Options for standard gauge into Bendigo

 
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

A Marong intermodal will be disadvantaged by the rather long way round it will have to go to get to Melbourne.
james.au
An intermodal at Marong wouldn't just cater for rail traffic to Melb.  There's also the potential for inbound and outbound freight to other ARTC ports.

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  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
True, how much traffic is there from Bendigo and surrounds that could be captured?
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
There is plenty of business in Te Bendigo area not assuming that all traffic has to come to and from the port of Melbourne  

Bendigo council have produced a freight plan but any new development must include the ability to integrate LCL freight to provide a rail option. Using Cl trainers for everything you love is not cost efficient as the containers are expensive to rent and are not required or LCL which is a lot of freight.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Looking on Google Earth it would seem to be a waste of time to standardise Bendigo. What would be needed to run a new SG track besides the BG track to Ballarat?
Wait, Ballarat? The Geelong-Ballarat line is slated for conversion to dual gauge in the very near future as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project. That enables SG access to Ballarat. Running a second brand-new SG track along the Geelong-Ballarat line is technically feasible as it was originally built as a double-track line, but the cost-benefit is rubbish. BG is only going to be used for V/Line and Metro rollingstock transfers, 80kph speed restrictions on DG track for BG movements are fine for that.

The Ballarat RFR line isn't suitable for or likely to be gauge converted. Too many hassles with Regional Rail Link and in the future with the likely electrification of the Sunshine-Melton section and its subsequent connection to the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel.

Building an SG line adjacent to the Ballarat RFR line is folly. The alignment is built for single-track; many embankments, cuttings and bridges are too narrow for 2 tracks. You may as well build a new railway line for the cost.

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Converting the Bendigo RFR lines and associated Swan Hill & Echuca lines to standard gauge might make sense once the other grain-carrying branch lines in Victoria were gauge converted. It's a big gauge-conversion project though, arguably larger than the Murray Basin Rail Project due to the likely time constraints and the extensive use of concrete BG-only sleepers on the Bendigo RFR line.

The biggest issues with a Bendigo/Swan Hill/Echuca gauge conversion project that is it would create conflicts on Melbourne's Metro network, because the Bendigo line uses the Sunbury line to get into and out of Melbourne. Oh, and all of Regional Rail Link besides the North Melbourne Flyover was built with BG-only concrete sleepers Rolling Eyes

So by necessity you'd need to do some major projects to separate Bendigo line traffic from everything else. It creates way too many headaches. Better off to keep a captive BG grain train around for the Piangil (Swan Hill) and Deniliquin lines.
LancedDendrite
Not from Geelong to Ballarat but from Sunshine west directly to Ballarat instead of taking the scenic route via Geelong. Sorry I didn't realise this was part of the murray basin standardisation.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Not from Geelong to Ballarat but from Sunshine west directly to Ballarat instead of taking the scenic route via Geelong. Sorry I didn't realise this was part of the murray basin standardisation.
simstrain
That's the Ballarat RFR line you're referring to. It's got much worse grades and curves than the Geelong-Ballarat line, so it's not much good for freight despite the shorter distance to Melbourne. In the past (pre-RRL) it's had the odd BG grain train routed through it to get to the Port of Melbourne and before the Melbourne-Adelaide line was gauge-converted in 1995 it had Melbourne-Adelaide fast freights routed through it.

It's essentially a passenger-only line these days due to capacity constraints and its interface with the Metro network. Converting Ballarat-Geelong to SG will be the nail in the coffin for freight use of that line.

Bendigo Council have produced a freight plan; but any new development must include the ability to integrate LCL freight to provide a rail option. Using containers for everything you move is not cost efficient as the containers are expensive to rent and are not required or LCL which is a lot of freight.
freightgate
That depends. Port-bound freight and vice-versa is going to come in a container no matter what. LCL replaces the cost of an 'oversized' container with the cost of a van wagon (which aren't as common as they used to be) and the costs of double-handling.

You may well be right that LCL freight is a lot of freight. You're wrong about it being rail-contestable though. Rail still works best for long(er) distance linehaul and export traffic, both of which end up having wagon- or container-load minimum sizes.

Marong makes no sense for a rail-focused intermodal. Access to the east coast ARTC network is too roundabout so it essentially rules out domestic LCL (or container) traffic. That leaves export traffic (containers) and possibly Adelaide/Perth traffic (too small to bother with in-and-of-themselves). It could be OK for receiving inbound grain wagons perhaps, but that's a pretty minor source of traffic and highly dependent on the type of businesses that reside at the Marong Business Park. It'll end up vomiting outbound traffic onto the Calder Hwy, not the railway line.

If you wanted to do a proper rail-focused intermodal development in Bendigo, put it on the Echuca line somewhere and campaign for a rail connection to the North-South ARTC corridor (either to the NE SG or Tocumwal line post-conversion). That would get you much better East Coast & Port of Melbourne access and as a bonus, good access to SSR's Bendigo North workshops (assuming they want/need SG access).
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Interesting that they made this announcement at SSR workshops in Bendigo:
http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3969392/passenger-rail-manufacturing-programs-promised/?cs=80
  NSWGR8022 Chief Train Controller

Location: From the lands of Journalism and Free Speech
Interesting that they made this announcement at SSR workshops in Bendigo:
http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3969392/passenger-rail-manufacturing-programs-promised/?cs=80
Carnot

Some comment over in this thread

https://www.railpage.com.au/f-p2018329.htm#2018329

If Standard Gauge was required into Bendigo it would need to connect to the interstate network more easily than via the traffic jam that currently exists in a sparse SG network in Melbourne.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Latest on the Marong Intermodal/Business park.  Council have basically deferred any decision to acquire land for another 2 years but will continue to push ahead for it to be built ...
http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/4000791/council-to-push-marong-plan/?cs=80
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I got thinking about this question in the context of the Murray Basin plan and had another idea I'll throw in the mix.

How feasible would it be to reactivate the Maryboroigh-Castlemaine line, put another track back beside the BG track from Castlemaine to Bendigo, add some DG in the relevant spots in the Bendigo area, and then gauge convert up to Pilangil.

Using some of the costs for the MBRP as a rough guide, the cost could be around $150m, if done just for freight.  This would give reasonable access to the Port of Geelong for grain exports.

Though not sure what the grain volumes that come off the line and it would require SG rolling stock and would create a break of gauge  for pax at Bendigo.

Also I'm not sure which of the tunnels along that line would still be an issue given they were a reason the line was singled in the RFR.

Thoughts?
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
When they build the SG to Mildura, build a new branch to Pilangil from Ouyen..... I would think taking freight trains through Bendigo now would be not a good idea now.

David Head
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

Maryborough-Castlemaine would be a substantially more expensive per-kilometre cost, as the line is out of use. It would need to be rebuilt, not just converted like the Mildura line. What benefit would there be to reopening this line as SG?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
How feasible would it be to reactivate the Maryborough-Castlemaine line, put another track back beside the BG track from Castlemaine to Bendigo, add some DG in the relevant spots in the Bendigo area, and then gauge convert up to Piangil.
james.au
Not very feasible at all. Castlemaine is the first immediate obstacle: 3 platforms, 2 used by V/Line and 1 used by the Victorian Goldfields Railway. No bypass tracks, so you'd have a dual-gauge interface there - and that's just the start of it. Then from Castlemaine to Bendigo you'd have to realign all of the singled sections back to their original duplicated track positions, find a way of adding back in the passing loop at Harcourt and have to dual gauge from Kangaroo Flat to Bendigo. And that's without worrying about passing loops for the SG track - or potential clearance issues with all of the bluestone road overbridges that V/Line claimed were the reason to single the line in the first place.

The easier Bendigo access option is to gauge convert and upgrade the Eaglehawk-Inglewood line, then put in a triangle at Eaglehawk to get to Piangil. But you've still got the Swan Hill passenger service to worry about, which is the real showstopper on such a proposal.

It's cheaper and much less complicated to just have a captive BG grain train (or two) for the Piangil and Bendigo-Echuca lines.


What benefit would there be to reopening this line as SG?
duttonbay
It might shut up Noel & Friends. Or encourage them.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Thanks @lanceddensrite. Thanks for the info on the RFR works. Question answered and closed.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
The other interesting thing about using the Dunnoly-Inglewood-Eaglehawk route for standard gauge access to Bendigo is that unlike the Maryborough-Castlemaine route more townships on the line and within 25 minutes or so driving time of the corridor provide a greater population catchment.

This aligns of course with the Rail Futures vision released yesterday for a Midland Arc link in the longer term from Geelong to Ballarat to Bendigo.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Why not convert the whole line from Southern Cross to Piangil to standard gauge?

The passenger trains are all designed for gauge conversion.

The broad gauge sleepers between Melboune and Bendigo could be re-used on the suburban network (at considerable benefit to track quality).

M636C
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Thinking outside the box and in relation to the new RRL services would it be feasible to convert Ballarat to Melbourne and Melbourne to Geelong via Tarneit to SG and with it everything west?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Thinking outside the box and in relation to the new RRL services would it be feasible to convert Ballarat to Melbourne and Melbourne to Geelong via Tarneit to SG and with it everything west?
bevans
Then what happens to Bendigo services? Push them back onto the Metro tracks all the way from Southern Cross to Sunbury? Not going to happen.

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