Aurizon announces end of its Wilmar sugar contracts

 
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

Over the last week Aurizon has been removing its four VASO sets from storage at the Townsville Jetty, Garbutt and Ayr and placing them in "on the ground" storage at Stuart. I believe more than 110 of the 35-year old hoppers are now on the ground, their future is almost certainly a one way trip to Sims. Most of these wagons have been suffering from aluminium fatigue, so future use in traffic was probably going to be expensive and problematic.

In other news, QR is currently rebuilding the turning angle at Prosperpine from the ground up so PN's 120-tonne 83 class locos can be turned for the Prosperpine sugar runs.


The Home Hill angle will need some work too so locos on Inkerman trains can be turned. PN could do with some 2800s
Fatty
If ECP wagons are to be used, push-pull operations could be used as per NSW southern highlands stone trains. No turning required.

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  Fatty Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Over the last week Aurizon has been removing its four VASO sets from storage at the Townsville Jetty, Garbutt and Ayr and placing them in "on the ground" storage at Stuart. I believe more than 110 of the 35-year old hoppers are now on the ground, their future is almost certainly a one way trip to Sims. Most of these wagons have been suffering from aluminium fatigue, so future use in traffic was probably going to be expensive and problematic.

In other news, QR is currently rebuilding the turning angle at Prosperpine from the ground up so PN's 120-tonne 83 class locos can be turned for the Prosperpine sugar runs.


The Home Hill angle will need some work too so locos on Inkerman trains can be turned. PN could do with some 2800s
Fatty
If ECP wagons are to be used, push-pull operations could be used as per NSW southern highlands stone trains. No turning required.
"fzr560"


I don't see why you would use push pull operations if you've got a turning angle. Why does ECP braking make a difference?
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

Over the last week Aurizon has been removing its four VASO sets from storage at the Townsville Jetty, Garbutt and Ayr and placing them in "on the ground" storage at Stuart. I believe more than 110 of the 35-year old hoppers are now on the ground, their future is almost certainly a one way trip to Sims. Most of these wagons have been suffering from aluminium fatigue, so future use in traffic was probably going to be expensive and problematic.

In other news, QR is currently rebuilding the turning angle at Prosperpine from the ground up so PN's 120-tonne 83 class locos can be turned for the Prosperpine sugar runs.


The Home Hill angle will need some work too so locos on Inkerman trains can be turned. PN could do with some 2800s
If ECP wagons are to be used, push-pull operations could be used as per NSW southern highlands stone trains. No turning required.


I don't see why you would use push pull operations if you've got a turning angle. Why does ECP braking make a difference?
Fatty
ECP cabling allows wired distributed power. Driver walks to the other end, sets up and goes. Like an EMU, so the theory goes.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Apart from Inkerman and Proserpine, the mills have balloon loops. Push-pull makes some sense, but I think PN will find it cheaper to use the angles to turn at Home Hill and Proserpine rather than commit another $10-million worth of locomotives to the contract. Staff provided by Wilmar (I think) are already provided to assist in shunting and turning locomotives in the Burdekin.
  Fatty Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
ECP cabling allows wired distributed power. Driver walks to the other end, sets up and goes. Like an EMU, so the theory goes.
"fzr560"


I see. Distributed power wouldn't be required in this case so ECP would be unnecessary. One PN/8300 at a time would be plenty for a sugar consist. If you had a loco at each end one loco would be hauled dead or off-line and be fired up for the journey in the direction it was facing. Having said that, PN aren't going to do this in the Burdekin - they'll be short of motive power as it is.

Staff provided by Wilmar (I think) are already provided to assist in shunting and turning locomotives in the Burdekin.Staff provided by Wilmar (I think) are already provided to assist in shunting and turning locomotives in the Burdekin.


The last few seasons these staff were provided by Skilled and paid for by Aurizon. Not sure how PN will do it but as they are running these services with two crew I imagine they'll do the shunting themselves.
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

ECP cabling allows wired distributed power. Driver walks to the other end, sets up and goes. Like an EMU, so the theory goes.


I see. Distributed power wouldn't be required in this case so ECP would be unnecessary. One PN/8300 at a time would be plenty for a sugar consist. If you had a loco at each end one loco would be hauled dead or off-line and be fired up for the journey in the direction it was facing. Having said that, PN aren't going to do this in the Burdekin - they'll be short of motive power as it is.

Staff provided by Wilmar (I think) are already provided to assist in shunting and turning locomotives in the Burdekin.Staff provided by Wilmar (I think) are already provided to assist in shunting and turning locomotives in the Burdekin.


The last few seasons these staff were provided by Skilled and paid for by Aurizon. Not sure how PN will do it but as they are running these services with two crew I imagine they'll do the shunting themselves.
Fatty
If the wagons are ECP only(and this has been PN's preference in recent times), there will be no choice. As you say, dragging a dead unit around for half the time wouldn't be cost effective. Is there any scope for lengthening the consists?
  Fatty Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
If the wagons are ECP only(and this has been PN's preference in recent times), there will be no choice. As you say, dragging a dead unit around for half the time wouldn't be cost effective. Is there any scope for lengthening the consists?
"fzr560"


There's still a choice with ECP, it's not compulsory to have a unit online. Either way having two locos on a sugar consist isn't going to happen. Most mills have storage which is (roughly) equivalent to the capacity of a train consist so consist lengths could only be lengthened if the sugar mills increased their on site storage.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

ECP cabling allows wired distributed power. Driver walks to the other end, sets up and goes. Like an EMU, so the theory goes.


I see. Distributed power wouldn't be required in this case so ECP would be unnecessary. One PN/8300 at a time would be plenty for a sugar consist. If you had a loco at each end one loco would be hauled dead or off-line and be fired up for the journey in the direction it was facing. Having said that, PN aren't going to do this in the Burdekin - they'll be short of motive power as it is.

Staff provided by Wilmar (I think) are already provided to assist in shunting and turning locomotives in the Burdekin.Staff provided by Wilmar (I think) are already provided to assist in shunting and turning locomotives in the Burdekin.


The last few seasons these staff were provided by Skilled and paid for by Aurizon. Not sure how PN will do it but as they are running these services with two crew I imagine they'll do the shunting themselves.
If the wagons are ECP only(and this has been PN's preference in recent times), there will be no choice. As you say, dragging a dead unit around for half the time wouldn't be cost effective. Is there any scope for lengthening the consists?
fzr560

The consist sizes are set by the each mill's daily milling capacity and the size of each mill's loading bin, so consists probably couldn't be lengthened without very major changes at each mill. Aurizon (and I assume PN will do the same) ran trains twice daily to Kalamia, Pioneer, Inkerman and Proserpine, and three times a day to Invicta to suit the production rates of each mill. If fewer trains ran and loadout bins reached capacity before the train arrived, then the mill faces the many issues of having to shut down and then restart. In a way, the rail operation works like "a just in time" delivery system.
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

ECP cabling allows wired distributed power. Driver walks to the other end, sets up and goes. Like an EMU, so the theory goes.


I see. Distributed power wouldn't be required in this case so ECP would be unnecessary. One PN/8300 at a time would be plenty for a sugar consist. If you had a loco at each end one loco would be hauled dead or off-line and be fired up for the journey in the direction it was facing. Having said that, PN aren't going to do this in the Burdekin - they'll be short of motive power as it is.

Staff provided by Wilmar (I think) are already provided to assist in shunting and turning locomotives in the Burdekin.Staff provided by Wilmar (I think) are already provided to assist in shunting and turning locomotives in the Burdekin.


The last few seasons these staff were provided by Skilled and paid for by Aurizon. Not sure how PN will do it but as they are running these services with two crew I imagine they'll do the shunting themselves.
If the wagons are ECP only(and this has been PN's preference in recent times), there will be no choice. As you say, dragging a dead unit around for half the time wouldn't be cost effective. Is there any scope for lengthening the consists?

The consist sizes are set by the each mill's daily milling capacity and the size of each mill's loading bin, so consists probably couldn't be lengthened without very major changes at each mill. Aurizon (and I assume PN will do the same) ran trains twice daily to Kalamia, Pioneer, Inkerman and Proserpine, and three times a day to Invicta to suit the production rates of each mill. If fewer trains ran and loadout bins reached capacity before the train arrived, then the mill faces the many issues of having to shut down and then restart. In a way, the rail operation works like "a just in time" delivery system.
Sulla1
Thanks Sulla1. If PN under-bid the incumbent, you'd expect that they would find some efficiencies in the process somewhere. Increasing train size would seem the simplest way. From your post, it's obviously not that simple.

   As for the push-pull option, I mentioned previously, they wouldn't be hauling a dead unit half the time, they'd be hauling a dead unit, all the time. (Dumkopf!)
  Fatty Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
My sources tell me the PN sugar wagons are ECP braking.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

PN's 8327 worked 33 new RNWY container wagons south from Townsville today to Mackay to be fitted out with bulk sugar bins for the Proserpine traffic.

The last Aurizon VASO sugar hopper was trucked from Aurizon's Stuart yard to Sims at the Townsville Jetty yesterday, joining around 110 wheel-less brethren for scrapping. It can be officially stated now, that Aurizon is well and truly out of the sugar business.
  neillfarmer Train Controller

Sulla1 thanks for your updates on this subject. Do you know if these wagons had become a maintenance problem? Also are these the last Aluminium bodied hopper wagons in Australia?
Neill Farmer
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

The wagons have reportedly been life expired for around five years...steel patches had been welded the bodies to strengthen fatigued areas. Working only five months a year aided in stretching their lifespan. Up until the early 2000s the VASO sets were regularly dispatched to Central Queensland for grain duties over summer.

Not sure if these are the last aluminum bodied wagons in traffic, I'm pretty sure the V-series coal hoppers used in the West Moreton system are also still aluminium, the early 1990s built 90-tonne VSN hoppers marked QR's return to steel bodied hoppers.
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

If the wagons are ECP only(and this has been PN's preference in recent times), there will be no choice. As you say, dragging a dead unit around for half the time wouldn't be cost effective. Is there any scope for lengthening the consists?


There's still a choice with ECP, it's not compulsory to have a unit online. Either way having two locos on a sugar consist isn't going to happen. Most mills have storage which is (roughly) equivalent to the capacity of a train consist so consist lengths could only be lengthened if the sugar mills increased their on site storage.
Fatty
it'll be interesting to see what happens. I can't see the customer increasing their on-site storage to allow greater efficiency for their service provider.

As far as choice goes, I was referring. to the braking system, not whether one or both units were on-line. And yes, if there is no scope for increasing train size, distributed power is irrelevant.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

PN began operating sugar test trains May 9th, I believe two sets are running, each with a single 83 class and 20 RGWY hoppers.
  neillfarmer Train Controller

If the wagons are ECP only(and this has been PN's preference in recent times), there will be no choice. As you say, dragging a dead unit around for half the time wouldn't be cost effective. Is there any scope for lengthening the consists?


There's still a choice with ECP, it's not compulsory to have a unit online. Either way having two locos on a sugar consist isn't going to happen. Most mills have storage which is (roughly) equivalent to the capacity of a train consist so consist lengths could only be lengthened if the sugar mills increased their on site storage.
it'll be interesting to see what happens. I can't see the customer increasing their on-site storage to allow greater efficiency for their service provider.

As far as choice goes, I was referring. to the braking system, not whether one or both units were on-line. And yes, if there is no scope for increasing train size, distributed power is irrelevant.
fzr560
While anything is possible provided the $s stack up there are problems with adding more mill storage. The storage bins would need to be duplicated as there is a limit to the size an overhead bin can be built due to the poor flow characteristics of raw sugar. There was a bin collapse many years ago caused by sugar hanging up in the bin followed by an internal avalanche against the bin side. When loading trains operators need to take sugar evenly from the bins. I hope Wilmar-PN took the flow characteristics into account when buying the new rail hoppers. Very different to grain.
Neill Farmer
  M636C Minister for Railways

I hope Wilmar-PN took the flow characteristics into account when buying the new rail hoppers. Very different to grain.

Full tests were carried out using the first pair of cars before the remainder were built.
Photos of the tests were published in Railway Digest some months ago.
I recall seeing photos of the loading, but I guess they were unloaded and they were checked for appropriate flow rates....

Peter
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Sighted Wilmar's ex-MIM GH500 5803 (similar to the NSW 73 class in appearance but with a smaller 500hp primemover) at the Ayr exchange sidings on the Kalamia Branch today. This loco has been a long term resident at the Pioneer Mill, but has been too heavy for the mill's 1067mm gauge network and has only seen very occasional use. Word is it has been transferred to Kalamia to assist in PN's operating plans for the branch.
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

6j69 ran today between Home Hill and Partlington as 20 empties with 8329 in charge.
  Big J Assistant Commissioner

Location: In Paradise
Driving home last night, I saw a PN loco heading east Light Engine, along the Mackay Harbour. Unfortunately I couldn't see the individual number or confirm if it was a PN or a 83.

At least I do know that it shows that driver tuition is occurring, prior to the crush.
  Fatty Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
A new bin has been installed at Pioneer Mill for this season. I don't know how it compares in size to the old bin but I do know that it "won't have time to be tested" before the crush starts.

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