Tookayerta (Loxton) & Pinnaroo lines to close

 
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I have just returned from yet another rail trip across USA.

There are significant differences between USA "short lines" and rump of the old SAR.
Typically short lines have:
A continuum of traffic.
A relationship with the end user be it food processing plant, steel mill, factory, textile mill.
Minimal operations staff. (family owned & operated)
Minimum legislative compliances.
A major railroad system to feed into.
A short route.

One of the closest examples of short line operation we had in Australia was the Silverton Tramway; it did what the government systems could not or would not do.

Considering that the USA is the home of the automotive industry it never ceases to surprise me how much freight moves by rail and how few trucks there are on the highways.

Ian
steam4ian

The USA mainland is roughly size of Australia with more than 10 x the population and probably 20x the industrialisation, ie they make things, not just dig holes in the ground. Therefore they have the traffic density to sustain rail lines where Australia doesn't. ie if Wagga Wagga was 5m people, Dubbo 2-3millon, Can 2-3m, Albury 1-2m, Moree, Tamworth, Armidale etc etc. its likely the number trucks on the roads may not increase a great deal. There would be viable, efficient rail lines criss crossing the country side with multiple operators.

Most of the USA population is inland, unlike Australia, so this also helps rail be more viable.

Also if you have a factory on east coast of USA and want to ship to any state capital in Australia, there is a good chance the freight will go via rail to the west coast of USA then ship to the relevant capital and likely in vice versa.

If Tasmania had only one major port, Tasrail would not be at best marginal operation.

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  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Also in the US , privately owned sidings are very common, which allows rail freight to go directly to the end customer
without double handling.
Horizontal integration here is the killer, along with the reduced loading guage and the toy axle loads.
  sar602 Chief Train Controller

Location: Nomadic truckie
A train ran from Pinnaroo yesterday arvo, the last few hoppers weren't loaded was this the last train?




passing through peak

[img]https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5504/14445171580_c344b665f1.jpg[/img]
  K-Class Chief Train Controller

Location: Melbourne

Minimum legislative compliances.
steam4ian

This is by far the biggest difference between North America an Australia. In Australia does not matter if you want to run a single small consist once a week or be a large national player like PN or Aurizon the compliance standards and paperwork are the same. In the US there is a 3 tier system and the regulatory standard required all depends on company turnover.

Another big difference is the axle load and line speed. They will run full sized 170t locos on almost all lines and then adjust the speed to the quality of the track. There are many grain only lines that are run at 10 to 20mph. Also they don't run pathetic little trains with only 40 or less wagons like we do in Oz. Since coming to Canada 12 months ago the shortest grain train I have seen was about 60 wagons and most are 80 to 110 wagons with as many as 150 or even more not unheard of.

In the US if a Class one railroad like UP, BNSF etc no longer want to operate a branchline/short line they sell it of to a short line operator who will run the shortline and bring the wagons to the junction with the main line and then the Class One railroad will take the load on towards its destination. Its a win win for both parties. In Australia this does not happen due to our compulsory open access systems. If GWA sell the line to another operator they get some upfront cash but no long term gain like an operator in the US would get. This is why all the BG lines AGR/GWA operated are now mothballed once they lost business on these lines they closed them rather than on sell them to another operator.

In SA the current hybrid of open excess and single operator is a problem and holding back the state. Since the sale of AN to ARG/GWA they have only been able to introduce 3 new services (excluding the Adelaide to Darwin trains which they purchased from Freightlink); containerised mineral sands from some where in the Mallee which only lasted for a couple of years or so and the copper and iron ore trains from Wirrida. In the same timeframe Patricks started the Balco, PN have the mineral sands from Broken Hill and SBR had the Iron ore from Raiken Dam + containers mainly of wine from the SCT depo to the port. Of all these new services only one was from one of GWA's sole us lines. Definitely looks like GWA need to be more proactive in looking for business opportunities rather than just rely on their long standing grain and stone business.

Matt
  Henry Herby

Location: Victoria
A train ran from Pinnaroo yesterday arvo, the last few hoppers weren't loaded was this the last train?




passing through peak

[img]https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5504/14445171580_c344b665f1.jpg[/img]
sar602


Had the same thing a few weeks ago... Last 4 weren't loaded due to the grain supply dwindled down and it would take too long to fill the remaining 4.

https://flic.kr/p/g6XXWJ
  greasyrhys Chief Commissioner

Location: MacDonald Park, SA
Fridays 3142s (from Tookayerta) returned to Adelaide with only 10 hoppers. As one loco ended up failing at the terminus.

As I post this, there's a 1341 hauled by double 22's & a CLP (to Tookayerta) on its way east (or south), would be between Belair & Mt Lofty.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
This is by far the biggest difference between North America an Australia. In Australia does not matter if you want to run a single small consist once a week or be a large national player like PN or Aurizon the compliance standards and paperwork are the same. In the US there is a 3 tier system and the regulatory standard required all depends on company turnover.

Another big difference is the axle load and line speed. They will run full sized 170t locos on almost all lines and then adjust the speed to the quality of the track. There are many grain only lines that are run at 10 to 20mph. Also they don't run pathetic little trains with only 40 or less wagons like we do in Oz. Since coming to Canada 12 months ago the shortest grain train I have seen was about 60 wagons and most are 80 to 110 wagons with as many as 150 or even more not unheard of.

In the US if a Class one railroad like UP, BNSF etc no longer want to operate a branchline/short line they sell it of to a short line operator who will run the shortline and bring the wagons to the junction with the main line and then the Class One railroad will take the load on towards its destination. Its a win win for both parties. In Australia this does not happen due to our compulsory open access systems. If GWA sell the line to another operator they get some upfront cash but no long term gain like an operator in the US would get. This is why all the BG lines AGR/GWA operated are now mothballed once they lost business on these lines they closed them rather than on sell them to another operator.

In SA the current hybrid of open excess and single operator is a problem and holding back the state. Since the sale of AN to ARG/GWA they have only been able to introduce 3 new services (excluding the Adelaide to Darwin trains which they purchased from Freightlink); containerised mineral sands from some where in the Mallee which only lasted for a couple of years or so and the copper and iron ore trains from Wirrida. In the same timeframe Patricks started the Balco, PN have the mineral sands from Broken Hill and SBR had the Iron ore from Raiken Dam + containers mainly of wine from the SCT depo to the port. Of all these new services only one was from one of GWA's sole us lines. Definitely looks like GWA need to be more proactive in looking for business opportunities rather than just rely on their long standing grain and stone business.

Matt
K-Class

The problem with your argument is that all too often in these forums the private sector gets criticized as only being in it for the money. But what you have clearly identified is that this is just not only true, but they will go alot further to make a buck out of a piece of infrastructure by running very heavy locos on light track and as anyone who has spent 10min on Youtube searching, the track conditions on minor lines in USA can at times be in extremely in poor condition. Yet it seems to work!

In 2003 on a trip to Vancouver I walked past the main line coming into the city, wooden sleepers, long wooden bridge rails were not even that big, yet the tonnage of the vehicles travelling over it including pax services was quite large and long, ie mile long 30-35t axle grain trains. Meanwhile our interstate looks far more "concrete" overall and carries lighter traffic and less traffic.

Why cannot GWA sell the line and then take the traffic from the main line to the port the same as USA example? Perhaps a small operator could get hold of a couple branch line locos for a few 100k and provide hook and pull to the main line. I believe Silverton did this in the NSW NW line to Cobar for some time. I think the issue with this in Australia unlike the USA, is that the freight volumes on these minor branch lines is low and spread too far apart. ie the drivers would be working a few days a week at best or need a camper van to go from one job to next which begs the question on where the locos are to be maintained?
  K-Class Chief Train Controller

Location: Melbourne
A question I don't think has been answered on here is why are GWA planning on closing the line? Is it because they have lost the contract with Vitera (the only customer on the line) and there is therefore no traffic left or is it that GWA consider the line to be unprofitable and are walking away from the potential business?
  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
A question I don't think has been answered on here is why are GWA planning on closing the line? Is it because they have lost the contract with Vitera (the only customer on the line) and there is therefore no traffic left or is it that GWA consider the line to be unprofitable and are walking away from the potential business?
K-Class


has gwa actually lost the customer?  is this confirmed?
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
A question I don't think has been answered on here is why are GWA planning on closing the line? Is it because they have lost the contract with Vitera (the only customer on the line) and there is therefore no traffic left or is it that GWA consider the line to be unprofitable and are walking away from the potential business?
"K-Class"

has gwa actually lost the customer?  is this confirmed?
"JimYarin"


Lets look back to the original post ...........
This morning on a Facebook page, someone mentioned that these two lines will be closing by mid-May (next month), as Viterra no longer wants trains hauling grain over these lines for unknown reasons.

then followed by the second post.......
*Citation required (not Facebook)

Later someone posted ........
Closures confirmed However this was based on a statement by state Opposition MP  Mr Whetstone

Later in the very same article we see the following statement by Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan.........
A Genesee & Wyoming Australia spokesman said the company had a current agreement in place with Viterra for the movement of grain on rail in the Murray–Mallee region.
“Planning for future operations is ongoing,” he said.
Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said no decision had been made by Genesee & Wyoming Australia to close rail lines in the State’s southeast.
Mr Mullighan said the company was currently in negotiations with Viterra.
Mr Mullighan said Mr Whetstone was well aware the negotiations were ongoing.
“His comments today don’t help those negotiations,” he said.


Since then we have seen reports of grain trains operating on both the Mallee lines, despite a claim that " there's currently no grain at Tookayerta!

So the logical conclusions one can draw are as follows.....
1. The line are Not yet closed.
2. Negotiations between G&WA and Viterra are still ongoing.
3. There has been a lot of conjecture posted with little fact.

To answer the previous poster questions....
Do we know if G&WA have lost the customer .... NO
Has it been confirmed?  .......... NO
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Conjecture without fact...I thought that was what the majority of "industry experts" who post here depend on.
  sar602 Chief Train Controller

Location: Nomadic truckie
Heard Tuesdays Tookayerta train maybe the last of the grain, there maybe as many as 10 more Pinnaroo trains. Also rumour has it that there will be a 12month contract extension.
  greasyrhys Chief Commissioner

Location: MacDonald Park, SA
A 1341 tomorrow? Thanks.
  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Heard Tuesdays Tookayerta train maybe the last of the grain, there maybe as many as 10 more Pinnaroo trains. Also rumour has it that there will be a 12month contract extension.
sar602


would the contract extension be over both lines?

do vitera intend continuing to store grain on the siols on both lines?
  sar602 Chief Train Controller

Location: Nomadic truckie
^As far as I know, also Victrack were apparently inspecting the BG over the border last week assessing possible rehabilitation and standardisation.
  AN830 Locomotive Driver

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
I've heard there is still about 8000t of grain in the silos at Pinnaroo.
  waynes Junior Train Controller

Location: Victoria
I've heard there is still about 8000t of grain in the silos at Pinnaroo.
AN830


This is correct. Yet to be mentioned on here is the fact Graincorp has in its recent review identified Pinnaroo as one of the sites which is to be upgraded to a super site. There will be a lot more grain at Pinnaroo in the future.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Considering that the USA is the home of the automotive industry it never ceases to surprise me how much freight moves by rail and how few trucks there are on the highways.

Ian
steam4ian

Because the US has an equally powerful locomotive and rolling stock building and maintaing Industry along with powerful freight train operators.

And a Government that has faith In their National railway network (mutable gauge Issues were solved over a century ago)
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Let's not forget the USA also hve good operators who run their railways efficiently and they are very customer focused.

The use of private sidings are promoted and used to the customers benefit.

The USA is very aware of environmental issues and has many controls in trucks.

Union Pacific and like operators operate to the customer requirement. In Australia operators are lazy poorly manage their business and expect the customer to fit in with their way of doing business.

In Australia a man called Vincent graham thought he was clever when he said railways would not connect to customers the customers would havers come to is and we would
Not carrying anything unless it was in a container.

Goodbye customers.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

"In Australia a man called Vincent graham thought he was clever when he said railways would not connect to customers the customers would havers come to is and we would
Not carrying anything unless it was in a container. "

Something seems to be lost in the translation, please explain.

BTW, much freight in USA and Canada is containers or vehicles particular to the service, eg motor vehicles, corn syrup, grain, oil or timber.
I haven't seen many box cars consistent with what SCT are doing here in Oz.

Ian
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Something seems to be lost in the translation, please explain.
"steam4ian"
It helps if you break down freight into four main categories like GB rail people do – less-than-wagonload which gets loaded into vans or boxcars or tied down on flats, intermodal containers which get put on standard ISO intermodal wagons, wagonload that uses specialised wagons (e.g. hoppers, tanks, autoracks, steel wagons) marshalled into mixed trains, and trainload where you have a unit train of one wagon type.

I assumed that he was talking about the railways in Australia walking away from the less-than-wagonload freight and driving that business to the open arms of Scott and Fox, unless it was put inside a shipping container and driven to the freight terminal where the railway would treat it as intermodal freight. SCT brought less-than-wagonload freight back and have made it work to some degree, and Aurizon seem to be open to it as well as I saw one of their trains go through Goodwood with one flat having a 24 seat bus and a trailer tied down, and another with a pair of brand new tractors.

We don't really have much in the way of wagonload freight in Australia these days, but there is at least some. The copper concentrate picked up at Union Reef and coupled to the end of GWA intermodal trains is very much an exception to the rule these days.

Trainload freight is still a very large part of the Australian freight scene – we transport coal, minerals, steel and grain in unit trains. If certain GWA grain trains are still picking up a few hoppers from each silo along the way after a common tractor would push them around during loading, they could be thought of as a hybrid wagonload/trainload operation.
BTW, much freight in USA and Canada is containers or vehicles particular to the service, eg motor vehicles, corn syrup, grain, oil or timber.

I haven't seen many box cars consistent with what SCT are doing here in Oz.

Ian
"steam4ian"
I don't think many people would refer to specialised freight wagons as "containers."

I thought boxcars were still fairly common in many some parts of the USA, but I guess it could just be a case of different operators in different parts of the country using whatever method they prefer to get the job done. It seems to be a winning move for SCT regardless of which US operators use them, as was their use of intermodal wagons for the short-term Rankin Dam iron ore deal that they could now put to work carrying conventional containers if required.
  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
only in adelaide. only in adelaide.

why are we so stupid over here?

http://www.railpage.com.au/news/s/reprieve-for-mallee-rail
  SAR523 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Chicago, IL
A couple of quick observations

1. What are the rail operators supposed to be carrying in Australia that they are not especially on the lines in the OP? Many of these lines were built for various political rather than economic reasons and were marginal when there was no competition to rail.  Rail is an extremely capital intensive method of moving things from point A to point B and so requires very specific conditions to work. When they're there it works; when they're not it doesn't.

2. One of those factors is population density.  The cities of Melbourne and Sydney (ie over half of Australia) together are roughly the same size and population of the smallest and least densely populated of the three largest US cities (Chicago). And Chicago is surrounded by other large cities and an array of towns for which there is no equivalent in Australia. And while US manufacturing has declined from the post ww2 historically rare global dominance, an awful lot of stuff is still made in the US.

3. So you have a large manufacturing base, a huge agricultural supply and a huge natural resources sector to provide traffic for which rail can be competitive.  There are new railways being built in Australia; they're just between mines and ports rather than wheat fields and ports.

4. The point about Australia's open access scheme vs the US case is a good one, but its worth noting that GWA is a short line operator (of mostly class III railroads) in the US, a niche in which they have performed quite well to date. If they're not seeing the value in these lines, perhaps there just isn't value in them? Simple things like maintenance facilities and crew accommodation are very different stories in Australia compared to the US. The economies of scale are just in different leagues between the two countries. Perhaps having different tiers of railroad would help, but its not like there's a lot of competition to start with. You would probably have to be 'class 1' to get on the ARTC network and so you have that economies of scale issue again.

5. There are other historical and economic factors as well. The US has shed vast distances of its previous railroad network but that's still left a lot of track. Australia just had a lot less to start with, a lot of which was built with what is now the wrong guage and and a lot of it wasn't ever economic. And no-one spends time comparing themselves to European freight railways as those governments have decided to invest in low energy ( read: oil) high speed passenger transport rather the promoting freight movement, despite having a dense and prosperous population.
  SAR520SMBH Junior Train Controller

Now that the closure of these lines has been pretty much confirmed and with GWA possibly having a surplus amount of the older locomotives, what are the chances of another GM or a 700, 22, ALF, CLP or CLF class being preserved or given too a museum?........ Sorry I just wanted to get in first before the usual suspects.
*shakes head and rolls eyes*
  Railwayfan Train Controller

Location: By a Railway
Now that the closure of these lines has been pretty much confirmed and with GWA possibly having a surplus amount of the older locomotives, what are the chances of another GM or a 700, 22, ALF, CLP or CLF class being preserved or given too a museum?........ Sorry I just wanted to get in first before the usual suspects.
*shakes head and rolls eyes*
SAR520SMBH

Come on give it a rest. Every forum page nowadays get this and does get tiring as it appears to be armchair operators that need to readjust cushions. Not being rude here but the threads lately have had this. These include the thread about 830s and "Former 'Murraylander' sets and 909/907". If anyone actually started the process, I would vouch for that. We would all like for some of those to be preserved but it isn't that easy. Especially given there standard gauge and could only got to Peterborough or NRM, but the latter is full from what I gather. Pichi Richi has narrow track and restrictions and the Victor line is broad gauge and would cost money to change over.

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