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Poor management and penny pinching may ultimately result in it being found out very early in the piece that the standardised Murray Basin Railway will end up with inferior operational flexibility and capability compared to its existing broad gauge counterpart.
This primarily would appear to come about through appointment of a Project Director who from the outset has been more interested in scoring "brownie points" through cutting corners, saving $ ; with little or no rail operational experience dictating outcomes - that will end up with a significantly degraded railway on SGcompared to broad gauge .
At an early briefing on this issue same Project Director was asked will the MB project address the myriad of permanent SR 's on the Mildura line, to which he replied NOT part of his brief - really NOT interested; all will be wonderful once it is standard gauge !!!! NEW competition between between the ports, ALL will be well with SG.
We are aiming to carry more tonnage on more trains on SG BUT miraculously we are going to do that :
- With no crossing loop (s) between Maryborough & Warrenheip.
- Potentially less crossing locations between Warrenheip & North Geelong
- NO dual gauging of the grain arrival & departure roads at North Geelong between Separation St & Thompsons Rd .
- A totally inadequate number of standard gauge roads at Maryborough to cross/stage train movements.
- NO standard gauge crossing loop whatsoever between Maryborough and Maroona .
- Deliberate REMOVAL of the existing standard gauge connection at Ararat between the Avoca and Western mainlines .
No doubt ARTC want this direct connection retained, but it will be the usual SMEG fight as to who pays . The project Director apparently has unilaterally decreed it is not needed and Victoria will not pay, and no doubt ARTC refuse to pay . So stalemate .
Feds no doubt are sick of handing out more $ to Victoria who never seem to be able to cost any transport project correctly within cooee of reality.
No doubt after two bites at the cherry State Treasury is likewise sick of Victorian Transport bureacrats who cant get anywhere near an accurate costing first up on any rail project . On top of this we have NO State Minister actually responsible for Rail Freight, and no one with any operational expertise / experience guiding the whole fiasco so this is what we end up with.
The new direct connection from the Maryborough to the Maroona Line at Ararat is understood to be part of the current project, but as usual with these things the signal design/installation will no doubt delay the opening of the direct link . To retain the poor mans indirect link to the Ararat Yard would only require one additional turnout and at best two more signals . Hardly a high cost addition overall, which should be funded now 50/50 Feds / Victoria . Period .
In the meantime pending completion of the direct link at Ararat , trains will have to run out to Pyrenees Loop and reverse .
Given this project was announced 3 years ago an experienced Rail Project Manager knowing the inevitable delays with all new signalling works would have seen that the signal design and equipment acquisition were done 2 years ago as some of the first work priorities of the overall MB project .
Likely outcome after completion Stage 2 works :
Maryborough - Mildura : A standardized railway still restricted by endless SR's owing to track quality, level crossing and visibility issues. (Just look at the photos of the standardized track quality North of Dunolly, still a secondary goat track.)
Maryborough - Insufficient sg holding roads will severely restrict train throughput, and restrict operational flexibility increasing costs to all Freight Operators .
Maryborough - Ararat. The best quality freight track in the State will be knobbled by lack of a crossing loop, and connection westward at Ararat . (Train throughput not maximized, operational delays extra costs, new traffic opportunities not realized. )
Maryborough - Warrenheip : Potentially will be an absolute operational disaster without a single crossing loop , coupled with getting through the Ballarat area and its conflicting broad gauge passenger movements .
North Geelong : With an increased volume of standard gauge grain trains this area will quickly become unworkable owing to failure to dual gauge the existing broad gauge arrival & departure roads at North Geelong "C" .
Written by: https://www.railpage.com.au/user/10602
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