V/Line crisis began with Regional Rail Link cutbacks five years ago

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 03 Feb 2016 10:02
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

Articles in The Age are acted upon quickly in the public sector.  Richard Bolt, as Secretary of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, sent out this message to all staff of the department this afternoon:

"Many of you will have seen an article in The Age yesterday that drew a connection between decisions that were taken about the Regional Rail Link (RRL) and the current problems in V/Line. In particular, it was suggested decisions about the scope of RRL, including whether or not to include a rail flyover, have contributed to the excessive wheel wear which is disrupting the service. It was also stated that these decisions were made by the then Chief Executive of RRL, Corey Hannett, now the Coordinator-General of the Major Transport Infrastructure Program.


The Regional Rail Link Authority built the project to the standards and the scope agreed to by all parties including V/Line, MTM, Public Transport Victoria (PTV), the department (DOT as it then was) and government. The claim that Corey as the Chief Executive Officer of the authority responsible for delivering the project made these decisions himself is neither true, nor consistent with an understanding of how government delivers major infrastructure projects.

There are investigations currently underway about the causes and remedies of excessive wheel wear on V/Line trains. The Transport Group in conjunction with PTV and V/Line have been working hard to understand and solve the problem, but there is more to be done. The suggestion that anyone could already know the cause (or the combination of causes) at this stage is wrong.


Corey has the confidence of the Victorian Government and me as a skilled and experienced project director. The Regional Rail Link project has delivered a large, long term improvement to Melbourne's transport networks. It was the National Infrastructure Project of the Year in 2014, as well as receiving the Premier's Sustainability Award in 2014 and an IABC Gold Quill award for Community Relations in 2015.


I am confident the work currently being done by Corey and his staff at the Level Crossing Removal Authority and the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority to deliver major transport projects will make an even greater contribution to the future of Melbourne."
Someone in the Victorian Government who is less than transparent with the public
Weasel words from Mr Bolt

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  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
And these are the people we pay to perform, and to whom we give bonuses to when they don't!
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

  The compromises at Sunshine are already referred to, but no mention has been made of the compromises made at Albion which impact on the merging of Bendigo Line with the Metro and the delightful 65km/hr turnouts.  We couldn't possibly have specified higher speed turnouts because that would have meant someone getting off their behind and getting "type" approval for higher speed turnouts.

Hmm, I was under the impression the points at the start of the RRL from Albion were 80kph. Happy to be corrected though.

Mike.
The Vinelander
No unfortunately. This is Victoria and after 40 years we are just beginning to accept 65kmh points as the norm for country mainlines, but then only so far within the Inter urban area (beyond that we are still largely locked into the 40kmh turnouts still ).
Yes sadly the connections between the RRL track pair and Metro track pair  at  Andersons Road on the Bendigo leg are 65kmh when they could have been 80 kmh .  The extra cost involved from 65 to 80kmh is marginal .

When one gets to 100kmh turnouts which are quite common overseas then one gets a moveable nose, and that all gets a bit too scary for  Victoria and  VLP albeit they are very common and reliable Overseas .  

Meanwhile  dear old  VLP and  Victorian thinking has to be dragged screaming into the 21 st century to instal even 80kmh turnouts as standard in mainlines . Commonsense is in short supply in Victoria, that is why you have illogical installations like 80kmh at Manor Junction for a handful of trains a day, and 65 kmh at Robinsons Road for hundreds of trains daily .   Remember  faster speed through turnout, shorter transit time through turnout,  train traffic therefore flows more smoothly .
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

3. What should be done now  , given the at grade junction on RRL at Robinsons Rd is going to be with us for some time ?
Grade separate the lx at Robinsons Road and alter the junction so that the curve coming from Tarneit continues as the mainline allowing 100 - 110kmh speed to/from RRL .  Instal 80kmh  turnouts to/from  the Ballarat line , which becomes the diverge move .  Better still as originally designed a rail over rail flyover to take the Down Ballarat line over the  RRL track pair towards Tarneit .  

Wouldn't you get better bang for your buck by keeping the turnout for the Geelong line (using 80 km/h turnouts) and keeping the parental for 160 km/h running through the junction for Ballarat trains.
Given Geelong trains are unable to exceed 100 - 110 km/h through the area of the junction. (slice 20 - 30 km/h off one leg or slice 80 km/h parental off the other)

100 km/h turnouts would be the most Ideal solution ?
Nightfire
Agree 100kmh turnouts to the Tarneit leg bests olution but that involves a moveable nose in the points and whilst that is very common Overseas, well that would be too adventurous for VLP and us here in the Nanny State  . We woill need like 40 - 50 years to consider whether 100kmh turnouts are suitable/safe for use in Victoria, where we always insist on re-inventing the wheel !!!  
Another crazy Victorian 'Spanish custom" is the insistence to use only turnouts and crossovers at double track junctions like Robinsons Road rather than a convential parallel double tracked junction as used throughout Europe .  So at Robinsons Road we have 3 sets of points , blades and motors to maintain, rather than two as incurred with a standard double track junction with a diamond crossing . l
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

And these are the people we pay to perform, and to whom we give bonuses to when they don't!
Valvegear
Think you are being pretty harsh on  two outstanding project managers in Corey Harnett and a fellow named Tattersall who both have outstanding records in Australia as Rail Project Managers.

You are better to blame  meddling bureaucrats who know nothing about railways trying to earn brownie points with Ministers by trying to cut corners from major projects .  Tim Fischer has said so publically without actually naming those responsible, albeit he hinted at some recent departees from the Victorian Public Service .  Add to that Ministers and advisers who know very little about railway operations and that is why we inevitably end up with  stuff ups like Craigieburn,  Robinsons Rd Junction etc .
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

At Sunshine the points at the end of the RRL are 80 on the down, 65 on the up.

Sunshine, Sunbury, Pakenham, Manor, whyndam Vale siding and Westall are the only places on the BG with 80kph points.
ab123
At Sunshine Down end of platforms the points are 40kmh towards Ardeer and straight 80kmh to  Andersons Rd.
Towards Ardeer the following curve in both the Up and down directions is curve board restricted to 40kmh .
At Andersons Rd  where RRL track pair joins Metro track pair the points and crossover are 65kmh for diverging moves .
  dbowen Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Hi @dbowen thanks for your insight.  Do you have a view on what might be causing the accelerated wheel wear?
bevans
There's plenty of unfounded speculation around the place; I have no wish to add to it.

However, I would note that The Age has published this clarification:

The Age reported on Wednesday that Corey Hannett, former chief executive of the Regional Rail Link Authority, made a series of scope reductions to that project in 2010 that have contributed to the current V/Line rail crisis. Mr Hannett did not make the scope changes. The decision was made by the Department of Transport and approved by V/Line, Metro Trains and the state government. The Age regrets the error.
Clarification
  thadocta Chief Commissioner

Location: Katoomba

Corey has the confidence of the Victorian Government and me as a skilled and experienced project director. Weasel words from Mr Bolt
ParkesHub
That's it, he's gone. As soon as someone says that a person has their confidence, they are clearly on the way out.

Dave
  woodford Chief Commissioner


Corey has the confidence of the Victorian Government and me as a skilled and experienced project director. Weasel words from Mr BoltThat's it, he's gone. As soon as someone says that a person has their confidence, they are clearly on the way out.

Dave
thadocta
Said by John Clarke in the TV series "the games".
  Donald Chief Commissioner

Location: Donald. Duck country.
Was the steel used for the wheels cheap Chinese steel and therefore the wheels are wearing out quicker?   Cutting costs again?
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Clients these days are seeking the cheapest steel they can get their hands on, as cost cutting measures.

Global wholesalers (with no accountability) are coming to the party and facilitating the supply of cheap nasty steel.

Steel mills right across the Western World are failing, unable to compete on price against the cheap nasty Asian mills.

The demand for high quality steel must be sliding ?
  SamTheMan79 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Geelong
Clients these days are seeking the cheapest steel they can get their hands on, as cost cutting measures.

Global wholesalers (with no accountability) are coming to the party and facilitating the supply of cheap nasty steel.

Steel mills right across the Western World are failing, unable to compete on price against the cheap nasty Asian mills.

The demand for high quality steel must be sliding ?
Nightfire
After working in the metals industry for a while I can confirm that the quality of metals produced in Australia has dropped as it couldn't compete with the nasty stuff that isn't QA'd out of China. Customers just wouldn't pay the high price for quality so that quality dropped, but no where near the quality of the stuff out of China...
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Clients these days are seeking the cheapest steel they can get their hands on, as cost cutting measures.

Global wholesalers (with no accountability) are coming to the party and facilitating the supply of cheap nasty steel.

Steel mills right across the Western World are failing, unable to compete on price against the cheap nasty Asian mills.

The demand for high quality steel must be sliding ?
Nightfire
Depends on what you are building, if one can get away with a safety factor (Note 1) of say greater than 4 AND little machining is involved, then the cheap steal will be OK.

If the work requires much machining or the safety factor is less than 4 decent steel MUST be used. Id be very surprised if the VLocity wheels were rubbish steel, the stuff is almost impossible to turn without a massive amount of turning defects.

One can still get excellent quality steel no problems (there's a supplier in Dandenong), the suppliers of such do have to look for it but there are still steel makers in Europe putting out excellent material. There will always be a market for high quality material, it may be small but the makers of such can usually get premium prices.

Note 1:Safety factor, a multiplication factor one uses on the load an item carries that the material must bear, 1020 Mild steel has a tensile strength of around 20 tons per sq in, one would use 5 tons per sq in for a safety factor of 4.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

A point I will make about determining a cause of a problem, there's an old saying "If stupidity is a sufficient explanation for something its usually not required to look for any other".

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Clients these days are seeking the cheapest steel they can get their hands on, as cost cutting measures.

Global wholesalers (with no accountability) are coming to the party and facilitating the supply of cheap nasty steel.

Steel mills right across the Western World are failing, unable to compete on price against the cheap nasty Asian mills.

The demand for high quality steel must be sliding ?
Depends on what you are building, if one can get away with a safety factor (Note 1) of say greater than 4 AND little machining is involved, then the cheap steal will be OK.

If the work requires much machining or the safety factor is less than 4 decent steel MUST be used. Id be very surprised if the VLocity wheels were rubbish steel, the stuff is almost impossible to turn without a massive amount of turning defects.

One can still get excellent quality steel no problems (there's a supplier in Dandenong), the suppliers of such do have to look for it but there are still steel makers in Europe putting out excellent material. There will always be a market for high quality material, it may be small but the makers of such can usually get premium prices.

Note 1:Safety factor, a multiplication factor one uses on the load an item carries that the material must bear, 1020 Mild steel has a tensile strength of around 20 tons per sq in, one would use 5 tons per sq in for a safety factor of 4.

woodford
woodford
Important Post Script, if a machined component is highly stressed GOOD QUALITY MATERIAL MUST BE USED, scimping on this to save a few dollars WILL lead to disaster and the company will under up failing.

woodford stressing a well known important point.
  historian Deputy Commissioner

Another crazy Victorian 'Spanish custom" is the insistence to use only turnouts and crossovers at double track junctions like Robinsons Road rather than a convential parallel double tracked junction as used throughout Europe .  So at Robinsons Road we have 3 sets of points , blades and motors to maintain, rather than two as incurred with a standard double track junction with a diamond crossing . l
kuldalai

Four turnouts, actually.

Fixed diamond crossings are expensive to maintain, particularly as the speed rises. You can get strong K crossings in specially treated steel, but these cost serious dollars and can't change physics. They still take a battering, they last longer, but when they need to be renewed they cost more.

The next step up is some form of switched diamond. Two options are used: a movable point diamond, or two turnouts toe to toe. A little thought reveals that, conceptually, there is not that much difference between the two. Both need two V crossings. Both need two sets of points and two sets of FPLs. You might be able to get away with one point motor driving both switches in a movable point diamond, but point motors per se are relatively cheap. Impact forces, hence maintenance, are higher with a movable point diamond, and adjusting the detection is a continual headache. Two turnouts use standard components, hence are cheaper in first cost and in maintenance. Turnouts can be tamped by standard tampers, movable point diamonds can't be. Two turnouts require much greater track length, which is a serious problem in cramped areas.

In summary, using two turnouts toe to toe instead of a movable point diamond is a perfectly reasonable approach where you have the room.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Regardless of the technical issues we are talking of an investment of billions that has a life going forward of decades and decades.   The volumes of trains and more importantly the thousands of passengers moving everyday on this infrastructure more than justifies the almost miniscule cost involved to use higher speed turnouts on a handful of locations.   Don't see VicRoads putting 65km/hr and lower curves in the middle of the Monash Freeway!!!!  Honestly its beyond laughable!!!
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Regardless of the technical issues we are talking of an investment of billions that has a life going forward of decades and decades.   The volumes of trains and more importantly the thousands of passengers moving everyday on this infrastructure more than justifies the almost miniscule cost involved to use higher speed turnouts on a handful of locations.   Don't see VicRoads putting 65km/hr and lower curves in the middle of the Monash Freeway!!!!  Honestly its beyond laughable!!!
Trainplanner

Don't know about the Monash freeway, but the last time I was driving in Melbourne I could have sworn there was a 60km/h limit on the City Link.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Don't see VicRoads putting 65km/hr and lower curves in the middle of the Monash Freeway!!!!  Honestly its beyond laughable!!!
Trainplanner
Wouldn't bank on it - just think of the revenue that could be raised.
  Contrillion Junior Train Controller

Location: Geelong, VIC
Off topic I know, but on city link they occasionally alter the speed limit (down to 60 or even 40 km/h) to suit driving conditions.
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

Was the steel used for the wheels cheap Chinese steel and therefore the wheels are wearing out quicker?   Cutting costs again?
Donald
I thought they were from Comsteel, a part of Arrium.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Was the steel used for the wheels cheap Chinese steel and therefore the wheels are wearing out quicker?   Cutting costs again?
I thought they were from Comsteel, a part of Arrium.
ParkesHub
I too thought that the wheels were Comsteel who has been making quality products to appropriate standards for many, many years. But nothing would surprise me in Victoria these days.
  TheMeddlingMonk Deputy Commissioner

Location: The Time Vortex near Melbourne, Australia
Was the steel used for the wheels cheap Chinese steel and therefore the wheels are wearing out quicker?   Cutting costs again?
I thought they were from Comsteel, a part of Arrium.
I too thought that the wheels were Comsteel who has been making quality products to appropriate standards for many, many years. But nothing would surprise me in Victoria these days.
YM-Mundrabilla
I have been informed that they were Comsteel wheels. I'd be surprised if this information was in error.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I have been informed that they were Comsteel wheels. I'd be surprised if this information was in error.
TheMeddlingMonk
In which case I would be surprised if the wheels (especially so many wheels) were defective, not to specification or otherwise faulty.

How much of the delay in complete resumption of rail services is due to deciding on the spec for new wheels rather than the inability to produce them?
  TheMeddlingMonk Deputy Commissioner

Location: The Time Vortex near Melbourne, Australia
How much of the delay in complete resumption of rail services is due to deciding on the spec for new wheels rather than the inability to produce them?
YM-Mundrabilla
My understanding is that the process is not up to deciding whether there needs to be a new spec, but rather that the source of the problem has not been conclusively determined.

Personally, I don't think the issue was with the Vlocities or the wheels, but rather the track. The Vlocities have a longer wheelbase than the other V/Line rollingstock and have stiffer bogies due to their high-speed rating. So I'd expect the tight curves on and near the North Melbourne flyover to have a greater impact on the Vlocities (the opening of the RRL meant that loaded Vlocities started going through an exaggerated S-curve on a regular basis, as opposed to occasionally pre-RRL). No lubrication would only worsen the situation. I had it explained to me that the "pitting" you can see in some of the MTMMemes photos of Vlocity wheel flanges actually indicates that the rail-wheel contact patch had gotten hot enough for the metal to become sticky and start ripping small chunks out of the wheels (by necessity, the rail head is harder than the wheels).

I don't know when or where in the chain the decision was made to cut the new flyover from the RRL plans, but from what I've heard the current problems may not have been an issue had it been built.

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