Hotham Valley Railway - Comments, Q & A

 
  crisfitz Chief Commissioner

Location: Enroute somewhere
would HVTR survive commercially operating strictly historically acurate consists/trains (and not using the SA fleet) to appease hard core railfans? I'm talking about insurance - risk - maintenance costs etc etc.


Well, all the other rail groups in Australia can do it, so why not HVTR
Question

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  burt007 Chief Train Controller

Location: On the Road Somewhere...
would HVTR survive commercially operating strictly historically acurate consists/trains (and not using the SA fleet) to appease hard core railfans? I'm talking about insurance - risk - maintenance costs etc etc.


Well, all the other rail groups in Australia can do it, so why not HVTR
Question
"crisfitz"


My humble understanding is that the wooden coaches were retired/not used/replaced by the SA coaches because they were worn out? HVTR was conducting a lot of mainline tours at the time - and the SA coaches suited these operations better?

It would be interesting to know if the Australind set can be insured/meet Wesnet accrediation to operate ex-Pinjarra, and also the general condition of the fleet? - which I understand is split between Bassendean and Boyup?

Some hard facts from those in the know (Rail Heritage WA) would be good.....
  crisfitz Chief Commissioner

Location: Enroute somewhere
From an RHWA newsletter March 2008

Australind carriages
A recent enquiry on the internet railfan forums asked about the current state of the RHWA
collection of former "Australind" rollingstock.


AYC 500 - complete and nominally serviceable, at Bassendean (moved by road from
Midland late 2007)  
AYC 510 - undergoing comprehensive body restoration at Bassendean (exterior nearing
completion)  
AYC 511 - complete and nominally serviceable having undergone comprehensive body
restoration in the early 90's, currently stored at Boyanup  
AYC 512 - stored Midland Workshops, needing comprehensive body restoration (she's the
worst of the lot), a long way from being serviceable  
AYD 540 - at Bassendean, questionable body condition and slated to become a permanent
museum exhibit and buffet/catering facility  
AYD 550 - in use as a buffet exhibit/catering facility at Bassendean, to be replaced in that
capacity by 540, made operational and bound for Boyanup  
ARA 351 - bogies under overhaul at Bassendean, body stored on spare bogies at Boyanup.
Once re-united with bogies, will be nominally operational  
ARA 356 - currently one of the 3 vehicles stored with XA 1405 "Warienga" behind the Rail
Institute building at Midland. Will come to Bassendean by rail this year some time. Needs
some framing repairs around a few windows (which can be seen to have been removed)
otherwise complete and nominally operational.  
ZJA 431 - complete and nominally serviceable at Bassendean, recently heavily grafitti'd on
the north side.

In this context, "nominally operational" means in good-acceptable mechanical condition and
requiring a full mechanical inspection and vacuum brake test before being eligible for
certification for mainline use.

I would imagine that this would have changed little since then. Of cource, the ARA is now at Bassendean.

As well, the Etmylin service would be enhanced by the use of an ACL and ZA / ZB over those god awful things currently used.

What is the current state of the ADG / ADA railcars at Dwellingup and Pinjarra? A summer service on part or all of the line would bring in dollars over the summer period, and require few staff to run.
  Hotham Valley Junior Train Controller

Dear all,

There really are a lot of good ideas, thoughts and comments being posted which I think is great and I thank you all.

Please keep them coming, positive or negative, because your views will help us to improve.

On this occasion, rather than respond to several post individually I will try to cover several here.

Working together in various forms with Rail Heritage WA is something that we all should look to progress. As has been pointed out, it makes very good sense. Personally speaking, I feel any "ice breaking" has already been done by Rail Heritage WA with their sale of W947 on terms to HVR (something RHWA offered rather than being asked for) together with their comments about discussing other rollingstock usage when we are ready to do some other things we proposed. I think it is up to HVR now and in due course I know we will eventually "chew the fat" with RHWA and see what we each think may be possible. Unfortunately, the question "what's in it for me" is a very realistic one and one that simply must be asked and answered satisfactorily by all parties. This is quite normal, healthy, acceptable and responsible.

One of the things I hope to achieve with this thread is to bring some greater understanding about why things "are the way they are" etc, at HVTR to Railpage readers. Things are not often as they seem and are regularly not as many belive, perceive or speculate.

Rollingstock:
HVR utilises the SAR coaches because it it what we have, simple as that. When these were purchased, most would not now know that there was a general and very strong push right across australia to dispense with timber bodied passenger rollingstock on state railway networks. At the time, HVR was and intended to continue as a significant main line operator. Following the Cowan Disaster (3801 Ltd), vehicles in NSW with timber bodies had to be equipped with "bull bars" above the headstocks to prevent inter-car-body shear. The end was considered in sight for such rollingstock and given there was nothing else available in WA, HVR went overseas. As things turned out, the "phobias" about timber bodied stock subsided and their use has continued. Had these phobias not subsided, HVR could now easily be one of the few tourist rail operators able to run services and certainly the only one in WA. The choices made at the time to obtain SAR rollingstock rather than WAGR stock, were the right ones, at the time, given the circumstances.

Heritage Equipment & Operations;
Each group around Australia does the best it can within its means and circumstances, to retain and operate "heritage". This might be particular items of heritage like 'coffee pot' at PRRR, complete railways like Puffing Billy or just a steam train.
To imply that every heritage/tourist railway in Australia except HVR manages to do without foreign rollingstock or liveries is very untrue.
In our Australian rail "heritage" how may WAGR W's ran at Quorn, how many QR rail motors, steam locos etc ran on the NSWGR Zig Zag, how often was the Gahn hauled by a W, how about WAGR V's or passenger cars ran on the Queenscliffe line - the list goes on and is just as broad in terms of liveries. What about WAGR rollingstock at BBR -WAGR liveries?? and lets not forget the SA locos.

There is no doubt about the fact that for rail enthusiasts it is so nice/best to see authentic examples of rail equipment and operations. Sadly though, there is little money in this and like it or not, trains cost bucket loads of money to have & run. If painting and engine bright red sells tickets, we have to get the red paint out.

Those operating in the T & H sector know and understand that whilst strictly prototype Heritage equipment and operations might be desirable, they are not easily achievable, either practically or commercially.

HVTR is trying to do better on 'authenticity'.
Has anyone noticed the following;
W's painted more correctly this year, no white wall tyres, red stripes or orange ends on plain bearing axles?
New W tenders cut down to more correct height & proportions etc.
Water Column at Dwellingup correctly painted, specially so that enthusiasts taking photos would have a more authentic scene.

I know these are very small things but we are thinking the right way and trying. There is cost with probably little if any return, but HVR is moving this way. It will take time, and money and I am pleased to be able to say that two very well known "gunzells" have made cash donations to me personally for HVR recognizing the fact that they take lots of photos, enjoy the trains but don't buy tickets to ride. You cannot imagine how much this has been appreciated.

Yes, I know, its all about money again. The thing is, it really is.
  crisfitz Chief Commissioner

Location: Enroute somewhere
Firstly, thank you Ian for your excellent response. Careful, well thought out, something we rarely see in this forum.

With the heritage side of things, I should have made myself clearer on some points.

I thought the reason for purchasing the SAR coaches was better known. There would have been no possible way for HVTR to do what they did in the '90s without them. The 100,000 plus kms rail enthusiasts travelled behind them would have never happened with the old WAGR stock available. However, now times have changed there is little reason to keep them ( although what to do with them is a much more difficult question )

As for for the other groups with non authentic stock, maybe we are at cross purposes here. Zigzag, whilst using ex QR stock rather than NSW stock, still run in original QR livery. Ditto for PRR and their W's ( at least the Silverton did have W's, with one of ours now masquerading as a Silverton W) . Whilst I acknowledge HVTR's effort towards improving authenticity, the W's are still far from original ( in regards to the tenders and livery ). Does this cost that much more to paint the W's in larch green instead of brunswick green ??

Having said that, it has somewhat  soothed my negative thinking towards HVTR knowing that, whilst there is a long way to go, they are heading in a better "heritage" direction.

Maybe, like the Freo Dockers, by 2012 we may have a championship cup in the cabinet. 8)

Nah, HVTR will get it so much faster  Very HappyVery Happy
  Q4004 Chief Commissioner

Location: Thornlie
Hotham Valley

Would we ever see mainline operations again? Reason im asking is because I enjoyed seeing the Hotham Valley diesel locos smoking it up across South Western Highway out of Pinjarra for the northbound run.
  wn514 Chief Commissioner

Location: at a skyhooks concert living in the 70's
not everyone is a steam fan. i would love to see some of those early diesels fired up. especially up the hill and on the main line if you could get any main line tours going again.
  crisfitz Chief Commissioner

Location: Enroute somewhere


Thanks.

In answer to your question, I would see it as extremely unlikely that HVR would ever return to any form of mainline tours, but I guess the wise never say never.

There are certainly no adverse Gov policy or privatisation issues, the main difficulties are resources, human financial and assets. Insurance cost is certainly a significant issue but it is the overall package that makes viability and sustainability such a problem. All rail operations are suprisingly complex and demanding upon resources. Mainline operations are intensely demanding and introduce a great deal of operational and commercial risk.
"Hotham Valley"


From the first page of this thread.

So to answer your questions - read the thread !!
  The_trolley Deputy Commissioner

Location: .
Zigzag, whilst using ex QR stock rather than NSW stock, still run in original QR livery.
"crisfitz"


I'm not having a go here but there is not a single ex QR item at the ZZR in authentic QR colours apart from the railmotors to an extent. The Evans carriages are currently being painted in a NSWGR style colour scheme having been in a South African railways inspired scheme for a long time and for a fair while all over red. None of the loco's are painted as they were in service either.

Like I said I'm not having a go but I just feel that the HVR shouldn't be critised on presentation by using incorrect statements about other operators.
  Animal08 Locomotive Driver

not everyone is a steam fan. i would love to see some of those early diesels fired up. especially up the hill and on the main line if you could get any main line tours going again.
"wn514"


couldn't agree more..... so when is G50 going to get fixed?
  NG Sulzers Deputy Commissioner

Location: Quorn
"In our Australian rail "heritage" how may WAGR W's ran at Quorn"

"Ditto for PRR and their W's "

Some interesting bits about the 4-8-2 W class that are operating at PRR. In their former life as part of the WAGR, they belonged to that system and operated for just a little over 20 years. PRR has now been operating W934 and W933 for nearly double that time, so are they WAGR W's or PRR W's?
These two loco's (and W916) for that matter simply couldn't be returned to their old stamping grounds and put back into service without modifications (lets hypothetically assume HVR).
When first obtained for use on PRR, the Vacuum brake was obtained on the engine unit only and a Westinghouse air pump fitted and the tenders converted to air brake, so there was for a time, both a vacuum and air brake hose bags on both ends of the engines. Eventually PRR removed the vacuum equipment altogether (most of which HVR has back Smile ) and converted fully to A6ET. W916 never operated with vacuum at all on PRR like 933 and 934, was fitted with A6ET/A7EL right from the start.
Other minor modifications were done to the rear cab floor. The whistles were all moved up to the smokebox near the funnel in lieu of on top of the manifold. The Hadfield power reverse cylinders were converted from steam to air (hence different lubricating requirement, CRB40 instead of cyl oil). On the subject of cyl oil, W934 had the cab displacement lubricator removed and a mechanical lubricator fitted to run off the top of the combination lever where it pivots on the valve gudgeon pin. The absence of the cab displacement lubricator in the cab of W934 is actually a joy to behold.
Another modification which I thing is important are the two injector over flow pipes do not point out to the side. They have been cut off flush with the end of the step and capped, the pipes have a series of 0.375" holes drilled in the bottom of the last 4-5" which is sufficient to see what the injector is or isn't doing.
The W's sometimes substitute on an Afghan Express as we only have the one NM, and like all loco's, sometimes suffer failures.
W933 is at least, still in the same WAGR Larch Green as what it did when it headed East in 1974, having never been painted at all by PRR.
  wn514 Chief Commissioner

Location: at a skyhooks concert living in the 70's


Thanks.

In answer to your question, I would see it as extremely unlikely that HVR would ever return to any form of mainline tours, but I guess the wise never say never.

There are certainly no adverse Gov policy or privatisation issues, the main difficulties are resources, human financial and assets. Insurance cost is certainly a significant issue but it is the overall package that makes viability and sustainability such a problem. All rail operations are suprisingly complex and demanding upon resources. Mainline operations are intensely demanding and introduce a great deal of operational and commercial risk.
"Hotham Valley"


From the first page of this thread.

So to answer your questions - read the thread !!
"crisfitz"
yeah i realise chris that mainline tours probably will not happen there is no harm in hoping that they will and as ian willis said "wise men never say never". Very Happy
  DBclass Chief Commissioner

Location: Western Australia
Ever considered a basic mainline schedule. A few trips a year. Given the lack of mainline trips, any mainline now could possibly be well patronised. Something i also noted on the weekend, the morning Australind service  from Perth does not connect with the HVR trip to Dwellingup. Might be something to look into for those after a rail only trip.
  Jarroo Chief Commissioner

Ever considered a basic mainline schedule. A few trips a year. Given the lack of mainline trips, any mainline now could possibly be well patronised. Something i also noted on the weekend, the morning Australind service  from Perth does not connect with the HVR trip to Dwellingup. Might be something to look into for those after a rail only trip.
"DBclass"


I wonder how many people would utilise the Australind?
The time at Dwellingup would be reduced somewhat to connect with the Australind

Transwa Australind
10.42 DEP PINJARRA
15.55 DEP PINJARRA

HVTR Steam Ranger
10.30 DEP PINJARRA
16.00 ARR PINJARRA
  burt007 Chief Train Controller

Location: On the Road Somewhere...
Ever considered a basic mainline schedule. A few trips a year. Given the lack of mainline trips, any mainline now could possibly be well patronised. Something i also noted on the weekend, the morning Australind service  from Perth does not connect with the HVR trip to Dwellingup. Might be something to look into for those after a rail only trip.
"DBclass"


Yeah it would be great to run a couple of trips a year to Collie, a run out to Northam, Toodjay or York - to service the country shows once a year......

As Ian has mentioned....these trains cost heaps to run, take huge resources to plan, organise and operate........

For those asking about one-off mainline tours, or a "hand full" - I remember a figure tossed around once in a converstion of rail fans, that to cover the insurance of a one-off steam train to Collie would be in the region of $30K. I do stand corrected....

We have a fantastic peice of scenic rail line all to ourselves - from Alumina Junction to Etmylin (and possibly beyond) - lets focus on that.....
  Southwest Locomotive Fireman

And a run to Capel for the fest Wink haha Just kidding. Connecting to the Australind service sounds like a good idea, Not sure if it could be workable though due to the less time in Dwellingup. It is a little annoying though that the train to Dwellingup leaves 10 minutes before the Australind does and comes into Pinjarra 5 minutes after it leaves. It was an option to use the Australind to get down there for the first run until I realised that the times didn’t connect so I relied on a pick up from Mandurah. Just think that you could actually use it as a means to get to Dwellingup from Perth or visa versa by the connecting trains Razz
  burt007 Chief Train Controller

Location: On the Road Somewhere...
An idea for a once a year - or maybe eventually a once a month train:

Combine a Saturday late afternoon/night operation of the Steam Ranger with dinner in Dwellingup?

Now the Diner Train has very limited capacity (under 50) compared with the steam ranger (over 300) so linking both services wouldn't work.......So could the grass area opposite the Dwellingup Tavern be hired from the council to have a Marquee set up, (or other area/venue in Dwellingup?) - catering supplied (Roast on a spit), a small band to entertain during/after dinner? Perhaps this could be the re-kindle of a Murder Mystery Train?

Here comes the money bit.......Overheads above and beyond the standard ranger train:
* Marquee, lighting, heating, table and chairs hire
* Alcohol license - perhaps jointly applied by HVTR and Dwellingup Tavern in a supply agreement?
* Catering c/w carving/serving staff (Train staff can be waiters similar to the Murder Mystery tours)
* Council fee for hire of grounds/Insurance
* Entertainment
* Bus link options from Perth?

I'm quite positive there are many aditional costs I've missed! The final ticket price I guess would be right up there - in excess of $100 per person if a bus from Perth was included. Would people pay this?

I'm just thinking of HVTR using existing infrustructure/operations, whilst trying to market to the younger passengers (20 - 40's) who used to enjoy the mainline Murder Trains so much.

The question is would it be viable?

I'm just thinking out loud at work..... Very Happy
  wn514 Chief Commissioner

Location: at a skyhooks concert living in the 70's
do hotham valley or similar organisations over here have any sort of alliance with the education department? i guess what i am asking is do HVTR allow school excursions to their pinjarra headquarters so that the kids can get a hands on closeup view of the various loco's and various rollingstock? in other words get them in young and get them interested.
  62440 Chief Commissioner

The trip via the Australind would be attractive and would only help its viability. Last time I went on the HVR, I travelled from Whitfords to Dwellingup. Only thing to watch out is the return connection, if the HVR is late there is no way the Australind will wait. Also note that it is a fair hike between the platforms. If the return connection was missed, there could be a contingency lift to Mandurah, though the return but of the ticket would not be valid.
WW
  Westrail_Q_301 Junior Train Controller

G'day all

With what has been said above in regard to getting into contact with the Education department, why can't it eventually be organized to get recognized qualifications for the work involved with the day to day operations? For example, welding qualifications, boiler making and the work for lighting in the carriages.

Westrail Q 301
  Hotham Valley Junior Train Controller

Ever considered a basic mainline schedule. A few trips a year. Given the lack of mainline trips, any mainline now could possibly be well patronised. Something i also noted on the weekend, the morning Australind service  from Perth does not connect with the HVR trip to Dwellingup. Might be something to look into for those after a rail only trip.
"DBclass"


Dear 52440 et al,

MAINLINE SERVICES;
I know everyone would love to see HVR or anyone else with general passenger trains back out on the Main Line steam and/or diesel. As much as this may be desirable, I'm sorry to have to say it but you all really do need to get over it.
It just isn't viable any more and although insurance costs are a big factor, there is so much more to it. The overall demands on all types of resources are incredibly significant, even for just one service. When it comes to insurance, because the magnitude of our operations is so low, we fall off the bottom of the pricing scale and generally become subject to minimum premiums. HVR's last annual premium for main line operations was roundly $330,000. If we ran 2 trains or 200 trains, the cost was the same but after roundly 200 trains it would start to become subject to increase depending on the number of passengers and the maximum number on any one train. As you should be able to see, to run say 6 trains per year would involve around $55,000 per train for just the insurance and roundly a similar amount or probably a bit more for everything else. At say 200 seats, tickets would be more than $600 each including gst just to cover costs. Add some margin/profit, some risk contingency, advertising etc and there would be little change from $1000 per ticket. This, I am afraid, is reality.

Can we please end the dialouge about possible main line services because, as things stand in WA, they are not possible.

AUSTRALIND CONNECTION;
We were keen to retain the SteamRanger-Australind connection because we felt the same way as all of you that have been commenting. As it turned out, when we looked at the sales data we had, very few passengers had used the Australind in previous years.
When we looked at train paths with WestNet for the re-starting of the SteamRangers, it was quickly evident that getting in and out of Pinjarra had become increasingly difficult due to the number of freight services, their directions, crossing and section time requirements. Basically, dodging the other trains to connect with the Australind meant departing Pinjarra at around 1120 and getting back around 3pm. Given previous passenger surveys had revealed passengers wanted more time than we previously gave in Dwellingup, these times were not going to work. In addition, the pressures of meeting connections, especially on the return leg as has already been mentioned, are just something we don't need.
  Hotham Valley Junior Train Controller

An idea for a once a year - or maybe eventually a once a month train:

Combine a Saturday late afternoon/night operation of the Steam Ranger with dinner in Dwellingup?

Now the Diner Train has very limited capacity (under 50) compared with the steam ranger (over 300) so linking both services wouldn't work.......So could the grass area opposite the Dwellingup Tavern be hired from the council to have a Marquee set up, (or other area/venue in Dwellingup?) - catering supplied (Roast on a spit), a small band to entertain during/after dinner? Perhaps this could be the re-kindle of a Murder Mystery Train?

Here comes the money bit.......Overheads above and beyond the standard ranger train:
* Marquee, lighting, heating, table and chairs hire
* Alcohol license - perhaps jointly applied by HVTR and Dwellingup Tavern in a supply agreement?
* Catering c/w carving/serving staff (Train staff can be waiters similar to the Murder Mystery tours)
* Council fee for hire of grounds/Insurance
* Entertainment
* Bus link options from Perth?

I'm quite positive there are many aditional costs I've missed! The final ticket price I guess would be right up there - in excess of $100 per person if a bus from Perth was included. Would people pay this?

I'm just thinking of HVTR using existing infrustructure/operations, whilst trying to market to the younger passengers (20 - 40's) who used to enjoy the mainline Murder Trains so much.

The question is would it be viable?

I'm just thinking out loud at work..... Very Happy
"burt007"


Some good thinking here, thanks Brett.

This is the sort of thing we have been considering  in general terms and one of the reasons we are working on developing Isandra as a stopping place.

Those persons interested in seeing some diesel services, hopefully we will get something happening along these lines over summer.
  Hotham Valley Junior Train Controller

do hotham valley or similar organisations over here have any sort of alliance with the education department? i guess what i am asking is do HVTR allow school excursions to their pinjarra headquarters so that the kids can get a hands on closeup view of the various loco's and various rollingstock? in other words get them in young and get them interested.
"wn514"


Dear wn 514,

This sort of educational interaction is definitely something we need to find ways to do more of, there are just so many learning skill opportunities.
HVR has done some of this but it became too hard with issues such as suitably safe working environments for kids, insurance (again), working with children legislation and to cap it all of, very onerous policies of the WA education department which places significant responsibilities on schools.

Although quite basic, I will give everyone some idea of what we did do with a very keen teacher at Pinjarra high school.

The teacher had a group of kids that were not doing so well at school. He was clever enough to realise that the kids needed some practical real life experience because they just couldn't see what some of the things they were expected to learn were going to be any good for when they left school.
The project they took on was painting Steam Loco G123. I think this was in 2004, anyway, there is a photo of them with the G on our website news.

Anyway, the project doesn't seem that educational does it. Well, Mr clever teacher, a Mr Viola as I recall, didn't see it that way.

1. Going to work, safety issues, kids visit Worksafe WA website and complete a basic workplace induction and get a certificate - online!!
2. Project, need a scope of work, plan, list of tasks, JSA's for various activities, list of items required, identify required rescources etc.
3. Cleaning, products, type research, go to hardware, obtain information, read Material Safety Data sheets, potential chemical reactions with existing paints, oils, fabrics etc
PAUSE; all pretty simple so far, a bit of english, computer, research, science.
4. What about we get the paint. How much do we need? Research- off to hardware again, says 1 litre covers 3 sq m. Now what, its not a flat rectangular wall we are painting, its a steam loco with round bits, pointy bits, flat bits, pipes, holes and so on. Gee out with the calculator and some of that maths we thought was a waste of time at school last week.
5. Finished job and a bunch of very proud kids that all now think learning things at school is a good thing because it's useful.

I understand that the Castlemaine & Maldon railway do some learning activities with schools.
  Jarroo Chief Commissioner

Its a bloody shame really that no passenger trains other than the Australind, Prospector and Indian Pacific can run in W.A. on the mainline.
I guess it all comes down to our population and limited amount of railway groups W.A. and the limited amount of volunteers associated with those groups to make things happen.
I could not get over the amount of rail tours on the mainline in the UK during a recent visit, but WA only has 2.2 million people compared to 61 million in the UK.
It is a shame to go backwards, ie quite a few railtours a year to none, but I guess HVTR almost went under, so steam/diesel on the Dwellingup line is better than nothing at all.

I also hope that steam will one day return to Pemberton, it kinda made an excuse to make an annual trip there.
  NG Sulzers Deputy Commissioner

Location: Quorn
Hi Ian, working with the Education dept. can work, and work well to the benefit of both parties.
PRR has been doing this with Quorn Area School for the last decade. It helps when the QAS Tech Studies teacher is also a member of PRR, plus we also have other PRR members involved in the SA education dept.
Initially it started with 1 week per term of the year 10/11's doing some practical work at PRR. The students would further some of their technical skills/Up skill and put their skills into practice in a workplace.
Projects are aimed at what the students can achieve in the week. Projects have been as diverse as timber/metal work in restoring carriages and freight wagons, some civil engineering building, electrical and track, and even some locomotive maint.
The successes have been recognised by other education centres within the region, as more and more want to get onboard with PRR and provide some more practical and meaningful learning/training to students.
An upshot of this, is that PRR has also picked up members out of these projects that PRR believes it would never have got if the program didn't exist.

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