Standardising the Goulburn Valley lines

 
  BigShunter Chief Train Controller

Location: St Clair. S.A.
With the upgrading of the Murray Basin lines of the North West, the plan put forward by consultants and government, may set the scene for what will unfold for the Goulburn Valley.

Personally I think the delivered plan was much better than I expected.
The introduction of TRS ( timber replacement sleepers - low profile ) Continuously Welded Rail ( CRW ) which will lift axle load to 21 tonne and raise the allowable speed to 80 kph.

The minor increase in axle load is good, but the allowable increase in speed, is probably a better bonus, which will vastly improve turn around times, so as a complete package - a very good out come.

A bigger increase in axle load ( 23 TAL ) would have been better, even if it was just on the Mildura line, but perhaps we should be thankful for small mercy's.

To off set the lack of axle load, can be over come by running longer consist's of wagons ( referring to grain ) 60 wagons, would be a vast improvement in productivity - 2200 tonnes to 3200 tonnes ish

So with Goulburn Valley lines, there is an interesting mix, moderate speed running of passenger trains to Shep, a continual stream of containers ex Toc and grain, I assume, as well as a solid supply of freight ex Denni.

I will leave the spec's for passenger rail out of this because they speak for them selves - class 2  Seymour to Maroopna and most likely class 3 to Shep. Kuldalai will have the format on this.

So, Seymour to Toc, my opinion, there should be a very hard look at increasing this line to 23 TAL because of the volume of freight previously mentioned.
Not opening a can of worms here or derailing the thred, but some fore sight should be given to future opening up into Southern NSW and some vision should be put into place for this.

Toolamba - Echuca - Denni line, I think will be fine with TRS and CWR, giving 21 TAL and 80 k' running a pretty good out come.
It would be terrific to give the boys at Denni 23 TAL but I think due to the added distance, the cost will be too great ( which is the case of Mildura ) .
So, a speed increase for Denni, faster turn around times and slight increase in axle, will see a moderate increase in their productivity.

Now a couple of prickly ones.

Dookie - this is an absolute must, GrainCorp has already flagged it's site at Dookie for a major recieval site and everything possible should be done to assist them with this.
The re-opening of Dookie is another reason why I have suggested a 23 TAL for the line to Toc and if Dookie was up-graded to the same, it just compliments and adds weight ( ha ha ) to the investment, with large volumes of grain that will be moving from road to rail.
Big volumes of grain out of Dookie as well as very large volumes of freight from Southern NSW, through Toc - every reason to invest in the 23 TAL.

Righto, Barnes - Burriboi.
Large amounts of grain have been recieved here for quite sometime, several hundreds of thousands of tonnes, certainly nothing to be sneezed at.
Some investigation needs to be done on where their grain is going and what percentage could be transferred to rail, IF Rail Was available - if the big majority goes to port, rail is a Must.
So if this warrants the re-opening of this line, then I'm backing this extension to fit into the Murrayville category - Not enough grain to justify a big upgrade but certainly worthy of decent rail access.
A train with 2200 tonne of grain on board, traveling at 50 - 60 KPH is a far better scenario, than a conga line of semi's and b-doubles, traveling on second rate country roads.
All grain trains, running to port obviously through Toolamba and again, justifying the upgrades and $$$ on infrastructure.

Now, the big one...... Passenger services to Cobram.
I think in the not too distant future, a very serious look has to be had at re-activating this line and service.
Just Cobram / Barooga have a poulation of around 7000 people, large volumes between Shep and Cobram, not too mention the volume available out of Southern NSW.
If departing trains from Cobram had connecting bus's, from the North, which fed passengers into the system, not competing against it, like was happening at Marybugger, earlier in the piece, would have to be a winner.
Perhaps 3 services a day to kick her off with.
Not sure how this could be achieved - as in, would you just extend the Shep service or run a shuttle from Cobram to Shep or right through to Seymour, that fitted in between the planned increased Shep service.

Well that's a snap shot from me, sorry for the long post but a bit to cover. Fire some thoughts and we will see what comes out in the wash.

BigShunter.

Ps, there has been lots of discussion in regarding the conversion of these lines but couldn't seem to locate an actual thred.

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  Carnot Chief Commissioner

2018 is a State Election year.  Which party will make it a promise?  Given all the Murray Basin Project work happening now, it would be a good follow-on project.

V/Line probably won't be too happy about running more SG trains though.  Several additional Southern Cross platforms might need dual-gauging.  Removal of loops with full duplication between Sunshine and Seymour?
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

1. The next logical standardization following on from Murray Basin is logically  Ballarat - Ararat, and thus no BS dual aguge needed between Ballarat - Maryborough to appease VLP who hate standard gauge train sets !!!

2. Forget any passenger trains beyond Shepp that has been investigated and does not pass the first muster .

3. In the medium term it will be broad gauge on the Valley as that suits fine for  passenger trains, and for existing freight customers gauge is irrelevent so it will likely stay as broad, as no direct benefits in standardizing at this stage.

4.  Short term what needs to happen with Shepp is that the lx between Symour & Mooroopna are upgraded to boom barriers to allow V/Locity through to Shepp on existing Class-3 track should allow 110kmh. Then that will allow a two hourly frequency with UP & Down trains crossing at Seymour. Releases N sets to increase frequency to Albury, Swan Hill & Bairnsdale .

5. Stage 2 upgrade to Class-2 rack between Seymour & Mooroopna then 130kmh for V/Locity, and replace double line block and mechanical signalling between Craigieburn and  Seymour .

6. Any increase axle loads for freight trains will be driven by customer demand and traffic volumes. Business ex Toc is booming and there could be extra trains from there potentially in future .

7. What will drive standardization of the Goulburn Valley line is more likely Melbourne Airport line.  As a stand alone line this would be standard gauge from Southern Cross (underground initially) through Sunshine (underground interchange) then to Airport .   Stage 1 as sg line CBD to Airport. Stage 2 sg extension to join the Bendigo line at  Clarkefield, and the North East line at Wallan .  At that Stage 2 the  Northern lines and Goulburn Valley would move over to standard gauge .
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

2018 is a State Election year.  Which party will make it a promise?  Given all the Murray Basin Project work happening now, it would be a good follow-on project.

V/Line probably won't be too happy about running more SG trains though.  Several additional Southern Cross platforms might need dual-gauging.  Removal of loops with full duplication between Sunshine and Seymour?
Carnot
V/line certainly does not and will not want a bigger standard gauge train set until such time as its Albury operation is delivering reliably .  Now all the sg sets are being repainted that should improve things  !!!!!!

If and when Goulburn Valley went sg then it would be as V/Locities and  3 standard gauge platform faces alraedy available in 1, 2a,2b .  Fairly simple to connect dual gauge centre road between platforms 2/3 into  3a as dual gauge platform face . That would give 4 sg platform faces more than enough for eventually 5 Weekday Albury + run a 2 hourly Shepp sg V/Locity service .
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
V/Line's main issues with reliability on the Albury line are twofold, firstly, they are using stock that has passed its used by date and secondly they only run on 1 SG line, eliminating the interchangability with stock from other lines.

V/line's plan as was revealed recently is to replace the current N Class and SN sets with a V/Locity based long distance SG DMU.

That fixes the first problem, but doesn't address the second.

Now, if V/Line had several different services operating on the SG, then they could place a larger order of the long distance SG DMU stock. Thus spreading the maintenence task and providing a larger margin of backup stock.

It's not beyond reason to think there could be SG services to the following:
Melbourne - Albury            3 times a day
Melbourne - Shepparton     6 times a day
Ballarat - Maryborough       3 times a day
Ballarat - Ararat                4 times a day

and maybe even, on top of that:
Melbourne - Cobram          twice a day
Ballarat - Horsham            twice a day

Then rather then having 3 return trips a day to operate over the SG, you have something more like 20 return trips a day. This would of course require a larger investment, not to mention the conversion of track, (and re-opening in some cases), but surely with a larger pool of SG cars comes an improved service delivery.

I may be wrong, but the way I see it, V/Line will still struggle if they are only running the one service on SG, while everything else is on the BG, The main commuter corridors (Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Bairnsdale) have too many reasons not to change from BG, but from a freight perspective, these other lines could really benefit from a change. V/Line should be able to improve its service at the same time.
  Z VAN Locomotive Fireman

The standardization of Victorian country rail lines has been a passion of mine for many years and super super slow positive progress is being made.
After the North East line in 1962 we had to wait until 1995 for the western line and now in 2017 we have the Murray Basin lines being converted. Good.
The Goulburn Valley lines should be next but hopefully not in the same progressive time line as previous projects of 33 years then 22 years in between.
There have been posts by Big Shunter and Kaldiai raising many positive points but linking the Airport line etc I believe is just fiddling when we should be getting on with it as soon as praticable.
Platform accommodation at Southern Cross is an issue but is it? Once again from previous posts a solution is there today with minor fiddling to some track and radical mind set changes by V/line Managers.
Carriage/Velocity servicing accommodation for standard gauge stock would be problematic but 48 years ago a man walked on the moon. I am sure in comparison an Engineering and Real Estate solution could be worked out in 2017.  
Axle load is a valid consideration and most certainly it should be the same as the Mildura line or the same as the Inland Rail Project for the 'what if a connection' is made from Tocumwal to Narrandra in the near future??
And Oh yes connect Dookie, run it as a long siding as there will not be five wheat trains on the branch at any one time.
In effect there is no impediment to proceeding with the project other than procrastination for reasons that would not stack up if made public.
Let us do it as soon as practicable.
  damooops Junior Train Controller

Location: The Revenue Raising State
G'day all.
Do you think it would be practical to SG the Seymour to Craigieburn section as well? Perhaps run all NE/ Goulburn Valley trains via Albion/ Jacana? I'm sure with a redesign of Broadmeadows and Craigieburn you could squeeze in 2 SG lines all the way through and basically provide segregation from the suburban network.
Cheers all.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

G'day all.
Do you think it would be practical to SG the Seymour to Craigieburn section as well? Perhaps run all NE/ Goulburn Valley trains via Albion/ Jacana? I'm sure with a redesign of Broadmeadows and Craigieburn you could squeeze in 2 SG lines all the way through and basically provide segregation from the suburban network.
Cheers all.
damooops
For the umpteenth time. Re  Shepparton/Seymour .

In the short term it is broad gauge via Essendon , then medium term broad gauge via Upfield/Somerton.

The change to standard gauge will only come when the Airport Railway is extended to join the bendigo Line at  Clarkefield and North East Line at Wallan .

There is no benefit to freight or passenger  Seymour/Goulburn Valley going standard gauge as the freight tarffic is only to/from Melbourne port, so gauge is irrelevant .

However a standard gauge Airport railway will drive the conversion of Northern & Goulburn Valley to standard gauge .
  501M Train Controller

Location: The Borough

The change to standard gauge will only come when the Airport Railway is extended to join the bendigo Line at  Clarkefield and North East Line at Wallan .

There is no benefit to freight or passenger  Seymour/Goulburn Valley going standard gauge as the freight tarffic is only to/from Melbourne port, so gauge is irrelevant .

However a standard gauge Airport railway will drive the conversion of Northern & Goulburn Valley to standard gauge .
kuldalai

You could use the same argument for the Murray Basin standardization.  Converting the Seymour-Tocumwal and Toolamba-Echuca-Deniliquin would open that traffic up to more competition.  Having the Shep pass on Standard Gauge would increase V/Line's fleet and should increase the reliability of the Albury services as well.  With the exception of the south-east broad gauge is dead for freight.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
There is no benefit to freight or passenger  Seymour/Goulburn Valley going standard gauge as the freight tarffic is only to/from Melbourne port, so gauge is irrelevant .
kuldalai

I disagree on the freight side here.  More operators means more competition, means more opportunities and could mean lower prices to users.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
There is no benefit to freight or passenger  Seymour/Goulburn Valley going standard gauge as the freight tarffic is only to/from Melbourne port, so gauge is irrelevant .

I disagree on the freight side here.  More operators means more competition, means more opportunities and could mean lower prices to users.
james.au
Also means more opportunities for better rolling stock utilisation.
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
Another benefit of converting these lines would be the oppurtunity to include the Dookie line in any work. There's a lot of grain up there, and there doesn't seem to be any interest in re-opening the line in its current BG guise, but if there was a large scale project invloving the other lines in that region, then I'm sure the interest would be there.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Trapped in a meeting with Rhonda and Karsten
Gauge conversion for the Goulburn Valley lines is the obvious next step in the standardisation programme but as Kuldalai points out, the benefits to freight aren't enough to offset throwing even more passenger services onto the North East SG corridor. Gauge conversion would be the capstone of a series of projects to increase capacity on the North East SG & Seymour + Goulburn Valley BG lines.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
The real question in my mind is can it be done without converting track to SG coming in from the north of the city?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
It seems that the double BG line to Seymour is sacred in some way.

Could one current BG line be converted to SG and run some (or all) Seymour BG services as SG?

No matter where, no matter what, the BG in Victoria seems sacred in some way, shape or form.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

The thing is that until there is a compelling reason to convert the Valley to sg for freight or passenger (and currently there is not) it aint going to happen as there is little benefit and a lot of capex to be spent .

What is far more important short term is to replace Double Line Block between Craigieburn and Seymour ASAP, and upgrade Seymour - Shepparton track class to allow V/locity operation to Shepparton and replace archaic Train Orders between Seymour & Shepparton .  

Shepparton is potentially the same travel time to Melbourne as Bendigo with 130kmh running and V/Locity operation .  Current Shepparton service levels at 4 trains each way on Weekdays is pathetic, when it should justifiably be at least two hourly initially .

With future proofing for potential standard gauge VLP should be instructed that all new works and tie renewals on country bg tracks should be with either wooden or  dual gauge slimline cooncrete sleepers .  (For dual gauge concrete sleepers the additional cost is only around $ 1 per sleeper !!!)
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Surely nobody should be using timber sleepers for anything these days without a specifically good reason.
  reubstar6 Locomotive Fireman

I'd love the Bendigo and Seymour lines (and all others beyond) to eventually be standardised. Metro lines don't have to be involved, in fact, it would be a good way of separating tracks. Obviously, it would cost a lot of money for little benefit, but it would be a great step in seeing a standardised Australia.
  SamTheMan79 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Geelong
Surely nobody should be using timber sleepers for anything these days without a specifically good reason.
YM-Mundrabilla

Timber sleepers have appeared on the up from Geelong station for what I gather is the work to be completed on Sunday's total line closure.
  BigShunter Chief Train Controller

Location: St Clair. S.A.
After posting this thread, with my opinions and view of what may be achieved, with the conversion of these lines, I thought I would just lurk and see what people have to say and let the subject roll.

A few interesting points mentioned, I think a main driver for the conversion to roll on, is going to be the big reduction in broad gauge rolling stock, after the completion of the Murray Basin lines, it's going to really bring the amount of rolling stock ( broad ) needed to sweet FA and the requirement for more standard gauge stock into service. So I'm wondering with standard gauge being the major player is going have the companies running services to be leaning on the Goulburn Valley Lines to be changed for better utilisation of their rolling stock.

I realise that until the North West, particularly the section of track from Dunolly to Geelong is sorted and the whole show running like clock work, not mention the standard gauge rolling stock for the North East comes on line, the Goulburn lines may be looked at.
So the next few years are going to be interesting with a whole new range running on the rails.

One thing I was suprised about was the amount of posts, not referring to spec's of the track or additional services, such as Burraboi or Dookie but, can we, can't we, will we or won't we, should we, shouldn't we convert these lines.

BigShunter.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Surely nobody should be using timber sleepers for anything these days without a specifically good reason.
YM-Mundrabilla
Timber sleepers require much smaller depth of ballast under them than concrete sleepers and are easier on the track bed and rolling stock and quieter than concrete sleepers. Concrete sleepers also require much stronger track equipment to be handled. In areas like NE Victoria one can expect a life of around 25 to 30 years. With forest control timber sleepers are also a sustainable resource. Concrete sleepers are great but they DO require a far greater initial expenditure than timber sleepers, if funds are available concrete sleepers are great, if though funds are very tight timber sleepers would be a path worth trying.

woodford
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

Surely nobody should be using timber sleepers for anything these days without a specifically good reason.
Timber sleepers require much smaller depth of ballast under them than concrete sleepers and are easier on the track bed and rolling stock and quieter than concrete sleepers. Concrete sleepers also require much stronger track equipment to be handled. In areas like NE Victoria one can expect a life of around 25 to 30 years. With forest control timber sleepers are also a sustainable resource. Concrete sleepers are great but they DO require a far greater initial expenditure than timber sleepers, if funds are available concrete sleepers are great, if though funds are very tight timber sleepers would be a path worth trying.

woodford
woodford
I agree with Woodford. If you look at the Bendigo to Swan Hill section, timber makes sense. It is also in a dryer climate, so lees problems with water rotting.
  HardWorkingMan Deputy Commissioner

Location: Echuca
I think you will eventually find all the Victorian Rural lines converted to standard gauge to reduce complexity and costs around Melbourne.  It allows for the efficient movement of rollingstock across the country so more use is made of seasonal rollingstock (like grain wagons).  It also opens up opportunities to compete against road and provide alternate routes if one is blocked for some reason.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Surely nobody should be using timber sleepers for anything these days without a specifically good reason.
Timber sleepers require much smaller depth of ballast under them than concrete sleepers and are easier on the track bed and rolling stock and quieter than concrete sleepers. Concrete sleepers also require much stronger track equipment to be handled. In areas like NE Victoria one can expect a life of around 25 to 30 years. With forest control timber sleepers are also a sustainable resource. Concrete sleepers are great but they DO require a far greater initial expenditure than timber sleepers, if funds are available concrete sleepers are great, if though funds are very tight timber sleepers would be a path worth trying.

woodford
woodford
Sorry Woodford but I disagree.

The low profile concrete sleepers currently in use do not require an additional depth of ballast beneath the sleeper when compared with timber sleepers. You will be aware that there are literally thousands of these sleepers side by side with timber in miles of track.

Granted concrete is heavier than timber but this contributes to much greater track stability.

Old growth (long life) timber is no longer readily available and certainly not in large quantities.

I disagree that one will get anything like 25 to 30 years out of any timber sleeper these days and if you make 20 years anything beyond that will almost certainly result in a degraded track condition.

Concrete sleepers have a life over double that of timber which will easily outweigh any relatively small initial cost.

The use of timber sleepers in this day and age is simply short sighted.

The following is from the Austrack website:

Timber Replacement

Timber sleepers have been traditionally used in Australia and throughout the world due to their dependability, affordability and availability. Recently, rising costs and declining quality, as well as society’s increasing environmental sensitivity, has challenged the continuing use of timber sleepers.

Traditionally prestressed-sleepers designed following AS 1085.14:2003 are not suitable for replacing sleepers in track due to their increased cross section and stiffer modulus. Austrak, in conjunction with Uniquest, has been conducting research and development to tackle this issue. As a result of this research, Austrak has developed the Timber Replacement Sleeper (TRS) using the Austrak Patented Rational Design Method. The Austrak Rational Design Process addresses the actual environment in which the structure will operate. Actual loads and loading conditions are applied to actual characteristics of the track structure and its environment.

The result is a pre-stressed concrete sleeper which has a profile comparable to a timber sleeper, reducing the need to change ballast depth or sub-base while keeping the same rail height. With a 50-year design life, the TRS increases track stability and eliminates loss of track gauge over time when compared to timber sleepers. The TRS adds mass to the track structure, can be placed alongside existing steel or timber sleepers, in a random or patterned configuration, improving stability and can be tamped in the same manner as timber sleepers.

Austrak TRS sleepers are in service throughout Australia with more than 1.5 million sleepers installed to date.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Surely nobody should be using timber sleepers for anything these days without a specifically good reason.
Timber sleepers require much smaller depth of ballast under them than concrete sleepers and are easier on the track bed and rolling stock and quieter than concrete sleepers. Concrete sleepers also require much stronger track equipment to be handled. In areas like NE Victoria one can expect a life of around 25 to 30 years. With forest control timber sleepers are also a sustainable resource. Concrete sleepers are great but they DO require a far greater initial expenditure than timber sleepers, if funds are available concrete sleepers are great, if though funds are very tight timber sleepers would be a path worth trying.

woodford
I agree with Woodford. If you look at the Bendigo to Swan Hill section, timber makes sense. It is also in a dryer climate, so lees problems with water rotting.
Duncs
Disagree Duncs.
There is more to timber sleeper degradation than water.
The timber these days is, simply, not a patch on what it used to be.
See my response to Woodford's post (above).

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