleepers in problem locations to band aid the same hole as last year and the year before and and and .

It makes me sick to see the money squandered or given away by this country when its badly needed in areas like this . I can just as easily lay the boot into poisonous political followings in Australia today but too many people rush to defend their trendy ideals . This country sinks because too few care about the long term and like it or not the future is catching up .
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Note for Woodford - don't worry about writing "unsigned opinion piece"

We value both your observations and your opinions.
  M636C Minister for Railways

The rail infrastructure woes in NE Victoria don't sound very different to those in southern NSW . On this side of the river there were major delays when the so called drought was on with its hot conditions . WOLOS caused major delays in NSW and no doubt Victoria to the point where the Xs couldn't get to Melbourne in time to make their scheduled return .


I have every reason to believe that some self ingratiating turd woke up and shouted Eureka - concrete sleepers are the answer to out WOLO woes . Tree huggers will rejoice because no need to fell saw poison and plant . The resident bean roaster would have said whats the figure cause conn crete sleepers sound exy .



Australian Rack Trak Corp , cause it feels like rack rails , invests in a side cleaner and some genius comes up with ballast specific chain saw so they can rip the ballast soup out from under the sleepers in problem locations to band aid the same hole as last year and the year before and and and .

BDA


Surprisingly I still have a job and it is in an area where conflicts occur between the expectations of operators and the equipment with which they are provided, and much of the difference is credited to the technical people tasked with supplying the equipment.

My fingers are still warm from messages I received this morning when a senior executive rejected what I thought was a routine request and a couple of hundredweight of words came down the line from the operator's planning cell.

However, I sympathise with BDA in that track that provided him with a smooth ride was replaced (or more strictly modified into) track which gave him a rough ride resulting in a slower journey. As someone once involved as an engineer in vehicle track interaction, I'm concerned about the strength of the track as much as how smooth it is to ride over.

However, the track that gave a smooth ride was inherently unsafe, since the fastenings were designed for jointed rail (and in many cases installed on jointed rail) but were attempting to secure long welded rail.

After the concrete sleepers were installed, the risk of derailment reduced substantially but the mudholes remained to be treated.

As I've said before, the mudholes in the NSW Main South were generally there before the sleepers were changed, but seemed to be worse since a sleeper just sitting under the rail won't pump as much as one attached to the rail, and thus a good ride on insecure track became a rough ride on secure track.

The sleepers themselves were often much like John Cleese' description of the Macaw in the "dead parrot sketch". While maybe a third in southern NSW could be reused, only about one quarter emerged from the NE BG in one piece, without considering any re-use.

The side ballast cleaner is better than nothing and the ARTC had two of them, one owned by John Holland and one of their own.

Now the track itself isn't about to collapse, time and money can be put into fixing the ballast while traffic continues.

But as I've said elsewhere, Rail Freight doesn't inherently deserve investment from Government. Roads are improved because most voters drive and every electorate has a road deserving of investment. This is carefully managed so that everybody gets a share according to their vote, if not their need.

Sadly, containers don't vote and the consignors and consignees are relatively small in numbers (and votes). So roads will always get investment and rails not so much, unless votes can be seen in it.

Incidentally, my recollection was it was the down main from Bethungra to Junee that was resleepered years later. I recall the sleepers sitting beside the down line while the gangs were out north of Stockinbingal fixing that line.

M636C
  woodford Chief Commissioner

For what its worth I think M636C's post is a good summing up of the situation. I will remind readers of two points.

ARTC has given it self a good number of years (5 years) to fix the ballast problem we are only around half way through this program.

While mudholes are still appearing, the holes currently appearing are at NOTHING like the rate and size of the ones that appeared just after the track was resleepered. Within DAYS of traffic starting on the line after the resleepering 100's of holes were appearing and most of these holes have never returned.

Both the East line and the West line were NEGLECTED for MANY years you simply CANNOT fix such neglect with petty cash. The reason fore the length of the rehabilataion program is almost certainly due to the time ARTC will take to shovel enough funds aside for said program.

OK then, thats three points.................. Wink

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Note for Woodford - don't worry about writing "unsigned opinion piece"

We value both your observations and your opinions.
Valvegear


Opinions are just that opinions THEY ARE NOT FACTS. Opinions should be clearly labeled as such. The reason being is that to many opinions particularly those of man stream media journalists and politicians are based on poor quailty or unverified information. Such opinions are actually destructive to the democratic process as they will lead to incorrect decisions and much tax payers funds being wasted.


Just a side note, Poor quality jourmalism has been around for many years. In Otto Carius's book (Note 1) "Tigers in the mud" about his time as the commander of a tiger tank during the 2nd world war, he complains bitterly about how journalists could not even then get a stories facts correct.

Note 1: Otto Carius, who is still alive, was one of Germany's and the worlds most succesfull tank commanders, destroying around 160 allied tanks. The reason for such high numbers was at the time of its release the Tiger was far superior to anything the allies had and the allies almost did nothing major about it until the M26 started appearing in 1945. Its just as well Germany could only produce around 1100 tigers, it being a very complex tank to produce.

Nothing like introducing a "smoke screen" to reduce the significance of a post Wink.

woodford
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
And yet  , M , a fortune has been spent on the Hunter Valley coal rail chain and there probably isn't that many votes in it either .
Each train load has two votes moving it around and I'd reckon mud holes the likes of which the Victorian North East and the NSW Main South has would have catastrophic failures with 30 tonne axle loads smashing over them even at 60 km/h .  

Does this mean that the coal industry has a monopoly on rail infrastructure funding ? Is this right and proper and who gets to decide ?
How good do the voting peoples in all states feel about their taxes being siphoned of to pay for a heavy haul rail network in one relatively small part of one state ?
Monopolies aren't supposed to happen anywhere but of course those making the rules factor out accountability .  

As for road votes , M what percentage of the motoring voting public actually get up and down the Hume or Pacific Highways ? What percentage of the Melbourne Sydney Brisbane residents regularly use these roads ? We know that the vast majority don't and yet the spending on them has been huge .

As for the snipe about how engines ride under me , you must be a fool if you think the viability of the company I work for and others like it isn't a genuine concern .
Asking the operators to cough up billions to make the rail routes better has as much oxygen as expecting the road freight operators to gladly double or triple ALL their charges to use the constantly upgraded road infrastructure .
They are sponging off the road car motorists taxes and votes , including the vast majority who never go very far from their city metropolitan areas .

Justify that for me .
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Good discussion.

Would Hunter valley rail operators pay higher access charges since the track and infrastructure are of a higher quality ?

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