What does SSR intend to do with the Ps? I'm asking because I keep hearing that sub-3000HP locomotives are old hat, but every time PN or V/Line retire a T, P or H, they seem to get snapped up rather than sent to Sims.I can't speak for SSR's intentions when it comes to the Ps they just bought off V/Line, but based on past decisions they and other 'small players' have made (as well as the attitudes of V/Line and PacNat) I think I can make these points with confidence:
- V/Line's decision to flog off the Ps is pretty transparent: they were surplus to requirements once the need to run push-pull H sets for interurban services went away. Ns (and A66 ) are taking up the slack hauling consolidated H sets and VLocitys are doing a fair bit of that push-pull work too. The Ps still have some residual value so they could make money selling them to an operator instead of a scrap merchant.
- PacNat's decision to scrap those 'larger' locomotives (A/X/S) is partly because they have no immediate nor future value as BG motive power for them and partly because those locos would be still competitive for hauling mainline BG freight trains with another operator - particularly if one of those operators has a pretty comprehensive diesel loco workshop backing them up. This is further backed up by the sales caveats that were applied to X37 when it went to the Seymour Rail Heritage Centre (passenger service only, no commercial hire)
- Likewise, PacNat sold those Y/P/H class locos to Ettamogah because they had no value to mainline freight competitors. The days of 5+ T class lashups on freighters is coming to an end - ditto the Ps (although I don't think Ps were ever used in that way, thankfully). It's an unreliable setup and it chugs fuel like men in tinnies chug beers. Hs and Ys are even worse for mainline freight running as they're low-speed shunting locos. Ettamogah want(ed?) to use those locos for shunting and shortline-style 'road switching' operations. And you'll find that they still probably have similar 'non-compete' clauses in the sales contracts like X37 does.
- When the Greentrains/Coote Industrial leasing fleet was up for grabs, SSR grabbed it - because it was an open sale (no PacNat caveats) and they're happy to keep running old but still reasonably powerful locos on their lashups.
Why did SSR buy those Ps from V/Line? We won't really know until they start running them on revenue-earning trains. My guess is that it's got something to do with their 'departmental train' contracts (dead-hauling X'Traps, rail trains and so on). Head End Power can be useful for those sorts of jobs.
Thanks for that (although I would question just how much life PN's A- and 2nd Series X-class had left in them). SSR using their Ps on "departmental trains" makes sense - they already have three T-class, but maybe they want to free up B75, which sometimes does this task, too? As you say, time will tell.
I'm glad you brought up Ettamogah Rail Hub. I get that ERH is a rail siding and loading facility, but do they have a business on the side as a loco hire outfit, or something? They've done up P22 (now with SRHC), two H-class (used by 707 Ops), but the only loco they seem to use themselves is a Y-class (or two) for shunting container flats around.
When you say short-line "road switching" ops, does that refer to a service pulling one or a few wagons from local sidings and consolidating them into a rake at Ettamogah, to attach to a passing superfreighter? (and is this the same as a "hook and pull service"?) I'd heard that ERH had wanted to get into this side of things, but nothing much seems to have come of it. Maybe the plans fell through and they decided to hire out done-up Ps and Hs?????
And what's the deal with them buying three 3rd Series X-class? Even if the "switching" ops came about, wouldn't an X-class (or three) be overkill for the job?
Ettamogah Rail Hub: an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Can anyone enlighten?