SSFL Happenings 2014

 
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Its unfortunate that everyone has become so obsessed with running time between Sydney and Melbourne that all else is lost.
Its possible RIGHT NOW to run freight trains between Sydney and Melbourne in under 10 hours .
Remember the Cargo Sprinter, purchased for this very purpose, but never used for this purpose.
Designed to run at XPT speeds on a XPT schedule.
If there was such a need, then someone would be running such services, but no one is .
The reason the Cargo Sprinter was a flop was hi speed running means hi freight rates that no one wants to pay.
AN also had a go with hi speed freight trains when they bought the ELs and they ran several trials across the TAR
of 140 KMH hi speed freight trains.
Again a total flop.
Too expensive to run.
The only way rail can compete with road , is to totally forget running times and concentrate on the most important factor
that affects the ratio of road vs rail, and thats freight rates, $ per ntk.
If rail charged 1/2 the rate that road charges, then the Hume highway wouldnt have a truck on it.
MD

Pretty much true. The Cargo Sprinter was unlikely to ever be a great success due to its limited capacity but the comment on freight rates brings us back to my earlier post relating to - the only thing lacking being the 'entrepreneurial spirit' to try.


I am no economist but wonder whether rail would be better to reduce rates to say 80% of road costs and at least double their traffic then run 80km/h full engine load trains with as near 100% reliability as possible. We need to forget the smoke and mirrors 10 or 11 hours to Sydney as I think that it is mostly smoke!

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  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Pretty much true. The Cargo Sprinter was unlikely to ever be a great success due to its limited capacity but the comment on freight rates brings us back to my earlier post relating to - the only thing lacking being the 'entrepreneurial spirit' to try.


I am no economist but wonder whether rail would be better to reduce rates to say 80% of road costs and at least double their traffic then run 80km/h full engine load trains with as near 100% reliability as possible. We need to forget the smoke and mirrors 10 or 11 hours to Sydney as I think that it is mostly smoke!
YM-Mundrabilla

Some of this in reply to MD...

Cost is crucial, but the cost that is relevant is the overall cost to the freight customer, which is rarely the same as the number that appears on the invoice from the rail operator (otherwise all Sydney - Melbourne freight would be on a ship).  Depending on the customer, overall cost might be affected by the transit time and reliability of the service - for example because rail is slow, infrequent or unreliable they may need to maintain additional stock.

The overall cost felt by the customer also includes any pickup and delivery cost associated with getting the freight to/from the rail terminal and the ultimate origin/destination.  This cost is not small.

Transit time also has a pretty direct impact on the actual costs of the operator in terms of the productivity of their equipment and labour.

So you cannot ignore transit time completely.

Rail's component of the cost is already probably 80% of that of road, on average, over that route.  The question is how are you going to make it lower.

It might be a little out of date now (things that were planned haven't happened, or have happened differently), but the North-South freight corridor study from the 2004 timeframe has some useful data and analysis, if you can manage to navigate your way through the document.  

It also has some background (but I don't think it is the source) on the 10:40 time for Sydney - Melbourne transit for a 1500 metre train (an average train speed of 90 km per hour).  It appears to be based on there being no material speed restrictions, 115 km/h running in Victoria, some curve speed increases associated with resleepering, completed SSFL and perhaps some signalling improvements (not the full ATMS).  It was also possibly based on four NR locomotives up the front (or perhaps three) for the entire trip.  At the time of writing the report, the timetabled transit time was 12:50.

One of the things that study looked at was what you could achieve with "unconstrained" capital - basically get your cheque-book out and build whatever you think is reasonable - some cases considered over 10 billion or so of spend between Melbourne and Brisbane.  Economically that sort of mega project didn't make sense.  Financially they were complete disasters - the problem with all that spending is that the industry is expected to pay a fair chunk of it back eventually.  You can always argue about the assumptions used, but still... it didn't look pretty.

This study includes lists of projects along the existing alignment that could deliver time savings and an estimated cost for each project.  Some are relatively small - perhaps $5 million to straighten a few curves and pick up a minute or two, some are monsters - $1.8 billion between Cootamundraw and Yass for a 23 minute saving.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
...

It might be a little out of date now (things that were planned haven't happened, or have happened differently), but the North-South freight corridor study from the 2004 timeframe has some useful data and analysis, if you can manage to navigate your way through the document.

It also has some background (but I don't think it is the source) on the 10:40 time for Sydney - Melbourne transit for a 1500 metre train (an average train speed of 90 km per hour). It appears to be based on there being no material speed restrictions, 115 km/h running in Victoria, some curve speed increases associated with resleepering, completed SSFL and perhaps some signalling improvements (not the full ATMS). It was also possibly based on four NR locomotives up the front (or perhaps three) for the entire trip. At the time of writing the report, the timetabled transit time was 12:50.

One of the things that study looked at was what you could achieve with "unconstrained" capital - basically get your cheque-book out and build whatever you think is reasonable - some cases considered over 10 billion or so of spend between Melbourne and Brisbane. Economically that sort of mega project didn't make sense. Financially they were complete disasters - the problem with all that spending is that the industry is expected to pay a fair chunk of it back eventually. You can always argue about the assumptions used, but still... it didn't look pretty.

This study includes lists of projects along the existing alignment that could deliver time savings and an estimated cost for each project. Some are relatively small - perhaps $5 million to straighten a few curves and pick up a minute or two, some are monsters - $1.8 billion between Cootamundraw and Yass for a 23 minute saving.
donttellmywife


That study is well worth a read as it was the basis of the NSW Lease investment strategy.
If one considers all the issues that existed on Day 1 where do you start (not that RIC could tell 'em)? Day 2, things don't stop deteriorating simply because you sign a piece of paper the day before!
Providing "$840 million" up front was good PR but without any firm undertaking as to future funding what do you expect. What ARTC needed from the Feds was a funded 10 year commitment to fixing the existing NSW DIRN whilst constructing some of those deviations and realignments Idea
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
More important if you want a sustainable solution - road transport pricing reform - to set the two modes (and classes within each mode) on an equal footing in terms of approximately full recovery of costs incurred (including some consideration for externalities).  If rail can compete in that environment, all well and good.  If not, why prolong the agony?

The feds can then chip in for the big ticket, strategic projects (regardless of mode).
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
What is the current tabled transit time for a 1500 m freighter Sydney - Melbourne?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
What is the current tabled transit time for a 1500 m freighter Sydney - Melbourne?
donttellmywife

2MB4 between 13 and 14 hours
  Matruck Junior Train Controller

Location: Lilliput,Victoria
2MB4 between 13 and 14 hours
YM-Mundrabilla

But where about's in Sydney and where about's in Melbourne do these trains begin and end ?, I'd imagine you would loose a heap of time just getting to the out skirts of the city's let alone the trip in between.
Mick.
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
From the ARTC site, the times are based from terminal to terminal, which is the logical way of measuring time.

( you can get the times from looking under operations> MTP on their site)
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
We have the non wired SSFL into Sydney and the standard gauge follows a different route into Melbourne than their mass transit system .
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
In the absence of some massive spend this is as good as its gets whilst ARTC completes its Ballast Remediation Program.

The SSFL must be doing something for reliability. Last time I was on a Sydney bound Wallytah it sat out of Shambles for a few minutes. A northbound PacNat freightie passed on the SSFL at speed.
Presumably without the SSFL it would have been stuck behind us unless Sydney Trains held up our departure from Macarthur - as one expects they would Wink
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
The state and federal governments had the will to turn the Hume Highway/Freeway into what it is today . It's their lack of will to make the railway work as an intercapital route thats screwed rail over til now and into the future .
Coota why you keep claiming that rail operators have no right to expect any better is beyond rational thinking .
Do you think the road freight operators had any right to expect better than the road they used 40 years ago ?
If governments were serious about emissions and liquid energy usage they wouldn't bother with global warming rot and planting hundreds of wind mills across ridge tops . A healthy percentage of land freight could be on a straighter rail route and fuel usage for the corridor would be a lot less than it is today . Ultimately governments couldn't give a rats (*) about fuel usage because more bought means more tax revenue paid , rail effectively loses its main advantage - price and efficiency . The rail route is slow so there is FA hope of it getting into high priority high revenue earning business .
And yet brain dead F wit morons still come here and say it's the rail operators fault and they should be the ones getting runs on the board to deserve better funding . Tell me how the operators can do this Coota , better brains than yours have tried and failed to work this one out and you know why ? Because it CAN'T be done . Just the same as it couldn't be done on the old Hume .
And the terminal issues , they would have been just as much of a problem in the government operator days yet they did SFA about it when they owned them .
Two things have and always will hamstring rail freight operations in Australia , namely the East Coast . The operators don't own the infrastructure and they have no say if and how much money gets spent on it .
It really is a sad thing that NRC wasn't organised enough to take up the infrastructure when it was on offer .
ARTC which is the governments shelf infrastructure company has proven useless when it comes to providing a decent railway , and Coota don't give me the BS about what ARTC started out with because it was the same governments charged with building and maintaining rail infrastructure . All that changed was the title and bank account numbers . Ultimately I'm saying the governments are bloody useless and Australia's economy has EVERY right to expect better rail transport between its capitals . Its not just a case of providing the rail operators with the opportunity to make a buck , it's providing them with the ability to provide a sustainable service for the people living here . Coota do you think its not like ongoing Hume improvements do anything to improve the financial plight of road freight operators ?
Coota do you think the reason road freight gets more runs on the board because they play on a shorter straighter pitch ? Do you think ?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik

Coota do you think the reason road freight gets more runs on the board because they play on a shorter straighter pitch ? Do you think ?
BDA

Road also has the umpire in their pocket.
  Matruck Junior Train Controller

Location: Lilliput,Victoria
Road also has the umpire in their pocket.
YM-Mundrabilla

Cant wait too hear the reasoning behind this one ?.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
For fear of being labeled yet again one of the “brain dead Fwit morons” which really frightens me (NOT), the reality is that collectively just about everything that has been said by everyone on this thread and many others going back years as we have been told is relevant in some way.

The criticisms that might be being directed at current railoperators actually apply to every party or organization that is involved in policy, planning, Government, operations and whatever you want to name for the lousy performance of rail between Sydney and Melbourne.

Really, I think you have go to back to 1961/62 (52 years)with the construction of the standard gauge from Albury to Melbourne to really find a defining point in the history of Sydney to Melbourne rail to be able to say that there was some form of monumental effort to improve the competiveness of rail was last made.  You had 300+km’sof new track, new locos and wagons to go with that.

What came in 1961/62 were through running services, dieselhauled with by and large the best equipment in an Australian context that was available.   But as has been said itstill was a railway particularly north of Albury that continued to remain unchanged since the 1920’s and even the new standard gauge line south of Albury was built on a pretty thin budget and just barely made the grade.

Unless I’m a seriously “brain dead F wit moron” everydevelopment from then was really just incremental.  3,000 horsepower locomotives arrived on thescene, 4,000 HP later better rollingstock with improved load to tare weight ratios etc, through working of locos and elimination of brakevans and guards etc, longer trains but nothing really altering with infrastructure etc in a big way.  The more recent history others know verywell.

But what was also going on in the same period was adeclining prominence of rail.  Asgovernment bodies, rail administrations were primarily focused on reducing costs and deficits, not promoting big new infrastructure schemes to increase business and also happening was the loss of experience, expertise and leadership for well on 35 plus years if it not longer.  Inother words any leaders with vision were either retiring or getting out of the industry.  The media was negative, thecommunity couldn’t see the relevance of rail really and it wasn’t a vote winner so absolutely no pressure to invest.  (Ican still remember a late 1970’s early 80’s headline in the Sydney Morning Herald about New South Wales Railways losing $1million per day and not one balancing argument stating the benefit of rail.  
Victoria was pretty much the same).


In addition rail was actively getting out of a lot ofbusiness that it deemed “loss making” but which today the likes of SCT operates in very profitability because of innovation and drive from its owners and managers.

Contrast that with two other sectors.  Those planning, building and delivering roadprojects and those using roads.  (In thiscase the trucking industry).   They aregreat lobbyists.  They never miss anopportunity to promote themselves to Government and decision makers and everyday people see what they are doing so they have a much greater awareness and until very recent times big roads projects were vote winners.  They promote any new technology as beingefficient and so called safe, (B doubles, B triples).  They are seen as delivering on what theypromise.

We then move to the privatization of the rail industry and thesplitting out of operators and infrastructure.
In some ways that’s until very recently made it even more difficult to reallylobby to get the investment needed to turn the Sydney to Melbourne Corridor into the super railway that it should be.
These operators for good reason are focused on trying to make a dollarand a lot less so on collectively bargaining as anindustry but that is slowly changing.  Also people are starting tosee the real downside of increased truck volume and truck impact.


I think that’s why when ARTC did finally come up with itsplan rightly or wrongly to deliver a consistently reliable service on significantly reduced transit times between Sydney and Melbourne and Melbourne to Brisbane that there were high expectations that this would turn around market share back to rail.

Whether they conned the Government or were “brain dead F witmorons” in what it was they proposed they still got leap of faith for Government for the first time since NRC and One Nation to be funded $2 billion.

Professor Baird of Wollongong University in the researchreferred to by Cootanee and others said that without an upgrade of the corridor the rail market share would be 6% by 2015.
That’s one target that has been in fact exceeded following $2 billioninvestment in the North-South Corridor is that rail market share is still around 6% for Sydney to Melbourne after the money was spent.   In that time as well the Train Operatorsdidn’t come out and say it was a load of garbage either.


But whether it was or wasn’t enough funding we as taxpayers andthe transport industry should have seen some benefit from rail for the money spent.   That’s why I believe no one isgoing to spend another 2 or 3 billion to give us the super railway we all know is needed and therefore whether you’re a driver, rail operator advocate or just interested in railways the approach is very sadly going to have to be incremental rather than major.

I don’t blame Rail Operators if they don’t believe theycannot make money in the corridor trying to reduce rates to attract new business because they won’t be prepared to lose money waiting for the traffic to rebound.  They can’t get the utilizationout of locos and wagons and crews on the present journey time to reduce cost to lower rates which is why a round trip of equipment every 24 hours and you could then you could have differential pricing for priority versus non-priority traffic.

We know from Professor Baird’s research that you can get apositive financial return if the market share went up.  His view was potentially at least 30% to 40% independentof what ARTC forecast so we know there’s plenty of room to grow.

So if you’re in Government are you going to risk havehappening again what has happened with the last $2billion.  You’re not unless someone takes a stake in minimizingor sharing that risk or Government looks at another model for managing/owning the track that gives it confidence to do it.
You won’t get a greater advocatethan all of us on this forum for improving rail.  I’ll now wait for my next beat up.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
OK here goes Sad
The state and federal governments had the will to turn the Hume Highway/Freeway into what it is today . It's their lack of will to make the railway work as an intercapital route thats screwed rail over til now and into the future .
...
BDA

YEP no bucks no buck rogers and it's not rocket science. I can't see that changing with the new guvmnt either Exclamation
... Coota why you keep claiming that rail operators have no right to expect any better is beyond rational thinking .
Do you think the road freight operators had any right to expect better than the road they used 40 years ago ?
...
And yet brain dead F wit morons still come here and say it's the rail operators fault and they should be the ones getting runs on the board to deserve better funding . Tell me how the operators can do this Coota , better brains than yours have tried and failed to work this one out and you know why ? Because it CAN'T be done . Just the same as it couldn't be done on the old Hume .
And the terminal issues , they would have been just as much of a problem in the government operator days yet they did SFA about it when they owned them .
...
BDA

WRONG - where have I ever put this back on the operators ConfusedMad
It's not a level playing field. Operators will do what makes commercial sense. Linfox is a perfect example. They'll use whatever mode makes them a profit.

...
If governments were serious about emissions and liquid energy usage they wouldn't bother with global warming rot and planting hundreds of wind mills across ridge tops . A healthy percentage of land freight could be on a straighter rail route and fuel usage for the corridor would be a lot less than it is today . Ultimately governments couldn't give a rats (*) about fuel usage because more bought means more tax revenue paid , rail effectively loses its main advantage - price and efficiency . The rail route is slow so there is FA hope of it getting into high priority high revenue earning business .
And yet ...
BDA

Even brain dead F wit morons would know that you could trash the planet and not see rail get one cent more. It's politics and votes. It's everyone lobbying for roads and FA for rail. Ironically ARTC was the most high profile pro-rail lobby in a long time Surprised
...
Two things have and always will hamstring rail freight operations in Australia , ... Do you think ?
BDA

Sure I could rant about NRC not being allowed to take control of the track. ARTC being set up to fail by the then gumvmnt for ideological reasons. The Hume having a 35 year jump on the Main South (and counting). Ranting on and on and putting Sh#t on everyone. Still doesn't change a thing. Nor does brain dead F wit morons stating the bleeding obvious Rolling Eyes

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