Tookayerta (Loxton) & Pinnaroo lines to close

 
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Hmmm 5 locos again to haul I presume a 40 car train.  Very economical - Not

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  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Hmmm 5 locos again to haul I presume a 40 car train. Very economical - Not
Trainplanner


why don't gwa use more modern locomotives on this train?
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Hmmm 5 locos again to haul I presume a 40 car train. Very economical - Not
"Trainplanner"

why don't gwa use more modern locomotives on this train?
"JimYarin"


Maybe , just maybe, all of G&WA's more modern locos (GWA, GWU and FQ) are being utilized on their numerous other regular services (Ore trains and AD/DA freight)
Just how economical would it be to keep a pair of $5m+ modern locos sitting at MPC to run a monthly grain train to Pinnaroo?
Seems far more economical to use their older, lower Hp, little used locos for irregular traffic.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Hmmm 5 locos again to haul I presume a 40 car train. Very economical - Not
Trainplanner

How many semi tractors?
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Maybe , just maybe, all of G&WA's more modern locos (GWA, GWU and FQ) are being utilized on their numerous other regular services (Ore trains and AD/DA freight)
Just how economical would it be to keep a pair of $5m+ modern locos sitting at MPC to run a monthly grain train to Pinnaroo?
Seems far more economical to use their older, lower Hp, little used locos for irregular traffic.
Pressman

Shhhh, your speaking economical sense. How are the armchair operators supposed to belittle the dealings of a profitable private enterprise now?
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Shhhh, your speaking economical sense. How are the armchair operators supposed to belittle the dealings of a profitable private enterprise now?
"seb2351"


Oh damn, did those common cents rattle in their jar again?   Very Happy
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Thanks Bingley, my comment was a bit off the cuff butwithout knowing the gradients and engine load tables for the line the comment now and one that I made previously is not so much about whether the locomotives are new or older generation but more about a view I have that the loco lash ups provided by GWA appear excessive for the size/weight of the train.

If we take the example specifically referred to today of GM47-GM40-GM37-703-ALF20,we have something like roughly 9,700 HP available for traction for a consist of 40 wagons loaded to 19tonne/21 tonne axleload (3040 to 3,200 tonnes).  So we have the operating cost of the locosplus the track access fee component that will be charged for what I reckon would in other operations be about a 6,000 HP lash up) all contributing adversely to the rail haulage of grain.

Prior to that we had the example of a GWA grain train of around4,200 tonnes gross ex Tailem Bend to Pt Adelaide being hauled by 6 locomotives with around 16,000 HP for traction, which even taking account of the steep climb over the Adelaide Hills appears over the top when compared to other operators like SCT using the same corridor are to my knowledge using 2 SCT units ex Melbourne plus an assistant loco out of Tailem Bend for a train slightly heavier but more significantly one that, is far longer with greater rolling resistance because of associated curvature encountered.

My point being that its not just the cost of the maintenanceof the track that is killing these lines but also the cost of train operations that appear sub optimal.  As previouslystated grain handlers elsewhere for strategic reasons to do with better managing their entire supply chain but equally importantly controlling their transport costs have invested in their own grain fleets and contracted out the supply of locomotives and train crews or in the case of WA even gone to the extent of even acquiring their own locos.

Interesting too that similar trends are occurring in theiron ore sector in WA.   A recent reportoutlined that grain haulage by rail in WA was as high as 15% cheaper using this model than eastern states rail costs resulting in a return back to rail of more market share which is also key.
  vinelander Junior Train Controller

Hope this is the right time to ask if anyone knows where I might view photos of the Tookayerta line?
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Try typing photos of Loxton line in South Australia or photos of Tookayerta line in South Australia into Google search or your favourite search engine and it should bring up something! It works for me!
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Try typing photos of Loxton line in South Australia or photos of Tookayerta line in South Australia into Google search or your favourite search engine and it should bring up something! It works for me!
David Peters

IN fact I even got pictures of the Murraylander in operation when I clicked that. Interesting.
  waylander Station Master

Thanks Bingley, my comment was a bit off the cuff butwithout knowing the gradients and engine load tables for the line the comment now and one that I made previously is not so much about whether the locomotives are new or older generation but more about a view I have that the loco lash ups provided by GWA appear excessive for the size/weight of the train.

If we take the example specifically referred to today of GM47-GM40-GM37-703-ALF20,we have something like roughly 9,700 HP available for traction for a consist of 40 wagons loaded to 19tonne/21 tonne axleload (3040 to 3,200 tonnes). So we have the operating cost of the locosplus the track access fee component that will be charged for what I reckon would in other operations be about a 6,000 HP lash up) all contributing adversely to the rail haulage of grain.

Prior to that we had the example of a GWA grain train of around4,200 tonnes gross ex Tailem Bend to Pt Adelaide being hauled by 6 locomotives with around 16,000 HP for traction, which even taking account of the steep climb over the Adelaide Hills appears over the top when compared to other operators like SCT using the same corridor are to my knowledge using 2 SCT units ex Melbourne plus an assistant loco out of Tailem Bend for a train slightly heavier but more significantly one that, is far longer with greater rolling resistance because of associated curvature encountered.

My point being that its not just the cost of the maintenanceof the track that is killing these lines but also the cost of train operations that appear sub optimal. As previouslystated grain handlers elsewhere for strategic reasons to do with better managing their entire supply chain but equally importantly controlling their transport costs have invested in their own grain fleets and contracted out the supply of locomotives and train crews or in the case of WA even gone to the extent of even acquiring their own locos.

Interesting too that similar trends are occurring in theiron ore sector in WA. A recent reportoutlined that grain haulage by rail in WA was as high as 15% cheaper using this model than eastern states rail costs resulting in a return back to rail of more market share which is also key.
Trainplanner

unfortunatly the problem here unlike in either the eastern states or in wa, we dont have an open access independant owner of the rail infrastructure (with the exception of ARTC). GWA both own/lease the rail infrastructure on almost all our branchlines and own the trains, it is in their best financial interests to run the trains themselves on their own infrastructure. This effectively leads to a monopoly and GWA are there to make money for their shareholders in the USA, If the trains on the branchlines are only making minimal profits compared to other revenue streams then the company will divert capital to other more profitable areas, its basic economics.

Unfortunately with GWA aquiring the tarcoola to darwin line it really has become a mainline operator, with a less profitable side business in the branchlines. Unfortunately again it is often in their best interests to close the lines instead of handing them over to another operator, similarly with the scrapping of wagons instead of onselling them to another competitor.

It really is a sad legacy of the sale of the SAR to AN then subsiquent vertically integrated privatisation, instead of seperating the below rail infrastructure from the above rail assets and selling/leasing them seperately, as vic and nsw and wa have done to some degree at varioius times,

rail privatisation here wont work as well as it has in the USA, with their resurgance of branch line workings simply due to the open access nature of our Interstate networks, with the closed access nature of our branch lines.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

unfortunatly the problem here unlike in either the eastern states or in wa, we dont have an open access independant owner of the rail infrastructure (with the exception of ARTC). GWA both own/lease the rail infrastructure on almost all our branchlines and own the trains, it is in their best financial interests to run the trains themselves on their own infrastructure. This effectively leads to a monopoly and GWA are there to make money for their shareholders in the USA, If the trains on the branchlines are only making minimal profits compared to other revenue streams then the company will divert capital to other more profitable areas, its basic economics.

Unfortunately with GWA aquiring the tarcoola to darwin line it really has become a mainline operator, with a less profitable side business in the branchlines. Unfortunately again it is often in their best interests to close the lines instead of handing them over to another operator, similarly with the scrapping of wagons instead of onselling them to another competitor.

It really is a sad legacy of the sale of the SAR to AN then subsiquent vertically integrated privatisation, instead of seperating the below rail infrastructure from the above rail assets and selling/leasing them seperately, as vic and nsw and wa have done to some degree at varioius times,

rail privatisation here wont work as well as it has in the USA, with their resurgance of branch line workings simply due to the open access nature of our Interstate networks, with the closed access nature of our branch lines.
waylander


From my point of view, I don't see open access being good for rural branchlines. For starters, open access takes an already small traffic base and dilutes it between multiple operators, each trying to make a profit. What happens - and this can be seen in NSW after Freight Australia arrived - is that a single operator goes from asking the question "Is there enough tonnage available to make a profit on this line this year?" to "Is there enough tonnage for this train make money today?" Ultimately, when competitive forces put a profit margin on every single train instead of spreading the potential profit across a year of operations, then that's bad news for a branchline.

Diluting the potential traffic base and reducing the asset utilisation of each operator has other blow backs too. If an operator-owner keeping branchline rollingstock for a regular operation loses branchline haulage contracts to an open access competitor, they're reduced to keeping their branchline assets for a "just in case" - underused assets don't make money, sooner or later that rollingstock will go to Sims and that operator will no longer have the capacity to operate a branchline.

But a single operator-owner is monopoly, right? On rural branchlines where the tonnes are small enough to go to road (and in Queensland that means at least 1-million tonnes now), a branchline operator-owner is always in competition with trucks. If a rail operator decides to set uncompetitive prices then the road industry is ready and waiting. Introduce Open Access and you may actually create a situation where each operator charges more per train to recover costs and a profit margin than they would if those charges could be averaged over a year of owner-operator operations.

As for G&W, this is the largest short line operator in the United States, their bread and butter is running regional and rural lines - so they have a corporate knowledge of how to make a branchline work - unlike other major rail corporations in Australia. As best as I can tell, if G&W cannot make these branchlines work, there probably isn't anyone else who can.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

"As for G&W, this is the largest short line operator in the United States, their bread and butter is running regional and rural lines - so they have a corporate knowledge of how to make a branchline work - unlike other major rail corporations in Australia. As best as I can tell, if G&W cannot make these branchlines work, there probably isn't anyone else who can."

The only alternative is a father and son outfit operating under a reduced legislative requirement doing basically a shunting operation with the lines under public ownership. The branch line outfits would only bring freight into places where the first and second tier operators would take over and they would have no rights to run on the main line.

An F&S outfit could run one loco, have many short trains to move the same tonnage; one long train a week becomes a short train most days of the week whih is marshalled up for once a week collection by the big guys. (This sounds very much like short line operation in the USA)

If local councils are so concerned about their roads they could look after the railway lines.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

A comment about HP per tonne.

Much of the track GWA operate on is undulating and operated at low speed which requires more HP to move the train. Whilst the engine can deliver a certain HP continuously the electric traction system can only deliver the tractive effort for a finite time. The traction current ammeter is calibrated in amps and minutes corresponding to how long that current can be sustained without overheating the electrical system. Running at low speed over undulating track is like continuously starting the train.

I also argue the 16000HP figure for 6 locos quoted above. I don't think any of the locos in the lash up were more than 2000HP and the GMs are only 1800 HP; this assumes the loco injector racks are still set for them to develop their designed output. I suggest the available HP would be closer to 10000. Remember also that all/most of these locos do not have the advanced traction controls available on more modern locos, the adhesion situation made worse by the poor standard track.

Lastly, the locos are old with demonstrated reduced reliability, on the mainline in an section failure can be costly so having extra locos to ensure the train gets through makes sense.

I don't think GWA would be running locos unless it was necessary, they are obviously aware of their bottom line.
  greasyrhys Chief Commissioner

Location: MacDonald Park, SA
Me and a mate headed to Tailem Bend yesterday, 3152s departed said location around 4:24pm. Despite all 5 locos running, there were only 31 grain hoppers. But apparently ALF20 has been tested a fair bit lately.
  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Me and a mate headed to Tailem Bend yesterday, 3152s departed said location around 4:24pm. Despite all 5 locos running, there were only 31 grain hoppers. But apparently ALF20 has been tested a fair bit lately.
greasyrhys


i added this sighting to the sightings system. http://www.railpage.com.au/sightings/latest
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
It is interesting to read that a 12 month deal has been signed for grain haulage by rail on these lines. It makes me wonder if GWA are hedging their bets waiting to find out what the Vics will do with the Mildura line. If Mildura was to be standardised and the branch were done as well this would provide (as has been said elsewhere) an alternative line to SA in case of problems on the ARTC track, The Vics could even sell the lot to ARTC who could extend the Mildura line to meet the central Aus line although GWAs lease would have to be bought out as well to link back towards Tailem Bend from the border.

If we didn't have state borders and different operators they might consider standardising from Pinaroo towards Ouyen first to ensure no inconvenience for farmers in the Victorian Mallee - the grain could go to SA instead of Vic for a time until it was all hooked up again.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
It is interesting to read that a 12 month deal has been signed for grain haulage by rail on these lines. It makes me wonder if GWA are hedging their bets waiting to find out what the Vics will do with the Mildura line. If Mildura was to be standardised and the branch were done as well this would provide (as has been said elsewhere) an alternative line to SA in case of problems on the ARTC track, The Vics could even sell the lot to ARTC who could extend the Mildura line to meet the central Aus line although GWAs lease would have to be bought out as well to link back towards Tailem Bend from the border.

If we didn't have state borders and different operators they might consider standardising from Pinaroo towards Ouyen first to ensure no inconvenience for farmers in the Victorian Mallee - the grain could go to SA instead of Vic for a time until it was all hooked up again.
BrentonGolding

I'd say your Kremlinology1 of GWA is wrong, because you're making the wrong assumptions about them. Here's how I see it:

  • GWA is a private company; while it may deal with State and Federal Governments on a routine basis, it is still a company whose purpose is to make money.

  • GWA wishes to close the Pinnaroo and Tookayerta branchlines because they are currently not profitable enough to be viable. This may be because of any number of reasons, including the profitability of the grain haulage contract, maintenance requirements relative to the line's traffic and so on.

  • The grain hauler (Viterra) is interested in keeping the line open to haul grain, hence the extension of the contract. They are the ones possibly hedging their bets vis-a-vis the possible Mildura line upgrade and standardisation.

  • Standardising the line from Pinnaroo to Ouyen on its own does not do anything for the viability of the SA section of the Pinnaroo, as there appears to be only one source of traffic on the line - grain from the Pinnaroo Grain Flow site - and the line would still only have access via the existing GWA line.

  • GWA is probably indifferent to the Mildura line upgrade & standardisation from the perspective of keeping the Pinnaroo line open - at worst, they'd have another excuse to close the line as grain from Pinnaroo could be exported via Portland or Geelong instead of Adelaide. At best, they have the potential to attract intermodal freight from Mildura via the line. Running diverted traffic during ARTC Adelaide-Melbourne line works does not make for much of a business case, even without looking at the numbers.


If you want the SA section of the Pinnaroo line to keep running, you'd first have to look at GWA's books to see why they don't want it any more, then address those issues. Does the line need a subsidy from stakeholders that would lose if the line was to close, such as the local governments along the line or even Viterra? Does it need a capital injection to fund maintenance along the line?

GWA might be interested in selling the line, but who's going to buy it? Personally I think it might be a great opportunity to trial local government ownership (or part-ownership) - after all, they avoid additional wear-and-tear caused by B doubles that would haul the grain in place of rail haulage. Getting Viterra involved with that sort of arrangement as well could help too.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kremlinology
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

The spate of truck accidents at Glen Osmond could provide some political impetus to keep grain off the roads.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
I'd say your Kremlinology1 of GWA is wrong, because you're making the wrong assumptions about them. Here's how I see it:

  • GWA is a private company; while it may deal with State and Federal Governments on a routine basis, it is still a company whose purpose is to make money.

  • GWA wishes to close the Pinnaroo and Tookayerta branchlines because they are currently not profitable enough to be viable. This may be because of any number of reasons, including the profitability of the grain haulage contract, maintenance requirements relative to the line's traffic and so on.

  • The grain hauler (Viterra) is interested in keeping the line open to haul grain, hence the extension of the contract. They are the ones possibly hedging their bets vis-a-vis the possible Mildura line upgrade and standardisation.

  • Standardising the line from Pinnaroo to Ouyen on its own does not do anything for the viability of the SA section of the Pinnaroo, as there appears to be only one source of traffic on the line - grain from the Pinnaroo Grain Flow site - and the line would still only have access via the existing GWA line.

  • GWA is probably indifferent to the Mildura line upgrade & standardisation from the perspective of keeping the Pinnaroo line open - at worst, they'd have another excuse to close the line as grain from Pinnaroo could be exported via Portland or Geelong instead of Adelaide. At best, they have the potential to attract intermodal freight from Mildura via the line. Running diverted traffic during ARTC Adelaide-Melbourne line works does not make for much of a business case, even without looking at the numbers.


If you want the SA section of the Pinnaroo line to keep running, you'd first have to look at GWA's books to see why they don't want it any more, then address those issues. Does the line need a subsidy from stakeholders that would lose if the line was to close, such as the local governments along the line or even Viterra? Does it need a capital injection to fund maintenance along the line?

GWA might be interested in selling the line, but who's going to buy it? Personally I think it might be a great opportunity to trial local government ownership (or part-ownership) - after all, they avoid additional wear-and-tear caused by B doubles that would haul the grain in place of rail haulage. Getting Viterra involved with that sort of arrangement as well could help too.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kremlinology
LancedDendrite

Point well made although I did preface my comments about standardisation of Pinaroo to Ouyen by saying "if we didn't have state borders and operators". Maybe it was Viterra hedging, GWA didn't want to sign a short term deal but pressure from govt/media etc forced their hand.

Standardisation of Pinaroo to Ouyen would open up the possibility of more traffic for that line regardless (although GWA may not be interested in taking it) whether it was done East-West or the other way around. If Mildura to Menindee went ahead then maybe more opportunities again would arise.

Any which way it will be interesting to see what happens with the Mildura standardisation (feasibility study) and what flow ons occur from it if any.
  SN7 Chief Commissioner

Things are much better under privatisation !!!
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Things are much better under privatisation !!!
SN7

One hopes this is sarcasm ,because it has been proved to be a false statement! Privatisation has just put up the price of anything it comes into contact with. Check you electricity bills etc for evidence of this!
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
The spate of truck accidents at Glen Osmond could provide some political impetus to keep grain off the roads.
"steam4ian"

Even though none of the recent incidents have involved grain trucks.
Most have involved interstate freight (maybe some should have been on rail!)
Tuesday's accident involved a small fixed tray "Waste Liquid" tanker on a 'short haul' trip.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Standardisation of Pinaroo to Ouyen would open up the possibility of more traffic for that line regardless (although GWA may not be interested in taking it) whether it was done East-West or the other way around. If Mildura to Menindee went ahead then maybe more opportunities again would arise.
BrentonGolding

There is very little opportunity for traffic from the Pinnaroo-Ouyen line. Before the line was booked out-of-service, there were precisely two sources of traffic - gypsum from Cowangie and grain from Pinnaroo. Unless the Mildura mainline was standardised there is no reason at all to standardise the Victorian part of the branchline.
  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
There is very little opportunity for traffic from the Pinnaroo-Ouyen line. Before the line was booked out-of-service, there were precisely two sources of traffic - gypsum from Cowangie and grain from Pinnaroo. Unless the Mildura mainline was standardised there is no reason at all to standardise the Victorian part of the branchline.
LancedDendrite


why has the gypsum traffic ceased?  there was/is a large deposit out that way.

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