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