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

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 03 Feb 2016 10:02
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Why not then install the rail greasing pots on both sides of the flyover to solve the problem ?

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  TheMeddlingMonk Deputy Commissioner

Location: The Time Vortex near Melbourne, Australia
Why not then install the rail greasing pots on both sides of the flyover to solve the problem ?
freightgate
I think this is what is actually happening as a temporary measure (along with speed restrictions):

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/vline-chief-theo-taifalos-resigns-as-rail-chaos-drags-on-for-regional-travellers-20160128-gmfu08.html

Although I've also heard that V/Line don't like them, so it might not be the final solution.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

Why not then install the rail greasing pots on both sides of the flyover to solve the problem ?
I think this is what is actually happening as a temporary measure (along with speed restrictions):

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/vline-chief-theo-taifalos-resigns-as-rail-chaos-drags-on-for-regional-travellers-20160128-gmfu08.html

Although I've also heard that V/Line don't like them, so it might not be the final solution.
TheMeddlingMonk
V/Line might not like them but they are under so much trouble at the moment that if it fixes or improves the problem they are going to get to love rail curve lubrication in a hell of a hurry .
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Latest news:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-09/vline-chief-to-be-quizzed-in-parliament-train-problems/7151152

The last line caught my attention:
"Representatives from Metro Trains, Transurban and VicRoads will also appear at the hearing, with a report expected to be tabled to Parliament in June."
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Latest news:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-09/vline-chief-to-be-quizzed-in-parliament-train-problems/7151152

The last line caught my attention:
"Representatives from Metro Trains, Transurban and VicRoads will also appear at the hearing, with a report expected to be tabled to Parliament in June."
Carnot

https://www.railpage.com.au/f-t11383516.htm
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
The Parliamentary hearings have been ben mentioned elsewhere on another thread.  Going back to rail lubrication and the advice provided by MeadlingMonk let me tell you NO track maintainer or operator likes have to deal with rail greasers and the problems you have in maintaining them, controlling with reasonable precision the section of rail to be lubricated and the treatment/management of grease deposits from an environmental perspective.

But the reality is rail/flange lubrication is an integral part of managing the wheel/rail interface especially where you have a section of railway that has been configured in the way the flyover has been and as it now appears at a number of other locations already mentioned as well.   There are other ways to apply grease with good precision using hi rail equipment or fitting up a proportion of your fleet with flange lubricators.   Perth (oh my goodness not that place mentioned again that is entirely irrelevant to the Victorian situation!!!) fitted several EMU sets up with flange lubricators that ensued the whole network would be covered on a regular basis.

These "tight points" on the RRL are now locked in and there forever and the track manager will just have to deal with it.   The only positive thing in all of this is that Monash University are involved in addressing the technical issues.  These people have a worldwide reputation in understanding the wheel/rail interface and have been contracted in Dubai and other locations to address similar problems.   I only hope that the advice they provide will be accepted and then acted upon.
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

I read this morning that all the rail on the North Melbourne Flyover will be ripped up and replaced. That should solve at least one of the problems. But it is very likely that there are other problem areas along the RRL as well. Hopefully when the Monash University Team completes its investigation, these will have been pinpointed and corrective action taken.

It appears that a healthy supply of new wheels has arrived and that the V Locity trains will all soon be repaired.
Greasing of the line is now occurring and should also help matters.

Down the track (no pun intended) some of the 65kph points can be replaced with 80 or 100 kph points to help the network flow more smoothly.

Now maybe, just maybe, the powers at be will learn from this and be more careful with both their design and actual construction of projects such as this in future.
  jdekorte Deputy Commissioner

Location: Near Caulfield Station
Can someone tell me if the original rail track on the flyover (which is being replaced this weekend) was manufactured by OneSteel Whyalla? I've just been reading some ill-informed tweets and I really don't think the track was manufactured in China.

Also, I came across these photos on VicSig dating back to 2014. This machine as I understand it only mills the top of the rail head? Not the sides?

http://vicsig.net/photo/20222

http://vicsig.net/photo/20221
  TheMeddlingMonk Deputy Commissioner

Location: The Time Vortex near Melbourne, Australia
I read this morning that all the rail on the North Melbourne Flyover will be ripped up and replaced. That should solve at least one of the problems.
Duncs
My understanding is that this is being done as a result of the wear to the rail head (it wasn't just the Vlocity wheels wearing). It's not so much a solution as a short-term fix, since if the underlying problem isn't solved, the rail head will just wear down again.

It appears that a healthy supply of new wheels has arrived and that the V Locity trains will all soon be repaired.
Greasing of the line is now occurring and should also help matters.
Duncs
Sixty wheelsets arrived last Sunday, I think. That should be enough to replace the wheels on five six-car Vlocity sets. Not remotely enough to replace all those taken out of service. Additional wheels will be required and they will have a lead time, so I expect the Vlocity fleet will slowly come back online over the following months.

Now maybe, just maybe, the powers at be will learn from this and be more careful with both their design and actual construction of projects such as this in future.
Duncs
I would be surprised. The approach seems to be to make cuts to save a few dollars now and then have to spend bucketloads later to fix the problems (by which time it's someone else's problem).
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik

It appears that a healthy supply of new wheels has arrived and that the V Locity trains will all soon be repaired.
Greasing of the line is now occurring and should also help matters.
Sixty wheelsets arrived last Sunday, I think. That should be enough to replace the wheels on five six-car Vlocity sets. Not remotely enough to replace all those taken out of service. Additional wheels will be required and they will have a lead time, so I expect the Vlocity fleet will slowly come back online over the following months.
TheMeddlingMonk
Are we sure that we are talking wheelsets and not just wheels?

I read somewhere that 60 new wheels arrived the other day. This is enough to make 30 wheelsets or enough to do 7 and a half Vlocity cars ie just over one Vlocity set.

5 x 6 car Vlocity sets (30 cars) needs 240 wheels or 120 wheelsets.

Not saying that I am right but it would be normal to just buy new wheels and push them onto the existing axles but anything is possible these days given the spin that is being spouted. Axles always used to be purchased separate from wheels as they last, more or less, for ever.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

I think you will find not all wheels will need to be replaced and there is plenty that just need reprofiling. This is a job that usually cannot be done in 5 secs as the axle has to be removed to get it into the lathe. The evidence for this is the were callling for access to more wheel turning lathes.

woodford
  TheMeddlingMonk Deputy Commissioner

Location: The Time Vortex near Melbourne, Australia
Sixty wheelsets arrived last Sunday, I think. That should be enough to replace the wheels on five six-car Vlocity sets. Not remotely enough to replace all those taken out of service. Additional wheels will be required and they will have a lead time, so I expect the Vlocity fleet will slowly come back online over the following months.
Are we sure that we are talking wheelsets and not just wheels?

I read somewhere that 60 new wheels arrived the other day. This is enough to make 30 wheelsets or enough to do 7 and a half Vlocity cars ie just over one Vlocity set.

5 x 6 car Vlocity sets (30 cars) needs 240 wheels or 120 wheelsets.

Not saying that I am right but it would be normal to just buy new wheels and push them onto the existing axles but anything is possible these days given the spin that is being spouted. Axles always used to be purchased separate from wheels as they last, more or less, for ever.
YM-Mundrabilla
Apologies, it is 60 wheels, not wheelsets. I had read elsewhere that there should have been enough to do 5 Vlocity sets, so I incorrectly extrapolated.

They will need a lot more wheels to replace all that require replacing. The issue is that the amount of wear on the flange means that they would have to cut a lot out of the diameter of the wheel in order to restore the profile. Not all the wheels have enough material left before the condemning limit. As woodford said, though, this is not a quick job.

Edit: worked out where I got confused with the numbers. MTMMemes said back in January that the existing order of 140 wheels would be enough to replace the wheels on 5 Vlocity sets (first mistake - they're three-car sets, whereas I somehow thought of the usual six car groupings that I see in traffic). So 8 wheels per car, 3 cars per set = 120 wheels. I'd read in passing that 60 had turned up (and having forgot the number on order, managed to get myself quite confused over what had actually arrived).
  parksider Locomotive Driver

Can someone tell me if the original rail track on the flyover (which is being replaced this weekend) was manufactured by OneSteel Whyalla? I've just been reading some ill-informed tweets and I really don't think the track was manufactured in China.

Also, I came across these photos on VicSig dating back to 2014. This machine as I understand it only mills the top of the rail head? Not the sides?

http://vicsig.net/photo/20222

http://vicsig.net/photo/20221
"jdekorte"



Is the flyover track simply being replaced on the previous alignment, or is it possible to ease the curves a little at the same time?
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
As I foreshadowed in previous posts on the several threads that have been running on this issue, the re railing is the first of 3 to 4 locations to be done.  It won't be possible to ease the radius of the curves but the profiling of rails and wheelsts supported by permanent rail lubrication will address this. I'm not sure when the grinding of rail will be done as I imagine that profile will come from the work Monash University are doing.  I'm not sure if it is possible to adjust the spacer inserts to also ease the gauge slightly. That was mentioned by a poster who seems to have some understanding of this.

I'm not sure as well what is going to be the end result of what the long term impact is of having installed numerous concrete sleepers to a slightly tight gauge that goes back to the RFR days particularly on the Bendigo Line. That might have been ok for tangent track but not for curves. I'm somewhat surprised how a decision came about to have tighter gauge especially when Victoria has been slow to embrace things like rail lubrication.  To manufacture hundreds of thousands of concrete sleepers with tighter gauge to me should have required extensive research and testing and evaluation.

The consequences of that if it proves to be the case could be staggering.  I hope this is covered in the brief given to Monash Uni to investigate.  What I hope this fleshes out is whether there has been a breakdown in the inspection regime for both the track and rolling stock.  Hundreds of wheels and hundreds of metres of track don't suddenly reach the situation that it has if you have a well developed inspection and monitoring regime. This would indicate systemic areas and again as foreshadowed Metro is in a bit of bother and more critical for them because there is a set of parameters for track, rolling stock and the overhead line equipment that all come into play.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
As I foreshadowed in previous posts on the several threads that have been running on this issue, the re railing is the first of 3 to 4 locations to be done.  It won't be possible to ease the radius of the curves but the profiling of rails and wheelsts supported by permanent rail lubrication will address this. I'm not sure when the grinding of rail will be done as I imagine that profile will come from the work Monash University are doing.  I'm not sure if it is possible to adjust the spacer inserts to also ease the gauge slightly. That was mentioned by a poster who seems to have some understanding of this.

I'm not sure as well what is going to be the end result of what the long term impact is of having installed numerous concrete sleepers to a slightly tight gauge that goes back to the RFR days particularly on the Bendigo Line. That might have been ok for tangent track but not for curves. I'm somewhat surprised how a decision came about to have tighter gauge especially when Victoria has been slow to embrace things like rail lubrication.  To manufacture hundreds of thousands of concrete sleepers with tighter gauge to me should have required extensive research and testing and evaluation.

The consequences of that if it proves to be the case could be staggering.  I hope this is covered in the brief given to Monash Uni to investigate.  What I hope this fleshes out is whether there has been a breakdown in the inspection regime for both the track and rolling stock.  Hundreds of wheels and hundreds of metres of track don't suddenly reach the situation that it has if you have a well developed inspection and monitoring regime. This would indicate systemic areas and again as foreshadowed Metro is in a bit of bother and more critical for them because there is a set of parameters for track, rolling stock and the overhead line equipment that all come into play.
Trainplanner
There are a number of factors that we need to be aware of:

  • Never hold and Inquiry unless you know what the outcome will be (Humphrey Appleby)
  • Tight gauge has been known to be a no no for years before the Victorians decided to invent it.
  • In certain circumstances it is possible to adjust the gauge by using different sized spacers on the field and gauge sides. This has already been done. Whether this could (or would) be done in Victoria I don't know.
  • The wheel/rail interface is a highly complex/technical matter in which Monash is a world leader so it will be interesting to see what they come up with (if we ever find out that is)!


It would also be of great interest to know the background to the choice of tight gauge concrete sleepers in the first place.
Of equal interest would be to know if we are still buying and laying tight gauge sleepers/track. It wouldn't surprise me but, if not, how has the change been made?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Sixty wheelsets arrived last Sunday, I think. That should be enough to replace the wheels on five six-car Vlocity sets. Not remotely enough to replace all those taken out of service. Additional wheels will be required and they will have a lead time, so I expect the Vlocity fleet will slowly come back online over the following months.
Are we sure that we are talking wheelsets and not just wheels?

I read somewhere that 60 new wheels arrived the other day. This is enough to make 30 wheelsets or enough to do 7 and a half Vlocity cars ie just over one Vlocity set.

5 x 6 car Vlocity sets (30 cars) needs 240 wheels or 120 wheelsets.

Not saying that I am right but it would be normal to just buy new wheels and push them onto the existing axles but anything is possible these days given the spin that is being spouted. Axles always used to be purchased separate from wheels as they last, more or less, for ever.
Apologies, it is 60 wheels, not wheelsets. I had read elsewhere that there should have been enough to do 5 Vlocity sets, so I incorrectly extrapolated.

They will need a lot more wheels to replace all that require replacing. The issue is that the amount of wear on the flange means that they would have to cut a lot out of the diameter of the wheel in order to restore the profile. Not all the wheels have enough material left before the condemning limit. As woodford said, though, this is not a quick job.
TheMeddlingMonk
No probs Comrade.

As has been said if you neglect/ignore flange wear to such an extent as seems the case with the Vlocitys you cannot restore the flange without destroying the tread and condemning the wheel. Alternatively, an inordinate percentage of the fleet may have been running on last turn wheels to start with.

The bit that I don't understand is where the time to rectify this problem lies. Is it in:

  • Comsteel's ability to supply the wheels (even at increased cost for overtime production etc)
  • Vline's ability to press the new wheels onto axles and get them under the Vlocitys.


If you have the wheels there is should be plenty of capacity to press them onto axles unless there is some diabolical complexity with Vlocity design or some artificial restraint to using 'outside' capacity.
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

It would also be of great interest to know the background to the choice of tight gauge concrete sleepers in the first place.
Of equal interest would be to know if we are still buying and laying tight gauge sleepers/track. It wouldn't surprise me but, if not, how has the change been made?
This fits in with a theory I would like to test. Woodford, Bevans and Kuldalai et al please consider....

Is it possible that the choice of rail was wrong? To explain; if you take for example: 47kg or 53 kg rail, which are often used in Victoria, then the size of the rail head is smaller than for 60kg rail. But if you put 60kg rail on the North Melbourne Flyover, and the gauge setting of the sleepers and the rail clips is set for say.... 47kg or 53 kg rail, then the extra rail width at the rail head for 60 kg rail will automatically tighten the gauge by several millimetres. Not much, but enough to cause these problems when greasing is not performed. Also it may be possible that all the sleepers were ordered to the same state wide design specification, and that this did not take into account the different size/ weight of the actual rail.

Your thoughts please

Duncs
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Yes they are all very valid points. It's not that there hasn't been any prior experience with the use of concrete sleepers in Victoria. The installation of concrete sleepers on the broad gauge around Tottenham and between Footscray and Newmarket plus a section on the Geelong Line going back 30 years are examples and I think both 53kg and 60kg per meter were used.  The use of tighter broad gauge sleepers using 60kg per metre rail was definitely an RFR thing and if my memory serves me correctly the consortia that completed the Geelong and Ballarat corridors had no problems versus the Latrobe and Bendigo Lines which required extensive grinding and here I'm talking of several passes of the track which some readers may recall partially contributed to the delay in commissioning the Bendigo Line.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Yes they are all very valid points. It's not that there hasn't been any prior experience with the use of concrete sleepers in Victoria. The installation of concrete sleepers on the broad gauge around Tottenham and between Footscray and Newmarket plus a section on the Geelong Line going back 30 years are examples and I think both 53kg and 60kg per meter were used.
Trainplanner

Not to mention the South line between Sunshine and Deer Park West Jcn which was laid in the early 1980's and AFAIK is still in use today.

Mike.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

It would also be of great interest to know the background to the choice of tight gauge concrete sleepers in the first place.
Of equal interest would be to know if we are still buying and laying tight gauge sleepers/track. It wouldn't surprise me but, if not, how has the change been made?
This fits in with a theory I would like to test. Woodford, Bevans and Kuldalai et al please consider....

Is it possible that the choice of rail was wrong? To explain; if you take for example: 47kg or 53 kg rail, which are often used in Victoria, then the size of the rail head is smaller than for 60kg rail. But if you put 60kg rail on the North Melbourne Flyover, and the gauge setting of the sleepers and the rail clips is set for say.... 47kg or 53 kg rail, then the extra rail width at the rail head for 60 kg rail will automatically tighten the gauge by several millimetres. Not much, but enough to cause these problems when greasing is not performed. Also it may be possible that all the sleepers were ordered to the same state wide design specification, and that this did not take into account the different size/ weight of the actual rail.

Your thoughts please

Duncs
Duncs
For Australian standard rail 53Kg and 60Kg have the same head and base widths (70,0mm and 146.0mm), 50Kg rail has the same head width (70.0mm) but the base is narrower (127.0mm). In concrete sleepers the insulating pads are replaceable, for instance the sleepers used on the NE gauge conversion were made for 60Kg rail (the number is cast into the concrete of the sleeper) BUT 50Kg rail was used in at least one place by changing the insulating pads to ones that suited the smaller rail.

At this stage I believe the slight undergauge of the RFR lines is a none issue, the gauge measures 1.2 to 1.5mm under gauge 16mm down from the head of the rail (the correct height for the measurement) on both the Bendigo and Ballarrat lines. Repeated observations over several years shows the flanges DO NOT scrub on the sides of the head on straights, both inside heads of the rail showing NO wear at all, except on the exit of curves where one can see signs of the bogies hunting to find there new centre of running.
Important note: Railway wheels and axles under normal conditions need to be able to successfully run on track that varies up to at least plus or minus 5mm in gauge as its impossible to build timber sleepered track more accurate than that.

Woodford is looking with interest to find out what the Monash people find is the cause.

woodford
  richter170 Locomotive Driver

There are a number of broad gauge sleepers used across the network.

The original RFR lines had deep profile (so deeper than a normal wooden sleeper) fitted with what are called butterfly clips which are pulled on directly over the rail foot. Most of the RFR is 60kg but 53kg in other places and if the rail quality was okay the rail was not replaced with 60kg new rail.

As Woodford says the 60kg layed RFR track is approx 1.5 to 1.9 mm under gauge (tight) but there is enough tolerance in train wheels to compensate for this.

If any other type of rail is fitted to the deep profile sleepers e.g. 47kg rail, they swapped out the spacers (one per side of the rail) and put thicker spacers in if that makes sense. Due to the narrower foot on 47kg.

The sleepers themselves are not cast for a particular type of rail, the rail sits on a plastic pad and two biscuits (spacers) are then placed on either side before the clips are put down. The biscuits are actually holding the gauge, and the spring clips just hold it down.

On the RRL the sleepers are still deep profile but the more usual E-Clip is used, the sleeper still has a pad that the rail fits on and then the two biscuits either side of the rail to hold the gauge then the clip to hold the rail down.

There is also a low profile concrete sleeper, mostly used by Metro and Vline have a few spots. These are a similar size to a normal wooden sleeper and are usually placed here and there in the rack to replace wooden sleepers as they become life expired. These also have the e-clip and are suitable for all rails 41kg (80 pound) right up to 60kg rail.

So when track is being replaced the purchasing officer needs to know what rail so as to order a pad and two biscuits and clips per side. Most of the rail operators are buying them off pandrol australia who are one of the only suppliers in the country.

RFR type sleepers are no longer purchased for broad gauge use to my knowledge. There was major issues with them if track was being tamped the butterfly clips would sometimes break, damaging the sleeper and they were not fixable after this due to being a complete casting, they then had to be removed from the track and replaced. The E-clip type sleepers are more robust and if a clip got damaged or sprung off it was easy to replace without damaging the sleeper.

There were locations on the network before the RRL that had tight curves that every second biscuit on the outside of the rail was steel, due to the original plastic spacers squashing with the load being forced out on the outer rail. The main reason they are plastic is due to signalling and the track can't earth to the ground.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

V/Line are now using the low profile concrete sleepers to do total concrete for  wood replacement on many sections like  Geelong Tunnel to  Marshall and  Waurn Ponds. This section just relaid too with new 50kg rails .
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Thanks richter170.   As you said Victoria has had experience with concrete sleepered track pre RFR with installations at Tottenham, Footscray to Newmarket in the Metro and from Lara towards Little River on regional.   I think these installations went in in the 80's and to my knowledge were successful.  The only issue I ever noticed was poor ballast condition and not maintaining the "top" to keep the track well aligned which seems to be something  Victoria has never really been good at compared to other states.  Even so I can remember the significantly improved ride quality even over these short sections.   I do seem to recall as well that the "new" viaduct between Spencer Street/SX and Flinders Street also used concrete sleepers and there should have been a good learning experience there account sharp curvature.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Many thanks for the  info richter170.

woodford
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

Hi Everyone

Thanks for that. Here are some rail weights and sizes that may interest you.


Comparative Rail Specifications
Weights & Applications
Sizes & Measurements

The Heavy Haul Pilbara Iron Ore Trains
AS68
67.5 kg/m
8602 mm/2 total area
15 meters per tonne
AS68
17.5 mm throat (thinnest part)
3125 mm/2 head area
2335 " " " web area
3142 " " " foot area

The New Mainline - Fast Trains, Coal
Trains & 1.8 km Super Freighters
AS60
60.7 kg/m
7728 mm/2 TA
16 mpt
AS60
16.5 thr
3018 head
1958 web
2752 foot

Alice to Darwin Mainline & 1.8 km
Super Freighters
AS50
50.7 kg/m
6457 mm/2 TA
20 mpt
AS50
15.0 thr
2729 head
1565 web
2164 foot

Older Mainline – VIC/BG & NSW/SG
Onesteel 53
53.1 kg/m
6763 mm/2 TA
19 mpt
Onesteel 53
14.7 thr
2721 head
1520 web
2522 foot

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