The Future for Heritage trains visiting Ballarat

 
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
The Ballarat line.

-    The recent consistent rise in patronage is resulting in increased service frequencies.
-    Upcoming upgrades to infrastructure are only providing capacity for more increases in service frequencies to match the aforementioned consistent rise in patronage
-    The line via Geelong is to be standardised
-    The lines North of Ballarat are being standardised
-    Ballarat East Turntable has been booked out for years, this isn't likely to change any time soon, so there is nowhere to turn a steam locomotive

So with all of the above in play, and despite the fact that Ballarat is one of Victoria's more significant Railway towns, it seems likely that in the not too distant future, Ballarat will not be a viable option for Heritage tours for organisations like Steamrail.

I mean consider this:
This year saw Ballarat feature more predominantly than usually in Steamrail's calender.

1st was the Steam Spectacular which ran 3 steam locomotives.
2nd was the annual Ballarat Heritage weekend shuttles and related transfer trips between Newport and Ballarat.
3rd was the Farewell to Broadway Wycheproof trip.

None of the above trips will work once the currently funded works are complete and the line via Geelong is SG only, and the line via Bacchus Marsh is seeing a train every 30 minutes.

-     There will not be any available paths during the day
-    There will be nowhere to run to once you get there (no option to run shuttles, no further destination along BG track with enough capacity)
-     There will not be anyway to turn a steam locomotive

So what do you all think? Please tell me I have it horribly wrong.

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  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Very difficult, but not impossible. Push-pull shuttles between Ballarat and out past Wendouree would just about be the only possibility, with transfer from/to Melbourne at night. If dual gauge is retained to Maryborough, then there's another option.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Provided we can get an understanding between the steam groups and PTV about the reliable operation of steam trains ascending Ingliston Bank...and not the fiasco we had a few months ago with clinkered loco's stalling along the route, there should be no reason why heritage trains cannot work in with scheduled passenger trains.

This may include better training for the steam loco drivers.

The heritage trains usually operate on weekends when the V/Line timetable doesn't operate as many services as during the week, consequently scheduling for an imaginative train scheduler and special timetable planner shouldn't be a problem.

Mike.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: no longer in Sydney
Assuming that continued access to the TT at Ballarat East would be possible, roughly how much would it cost for it to be made serviceable again?
  Dangersdan707 Train Controller

Location: On a Thing with Internet
is there a triangle in Ballarat?
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

No triangle exists at Ballarat.  Although a very large triangle would exist if they resurrected Maryborough to Castlemaine and kept it BG. Castlemaine has a 70ft timetable.

And the chance of that happening? Buckley's.
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Provided we can get an understanding between the steam groups and PTV about the reliable operation of steam trains ascending Ingliston Bank...and not the fiasco we had a few months ago with clinkered loco's stalling along the route, there should be no reason why heritage trains cannot work in with scheduled passenger trains.

This may include better training for the steam loco drivers.
"The Vinelander"

I don't think it's better training; rather it's practice. In the halcyon days of steam, blokes came up through the ranks and had heaps of practice every day at work. With no disrespect at all to the current crews, they just can't possibly get that amount of practice. Somebody with access to the figures could tell us how many steam movements there were this year; how many qualified firemen and drivers we have; and one could pretty soon see the average amount of work each bloke gets. It would be pretty small compared with the days of old.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

The other important factor is the mismatch in speed between regular Ballarat line services and heritage steam on this line (160 km/h vs 80 km/h).  The only way to narrow that gap is to have only steel carriages behind an R-class that's fitted with TPWS (no plans for that AFAIK) and a light load up Ingliston.  And then it's tender only at 50 km/h back home due to no accessible turntable.  Not very profitable really.

The lack of TPWS equipment has been an issue with the Bendigo line too for heritage ops.  i.e. A just over 2 hour trip one way becomes a 3-4 hour slog.
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
What would be required to return Ballarat East turntable to serviceable condition?

Is this realistically acheivable?
  HardWorkingMan Chief Commissioner

Location: Echuca
Unfortunately Broad Gauge main line steam seems too be suffering a lingering death due to a shrinking number of destinations (caused by to gauge and pathing issues) at a time it appears (from the outside at least) to be increasing in populartity.

Echuca, like Ballarat, is seeing more heritage trains as they can be a day trip and will attract the public.  The number of available destinations has been reduced by 'line improvements', increasing demand for regular services and the bigger speed differential (in the old days it was only a 20mph(32kmh) difference now it's 80kmh or 50mph).  With more lines being converted to Standard Gauge I can see the time coming when the steam traffic will be handled by gauge converted R and J classes with the rest being used on suburban shuttles.

As a sideline one thing I have noticed is the different makeup of passengers arriving at Echuca depending on where the train started.  Those that start at Castlemaine and come through Bendigo tend to be mainly railfans. Those leaving Melbourne tend to have more general public which gives a wider revenue base for the organiser.  Has someone noticed anything similar around Ballarat?  

With the new steam facilities being built at Castlemaine will a time come when trains are diesel-hauled to a country depot then the steam loco take over?  With the organisations being given long term notice to vacate Newport does Ballart East become a viable alternative?  This would put steam depots at Seymour, Castlemaine and Ballarat East which only leaves the Gippsland side uncovered (Ballarat East may be able to cover the Geelong and beyond).  Of course this means duplicating maintenance facilities but each group would only need one major restoration/major overhaul site (or they could establish one site and share it)
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Trapped in a meeting with Rhonda and Karsten
With the new steam facilities being built at Castlemaine will a time come when trains are diesel-hauled to a country depot then the steam loco take over?  With the organisations being given long term notice to vacate Newport does Ballarat East become a viable alternative?  This would put steam depots at Seymour, Castlemaine and Ballarat East which only leaves the Gippsland side uncovered (Ballarat East may be able to cover the Geelong and beyond).  Of course this means duplicating maintenance facilities but each group would only need one major restoration/major overhaul site (or they could establish one site and share it)
HardWorkingMan
Ballarat East doesn't have much room at all these days now that the Bombardier maintenance depot has been built on the site. If it was cleared out then you could maybe store a train there overnight but the remaining non-Bombardier area (the goods shed and turntable) is pretty small and has a fiddly layout. There's definitely no room for both heritage train stabling and steam loco /carriage maintenance facilities.

Gippsland already has a steam depot of sorts: the Traralgon Loco roundhouse, which has been partially re-occupied by the Locomotive Restoration Group (aka the N class replica/Frankenloco mob). It's not large, but it's there.

There's no easy solution on the radar to 'The Newport Problem'. Seymour Loco is the only other mainline depot with anything approaching the room and facilities of Newport West Block and SRHC would be hard-pressed to accommodate any other mainline group on site other than DERMPAV. Ditto Castlemaine, even after the VGR's proposed yard redevelopment.
  trainbrain Deputy Commissioner

I attended the AGM of the YVR, they have substantial plans as part of stage 2 development with increased storage capacity at Healesville and Tarrawarra to cater for R and A2 class locos.  The platform at Tarrawarra will become an island platform with carriage facilities on the Yarra River side of the station..........  They also have plans to install a turntable at Yarra Glen room enough to turn the larger locos.............  Maybe these sort of facilities are the future of what will be left of the Broad Guage Heritage trains..............
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Assuming that continued access to the TT at Ballarat East would be possible, roughly how much would it cost for it to be made serviceable again?
mikesyd

The Turntable is still in place and maybe in need of maintenance so it will still be possible to turn a loco at Ballarat, but with the removal of the Ballarat Yard area hopefully some parking roads will be made available at the station which to me would be a bigger issue?
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
I'm still waiting for confirmation of the actual issues surrounding access to the turntable at Ballarat East.

When was the last locomotive turned on it?

What body is responsible for denying access to it now?

Why is access currently denied?

What would it take to get it spinning a loco again?

Not a vague guess by somebody who thinks they know. I'm after facts. If anybody out there is able to divulge those facts that is.
  trainbrain Deputy Commissioner

I'm still waiting for confirmation of the actual issues surrounding access to the turntable at Ballarat East.

When was the last locomotive turned on it?

What body is responsible for denying access to it now?

Why is access currently denied?

What would it take to get it spinning a loco again?

Not a vague guess by somebody who thinks they know. I'm after facts. If anybody out there is able to divulge those facts that is.
Gman_86
Victrack...............end of problem and queries
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Victrack...............end of problem and queries
trainbrain
Bashing Victrack is pretty cheap and easy but in fact as someone involved in a Heritage railway they do a lot of good work helping out heritage groups around the place.

Victrack is a government department whose job it is to maximise revenue from it's 2 major business avenues, Comms and Access. As taxpayers we should expect nothing less. It owes nothing at all to the heritage railway sector however it continues to help out many groups.

At the VGR recently we had the Goods Shed completely restored (at an eye watering cost) from the Victrack heritage fund, the Castlemaine signal box painted and outside walkway renovated (the first time around the VGR had to do this work, now Victrack have taken it upon themselves to look after it) and Victrack engages with the railway regularly about various access and property issues (think about the current yard works going on at Castlemaine close to the Bendigo rail corridor)

These people are professionals and you have to deal with them on a professional basis but if you do they are at the very least prepared to hear you out and at their very best will help you out considerably.

Through my contacts I have a little insight into some of the decisions made by Victrack and I can tell you that if there are operational or real estate requirements for a site on an ongoing basis you will not get very far. Think of the recent Victrack decision not to re-lease Malmsbury Station. I don't know if this applies in the case of Ballarat or not but from my understanding Victrack would not just be obstinate for the sake of it.

BG
  Matthew Junior Train Controller

Bashing Victrack is pretty cheap and easy but in fact as someone involved in a Heritage railway they do a lot of good work helping out heritage groups around the place.

Victrack is a government department whose job it is to maximise revenue from it's 2 major business avenues, Comms and Access. As taxpayers we should expect nothing less. It owes nothing at all to the heritage railway sector however it continues to help out many groups.
BrentonGolding

Couldn't put it better. I've had dealings with Victrack, PTC and TfNSW in the course of my heritage work. Pretty universally the people in those organisations want to help.
But it's not their job to put government resources into your pet heritage projects, it's their job to run a transport concern in the best possible manner for the state.
And certainly, in NSW, they have the spectre of ICAC watching over them to ensure that everything is fit and proper and above board. As much as the individual may be sympathetic to the cause and want to help, due process MUST be followed, and if analysis shows it isn't a good deal for the taxpayer, it ain't going to happen.

I know public servant bashing is a popular pastime, but if you and your boss end up in front of a public tribunal to explain your actions, that's more than just terminal for your career. This causes a certain dogged adherence to process and rules.

Private industry just hides the skeletons in closets.
I work for a quasi-government organisation so we get the worst of both worlds.

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