Future of the Belair Line

 
  Gayspie Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, SA
Hi Everyone.

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/federal-liberal-mp-nicolle-flint-wants-to-get-trucks-and-trains-out-of-the-hills-by-other-means-as-globelink-plans-abandoned/news-story/28d75dc4bea7ed52c0b334d3b33c6e27

As Steven Marshall has now cancelled the controversial Globelink project, which primarialy aimed to remove freight trains from the Adelaide Hills, it is probably worth discussing the future of the Belair passenger train line.

On one hand the Belair line has a few major things working against a successful service; the winding route topography slowing the journey time down, and the single track working limiting the frequency plus reliability of the services.

On the other hand the Belair line has a lot of Potential patronage generators for almost every station, which are listed as follows; Adelaide (CBD), Mile End (temple christian college / adelaide high school), Wayville (royal showgrounds / keswick terminal), Goodwood (unley pool), Millswood (Tabor college), Mitcham (shopping centre / civic centre), Torrens Park (scotch college), Lynton (bedford industries balyana), Coromandel (wittunga botanic gardens), Blackwood (shopping centre / bus interchange), Pinera (st johns grammar school / local bmx tracks), and Belair (national park).

Increasing the Belair line frequency to every 15 minutes each way all day every day from 6 AM to Midnight will work wonders in helping to create a reliable service that everyone can use to get everywhere along the line. The only thing that needs to happen is an extra passing loop needs to be added at the Belair railway station at the end of the line.

Lengthening the Millswood passing loop and lengthening the sleeps hill passing loop, where land is free and readily available, will also work wonders in reducing the time taken for trains needed to cross each other at these 2 locations. These things were actually what the then transadelaide originally wanted back in the late 1990's when AN decided to standardize the freight line.

Rebuilding the rather diplated stations of Torrens Park, Glenalta, and Pinera wouldnt be a bad idea either, since plenty of other stations around the network have had some much needed attention, but not these ones.

https://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/35338/sub089.pdf

What do you think?

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  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
You would also need to return the Quad from Showground to Goodwood, if possible and some of it looks $$$$, however if not done this could be the biggest road block to increase frequency alot.

Duplication of the BG 6km to Lynton doesn't appear to be a major drama with the stations the biggest ingress on the ROW for a 3rd track. This would then allow 15min or better frequency through the main part of suburbia where the train is likely competitive.

Potentially you could partly extend the duplication another 4 km Eden Hills while still leaving the tunnel single track which is also still on a reasonable alignment to the city. If the Duplication was to end at Eden Hills, consider relocating Eden Hills to the loop on Shepherds Hill Road where the loop is and there is plenty of room for a terminating station for terminating trains and double platform. This location close to the main road would also be more attractive to use for drop off's and parking and more centralised and easier for the population of Bellevue.

The higher frequency section to Lynton or Eden Hills would then justify sparking, however services beyond remain DMU on a 30min frequency and can be sped up a few minutes by operating near or non stop to the final station under the wires.


Looking at the topography beyond Eden Hills the cost of duplication would appear to rise and the ROW corridor and the alignment and likely patronage probably doesn't favor such capital outlay.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

As Steven Marshall has now cancelled the controversial Globelink project, which primarialy aimed to remove freight trains from the Adelaide Hills, it is probably worth discussing the future of the Belair passenger train line.

What do you think?
Gayspie
Every independent analysis of Globelink says it was never a realistic chance of happening.

No need to do anything to the Belair line until the present DEMU fleet approaches the point where a decision needs to be made between scrapping them or doing another life extension project like the one just completed.

The higher frequency section to Lynton or Eden Hills would then justify sparking, however services beyond remain DMU on a 30min frequency and can be sped up a few minutes by operating near or non stop to the final station under the wires.
RTT_Rules
This is a case where battery-electric multiple units would be ideal.

Other cases around Adelaide where they would be handy would include:
Gawler to Gawler Central.
Flinders Line south of Daws Road.
Grange Line west of the double lead junction.
Depot movements without wires on every piece of track.
All lines during disruption of some kind, allowing for services to make their way to a station where an orderly transfer of passengers to substitute buses could take place.

The best path forward for BEMU in Adelaide would be to lengthen the A-City sets to 4 cars by inserting a new build trailer car with batteries, and then look at a lower capacity option with high acceleration for closely spaced stations. A three car articulated BEMU (i.e. similar in length to about 2.5 conventionally coupled cars) such as Stadler FLIRT would be ideal for the remainder.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

Why not just electrify the Belair line having the ARTC track close by is no obstacle to electrify it and some tunnels could be dug down to allow a enough room for the electric overhead wire to be installed. Sleeps hill tunnel on the ARTC track was lowered so lowering the Adelaide Metro track should not pose a problem and the same could be done for the other tunnels on this track.

It has been said that ARTC does not want an electric overhead anywhere near its railway track whether true or false I don't know but in WA and possibly Queensland SG freight and passenger trains run under the overhead of these of these two states both of which use 25 Kva overhead with no problems so really what is the hold up. Dropping the floors of tunnels would need the Adelaide Metro line closed for a while though but it could be done and when the system finally get fully electric services if and when the Outer Harbour and Belair line get electrified diesel services will then only be needed in emergencies.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Passing loops should be replaced with passing lanes where full duplication is not possible. At least this way you have the option to not require a perfect choreographed pass every time at each loop.

Regardless late runners from the city always yield to on time city bound trains with a buffer at the terminus to help ensure the inbound is always on time unless the out bound is so late you are better off to simply cancel a late service.

The BEMU is a good option to reduce the cost of sparking complex issues such as tunnels and low bridges.

The ARTC don't want any new height restrictions on their existing corridors, hence no OH unless it can comply with Double stack clearances. The existing OH corridors in the Brisbane and Sydney have been tagged for eventual replacement, hence the SSFL project. Sydney south to Adelaide via Broken Hill and Melbourne won't take alot to make DS once the inland is complete.

I think if you can get a higher standard of service to say Eden Hills, I'd also most consider converting the line east of Eden Hills to SG and then run the Belair trains on SG with option to extend some services further east.
  82class Beginner

Yes but after conversation with Adelaide Metro head office the amount of money do gig the tunnels will be ridiculous due to the poor construction of the initial tunnels. So there will never be electrified Belair track.
  mawsonboii Junior Train Controller

Why not just electrify the Belair line having the ARTC track close by is no obstacle to electrify it and some tunnels could be dug down to allow a enough room for the electric overhead wire to be installed. Sleeps hill tunnel on the ARTC track was lowered so lowering the Adelaide Metro track should not pose a problem and the same could be done for the other tunnels on this track.

It has been said that ARTC does not want an electric overhead anywhere near its railway track whether true or false I don't know but in WA and possibly Queensland SG freight and passenger trains run under the overhead of these of these two states both of which use 25 Kva overhead with no problems so really what is the hold up. Dropping the floors of tunnels would need the Adelaide Metro line closed for a while though but it could be done and when the system finally get fully electric services if and when the Outer Harbour and Belair line get electrified diesel services will then only be needed in emergencies.
DJPeters
can't dig the tunnels down, they already flood.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

Why not just electrify the Belair line having the ARTC track close by is no obstacle to electrify it and some tunnels could be dug down to allow a enough room for the electric overhead wire to be installed. Sleeps hill tunnel on the ARTC track was lowered so lowering the Adelaide Metro track should not pose a problem and the same could be done for the other tunnels on this track.

It has been said that ARTC does not want an electric overhead anywhere near its railway track whether true or false I don't know but in WA and possibly Queensland SG freight and passenger trains run under the overhead of these of these two states both of which use 25 Kva overhead with no problems so really what is the hold up. Dropping the floors of tunnels would need the Adelaide Metro line closed for a while though but it could be done and when the system finally get fully electric services if and when the Outer Harbour and Belair line get electrified diesel services will then only be needed in emergencies.
can't dig the tunnels down, they already flood.
mawsonboii
With proper drainage and modern technology it might be possible to do it. But really that line itself is too close to other forms of transport that are a lot quicker though. Bus and car travel being a lot quicker than any train could ever been on that line single or double track as it winds around to gain height and thus the trip is a lot longer. Steamrangers train even got beaten to Belair years ago in a race between the train and the runners, the front runners were there at Belair a while before the train came in.
  Gayspie Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, SA
I dont really see why the belair line needs to be electrified anyway. We should be focusing on improving its service frequency, schedule reliability and station ameinities before anything else.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Service reliability is pretty good for Belair at the moment, above 90% on 9 out of the last 15 weeks and would probably have been above 90% on most of the other weeks if the calculation was to exclude services before/after major events (which on other systems would have had a special timetable). With the new engines it is quite common for Belair trains to be waiting for time at Blackwood or Mitcham.

The worst part of the Belair service is often the same thing that is the worst part of the Seaford service - waiting for a platform to become available at the Adelaide end. I had hoped that the threat of outsourcing the management of rail operations would have prompted management to smarten up on things, but it hasn't done so and Knoll will have to follow through on it.

Increasing the frequency of service to Belair is not going to happen without a huge spend on upgrading the infrastructure, which would have to include going either fully electric or discontinuous electric with BEMUs.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
I have not caught a train into Adelaide in probably two or three years now, but I always remember the wait at Adelaide for a platform ‘due to congestion’ and then the rain would pull in with no trains having exited. Always made me wonder if the ‘congestion’ wasn’t so much rail related, but instead due to congestion of controllers queuing at the office coffee machine and not getting back to the desk to push the button on time.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Possibly congestion in the coffee machine, if the controllers are as slovenly as some of the on-board staff.
  Gayspie Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, SA
Service reliability is pretty good for Belair at the moment, above 90% on 9 out of the last 15 weeks and would probably have been above 90% on most of the other weeks if the calculation was to exclude services before/after major events (which on other systems would have had a special timetable). With the new engines it is quite common for Belair trains to be waiting for time at Blackwood or Mitcham.

The worst part of the Belair service is often the same thing that is the worst part of the Seaford service - waiting for a platform to become available at the Adelaide end. I had hoped that the threat of outsourcing the management of rail operations would have prompted management to smarten up on things, but it hasn't done so and Knoll will have to follow through on it.

Increasing the frequency of service to Belair is not going to happen without a huge spend on upgrading the infrastructure, which would have to include going either fully electric or discontinuous electric with BEMUs.
justapassenger
The worst part of the Belair service is the higgeldy piggeldy timetable as a result of both short passing loops and poor schedule planning. Consistency and frequency is key when it comes to a potential passengers perception of a reliable public transport service.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Two trains an hour each way for the whole day plus peak extras doesn't seem too hard to work out. Maybe the locals up there are just smarter than you?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I dont really see why the belair line needs to be electrified anyway. We should be focusing on improving its service frequency, schedule reliability and station ameinities before anything else.
Gayspie
With progressive expansion of the electrification of rest of the network more DMU's will be available for services for the Belair line to cope with any growth until they are due for retirement in about 12 years or so.

However just because the outer parts of the Belair line is a S curve on steroids, this doesn't mean the rest is. Additionally the Goodwood junction was not done with the Belair line growth in mind leaving Belair with a convoluted single line junction that goes back to the showgrounds.

The so called extra time to get to Belair by train vs other forms of transport isn't exactly painful, we are only talking 10min or so, less to the stations further down the hill and the line is proving popular with increasing demand, not shrinking. Ask Wollongong commuters about what real curves look like!

This is how I see it going.

1) SA govt will focus on sparking the Gawler line and most likely the Port Adelaide line.

2) This will progressively release more DMU's to boost services on non-electrified routes and deal with an aging fleet and any forced retirements.

3) By 2030, crunch time for Belair line

4) The Southern Main to Good wood will be fully Quadded for suburban trains (I'm assuming the interstate remains, so 5 tracks)

5) The Belair line will be duplicated AND electrified to Lynton

6) The line beyond Lynton will be sparked most of the non-tunnel track with increased duplication with more and/or longer loops to aid higher frequency of services and more reliable.

7) The replacement trains will have on board battery technology to enable the trains to operate for medium distances with no OH, a bit like Newcastle trams.

Belair will receive a 2-tiered service operation with potentially standard sparks servicing as far as Lynton, thus allowing express services off the hills in peak to save time from the bends.

The same hybrid trains will also be used for "The Grange" line with OH provided at the stations only.


Overall this is likely as cheap as it gets for the state govt, providing a service while keeping the voters happy.

Should the interstate railway be relocated, then Belair returns to its old days as a dual track railway, still unlikely OH and services will be extended again back to Mount Barker after conversion of the line back to BG and limited OH installed to make Hybrid services practical.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Two trains an hour each way for the whole day plus peak extras doesn't seem too hard to work out. Maybe the locals up there are just smarter than you?
justapassenger
I was going to say the same thing; hasn't the Belair line in the last three or four years undergone upgrades to the service with half hourly (instead of hourly) trains after 7pm and all weekend? I distinctly recall they used to be hourly on Sundays - a real pain.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Two trains an hour each way for the whole day plus peak extras doesn't seem too hard to work out. Maybe the locals up there are just smarter than you?
I was going to say the same thing; hasn't the Belair line in the last three or four years undergone upgrades to the service with half hourly (instead of hourly) trains after 7pm and all weekend? I distinctly recall they used to be hourly on Sundays - a real pain.
don_dunstan
Two years ago.

Young Heath seems to be confused by the fact they are offset at 25/35 minute intervals rather than being clock face times.

To which I say: toughen up princess!
  dylan Train Controller

Location: South Australia
Thins is what I see happening (forgive my cynicism...)
for the next ten years, not much. Maybe the occasional slowing of timetables as the 3000s show their age. Remote possibility of Coromandel shelter getting anew coat of paint.

Sometime later, when trains take 3hrs to reach Adelaide from Blackwood due to speed restrictions, engine failures and various parts of the railcar falling off mid journey, no doubt in the lead up to a state election, the following press release appears...

“BELAIR RAIL RENEWAL PROJECT

Since the 1880s the Belair railway line has been a vital link in Adelaide’s public transport network, allowing thousands of working South Australians to travel in comfort and safety every year. However under the [insert previous government here] government program of [insert cheap political swipe here] the Belair railway line no longer meets the needs of our community. The [insert current government] is committed to revitalising this vital link in our transport network for future South Australians.”

(The last sentence is very important, it assures current South Australians they need not raise their expectations of something actually happening anytime soon)

Towards the end of the press release in the fine print it is stated the a consulting firm has been hiring to investigate and report upon the Belair Rail Renewal Project. Obviously their terms of reference are clearly defined to avoid their recommending something the government doesn’t want.

At this point the only thing actually achieved has been to design a nice logo for the whole thing, and to publish a nice glossy booklet featuring inoffensive photos of everyday South Australians catching trains to work.

Not long afterwards the election is held, the report is quietly shelved, the project lapses due to ‘unforeseen cost blowouts’ however voters are assured that an important nation building project like this will happen, but not right now in the current economic climate.

Then life continues much as before. Possibly a new shelter she’d built at Eden Hills.
  SAR520SMBH Junior Train Controller

Sounds like Globelink.
  mawsonboii Junior Train Controller

maybe replace the Belair line with an O-bahn style network?
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

maybe replace the Belair line with an O-bahn style network?
mawsonboii
O Bahn is obsolete now anyway as no one in Australia now makes specially made O Bahn buses anymore. Adelaide is the only place in Australia with O Bahn type buses. Mercedes the originators of the O Bahn system have even given it up as obsolete as well. Adelaide buses that run on the O Bahn here are specially modified at cost to keep it running. Probably might be better if it is turned into a roadway for buses only that are steered up the road rather than use O Bahn type of system, that way standard buses could be used.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

There are compatible guided busways all over the world now, but none of them are called O-Bahn due to the curious situation of the patents having expired but the Daimler AG trademarks on the name still being protected. Adelaide has actually now lost the record for the world's longest guided busway to the one in Cambridgeshire.

Regardless of the fact that the technology is healthier than it ever has been, I couldn't see the Belair line being replaced with a guided busway because it doesn't have the steep gradients and geotechnical issues of the Modbury route.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
maybe replace the Belair line with an O-bahn style network?
mawsonboii
Why bother?

According to Google
- Train travel time 35-37 min in off-peak
- Car 27 - 31 min at the same time

Or
- Car from Belair to Toren's Park 6 min
- Train from Toren's Park to City 18 min
Total = 24 min.

If the car journey's were a bus, it would be slower, is it really worth it?

I understand from Blackwood to Belair you have that big hook turn and double back for the train that is seen as time consuming and noncompetitive with road transport, but the travel time for rail vs private car is only 10 or so min longer which isn't too bad by any bench mark for the distance. Also noting the train then has to circle around Adelaide to get to Adelaide station.

As indicated above in the future they could very easily spark to Lynton, then enable "hill trains" to run limited express to the city from Lynton those saving a few more minutes.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
As the broad guage line is in the centre of the railway easement, there is plenty of room to the east to double track from south of Millswood to north of Grange Road Mitcham with gauntlet track through Unley Park, then construct a new loop at Sleeps Hill with an island platform with a terminating bay (like Glanville) to serve the surrounding suburb of Panorama which was but a glimmer in the developer's eyes when the original Sleeps Hill was closed, but has been fully developed for several decades now.   This could be electrified as suggested, or use battery-electric vehicles with fast charging stations which seem to work in Newcastle.

London Trams use a gauntlet track rather than a pair of switches where clearances dictate.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Just returned from rail travel in Italy and Switzerland to find this forum has deteriorated in my absence. LOL.

The Belair line presently has a quasi 15 minute service at peak times.
This came about because my proposal of running trains between Blackwood and Belair was adopted after I submitted it on these pages and to a certain politician.
The only impediment to 15 minute intervals was the section Blackwood to Belair because the out and back return time was longer than 15 minutes. The problem was solved by stacking trains, holding one at Blackwood and then running two though to Belair in quick succession. These trains can return at 15 minute intervals to cross the next stack at Blackwood.

One of the peak load stations on the line is Coromandel which collects passenger from all along the valley and as far as Clarendon.

As for the line, I have long advocated that it be converted to light rail connected to the Glenelg line using 600Vdc electrification.
No matter what happens there must be a tram/rail interchange at Goodwood so rail users can better access the southern end of the CBD.

Having just travelled on the Bernina Express through mountainous Switzerland I am more convinced than ever of the viability of my proposal for the Belair line. The BE runs on meter gauge with 1000Vdc electrification. It is capable of quite fast running but is also street compatible and can negotiate extreme grades and very tight curves.

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