Passing/Crossing Loop between Tarana and Wallerawang proposal

 
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
During a conversation with a couple of current employees in recent days, one of them said a proposal was that a crossing/passing loop was being considered to reduce the sectional running times as well as acting as a 'Buffer' for East Bound services due to lack of 'windows' for freight east of Penrith.
I have no idea of how many hours were wasted when I was still working, of trains day and night being delayed because of this problem and even though the Coal Traffic seems to have been markedly reduced to what it was 20 years ago.
The area according to the story is around Rydal because it has the only section that is suitable.
From the old UP Distant to near the current Down activation point for the Level crossing is straight as an arrow and with a shallow bend, it runs straight again for a near a kilometre.
The old working Timetable didnt favour stopping at Rydal in the UP direction due to the rising grade but that was in the Steam Days.
I am no engineer but to my eye, the present Main Line sits almost on the route of the old Down Main and there appears to be more than enough room on the UP side without many if any earthworks required to relay a track to form this proposed loop.
The only other problem that has to be addressed is the location of the current Level crossing and where this 'Loop' would be placed in relation to it.

Of course this is all 'proposals' and 'in the next 5 years' so who wants to put a dollar on which way it may go, I know I dont !!!

I often wonder where Mr David Hill (NOT the ABC's David Hill) who was the Civil Engineer at Bathurst and became the 'Area Manager', that instigated the design closing and removing of one Track from Tarana to Wallerawang West is today?
I heard later it cost $27 Million Dollars to complete and now they need spend a few million more putting in this 'Loop' !!!!

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  Piston Train Controller

I don't see how coal trains would effect traffic between Wallerawang and Lithgow. There are no coal trains west of Wang, they either come off the Mudgee branch or start from Wang.

Consider the section between Bathurst and Newbridge in comparison. It has a 1 in 40 grade on the down and is between a 40 and 64 minute running time section. The old steam loops of Georges Plains, Tumulla and Wimbledon are no longer there.

Maybe a bit better timetabling would be in order to overcome any delays between Wang and Tarana. It can't be that busy any more out there.
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

I don't see how coal trains would effect traffic between Wallerawang and Lithgow. There are no coal trains west of Wang, they either come off the Mudgee branch or start from Wang.

Consider the section between Bathurst and Newbridge in comparison. It has a 1 in 40 grade on the down and is between a 40 and 64 minute running time section. The old steam loops of Georges Plains, Tumulla and Wimbledon are no longer there.

Maybe a bit better timetabling would be in order to overcome any delays between Wang and Tarana. It can't be that busy any more out there.
Piston
Putting in a block post between Tarana and Wang would be a good start. Some afternoons have a W28, the steelie, a railset and the kelso logs, all looking for a run toward the big smoke.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
Your correct that no Coal comes from West of Wallerawang but what did/does run plays a huge part in the timetabling partly due to their crossing length and speed going down from Katoomba to Penrith.

I have worked the Box's at Valley Heights and Katoomba, was 'aware' of Mt Victoria, worked Coal Stage and Yard box to know that Timetabling itself wont fix the problem.
Mixing 'Stopping All Stations' passengers amongst slow moving Goods is not a good mix and with no suitable loops to refuge now adds to the problem.
The Problem doesnt end at Penrith as it is still I believe normal practice for UP Goods to stand east of Penrith for some time waiting to proceed towards their destination.
I have often wondered if they ever finished the quadruplication if it would relieve the situation any or a whole new approach to Train Running on the Mountains.
The obvious solution would be for a Bidirectional Third line dedicated to freight only between say Emu Plains and Mt Victoria but apart from the incredible cost alone, aquirring land space now would be next to impossible.

In the early AM peak, the UP Main was near 'Buffer to Buffer' but almost nothing on the Down and it crossed my mind if by using a Bidirectional system to run all the Pass's on the UP and freight on the Down instead of them sitting in sidings waiting.

Your comment regarding the amount of freight either way now between Wallerawng and Tarana is also correct as there are now hours when there is nothing running either way, weekdays or weekends which makes me ponder on the viabilty of the need for such a crossing/passing loop proposal.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
The old steam loops of Georges Plains, Tumulla and Wimbledon are no longer there.
fzr560
Also, the double line section from Gresham to Newbridge was singled at the same time.

Tumulla was a loop on the 1 in 40 gradient, which is hardly ideal.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
When CTC was installed between Murrobo and Orange in about 1980, the two short (400m) loops at Millthorpe and Polona were replaced by a longer 900m loop at a new location, also named Polona. Notice how 900m is too short for 1800m long trains now running on the west. Foresight or foreclosure?

Blayney no longer has a designated crossing loop, and the remaining loops may be too short anyway.

The turnouts at the ends of the double line sections seem to be mainly low speed types, including
* Wallerawang
*
* Rydal
* Kelso
*
* Newbridge
* Murrobo
*
* Springfield
* Orange East Fork
  2LaGrange Train Controller

A Crossing Loop certainly is justified at Rydal as it is a long section between Tarana and Wang. There is often congestion in the Orange-Wang section especially Bathurst to Wang. The line may not seem that busy but people have to consider most traffic wants to go through at a similar time, Freight trains are loaded in daylight hours then need to travel to Port Botany, Port Kembla overnight to unload on the following morning. Most nights there are 2 log trains ex Kelso, Blaney gold train, Fletchers ex dubbo, PN steel and intermodals, Qube cotton trains, various domestic grain trains plus Bathurst pass and XPT etc to name a few services passing throug in the night. Add coal services from Mudgee branch lidsdale etc that add to congestion further east and it gets very busy on the West Also most points at loops and start and ends of double track sections are 50km/hr except Newbridge for Down trains which is 25km/hr.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
When CTC was installed between Murrobo and Orange in about 1980, the two short (400m) loops at Millthorpe and Polona were replaced by a longer 900m loop at a new location, also named Polona. Notice how 900m is too short for 1800m long trains now running on the west. Foresight or foreclosure?

Blayney no longer has a designated crossing loop, and the remaining loops may be too short anyway.

The turnouts at the ends of the double line sections seem to be mainly low speed types, including
* Wallerawang
*
* Rydal
* Kelso
*
* Newbridge
* Murrobo
*
* Springfield
* Orange East Fork


You can scrub Rydal from that list as it was 'Straight Railed' in 1997 and I thought they altered the line between Kelso and Bathurst when they upgraded the Maquarie River Bridge.
After some 80 years of double line running between Tarana~Rydal~Wallerawang West, all this experience was simply ignored when the section was converted to single line operation.
I guess for their next trick would be to go the whole hog and reinstall the Double line between Tarana and Wallerawang with or with Rydal or anywhere as a 'clearance' point.

awsgc24
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
Having spent quite a few afternoons chasing trains on the west between Lithgow and Bathurst, I'd argue that a major improvement to train running could be accomplished with the addition of a couple of intermedate signals to allow following movements to be made. Consider one around Sodwalls and one around Rydal, and you've overcome a lot of the issues.

It is true, on some afternoons you can have a lot of trains using the single track section, inevitably all at the same time. However, the majority of them are going in the same direction. Freight on the west tends to do this, it goes in waves in one direction or another, with any required crosses happening at Tarana and/or Wallerawang as required.

As observed by others, on any given afternoon one can potentially have 1845 (down SSR freight), WT28 (up XPT), -YN2 (up PN SteelLink), 8122 (up PN freight), 8934 (up PN ore) and -SA8 (down IP). Note that only two of those trains are down trains.

On the occasions I've been around for this "peak hour" of daylight freight movements, 1845 will typically arrive into Bathurst before 8934 arrives, and push back into his siding. If 1845 is running late, he will typically cross 8934 between Tarana and Kelso. No conflicts there. 8934 will head east getting greens through to Lithgow at which point he is in the hands of Sydney Trains and not relevant to this discussion anymore.

WT28 is typically the next cab off the rank, and assuming he's ontime, he will cross SA8 at Wallerawang. SA8 is generally only there for ten minutes or so, and given the guests are likely enjoying their dinner at this time, speedy running is not a major concern to them. YN2 is a very slow, very heavy train, and despite following WT28 out of Orange, he loses a lot of ground climbing out of Blayney and Bathurst. So YN2 will cross SA8 after a brief stop at Tarana (if at all). 8122 meanwhile has come out of his siding at Kelso and run around in the yard during the afternoon, ready to follow YN2.

Because of the Sydney peak curfew, your next down freight won't be running until the Bathurst bullet, so there's nothing to worry the passage of YN2 or 8122 through the single track section.

I've chased all of the above trains (chasing WT28 is a folly, just as an aside) through the section, and seen how it works. Normally it's not an issue, and I fail to see how a passing loop would offer much benefit. Either provide a few following on signals to allow multiple trains to use the single track section at the same time, or just re-duplicate it.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
If my Informant (the local Publican) is correct, he recently had a visit by a 'Consultant' who advised him this project has actually progressed to the point where it is just a matter of the work commencing but no actual date was given to him but it was sometime in 2016.
The only thing is the actual location of the crossing loop which seems to still be a bit vague but it could be closer to Sodwalls, with the western end of the loop commencing 'somewhere' on the Rydal side of the first brick bridge at approximately 186.500?
Also nothing was said as to what type of Crossing Loop it was to be, whether just a loop or an 'UP/Down Main line' configuration like Portland and Brogans Creek were.
But what ever type it is, it seems it will be around a Kilometre in length.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
IMO the deluxe option would be to reinstate the double line from Wang west to Rydal and have the double single line junction there . No more signalling complexity but a fair bit of line to re lay .
Point speeds at places like Newbridge are pathetic - 25 km/h .
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
It was estimated to cost $27 Million in 1990/94 to remove one line, install the Junction at Tarana and the western end of the platform at Wallerawang.
I have no idea what the eventual expenditure actually was but that apart, it would be 'Egg on the Face' of those who may still be on the Railway and approved the conversion in the first place.

One P.I.A is the junction to the Mudgee branch as Per Way hated it both in its design and location back in the double line days and even now I was surprised they didnt leave the old 'Refuge' in place and make that the Branch joining onto the 'Main' line on the West Box side of where the points are today for the Double to Single line Junction.
Those siding points (ground frame operated) might have to be relocated but that shouldnt be a problem unless that puts too many sets of points in close proximity which Per Way never liked because of the difficulty of packing underneath them.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
If there's an increase in traffic bring the double line back and be done with it.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
Doubling the section Wallerawang West to Rydal would serve no purpose for 2 reasons, its shorter than Rydal to Tarana and 2/, only a third is UP HILL on the Down Main.
Of course what hasnt been said is in which DIRECTION is the problem, either or Both which could be important.
Even though I am 200 metres from the track, after too many years I dont hear the trains most times as they pass through so I havent a clue how many run daily or weekly.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
If you'd worked trains through that part of the world you wouldn't say than that .
101 tight curves from not too far west of Rydal to Wang and for what it would cost I think its very unlikely to happen .
Wang bank is not exactly steep in either direction and if trains have to climb Zig Zag or Tumulla its SFA .
Quicker/cheaper/easier to lay relatively straight line than twisty windy difficult to access places on the sides of steep hills along snakes and ladders Ck . Re doubling an ancient really poorly aligned section is nowhere in my book .

If you threw in a few auto signals on double lines from the start of the faster section west of Rydal you could stack trains up in either direction which is far better than the current situation .  
We used to sit back from Wang on up GS2s and steelies for an hour , or two , because the section time from Wang to Tarana is so long . Tarana to Rydal would be quicker and block opposing trains for shorter periods .
The X and the Bullet carve everything up out there and the Indian gets stainless steel train priority at times .

In  this day and age if it isn't quick simple reasonably cheap it won't happen .
  wally-wowser1 Train Controller

Location: overlooking the Mt vic washaway on Soldiers Pinch
Can remember  a run on the  IP east bound where we had  2x81 class on the front instead of 80 class   , Out of Tarana & all the way to Wang we sat on the speed boards & then got blocked outside  of Lithgow for 45 mins waiting for a path over the mountains to arrive  in Sydney on time.

 Wally.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
81s are far better pass engines than 80s , better on anything actually .
NRs better again on the Stainless Steel Link and was common to throttle them back for the low speed curves east of Tarana .
Out of course Indians and Ghans always got low priority at Lithgow . Not unusual to be put out behind loaded coal trains there .
  stopblock Junior Train Controller

Location: Planet Earth
If you'd worked trains through that part of the world you wouldn't say than that .
101 tight curves from not too far west of Rydal to Wang and for what it would cost I think its very unlikely to happen .
Wang bank is not exactly steep in either direction and if trains have to climb Zig Zag or Tumulla its SFA .
Quicker/cheaper/easier to lay relatively straight line than twisty windy difficult to access places on the sides of steep hills along snakes and ladders Ck . Re doubling an ancient really poorly aligned section is nowhere in my book .

If you threw in a few auto signals on double lines from the start of the faster section west of Rydal you could stack trains up in either direction which is far better than the current situation .  
We used to sit back from Wang on up GS2s and steelies for an hour , or two , because the section time from Wang to Tarana is so long . Tarana to Rydal would be quicker and block opposing trains for shorter periods .
The X and the Bullet carve everything up out there and the Indian gets stainless steel train priority at times .

In  this day and age if it isn't quick simple reasonably cheap it won't happen .
BDA
Throwing a curved ball in here (so to speak), what about putting a single line back on the original (1870s) alignment for DOWN trains. It may be steeper, but a lot straighter.
Just a suggestion.

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