Mount Barker train would be ‘huge win’ for business, local association says

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 27 Jul 2019 09:23
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Good comment. I suspect the B/C ratio would be miniscule!
The other crucial assumption being made is that the people commuting to Adelaide via the SE Freeway are largely destined for the city or locations adjacent to the line.
IMHO, this is highly unlikely; given the social demographic of Mt Barker, their destinations are far more likely to be scattered across the larger metro area, with probably a focus on the industrial and commercial areas in the suburbs S and SW of the city.
Andrewdr
Very good comment.

The people moving into the expanding parts of Mount Barker are not the typical hills commuters who live around Stirling etc, they are typically working/middle class people who have been priced out of the metro area.

New developments are springing up at Balhannah, Woodside etc with the same sort of residents.

It would be interesting to see the data if it exists, but I would expect that a good proportion of people riding the buses in from Mt Barker are then changing onto other buses after arriving in the city or at the bottom of the hill.

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  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
I cannot find an old Mt Barker train timetable so a few comparisons

So from this I'm guessing a Adelaide station, Goodwood station, Belair station then all to Mt Barker Station service would take 75 - 90min, which is not too bad …
You're looking at the outer end of that 75-90 minutes.

Attacking the approximation of the time from another direction:

ARTC Master Train Plan time (yes, the usual disclaimers about the MTP apply) for the Overland going non-stop from the passing loop at Mount Barker Junction to Keswick: 62 minutes.
Mount Barker to Mount Barker Junction: 5.2km of tight curves which would keep speeds down to ~45 km/h, probably about 8 minutes.
Keswick to Adelaide: 7-10 minutes, depending on how things go with junctions, network interfaces etc
Time lost at intermediate stops (Adelaide Showground, Belair, Mount Lofty, Bridgewater, Balhannah): 8-10 minutes
Total time: 85-90 minutes
Getting a train to 'Adelaide' in the 21st century and getting dropped off on the wrong side of North Terrace in borrowed parklands: priceless

So from this I'm guessing a Adelaide station, Goodwood station, Belair station then all to Mt Barker Station service would take 75 - 90min, which is not too bad and if the Belair line is popular, then maybe this would work if a few services a day.
- Morning peak direction,
- Midday up and back
- PM peak direction
Sat/Sun, return to City in AM and PM

1 x SG set with spare would do this easily.
Decent service pattern proposal, but thought would need to be given to how the reliability of the service would be maintained against ARTC's regular pattern of doing off-peak track maintenance somewhere along the route.

Running a micro-fleet of SG cars would also hit service reliability.

The hard part is the last 1.5km of DG trackage from the Y junction near Adelaide station through a number of points. Would it be worth it?
Not worth it for just a couple of trains a day. Initially terminating at Adelaide Showground might be the best available option to get an initial trial service up and running.

But it does present a good case for the gains to be made at a fraction of the cost by improving conditions for buses travelling along Glen Osmond Road. A 55 minute peak service (50 minute off-peak) should be the target, and you would get improvements for the local buses on Glen Osmond Road bundled in for good measure.

Each station currently out of service needs the full 21st century DAA package upgrade, plus likely 2 tracks being converted to DG into Adelaide station, that won't be done for less than a few million.
Stations:
New SG platform at Adelaide Showground (easier than upgrading Goodwood, better connections) if ARTC allows it
Upgrade at Belair – or at Blackwood instead for a more useful stop
Upgrade at Mount Lofty
New stations at Bridgewater and Balhannah if ARTC allow them
Upgrade or new platform at Mount Barker

If heritage listings cannot be retracted, expect the old station upgrades to go well past a million dollars each.

Other infrastructure:
Dual gauge into Adelaide, including link line at Mile End and signalling installations.
Rebuilt track from Mount Barker to Mount Barker Junction, including signalling installations, secure stabling facility, connection to ARTC network.
Stabling/maintenance facility at the Adelaide end.

Also, can suitable slots be made available by ARTC?
The Adelaide-Melbourne line is pretty sleepy these days, only 4-5 trains each way per day.

If the operator is willing to pay, they'll get the access. The tougher question is whether ARTC will allow all these new passenger stations on their network - unlike the Vic and NSW lines which they lease (with conditions) from the respective state governments, ARTC actually own this route and would have a far greater say.
justapassenger
Thanks for your feedback.

Ok, so lets look at it this way, lowest cost trial option.

Mt Barker Junction Station to Goodwood Station.

- Mt Barker Jnc needs SG and some upgrades. My understanding is Steam Ranger have all but given up on the section Mt Barker to the Jnct so a low cost conversion to SG and a set of points is "all" thats required. Bus connection through town.

The satellite photo shows an existing set of points in place to the platform, but then some sort of disconnection followed by 100m of track then a pile of dirt across the tracks. I'm guessing likely wrong that the points maybe SG? But the following track is BG?

- Stations between MB Jnc and Belair, what ever is still standing, next to a running line, available and practical, reopen. I havn't gone through a checked them all, but Mt Lofty and a few others still exist.

- Re Open Belair SG plat 2 (shares island with Belair line)

- Re Open Blackwood SG platform

- Re Open Goodwood Platform 4 and terminus. Reason I picked this was connections with southern and city lines and tram into city and has a platform. Showgrounds doesn't have a platform on the SG. Not sure why this is better than Goodwood?

Trains then stable at Parklands. I suspose you could offer Parklands as a stop option if GSR are ok with it?

For trains, you just need 3 x 3#00 class railways cars, one spare, two in service. The Australind has operated this way for 30 years, not perfect but a trial.

While all the above conditions are not ideal, it does minimise the costly track work required to the junction station only.

As for cost of station upgrades, only need to see what NSW Trains have done at a few stops on the western line to see how cheap it can be done.

If the trial was to demonstrate some level of interest, then look at extension into Mt Barker itself and returning some of the smaller town platfoms that have been removed and maybe a platform at Showgrounds. Extension into Adelaide station may never be viable on its own in the near term.

As for ARTC, 4-5 trains a day doesn't sound like a road block and a reason for ARTC to put up road blocks after all its revenue. Would need to look at the WTT to see traffic movements.

I'm sure Steam Ranger won't object to Junction branch being reclaimed for proper use and running a 3rd rail into their station and seeing regular train movements again return to their station. An overnight storage yard would not be a major issue either.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

The platform at Mt Barker Junction did have a SG rail on the track there only the length of the platform though as Blue Birds on SG have travelled to there and passengers alighted at the platform. However Mt Barker Junction is in the middle of no where really so it is not going to be a useful place. I think but am not sure that the station building has now been sold to a private owner as well as it was up for sale a while back it was reported. One other thing though is the track from Mt Barker Junction to Mt Barker itself has a few obstacles in the way of it. One is the Siding at Mt Barker junction is no longer accessable, the point is still there but locked out of service, the tunnel under the freeway might not be able to cater for a third rail to be laid either account of clearances on SG rails, the track itself needs a complete rebuild as that is why Steamranger no longer use this section, condition of the track is bad, the main thing is at Mt Barker, Steamranger installed the Turn Table in the section of track that leads to Mt Barker Junc so once at Mt Barker a large detour to get around the 85 ft tutntable in the line would be needed or simply build a new platform the side of the Mt Barker Junc track of the Turntable and use that. So it would not be a simple case to get a train from Adelaide to Mt Barker using the existing track.

One thing though to get a dual gauged track from Belair to Mt Barker Junction would entail renewing the concrete sleepers in this section of track as they are standard gauge only at the present time not dual gauged or even gauge convertable. Just how much that would cost is anyones guess today. Even if they are on gauge convertable sleepers which they might be you then have to get special fixings made to hold down two rails where before it was not possible. But you might have to relay this section with new sleepers anyway to allow both rails to be used as I don't think the current ones will allow both gauges to be laid and used, it is either BG or SG but not both at the same time. Now having dual gauged it the broad gauge track would have speed restrictions on it as even in AN days dual gauged track had some speed restrictions on the broad gauge side account of closeness of the flange on the wheels to the SG running rail.

A new rail line on a better alignment would be the better long term solution though.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Will it be competitive with other modes?

What will the patronage be?

How much will it cost?

Are you prepared to be pay more tax to achieve it?

I'm not seeing answers to any of these basic questions.

And then you have the gall to complain when politicians make loopy decisions all the time Laughing
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The idea of terminating at Goodwood is really pretty bad; kudos to Shane for trying but unless you live here you have no idea of how useless it really is being dumped off there; it really doesn't interchange with anything else other than more trains.

At some stage in the future SA will need to decide if it's worth having an interurban rail network here again for the first time since the late 1980's under AN. For it to have utility it will need to terminate the same place as all the other trains do @ Adelaide station otherwise it will be pointless.

The other observation I can make is that we might need to consider that the 19th century decision to have a stub terminus next to Parliament House has forever hobbled SA's ability to have a rail network that rivals the eastern capitals.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
The platform at Mt Barker Junction did have a SG rail on the track there only the length of the platform though as Blue Birds on SG have travelled to there and passengers alighted at the platform. However Mt Barker Junction is in the middle of no where really so it is not going to be a useful place. I think but am not sure that the station building has now been sold to a private owner as well as it was up for sale a while back it was reported. One other thing though is the track from Mt Barker Junction to Mt Barker itself has a few obstacles in the way of it. One is the Siding at Mt Barker junction is no longer accessable, the point is still there but locked out of service, the tunnel under the freeway might not be able to cater for a third rail to be laid either account of clearances on SG rails, the track itself needs a complete rebuild as that is why Steamranger no longer use this section, condition of the track is bad, the main thing is at Mt Barker, Steamranger installed the Turn Table in the section of track that leads to Mt Barker Junc so once at Mt Barker a large detour to get around the 85 ft tutntable in the line would be needed or simply build a new platform the side of the Mt Barker Junc track of the Turntable and use that. So it would not be a simple case to get a train from Adelaide to Mt Barker using the existing track.

One thing though to get a dual gauged track from Belair to Mt Barker Junction would entail renewing the concrete sleepers in this section of track as they are standard gauge only at the present time not dual gauged or even gauge convertable. Just how much that would cost is anyones guess today. Even if they are on gauge convertable sleepers which they might be you then have to get special fixings made to hold down two rails where before it was not possible. But you might have to relay this section with new sleepers anyway to allow both rails to be used as I don't think the current ones will allow both gauges to be laid and used, it is either BG or SG but not both at the same time. Now having dual gauged it the broad gauge track would have speed restrictions on it as even in AN days dual gauged track had some speed restrictions on the broad gauge side account of closeness of the flange on the wheels to the SG running rail.

A new rail line on a better alignment would be the better long term solution though.
DJPeters
Thanks for those comments

- If the points to the platform are SG, then just need to be upgraded and returned to service, cheaper than supplying new.

- Track to JNCT station already DG, same, just repair sleepers as required for trial.

- Mt Barker JNCT station is of similar distance as Gympie Nth to Gympie, if it works there....Also for a trial no one will pay for 5km of track that is the wrong gauge to be made serviceable. About 1/3 of the town is within 4km.

- I would not propose DG the line from Mt Barker JUNCT to Mt Barker. I think it would be fair to say SteamRanger have limited interest in this line. They operated it until it was no longer viable and would not be deemed useful for there future operations, especially as there is no mainline service to Mt Barker JUNCT station anymore. So the line would simply be surrendered or leased and converted to SG. Around 5km of SG steel sleepers will be needed. Assume the rail is reusable.

- The turntable to me is one of the biggest obstacles.  However not complex or expensive in-comparison to funding to upgrade and gauge convert 5km of line. Aquire some land from the neighbours and move it. Again you would only do this is a trial proved worthwhile.

- No way would you consider DG Belair to Mt Barker JUNCT, this would be a costly nightmare for little gain or return. Also you are now condemning the Mt Barker trains to the congested Belair line timetable.

- No one will pay for a new alignment for freight trains, it certainly won't happen for a low frequency service to Mt Barker.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
1. Will it be competitive with other modes?

2. What will the patronage be?

3. How much will it cost?

4. Are you prepared to be pay more tax to achieve it?

5. I'm not seeing answers to any of these basic questions.

6. And then you have the gall to complain when politicians make loopy decisions all the time Laughing
bingley hall
1. I think you will find nearly all interurban trains fail to compete with road

2. Low, like Gympie Nth services, Hunter Valley Services and many Victorian services and probably not alot less than Australind or Avon Link.

3. Money, but yes its a valid point

4. See 1. and 2.

5. You posted this Q in the same post as you asked the questions, give us time.

6. Pollies have done alot worse.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
The idea of terminating at Goodwood is really pretty bad; kudos to Shane for trying but unless you live here you have no idea of how useless it really is being dumped off there; it really doesn't interchange with anything else other than more trains.

At some stage in the future SA will need to decide if it's worth having an interurban rail network here again for the first time since the late 1980's under AN. For it to have utility it will need to terminate the same place as all the other trains do @ Adelaide station otherwise it will be pointless.

The other observation I can make is that we might need to consider that the 19th century decision to have a stub terminus next to Parliament House has forever hobbled SA's ability to have a rail network that rivals the eastern capitals.
don_dunstan
Agree, its just the only station with a connection to the BG and by chance the tram that has a platform on the SG. Transfer station, nothing else for trial. Running DG into Adelaide station isn't going to happen without sufficient data to support the numbers.

Yes, agree on the placement of Adelaide station. I'm not sure if and when Adelaide will ever have the money or how much they can convince the feds (I'd rather see this funded as part of a "lets upgrade commuter rail than build a HSR"), but there needs to be a two track tunnel from Adelaide station south through the city connecting at or around Goodwood with a new station at Victoria Sq and another on south end of city. Obviously this 4.5km tunnel with two stations and a newly placed Goodwood station competes directly with the tram and ideally the tram line could have been used south of the city. However it won't happen anytime soon and discussion for another day.
  tom9876543 Train Controller

Bridgewater Express Route Proposal
-----------------------------------------------------

OK the SA government probably doesn't have enough $$$$. I am dreaming.
However this is a relatively cheap way to reduce train travel times by 21 minutes between Bridgewater and Adelaide station.

Starting at Bridgewater towards Adelaide - ease the curves to Heathfield.
Then 900m tunnel (under Heathfield Netball club) and follow the Sturt River at 1/40 gradient.
At one point rail line will cross river - bridge approx 300m long.
Line goes through northern part of Blackwood Forest Recreation Park, altitude of 240m.
Then long bridge (approx 700m) across Minno Creek.
Then rejoin existing line at Coromandel (altitude approx 240m).

This express route can have track speed of 115km/h, so overall average speed is 100km/h.

Existing line
Coromandel 17.2km from Adelaide
Bridgewater 37.6 kilometres from Adelaide
20.4km at 40km/h = 30.6 minutes

Express line
14.9km at 100km/h = 9 minutes

Saving 21.6 minutes

Quoting from another Railpage thread:
Back in 1979, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I was a regular train traveller - Heathfield to Mitcham or Adelaide. Back then, 218 would do the trip from Bridgewater to Adelaide in 58 minutes (all to Eden Hills, then Mitcham and Adelaide).


The new Express Route would allow trains to go Bridgewater - Adelaide in 37 minutes.
Car trip is 21 minutes, but then you have to pay for parking in CBD.
I guess 37 minutes would be quick enough to convince commuters to park car at Bridgewater station at take the express train.
Real Estate values will shoot up in Bridgewater area if the express line was built.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Interesting proposal. Note if you do something to benefit freight you may get some funding from the feds, however I doubt the SA govt could justify spending this money to support a service operating only a few times a day and not heavily patronised.

I wouldn't hold my breath on real estate prices "shooting up", its not like the 22km commute from Bridgewater is such a drama, that would have to be one of the best in the country.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Looked at the actual numbers with a mate who lives in Mt Barker and drives to his office on North Terrace.

Based on the around town price of fuel today he/we estimate it costs him about $6.50 per day.

At $3.77 each way for a mertocard fare right there the idea for a user is economically dead. Factor in the increased taxes and increased government charged fees to cover the subsidy and the idea is buried.

Factor in time, still needing to drive to and from the station, and worst, the wait if you miss your train either way by a couple of minutes and now we’re going to have to exhume the corpse of the idea, cremate it and scatter the result far and wide such that it will never be considered again.

No one who lives in Mt Barker and doesn’t work in the city is going to use it. Very few of those living in Mt Barker and working in the city (and as pointed out there likely are not actually that many of them) are ever going to use it.

This is just the typical ‘Twains should run everywhere!’ statement that comes from some group with zero influence or credibility having a nerdgasm without first learning to drive their calculators.
  DrJames Junior Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, SA
Looked at the actual numbers with a mate who lives in Mt Barker and drives to his office on North Terrace.

Based on the around town price of fuel today he/we estimate it costs him about $6.50 per day.

At $3.77 each way for a metrocard fare right there the idea for a user is economically dead. Factor in the increased taxes and increased government charged fees to cover the subsidy and the idea is buried.

Factor in time, still needing to drive to and from the station, and worst, the wait if you miss your train either way by a couple of minutes and now we’re going to have to exhume the corpse of the idea, cremate it and scatter the result far and wide such that it will never be considered again.

No one who lives in Mt Barker and doesn’t work in the city is going to use it. Very few of those living in Mt Barker and working in the city (and as pointed out there likely are not actually that many of them) are ever going to use it.

This is just the typical ‘Twains should run everywhere!’ statement that comes from some group with zero influence or credibility having a nerdgasm without first learning to drive their calculators.
Aaron

$6.50 per day seems remarkably low if that's factoring in parking as well...

However I agree with your overall sentiment because the most pertinent statement is this: "No one who lives in Mt Barker and doesn’t work in the city is going to use it".  If the service isn't getting people where they need to go, coming up with novel ideas to shave minutes off the journey or how to run SG into ARS is just putting the cart before the horse.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
We don’t pay for parking.
  potatoinmymouth Chief Commissioner

We don’t pay for parking.
Aaron
We don’t? Or he doesn’t? Just not sure what you mean otherwise.

Unfortunately I tend to agree with analysis above by JAP et al: interstate experience pretty conclusively shows that if you want people to use a service over these kinds of distances you need to be remotely competitive on travel time with the car in peak hour. But here you’re not even close.

I’m not so sure ticket price is a big deal – a commute over similar distance in Melbourne would be $4.40 for a single, which doesn’t seem to deter people.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

One problem you all forget though the existing railway line is still on the 1887 road bed in the majority of places in the hills thus curves are tight and grades steep it was never built for modern day rail speeds, well more so than modern day lines would be now. But the track winds and weaves it's way around the hills to gain height thus you can almost pass the same place twice just going up the hill in the train. Meanwhile Joe Bloggs in his car has driven straight up the hill to get where he wants to go. So while you take half and hour twisting around the hill, the car takes 15 minutes to do the trip to the same place and it is a little faster going the opposite way down towards Adelaide but the car will still beat the train. And with the South Eastern Freeway the trip to Mt Barker takes even less time than before because it goes almost direct to Mt Barker and you can do it easily at the speed limit and beat any train to there. The time is about 50 mins during rush hour by car from Adelaide and the train having to go a bit further would take longer still.

Once it is known the train takes longer then one would assume that commuters would then drive. If you know your way around the hills though you could get a slightly faster time by using the old main roads in places to avoid the traffic jams at busy times. The major hold up once you get to Glen Osmond is traffic lights between there and the city, you might be lucky and get a good run or you could have to stop at every traffic light, but again if you figure out a way to get away from the main roads which everyone else uses you might be able to speed up that part of the journey not by much but a bit at least.

Road drivers today seem loath to get off main roads and detour around congested places using other roads, everyone would sooner sit bumper to bumper waiting, a wise person would use that time in heavy traffic to use other roads nearby and get past a lot of the congestion, but these days no seems to do that, so they sit and lose patience in a traffic jam.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I think a much better option would be to connect the former Morgan SA railway with what used to be the Morkalla VIC line through to a destination maybe Gawler to Dry Creek on standard gauge. I know it probably wouldn't save much time but it would appease the Adelaide Hills complainers about the current alignment most of which is actually going Melbourne-Perth or Perth Melbourne.

It could have the advantage of abandoning the current ARTC alignment Belair-Ararat that's partially redundant so it's available for other purposes (if any), servicing the Sunraysia and the Riverland with a frequent-ish rail freight option etc.

Pie-in-the-sky stuff I know but I think the very cheapest option for an Adelaide-Hills freight by-pass available, Marshall's Globelink thing demands heaps of greenfields railway alignment through some still rather hilly parts of South Australia whereas my idea at least follows lots of lost railway alignments and connects some major standard gauge freight centres.
don_dunstan
I would like to see your costings !

Your talking about a lot of rebuilding of old branch lines, greenfield railway building (NIMBY farmers) and Issues like the Ballarat - Red Cliffs line being a lower mainline standard than to likes of the Ararat - Tailem Bend line.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I would like to see your costings !

Your talking about a lot of rebuilding of old branch lines, greenfield railway building (NIMBY farmers) and Issues like the Ballarat - Red Cliffs line being a lower mainline standard than to likes of the Ararat - Tailem Bend line.
Nightfire
I've got no idea what that would cost, as I said at the start I'm just putting that out there as an alternative to Steve Marshall's impossibly expensive GlobeLink plan and the other idea floated a while ago to connect Mildura with Broken Hill as an Adelaide Hills freight bypass.

I went to the Riverland earlier this year and there were B-doubles everywhere - there must be some un-met demand there for bulk haulage?
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I've got no idea what that would cost, as I said at the start I'm just putting that out there as an alternative to Steve Marshall's impossibly expensive GlobeLink plan and the other idea floated a while ago to connect Mildura with Broken Hill as an Adelaide Hills freight bypass.

I went to the Riverland earlier this year and there were B-doubles everywhere - there must be some un-met demand there for bulk haulage?
don_dunstan
The B-doubles everywhere through the Riverland, Is because of this nice speedy Motorway link (from Port Adelaide) they have built for the A20 Sturt Highway to link the Rverland and Mildura, Wagga Wagga, Sydney, etc.

Rail links to this region (mostly South of the Murray) had to tread through the Adelaide Hills (all rail lines have died now)  

Perhaps a railway link needs to be built parallel to the A20 highway corridor, similar to your proposal (but It would have to be part of a grand scheme)
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
If we are going to compare the fuel bill of running a car vs a train ticket, let's close all the networks now as they will never stack up.

Likewise the cost of running the service for the govt.

As for times if you miss the train. Obviously we need to check the time tables of most of the commuter IU lines anywhere in Australia. Even the Qld GC line I'd you miss your train you will be late for work if you catch the next one.  I personally commuted from Gosford in the past and if I missed my train I was late even with the next one just 15 to 20 min behind.

Competition with road on time. Gympie North, Wollongong, Blue Mountains and Belair spring to mind. But yes the route is short compared to some and the same very freeway killed the railway in the past.

If it will used, it deserves a chance. If not then no.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The B-doubles everywhere through the Riverland, Is because of this nice speedy Motorway link (from Port Adelaide) they have built for the A20 Sturt Highway to link the Rverland and Mildura, Wagga Wagga, Sydney, etc.

Rail links to this region (mostly South of the Murray) had to tread through the Adelaide Hills (all rail lines have died now)  

Perhaps a railway link needs to be built parallel to the A20 highway corridor, similar to your proposal (but It would have to be part of a grand scheme)
Nightfire
The opportunity was probably missed when the old SAR ran the Riverland connecting freight routes via the Adelaide Hills instead of through Morgan connecting eventually to Gawler, which would have been a much better option. Doesn't mean to say it can't be fixed in the future but the cost (presently) is quite prohibitive.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Potatoinmymouth, our office has parking provided. We, that is he, me and the others do not pay for parking.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Aaron, how available is free parking in Adelaide?
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
The opportunity was probably missed when the old SAR ran the Riverland connecting freight routes via the Adelaide Hills instead of through Morgan connecting eventually to Gawler, which would have been a much better option. Doesn't mean to say it can't be fixed in the future but the cost (presently) is quite prohibitive.
don_dunstan
Political Influence would of been at play here, some figures deep down In the Government (or Adelaide Government) bureaucracy would of Insisted that all goods freight from the Riverland / South East go through Mile End Goods Yard and on to Port Adelaide.

Had the flow of goods been aloud to go via the Mid North (Gawler) other ports on the Spencer Gulf could of been In the running to handle goods from the Riverland (threatening Adelaide's trade status)  

It's the same with South East Queensland, railways from the Darling Downs had to go via Ipswich and Brisbane, so ports up the East coast could't secure goods trade from the Darling Downs.

Also In NSW to a degree, goods from the West (Dubbo) was prevented from going to say port of Newcastle because the railways headed to Sydney over the Blue Mountains (Political Influence from Sydney was hell bent against the construction of the Sandy Hollow to Maryvale railway, that would give Newcastle the edge over Sydney)    

Things have changed significantly In the logistics world since those times, but old time bureaucratic thinking can still linger.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
Travel from Mount Barker to the city is hampered by a narrow Glen Osmond Road with businesses both sides for a considerable part of the distance.   The costs of widening the road to provide bus lanes would be enormous but probably cheaper than the rail option upgrading the existing railway.
  Gayspie Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, SA
This is how i think a rail service to Mount Barker should be organized and operated.

Organization:

1) Old track is upgraded to a 60 KPH average speed standard from Mount Barker Junction to Mount Barker using standard gauge.
2) Existing turnout points are refurbished at the Mount Barker Junction.
3) Mount Lofty, Aldgate, Balhannah, and Mount Barker stations in this hills are upgraded to a minimal safe standard.
4) Belair, Coromandel, Goodwood, and Parklands terminal stations in the suburbs are upgraded to a minimal safe standard.
5) A 2 car 3000 class set is converted to standard gauge and is fitted with toilets and vending machines.
6) A small stabling and maintenance yard is built in or near the steam-ranger complex.

Operation:

1) 5 return trips are to operate every weekday to cater for both commuters and tourists.
2) 2 return trips are to operate every weekend day to cater for tourists.
3) Inbound Train departs Mount Barker at 7 15 AM, 10 15 AM, 1 15 PM, 4 15 PM and 7 15 PM then arrives Parklands at 8 25 AM, 11 25 AM, 2 25 PM, 5 25 PM, and 8 25 PM.
4) Outbound Train departs Parklands at 8 35 AM, 11 35 AM, 2 35 PM, 5 35 PM and 8 35 PM, then arrives Mount Barker at 9 45 AM, 12 45 PM, 3 45 PM, 6 45 PM, and 9 45 PM.
5) Train is to depart mount barker (for tourists and town commuters), stop at balhannah (for hills commuters), aldgate (for hills commuters), mount lofty (for hills commuters), belair (for bushwalkers), coromandel (for bus connections to flinders uni and Marion), Goodwood (for train and tram connections to the city and glenelg), and arrive at parklands (for richmond road office workers).
6) Connections with steam ranger at Mount barker for onward trips to Strathalbyn, Goolwa, Port Elliot, and Victor harbor are to be developed for the premium traveler market.

What do you think?

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