Grain Harvest 2016/2017

 
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

The grain harvest has begun, and there are expectations it'll be one of the biggest ever.  i thought we could use this thread to discuss what's happening out there at the silos, rail sidings, ports and on the tracks.

It'll also be the last harvest hauled on the BG from Murrayville and Yelta before it goes SG late next year.

An interesting news item includes info about the upgrades to GrainCorp's Tocumwal site which should mean more grain trains from there:
http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/agribusiness/cropping/grain-harvest-graincorp-expectations-on-track/news-story/1e73a8fb512ad03b43fd5e7fd9d5b73b

"GrainCorp unveiled upgrades to its Tocumwal site at a grower meeting last week.
Tocumwal has 120,000 tonne capacity and, although in NSW, is part of the Victorian rail network.


The $3 million upgrade extended the rail siding from 150m (10 wagons) to a full 640m (40 wagons) and a cycle time of 36 hours made it attractive to source grain.

Tocumwal could load the whole train in fewer than three hours, Mr Johnston said.
“Cycle time (is) the time it take for a grain train to leave port, travel up country, load and return to port,” he said."

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  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Any ideas how much would be coming out of Murryville?  I am told the entire area has a bumper crop and as such there is a lot of haulage to do.  

On the SA side of the border it seems with the volumes those roads are going to get a beating since rail is not being used.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Any ideas how much would be coming out of Murryville?  I am told the entire area has a bumper crop and as such there is a lot of haulage to do.  

On the SA side of the border it seems with the volumes those roads are going to get a beating since rail is not being used.
x31
Murrayville typically only receives 30000-40000 tonnes, but it wouldn't surprise me if gets way way more than that, especially if SA farmers send grain East.

Local Govts in SA (especially Southern Mallee) should be screaming to get rail lines reinstated.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
The roads will be a wreck but also the costs of moving the grain in the Loxton area will be more expensive for road than for rail.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

The roads will be a wreck but also the costs of moving the grain in the Loxton area will be more expensive for road than for rail.
x31
This is why it wouldn't surprise me if many farmers cart grain across to Murrayville, although that might depend on if they've got contracts with buyers other than Graincorp (i.e Viterra).

Incidentally, yields in the Mallee are likely to approach double the normal yield per hectare.
  HardWorkingMan Chief Commissioner

Location: Echuca
Since that article was published (9th November) there has been strong winds including mini-tornadoes around Mildura and Merbein which put the crops flat on the ground for a lot of farmers.  They can't harvest that grain and some will have nothing at all to harvest. I guess that wipes a few thousand tonnes off the Midlura area's tally.  It won't affect Tocumwal as it is too far east and missed the storms.

We got some strong winds out of town here(enough to blow me off the back of a classic truck as I was tying some camping gear on to take the truck to a weekend show) but the crops are still standing.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Does Deniliquin have a grain lodading/receival area and siding?
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
Will Pacific National be handling all of the BG grain?

Last time there was a bumper year, El Zorro were still around hauling grain, and the extra grain lead to some interesting motive power combinations.

If Pac Nat go it alone this time is there any likelyhood they will re-activate any of their stored older locomotives?
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Does Deniliquin have a grain lodading/receival area and siding?
bevans
Yes near the Rice Mill on the Southern outskirts of town.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Since that article was published (9th November) there has been strong winds including mini-tornadoes around Mildura and Merbein which put the crops flat on the ground for a lot of farmers.  They can't harvest that grain and some will have nothing at all to harvest. I guess that wipes a few thousand tonnes off the Midlura area's tally.  It won't affect Tocumwal as it is too far east and missed the storms.

We got some strong winds out of town here(enough to blow me off the back of a classic truck as I was tying some camping gear on to take the truck to a weekend show) but the crops are still standing.
"HardWorkingMan"


Simliar crop damage has occured in NE Vic and around some areas of the Goulburn Valley although it was rain not the wind that was the cause.
  HardWorkingMan Chief Commissioner

Location: Echuca
I saw a report that says over 450 farms around the Mildura storm area will not be able to harvest a crop at all with other farms having a severe loss of crops and they won't have full knowledge until all the insurance assessments are complete.  It is estimate this will drop the harvest by several million tonnes.  This will reduce the number of grain trains in the area
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I saw a report that says over 450 farms around the Mildura storm area will not be able to harvest a crop at all with other farms having a severe loss of crops and they won't have full knowledge until all the insurance assessments are complete.  It is estimate this will drop the harvest by several million tonnes.  This will reduce the number of grain trains in the area
HardWorkingMan
The damage to a wheat crop would have to be very significant to render it unharvestable.  I have personally harvested crops that have been knocked down to a quarter of their normal height, and whilst it takes a while (as you have to take more of the crop in through the header) you still get your wheat.  All you need are crop lifters to lift the stalks up to cut them.  Other grains crops are the same.  Cant comment on other crop types though.  Regarding insurance, it has been known for a farmer to get an insurance payout for a crop, and harvest it too - sneaky Wink.

@Carnot, regarding your comment on contracts, most grain farmers don't contract wheat crops and take price on the day.  It is often the best price you'll get anyway (in recent experience anyway).  Farmers often look at which silo is giving a better return and go there.  So there might be a bit of trucking across the border if the price is better at rail connected sites compared to road.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Will Pacific National be handling all of the BG grain?

Last time there was a bumper year, El Zorro were still around hauling grain, and the extra grain lead to some interesting motive power combinations.

If Pac Nat go it alone this time is there any likelyhood they will re-activate any of their stored older locomotives?
Gman_86
I agree that it would be good to see more operators handling BG grain.  SSR have some BG locos in Bendigo, just need the wagons.  Incidentally, what happened to the blue ElZorro BG wagons that were used in 2009 - 2013-ish?
  david m Station Staff

Location: melbourne
How the crop in western Victoria and around swan hill
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Western Vox ia mostly ok just problems with north west.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
I saw a report that says over 450 farms around the Mildura storm area will not be able to harvest a crop at all with other farms having a severe loss of crops and they won't have full knowledge until all the insurance assessments are complete.  It is estimate this will drop the harvest by several million tonnes.  This will reduce the number of grain trains in the area
HardWorkingMan
It also appears there has been significant damage to the Sunraysia Fruit crops, a business contact has spoken of grape vines being stripped bare in the storm, as well as significant 'skin' damage to many fruit crops.
A lot of fruit is railed out of Merbein.
  Burkey Station Master

I went to the grower meeting at Tocumwal and after the meeting we were given a tour of the works completed. The new spur is impressive and Graincorp even had the foresight to use gauge convertible concrete sleepers in the upgrade. There is also a second weighbridge and other outloading upgrades planned in future for the sight. One grower made the comment that its great that you can now load the train in about 3 hours but why is the train still here? The response was because of pathing limitations etc. The wise old cocky said you've just brought the site up to scratch now the government must bring the lines into the 21st century. Completely agreed.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Thanks for your report from Tocumwal.  Can we ask what the pathing issues would be and where in the network?

Is Dookie still in use for grain receival and if so why has Graincorp not been able to run a train to clear from that location?
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Thanks for your report from Tocumwal.  Can we ask what the pathing issues would be and where in the network?

Is Dookie still in use for grain receival and if so why has Graincorp not been able to run a train to clear from that location?
bevans
For a start there's just one Train Working Order between Tocumwal and Shepparton.

Dookie is truck only.  Some Level crossings have seen rail removed and asphalted over in places...
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
For reference, I checked the ARTC MTP and the VLine Network Service Plan, and the ARTC time from Seymour to Tottenham is about 1hr 15mins.  The VLine time is anything from 2hrs 20 to 2hs 50.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
For a start there's just one Train Working Order between Tocumwal and Shepparton.
Carnot

Sure but how many trains per day do we have north of Shepparton? 4 + any grain from Tocumwal?
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
I went to the grower meeting at Tocumwal and after the meeting we were given a tour of the works completed. The new spur is impressive and Graincorp even had the foresight to use gauge convertible concrete sleepers in the upgrade. There is also a second weighbridge and other outloading upgrades planned in future for the sight. One grower made the comment that its great that you can now load the train in about 3 hours but why is the train still here? The response was because of pathing limitations etc. The wise old cocky said you've just brought the site up to scratch now the government must bring the lines into the 21st century. Completely agreed.
Burkey
Wise or just ignorant of the complexity of the task?

Was there a need for the grain to be at its destination immediately after being loaded?

There are so many variables that could impact on the black and white view of the world of our 'wise old cocky'.

I remember a few years back 'the government' upgrading rail infrastructure on a section of the Eyre Peninsula railway, which effectively halved the journey time to 3 hours each way - only for the train to then have to sit at its destination for 6 hours while being loaded at the 'rapid loading' facility.

The government and the railway are always easy targets for the uninformed.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
IDK Bingley - I think this is the opposite case.  Graincorp are investing around their network in faster loading facilities.  In NSW, TfNSW is investing in better track infrastructure.  Vic in this area is not.  In the Eyre it sounds like the government invested but the loader did not.
Also, Graincorp run their own trains and use PN trains too - both of which would love to get better utilisation of their fleets to lower the fixed costs of operation.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
IDK Bingley - I think this is the opposite case.  Graincorp are investing around their network in faster loading facilities.  In NSW, TfNSW is investing in better track infrastructure.  Vic in this area is not.  In the Eyre it sounds like the government invested but the loader did not.
Also, Graincorp run their own trains and use PN trains too - both of which would love to get better utilisation of their fleets to lower the fixed costs of operation.
james.au
As I said so many variables.

Why did the train have to be on the move the moment it was loaded. Was the ship going to depart without it?

Maybe the crew were out of hours and in the motel - should the customer wear the cost of an extra crew just to satisfy someone's myopic view of the world?

The 'cocky' needs to understand the whole chain before he can make his comments with any authority.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Agreed - fair points.  Though...

The train could be needed elsewhere in the network, and storage might be booked at the port (regardless of ship timetables).

The track and time it takes could be causing the crew hours to time out unnecessarily

And so on and so on..!!!

At the end of the day, the cocky is the one who bears the cost of rail transport, and so I believe that he is within his rights to question any inefficiencies (perceived or actual).

Also, he was told patting limitations, which is something controlled by government/government agencies.

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