6 Grain line upgrades

 
  MEASWELL Locomotive Driver

Location: werribee/tullamarine
in the Age this morning


43m to upgrade rail freight lines

THE Victorian Government has moved to ease the crisis in the state's rail freight system with a $43 million package to upgrade key lines.

The Government will improve the speed limits on six grain lines that the Fischer rail freight review recommended be upgraded to "gold" standard as a priority.

These lines, which form a core grain network, are Korong Vale-Quambatook, Korong Vale-Charlton, Murtoa-Warracknabeal, Shepparton-Tocumwal, Swan Hill-Piangil, and Mildura-Yelta.

A Government spokesman said work was expected to start in July to get as much done as possible before the winter harvest.

The $42.7 million package consists of $23.7 million to be spent on the first stage of the six gold lines upgrades and $19 million on general maintenance across the freight network.

Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky said the Government was committed to transporting freight by rail.

The Victorian Farmers Federation welcomed the package. "Farmers will be pleased with the response we have received from the Victorian Government," said VFF president Simon Ramsay.

Ms Kosky said gold lines between Dunolly-Korong Vale and Echuca-Barnes had already been upgraded. The Fischer report recommended the gold line between Maroona and Portland for rehabilitation in 2010-11.

The rail freight review, chaired by former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, recommended a prioritised upgrading of the Victorian network, from platinum to gold, silver and bronze quality.

It estimated the total investment package would cost $140 million, plus an ongoing $25 million for annual maintenance beyond 2011.

Meanwhile, Boinka graingrower Ian Brown has called on the Government to upgrade and standardise the line from Ouyen to the South Australian border. The Fischer review classed this line as silver.

Mr Brown said the line, which was vital for the local grains industry, had been closed last year because it was deemed unsafe.

It would cost about $10 million to upgrade and standardise, which would enable it to link in with the standardised line in SA at Pinnaroo. "If we have a big harvest this year, we will be in real trouble without rail," he said.

Meanwhile, expressions of interest to buy Mildura's Wakefield Transport Group close tomorrow with administrator Deloitte.

Wakefield, the main freight carrier between Mildura and Melbourne, went into voluntary administration last month. It has about $25 million turnover.

Its failure is symptomatic of the crisis in Victorian country rail. Rail giant Pacific National has signalled it will stop running freight trains because it is losing too much money, and the rail network is increasingly ramshackle.

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  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
Even with these upgrades, will there be an operator able to run the number of grain trains that might be required?
  MEASWELL Locomotive Driver

Location: werribee/tullamarine
agreed, especially when in another news bulletin there was a story that El Zorro have been told by PN that they going either send there wagons over to Saudi Arabia, or scrap them!! and with the news that they are the prefered bidder over there sounds like there won't be much left in victoria to run a service.
surely a small operation such as El Zorro cannot afford the cost of replacing the sets of wagons needed to service a harvest. unless of course the government or the AWB step into help.
and then of course where do you get enough broad gauge locos to run the trains if you can get wagons?
it's a conundrum!!!!  Confused
  jemo27 Junior Train Controller

Location: Kulwin line
what about past Charlton, I;m on a farm north of there, so why isn't it been extended to Sea lake atleast with places like Nullawil which has a large silo set up,

I travel on the calder highway between Bendigo and Nullawil and they have been relaying sleepers at Charlton currently and i was at Clunes and Creswick last week and they were relaying sleepers there as well.
  ethansx49 Chief Train Controller

Location: Warrnambool
Pacific National are pathetic. El zorro would love the rollingstock along with the broad gauge locomotives
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

Care to place bets that Arseiano will suddenly reverse their decision and return to grain haulage now that they have weaselled the Vic Government into upgrading the grain lines?
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
I thought the government was going to do this anyway. Last year they upgraded the Dunolly -> Inglewood -> Korong Vale section.
  nutbagg Deputy Commissioner

Location: Back at the chocolate factory.
Care to place bets that Arseiano will suddenly reverse their decision and return to grain haulage now that they have weaselled the Vic Government into upgrading the grain lines?
"ParkesHub"
No they won't return because grain is not viewed as a inconsistent performer compared to stuff like minerals. Its commercial reality that big companies like Asciano only want low risk/high returns so they will get rid of the risk. The long term solution is for smaller operators that run tight ships with smaller profit margins. But take heart as the price of fuel increases it makes rail much more attractive.
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

Care to place bets that Arseiano will suddenly reverse their decision and return to grain haulage now that they have weaselled the Vic Government into upgrading the grain lines?
"ParkesHub"
No they won't return because grain is not viewed as a inconsistent performer compared to stuff like minerals. Its commercial reality that big companies like Asciano only want low risk/high returns so they will get rid of the risk. The long term solution is for smaller operators that run tight ships with smaller profit margins. But take heart as the price of fuel increases it makes rail much more attractive.
"nutbagg"

Don't you mean 'grain IS viewed as an inconsistent performer'? Anyway, that's what I think you meant. Which is true. But, you know, I just think that Rowsthorn is a slippery cove. It's a slight chance though.

You are right that a smaller operator can be more flexible in operation and reactive to opportunities than the likes of PN.

What would be good would be if Linfox gave El Zorro, their namesake, a helping hand. Fat chance of that!
  NottaGunzel Banned

Location: Banned
[quote="ParkesHub"][quote="nutbagg"][quote="ParkesHub"]Care to place bets that Arseiano will suddenly reverse their decision and return to grain haulage now that they have weaselled the Vic Government into upgrading the grain lines?[/quote]No they won't return because grain is not viewed as a inconsistent performer compared to stuff like minerals. Its commercial reality that big companies like Asciano only want low risk/high returns so they will get rid of the risk. The long term solution is for smaller operators that run tight ships with smaller profit margins. But take heart as the price of fuel increases it makes rail much more attractive.[/quote]
Don't you mean 'grain IS viewed as an inconsistent performer'? Anyway, that's what I think you meant. Which is true. But, you know, I just think that Rowsthorn is a slippery cove. It's a slight chance though.

You are right that a smaller operator can be more flexible in operation and reactive to opportunities than the likes of PN.

[b]What would be good would be if Linfox gave El Zorro, their namesake, a helping hand. Fat chance of that![/[/b]quote]


If there's a quid in it for Lindsay , anything's possible Exclamation

If there's Press / Publicity for Lindsay it's even more likely Twisted Evil
  Riccardo Minister for Railways

Location: Gone. Don't bother PMing here.
I know people like a good whinge about PN, but PN bought from the last mob, who bought from the mob before them and that was the state government, who couldn't wait to sell the wagons, the locos, to a mob who had nothing in mind but asset stripping.

And that man was Kennett!

And when you sell something, you lose the right to dictate its use. If PN want to melt wheat wagons for scrap that's their right.

Have any of you asked old Jeff why he did it?
  gippslander Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland, Vic
The announcement of upgrading some of the grain lines is welcome but still ignores the fact that the Government is ignoring one of the Fischer Report's key recommendations - namely that an appropriate business model be set up to actually build new rail freight business.
There are real opportunities to win new forms of traffic but they are not being converted because the State's predominant operator is disinterested and the niche players do not have the operational assets and financial backing to greatly expand market share.  

In any case, Asciano is quite within its rights to dispose of its moveable fleet - they have the law on their side, and obligations only to their shareholders. Now that the Government has purchased back the lease, it cannot play the lame argument that 'the market will sort this out'. There has been a total failure of the experiment and the reality is that taxpayers will have to take up the slack in footing the bill for damage to road surfaces caused by transfer from rail to road. The environmental and social consequences can be quite easily measured also but at this point it seems that the grain industry are the only players making a noise.
  Burkey Station Master

Some unanswered questions from the media releases:

Is the money for track upgrades($23.7m) budgeted for 08/09 financial year??

If so will these tracks be ready for the coming harvest, say December??

What are the upgrades? Resleepering, Updated Rail??

$23.7mill on 284km of track is a very welcome update but as discussed will it be enough to convince PN to stay?

Do we want them to stay??

Anyone help?
  MEASWELL Locomotive Driver

Location: werribee/tullamarine
the media release mentions that the work would start in June with most of the work being done before this years harvest.

do we still want PN??? probably not but what is the alternative?? especially if they will not sell/hire any of their rolling stock to other users. who else has enough broad gauge stuff??
as much as El Zorro say they want to take up the slack, there is only so much you can do with the limited number of 1st generation locos & rag tag
rolling stock they have access to, especially in the short term.
Once again PN look to have another Government over a barrel especially with Mr Brumby's plan to increase the percentage of freight carried by rail.
  Bruce McLean Junior Train Controller

Location: Kangaroo Flat
I question use of the term "upgrade".   To my mind, the funding for those lines is actually "maintenance catch-up".   Upgrading should mean that the line will be transformed to a standard higher than it was previously, eg. with faster line speed or axle weight capacity.
The Ouyen - Murrayville - Panitya (Pinnaroo) line is a big loser and has the potential to deliver a big crop if the season is good.

Bruce in Mildura
  MelbourneCity Chief Commissioner

WHat does the "upgrade" involve?
Re-sleepering?
Right of way maitenance?
Track replacement?

Such a shame there is no forseeable chance of guage conversion. Moving to SG would ignite much interest in the country rail network - would promote efficiencies to prospective operators.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Seems to be this strange belief that PN own all the BG rolling stock in the world and if they sell them to the Saudis then there is no more.
Anyone who wants to start up a rail business in Victoria on BG can simply
order new BG rollingstock and locos.
If a business case for doing this cant be made, then it means that a rail solution isnt possible.
If I want to start up a trucking business in Victoria I have to go and buy the
trucks .
I cant expect that some other trucking company will sell me second hand trucks.
  MelbourneCity Chief Commissioner

Not sure if you were referring to my comments or some one else's, but what I was saying by gauge conversion is that, say an overseas operator wanted to start up in Australia, they would be more interested if they only had to buy one set of locos and rollingstock. Lower costs, flexible fleet etc = more attracted to potential business.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

The Ouyen - Pinaroo line was the focus of another Fisher recommendation that  Victoria pursue with  SA  a swap : 1. Sth Aus takes over Ouyen - Pinaroo and gauge converts it ; and Victoria takes over SA border to Mt Gambier and gauge converts it plus re-opens Sth Aus border - heywood and gauge converts to sg also .

Interesting that Kosky is sprouting all this - as never appreciated that carrying grain or any freight for that matter was a matter for Public Transport (Passengers ???)

The upgrades are definitely NOT upgrades rather they are catch up of track maintenance . The end result is no better than the pre privatization track standard, so they are not an upgrade . This comes about because going back yonks even to Government ownership days the Government and Railways never budgetted or allowed for realistic budgets for track maintenance to even maintain the status quo.  So Governments were/ are always allocating capital funds to do catch up maintenance and they claim them as upgrades continually to get more sexy brownie points with the public.

An upgrade is like the RFR projects where the pre-existing tracks, signalling were upgraded substantially to allow faster and more frequent trains etc .  

Tim Fisher estimated that the whole Victorian wheat harvest can be handled by 7 - 8 block trains operated effficiently to worlds best practice .

PN are not interested in seasonal traffics, especially wheat where it is feast or famine. To a big Company the resources required in locos and wagons tie up too much capital and give a poor investment return .
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner



If there's a quid in it for Lindsay , anything's possible  Exclamation

If there's Press / Publicity for Lindsay it's even more likely  Twisted Evil
"NottaGunzel"


Yeah, that's true enough.
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

On the 7.30pm Report tonight I saw an item saying there was a looming shortage of truck drivers. So they had better get serious about rail freight as the situation is about to be forced upon them! Exclamation

There simply won't be enough drivers for all the trucks! Exclamation
  jemo27 Junior Train Controller

Location: Kulwin line
WHat does the "upgrade" involve?
Re-sleepering?
Right of way maitenance?
Track replacement?

Such a shame there is no forseeable chance of guage conversion. Moving to SG would ignite much interest in the country rail network - would promote efficiencies to prospective operators.
"MelbourneCity"


on the Kulwin lines the railway crossings at Charlton, Teddywaddy, and north Inglewood crossing have all bee recently upgraded with dual gauge on the crossing so if the line was standadized there would be less disturbance to calder highway
  MEASWELL Locomotive Driver

Location: werribee/tullamarine
In the Herald sun today .......heres the answer on who's running trains on the grain lines  



Asciano secures deals with GrainCorp    TRANSPORT infrastructure firm Asciano Group has finalised agreements with grains marketer GrainCorp Ltd to provide export grain rail haulage services.

Asciano's rail subsidiary, Pacific National, will contract to GrainCorp eight trains that will service GrainCorp's export haulage requirements in NSW and Victoria on a take-or-pay basis.

Pacific National will receive additional variable payments for export grain volumes moved.

Asciano said the agreements would deliver commercially viable outcomes for Asciano for the next five years.

Asciano said that securing a take-or-pay contract with GrainCorp reduced Asciano's risk in its grain business and would ensure an acceptable rate of return.

"We are very pleased to have reached a conclusion that drives supply chain efficiency and satisfies the needs of the grain industry and of Asciano security holders," Asciano chief executive Mark Rowsthorn said.

Mr Rowsthorn noted that the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Regional Economics is predicting a bumper winter grain crop this year.

"Asciano will be well placed to benefit from any upside while ensuring the grain business remains viable in the event that drought conditions persist," Mr Rowsthorn said.

Asciano also said it had resolved its broadacre obligations with the NSW government and would invest in the future of the export grain rail haulage market in NSW.

The $70 million broadacre obligation will reduce by $30 million upon the transfer of a number of branch line rail assets that Asciano no longer intends to operate beyond the date of transfer.

The assets will be transferred from Asciano to an entity nominated by the NSW government.
Certain elements of ongoing maintenance capital expenditure on main line locomotives used in the NSW export grain business will be credited against the remaining obligations.

Asciano said it therefore expected its obligations under the broadacre agreement to reduce to zero within five years.

Asciano shares were 21 cents higher at $4.46 today.
  42101 Banned

Location: Banned
How damn stupid are the NSW and VIC goverments when dealing with these vultures at Acciano????
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Norda Fittazroy
That's what happens when the railways are sold off.
Suddenly it's, " No pay; no wheat."
It's called business.
There is another word for it.

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