Seaford line speed underwhelming

 
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

At last I have managed to travel both ways from HCB to ARS and return on an EMU. (4004 both ways)

Points in favour

  • EMU appearance and interior is of world standard.

  • The seats are reasonably comfortable

  • Both trains ran close to the time table

  • Initial acceleration as expected


The EMUs showed what they might be capable of.

Disappointments

  • Acceleration is not sustained, get to about 40/50 kph and cut off power, corresponds to about the end of most platforms

  • Ride is NOT silky smooth

  • Fan noise in trailer car makes talking difficult and masks the announcements.

  • The Yellow Signal rule.

  • The "express" to Woodlands Park caught up with the preceding Tonsley train at Emerson and was held by a red then did the crawl past the yellows.



I notice that instead of Sunflowers we now have blue/white Forget-me-nots or are they Delphiniums.
There is no excuse for TSRs on a new track which has had 4 months to settle in. The track has settled and could do with a final packing.

I have written a length about ways to make best use of the Yellow Signal rule and considering it would cost no more that $200.00* per stick there is no excuse but bureaucratic obstinacy for not doing it. (* How much does a reflective yellow disc about 400mm diameter with two black numbers on it cost when fixed to the signal post?).

Until the negative issues I experienced have been dealt with and the service accelerated to the capabilities of the EMUs the project to date has achieved little overall. The Goodwood underpass is brilliant and well deserving of a recent Contracting Association award. The Seaford extension is useful apart from the whingers who want dedicated Seaford expresses and damn the other passenger. Could have been provided by 6 more DEMUs and repowering the beloved (to some) Jumbos

The rest makes me wonder where and why the money was spent.

Sponsored advertisement

  mclaren2007 Assistant Commissioner

Location: recharging my myki
The pee-wee rail system here not only has not enough services, but there are more restrictions than open track. There is a 20 kph one through Millswood for goodness sake.

Not to mention many of the stations are third world quality. One wonders where all the money that was spent upgrading the rail system ended up.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

The money spent on electrification was spent well in my opinion, electrification in itself is a positive move towards bringing it into the 20th century even if speeds are not improved. The global supply of equipment for diesel multiple units will start to dry up in the near future as all the major markets (Europe and North America) will be imposing the Tier 4 emission standards at the start of next year, and to date the only compliant multiple unit packages produced either require a raised floor in the centre (possibly in breach of DDA?) or a full-height engine room stealing space from the passenger saloon. Better to start going electric now so that the reliance on diesel units can be reduced and their service life extended until better Tier 4 packages are produced or electrification is extended.

The decision to spend a bit more on getting a genuinely robust overhead setup was also a good one in my opinion. To date we've only had one overhead-related problem (lines were brought down by a train near Noarlunga) where a line with electrification done on the cheap could reliably expect then every few weeks.

I'd give the A-City units themselves a C– grade, maybe a C at best. The air conditioning is ridiculously loud (possibly in breach of DDA?), the ride is terrible and the build quality of the interior feels very cheap - the plastic panels flex and rattle already, I imagine they'll need a mid-life refurb in 4-5 years (just after the last of the fleet finally get delivered) to refit with a well-built interior. I would hesitate to call them "world standard" because I've been on a Siemens Desiro in the UK - they are quieter, ride nicely and feel well-built across the board.


The real problems are the track rebuild and the signalling.

- It's no coincidence that the only bit of the route with a nice ride is also the only bit with slab track - the underpass at Goodwood.

- If the A-City units go any faster than 50-60 km/h they are subject to violent pitching movements on certain segments of track where the DEMUs absorb the movement reasonably well. The track between Mile End and Showgrounds is the worst part of the whole route, correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this section wasn't fully rebuilt with only the turnouts getting replaced.

- The signalling is a complete mess. The budgeted $105 million (who knows what it blew out to in the end?) should have got us a proper in-cab signalling system like ETCS Level 2 with no need for lineside colour light signals outside of the approaches to Adelaide. Instead, all that money got us was a load of unnecessary axle counters (business class flights for a study trip to find out how electrification and track circuits coexist in Europe would have been cheaper), all the same block lengths as before (i.e. no increase in capacity, the system can't deliver any more trains/hour in the peak than the old system did) and reduced speeds to deal with poor sighting (which wouldn't happen with an in-cab system, there would be no obstructions between a driver and their desk display or HUD).

- The lack of additional crossovers being built during the project to increase the system's resilience to failures and allow for preventative maintenance to be done on one track over the weekends while trains run on the other - I believe these were originally planned but cut to allow more cash to go into Turbo Tom's construction mates' pockets. At this point the only form of degraded working possible is bustitution.


Overall I'd give the project a D– grade, and it is entirely appropriate that Rod Hook and Emma Thomas were fired for their poor management. There should be a Royal Commission into the raft of badly managed DPTI projects (rail, the Southern Expressway and the cost blowouts at Adelaide Oval) with a view to finding out where the missing millions went.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

One wonders where all the money that was spent upgrading the rail system ended up.
"mclaren2007"

It's quite well established that there was no competitive tender for the EMU order and that DPTI allowed Baulderstone to name their price for the Adelaide Oval construction contract after awarding the contract. It logically follows that these were not the only contracts where this happened.

Maybe the private sector should be given a go at managing the next rail project (Adelaide-Salisbury electrification) with the whole project being specified, a single tender process carried out open to public inspection, and then the government can get out of the way until it's done and they can come to inspect it before paying for it.
  nm39 Chief Commissioner

Location: By a road taking pictures
The money spent on electrification was spent well in my opinion, electrification in itself is a positive move towards bringing it into the 20th century even if speeds are not improved. The global supply of equipment for diesel multiple units will start to dry up in the near future as all the major markets (Europe and North America) will be imposing the Tier 4 emission standards at the start of next year, and to date the only compliant multiple unit packages produced either require a raised floor in the centre (possibly in breach of DDA?) or a full-height engine room stealing space from the passenger saloon. Better to start going electric now so that the reliance on diesel units can be reduced and their service life extended until better Tier 4 packages are produced or electrification is extended.

justapassenger

You are probably right about which century:lol:
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney

Disappointments

  • The Yellow Signal rule.



steam4ian

For details of "Yellow Signal Rule" see:

See: http://www.railpage.com.au/f-p1920526.htm#1920526

BTW, does Adelaide have signal "overlaps"; if not, that might be a reason for keeping the Yellow Signal Rule?
  hosk1956 Deputy Commissioner

Location: no where near gunzels
It's quite well established that there was no competitive tender for the EMU order and that DPTI allowed Baulderstone to name their price for the Adelaide Oval construction contract after awarding the contract. It logically follows that these were not the only contracts where this happened.

Maybe the private sector should be given a go at managing the next rail project (Adelaide-Salisbury electrification) with the whole project being specified, a single tender process carried out open to public inspection, and then the government can get out of the way until it's done and they can come to inspect it before paying for it.
justapassenger

Wah wah wah, you must live a miserable life being a Liberal stooge.

Wayne
  greasyrhys Chief Commissioner

Location: MacDonald Park, SA
I agree, that 40km/h rule is an absolute disgrace, this has only made travel times longer.

I've also noticed lately that northbound suburban trains almost come to a complete stop before the last signal before the Hawker Street crossing, the boom gates & lights now come down later than before. Another dumb move by whoever is in charge!
  BIG-BEAR Chief Train Controller

I didn't realise that the Adelaide to Seaford trip was so long .

Where there was a 20 or 100 km between stations and where the train could reach top speed .

Oh , that's  right stations every 1 or 2 kms .

So it's all about not giving the passengers whip lash .

And working around the traffic

( pedestrian's  , cars , trains )
  mclaren2007 Assistant Commissioner

Location: recharging my myki
btw I've just come back from Melbourne and their PT system blows us away. Yes there are issues over there, but its expected with a city of 4.5 million people

You would think that this government in its attempt to get people on to PT would have provided more services and better stations. Along with some grade separations at Torrens Road, Brighton Road Hove, Oaklands Station and Kings Road Parafield we could have got the system we deserve.

The frequency of services to Belair on weekends has not changed in 15 years, its time for at least a 40 min frequency.

Then providing services with a single carriage (eg. the 1646 Belair) is simply not on. Especially with the number of free rail carriages now.
  torrens5022 Junior Train Controller

How is 52min for 36km a slow journey on an all stops service?  Look at Melbourne a similar journey would add 10min.
The problem as Mclaren has said above, grade separation and service frequency.  Yes the journey to Seaford could be quicker, but it would be skipping the stations closer to ARS, like older timetables.  We want to encourage growth of population in areas closer to the CBD. The train is for everyone, you don't get special bonus points the further you live from ARS (better frequency for key stops eg Oaklands, Mawson etc is good) just because you live in Seaford shouldn't give you a special service over people in Marino or Marion.
  BIG-BEAR Chief Train Controller

btw I've just come back from Melbourne and their PT system blows us away. Yes there are issues over there, but its expected with a city of 4.5 million people
mclaren2007

In May this year I was in Melbourne and Sydney and went for a ride on their trains .

Their trains work like the ones in Adelaide .

Step 1 . You hop onto a train .

Step 2 . you hop off the train .

Really not any difference .

The only difference interstate is what I went looking for . Is a station which is maned in the outer suburbs . Which helped with buying tickets for the first ride .
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

How is 52min for 36km a slow journey on an all stops service? Look at Melbourne a similar journey would add 10min.
The problem as Mclaren has said above, grade separation and service frequency. Yes the journey to Seaford could be quicker, but it would be skipping the stations closer to ARS, like older timetables. We want to encourage growth of population in areas closer to the CBD. The train is for everyone, you don't get special bonus points the further you live from ARS (better frequency for key stops eg Oaklands, Mawson etc is good) just because you live in Seaford shouldn't give you a special service over people in Marino or Marion.
torrens5022

In part Torrens, where is the "Like" button. I agree regarding the comments about Seaford passengers who somehow believe the line was built expressly (good choice of word) for them.

My point about slowness was that the acceleration of the EMUs did not appear to be being utilised. Even the DEMUs with somewhat less acceleration could reach higher speeds between stations. I am only guessing, but I suggest most interstation times could be shaved by 20-30 seconds which would add up to some minutes on a stops all journey.

When the line was first extended to NC the timetable was simple. NC train all stops to Brighton, Brighton train all stops to Woodlands Park, Tonsley all stops to ARS. There were no expresses to/from NC and everybody had a reasonable service. Since that time we have lost the Brighton stoppers and brought in expresses leaving holes in the timetable at times when most people want to get to/from home. Remember, the Brighton stoppers provided the service for those closer to the ARS.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

The money spent on electrification was spent well in my opinion, electrification in itself is a positive move towards bringing it into the 20th century even if speeds are not improved. The global supply of equipment for diesel multiple units will start to dry up in the near future as all the major markets (Europe and North America) will be imposing the Tier 4 emission standards at the start of next year, and to date the only compliant multiple unit packages produced either require a raised floor in the centre (possibly in breach of DDA?) or a full-height engine room stealing space from the passenger saloon. Better to start going electric now so that the reliance on diesel units can be reduced and their service life extended until better Tier 4 packages are produced or electrification is extended.

The decision to spend a bit more on getting a genuinely robust overhead setup was also a good one in my opinion. To date we've only had one overhead-related problem (lines were brought down by a train near Noarlunga) where a line with electrification done on the cheap could reliably expect then every few weeks.

I'd give the A-City units themselves a C– grade, maybe a C at best. The air conditioning is ridiculously loud (possibly in breach of DDA?), the ride is terrible and the build quality of the interior feels very cheap - the plastic panels flex and rattle already, I imagine they'll need a mid-life refurb in 4-5 years (just after the last of the fleet finally get delivered) to refit with a well-built interior. I would hesitate to call them "world standard" because I've been on a Siemens Desiro in the UK - they are quieter, ride nicely and feel well-built across the board.


The real problems are the track rebuild and the signalling.

- It's no coincidence that the only bit of the route with a nice ride is also the only bit with slab track - the underpass at Goodwood.

- If the A-City units go any faster than 50-60 km/h they are subject to violent pitching movements on certain segments of track where the DEMUs absorb the movement reasonably well. The track between Mile End and Showgrounds is the worst part of the whole route, correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this section wasn't fully rebuilt with only the turnouts getting replaced.

- The signalling is a complete mess. The budgeted $105 million (who knows what it blew out to in the end?) should have got us a proper in-cab signalling system like ETCS Level 2 with no need for lineside colour light signals outside of the approaches to Adelaide. Instead, all that money got us was a load of unnecessary axle counters (business class flights for a study trip to find out how electrification and track circuits coexist in Europe would have been cheaper), all the same block lengths as before (i.e. no increase in capacity, the system can't deliver any more trains/hour in the peak than the old system did) and reduced speeds to deal with poor sighting (which wouldn't happen with an in-cab system, there would be no obstructions between a driver and their desk display or HUD).

- The lack of additional crossovers being built during the project to increase the system's resilience to failures and allow for preventative maintenance to be done on one track over the weekends while trains run on the other - I believe these were originally planned but cut to allow more cash to go into Turbo Tom's construction mates' pockets. At this point the only form of degraded working possible is bustitution.


Overall I'd give the project a D– grade, and it is entirely appropriate that Rod Hook and Emma Thomas were fired for their poor management. There should be a Royal Commission into the raft of badly managed DPTI projects (rail, the Southern Expressway and the cost blowouts at Adelaide Oval) with a view to finding out where the missing millions went.
justapassenger

Justapax, I note you are looking for an argument.

I agree regarding the signalling and my comments regarding the track support what you have to say.

What I am not saying is that we shouldn't have gone electric. What I am saying is that we are not getting the benefits of it.

I must question your comments about supply of diesel equipment, what is your source and what is its authority?

I do know first hand that it is getting harder to get diesel engines for power generation that can accept load steps because their output change rate is limited by emission controls. As for traction use there are loads of engines and transmissions for road and mining use which suit rail and have compact outlines and for DEMUs it is hardly an issue anyway because standard industrial components are used except for the traction motors.

Ian
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

For details of "Yellow Signal Rule" see:

See: http://www.railpage.com.au/f-p1920526.htm#1920526

BTW, does Adelaide have signal "overlaps"; if not, that might be a reason for keeping the Yellow Signal Rule?
awsgc24

Adelaide does have signal overlaps but their length is quite random and does not appear related to train speed. The signals protecting the approach to Brighton are located some 100s of metres from the facing switches they protect similarly for the down approach to Tonsley Junction. However the up signal protecting the main line at Tonsley Junction is almost on top of the trailing switch it is protecting. There are no overlaps at Showgrounds.

There is some sense in the Yellow signal rule if it is applied sensibly rather than a blanket restriction. I have offered a sensible and low cost fix.
  AN830 Locomotive Driver

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
I agree, that 40km/h rule is an absolute disgrace, this has only made travel times longer.

I've also noticed lately that northbound suburban trains almost come to a complete stop before the last signal before the Hawker Street crossing, the boom gates & lights now come down later than before. Another dumb move by whoever is in charge!
greasyrhys


There is signal problem there at the moment, the system has been set so it thinks every train will stop at North Adelaide.
  greasyrhys Chief Commissioner

Location: MacDonald Park, SA
Ah ok, thanks.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
The decision to spend a bit more on getting a genuinely robust overhead setup was also a good one in my opinion. To date we've only had one overhead-related problem (lines were brought down by a train near Noarlunga) where a line with electrification done on the cheap could reliably expect then every few weeks.
"justapassenger"
Reliability has been much better than I feared, but I count three problems, one was likely not preventable.

- If the A-City units go any faster than 50-60 km/h they are subject to violent pitching movements on certain segments of track
"justapassenger"
I have started to notice this.

cut to allow more cash to go into Turbo Tom's construction mates' pockets.
...
it is entirely appropriate that Rod Hook and Emma Thomas were fired for their poor management.
"justapassenger"
I know you believe this to be true, but I think it's grossly unfair. It is hard enough to manage a project of this magnitude as it is, but when you are doing it within the framework of a government (and a department) apparently featuring not a single person who passed Tort I management of the project becomes all but impossible. When as you allude to, the government regularly moves the goal posts and begins running out of money, and you are saddled with hardware and software packages that never saw a tender process to at least try and ensure a proper fit before the useless contract is signed you're hardly destined for success. Add in the additionals like a complete lack of meaningful, enforceable penalty clauses to provide some sort of stick to wave as encouragement to get the project completed on time and as specified and suddenly your job title is no longer 'project manager' but 'scapegoat in waiting'.

There should be a Royal Commission into the raft of badly managed DPTI projects (rail, the Southern Expressway and the cost blowouts at Adelaide Oval) with a view to finding out where the missing millions went.
"justapassenger"
A Royal Commission might be a bit much, (mind you the State apparently saved a bunch in the legal budget on the initial contracts, so I guess they've still got funds to spend on an RC), get a eastern stater in to head our ICAC and send the project docs and tenders through that.
  Milkomeda Chief Train Controller

Between Mile End and Adelaide Showgrounds there is part of the track on the down side that has almost violent wobbling which occurs on both DEMUs and EMUs because the track work there is lousy and has settled in so its going to keep happening till they rip up that section of track and redo the whole thing.
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Between Mile End and Adelaide Showgrounds there is part of the track on the down side that has almost violent wobbling which occurs on both DEMUs and EMUs because the track work there is lousy and has settled in so its going to keep happening till they rip up that section of track and redo the whole thing.
Milkomeda

There is a section of track on the outer Harbor line like this as well at Bowden between Park Terrace and Bowden Platform on both tracks. I think the problem stems from the mind set of put it all onto concrete sleepers and then no more maintenance is ever required! Wrong it could do with a retamp and quickly as well.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

There is a section of track on the outer Harbor line like this as well at Bowden between Park Terrace and Bowden Platform on both tracks. I think the problem stems from the mind set of put it all onto concrete sleepers and then no more maintenance is ever required! Wrong it could do with a retamp and quickly as well.
David Peters

The deadly "Concrete sleepers need no maintenance myth".
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

The ride in ECLs on wooden sleepered track with joints every rail length used to be much better. That was with hand packing, minimal machines. I can remember when the first mechanical tampers were pushed by hand along the Brighton line. Lining up was by means of the foreman's eye.
  mm42 Chief Train Controller

Retamping should have been budgetted as part of the track upgrade.  When the Regional Fast Rail project was undertaken in Victoria, the rails and sleepers were first replaced, then regular trains run again at a 130 km/hr maximum speed to settle the ballast. Several months later the line was closed for retamping, so it could be straightened up to a 160 km/hr standard. In Adelaide I suspect any thought of budgetting for retamping after the ballast has settled has evaporated with the departure of Rod Hook.  There was no line item in the last State budget that could have covered such expenditure.  If anyone has other information, it would be great for them to post a link.
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Since the Outer Harbor line was relaid with concrete sleepers as it was the first line done, not a thing in the way of retamping etc has ever been done on it anywhere to my knowledge. All they do is replace a few level crossings that are now wood sleepered with concrete sleepers as required. You never even see or hear of any major trackwork upgrades being done on this line at all. The last was installing the double slip at Woodville in place of the diamond crossing! So the trip to the city has got slower because of speed restrictions on this this line! It is beginning to look like the old Gawler line was all speed restrictions and no track full track speed. It was faster in Red Hens on the old wooden sleepered short section track than now. A trip I used to do in 10 minutes from Kilkenny to Adelaide in a Red Hen can now take anywhere between 15 or 20 minutes depending on whether a railcar gets a run straight to a platform or has to creep up to Adelaide's platform's, one signal at a time. Most times lately it has been one signal at a time. Also years ago we did not have a signalling system that dropped at the drop of a hat. Wet or extremely hot weather and the whole system drops. The old style stood there and worked through all kinds of weather for how long. So it is not really a step forward the modern signalling as much 3 steps backward. Lightning never used to affect the old signalling system either and it was nearly all done with poles and wires along the track back then.

But to get back on the subject sort of the whole metro area system has got slower and is continuing to do it as well, which is why more people choose to drive to work etc rather than use it. If you are like me and semi retired then it is not a worry though as another train, tram or bus will come along soon, but if you want to get somewhere in a hurry then public transport is not for you!
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Since the Outer Harbor line was relaid with concrete sleepers as it was the first line done, not a thing in the way of retamping etc has ever been done on it anywhere to my knowledge. All they do is replace a few level crossings that are now wood sleepered with concrete sleepers as required. You never even see or hear of any major trackwork upgrades being done on this line at all. The last was installing the double slip at Woodville in place of the diamond crossing! So the trip to the city has got slower because of speed restrictions on this this line! It is beginning to look like the old Gawler line was all speed restrictions and no track full track speed. It was faster in Red Hens on the old wooden sleepered short section track than now. A trip I used to do in 10 minutes from Kilkenny to Adelaide in a Red Hen can now take anywhere between 15 or 20 minutes depending on whether a railcar gets a run straight to a platform or has to creep up to Adelaide's platform's, one signal at a time. Most times lately it has been one signal at a time. Also years ago we did not have a signalling system that dropped at the drop of a hat. Wet or extremely hot weather and the whole system drops. The old style stood there and worked through all kinds of weather for how long. So it is not really a step forward the modern signalling as much 3 steps backward. Lightning never used to affect the old signalling system either and it was nearly all done with poles and wires along the track back then.

But to get back on the subject sort of the whole metro area system has got slower and is continuing to do it as well, which is why more people choose to drive to work etc rather than use it. If you are like me and semi retired then it is not a worry though as another train, tram or bus will come along soon, but if you want to get somewhere in a hurry then public transport is not for you!
David Peters

Right on, David.

Sponsored advertisement

Subscribers: Pressman, Tonsley213

Display from:   

Quick Reply

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