Study Launched to Upgrade the South Western Line to Thallon

 
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

There is no way any volunteer heritage railway can maintain 100km of track by themselves. If QR were to continue to maintain it then the heritage railway, relieved of that burden, could probably continue to operate a train over that length. My guess is that 10km would be an upper limit for a heritage group to maintain by themselves.

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  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I very much doubt SDSR can fund over 200 km of railway maintenance. Its a matter of when not if they will need to make a judgement call on what they are willing to take on, although they probably have nearly 10 years before the Qld will come. Toowoomba Warwick is likely a viable section, unfortunately Stanthorpe is likely too much and Wallangarra is history.

Warwick - Wallangarra is about 100km. Almost all SDSR runs are Warwick - Wallangarra, Warwick - Hendon or Warwick - Clifton, with annual runs to Goondiwindi and Toowoomba. The Warwick - Wallangarra trip is the spectacular scenery run, with the added bonus of wineries! I'd expect this to be the preferred route to remain if at all possible. Perhaps the wineries could help with funding.
Graham4405
If thats the section you think they will make the most amount of money, why not. Would the section Nth to Toowoomba be in better condition? Is the line to Wallangarra still open?

You may have read my comments in the Tas section regarding the NE line. Having lived and actually caught a steam trip up to Scotsdale, I don't see retaining the full line as HR vs conversion to rail trail as the smartest option and unlikely to be sustainable. Yes Scotsdale has a nice yard, but there is not much more to reward you for a 6h return trip and sustaining the near 70km railway I suspect is not going to work. I was told its mostly steel sleepers, unfortunately every rail crossing I found on Street view shows timber sleepers basically out of use for nearly 5y or more but was in good condition (yes I know there are a reasonable amount of steel, but its not most or anywhere near half). However unlike wine, timber sleepers do not get better with age.

In this case the govt wants to basically cut the line in half, the front half for HR to Lillydale and back half HR. There is strong local support for HR, but support doesn't equal users although the Lavender farms are very popular, in season! So perhaps there if the Lavender farms were to fund the 10km or so extension which I think will only provide viable to service during Lavender season as there is nothing else (also like Otago Rail train, the rail service stops short during the quiet time of year for rail trail users), why not and I say the same for the Vineyards in Qld. They cannot call for the line to retain, but expect others to fund it. Would it be that hard for them to fund collectively $1mpa in track maintenance provided SDSR provides a minimum agreed rail service?  

I caught the train to Barossa to do a wine tour with the Mrs, great day out. But the fares on offer don't fund the cost of the the operation. Again no funds forthcoming from the Vineyards as they don't see a big difference for riding by bus, car or train, so why pay for the train and now, no train!
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
Would the section Nth to Toowoomba be in better condition?
RTT_Rules

Yes, but is nowhere near as scenic and doesn't have the wineries and would still need to be maintained.
Is the line to Wallangarra still open?
RTT_Rules

Yes, but only used by SDSR and QR works trains.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Would the section Nth to Toowoomba be in better condition?

Yes, but is nowhere near as scenic and doesn't have the wineries and would still need to be maintained.
Graham4405
Though commercially, being able to connect to more passengers might be a pertinent consideration.  Especially if Tooowoomba gets passenger rail services that they can connect to.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
Would the section Nth to Toowoomba be in better condition?

Yes, but is nowhere near as scenic and doesn't have the wineries and would still need to be maintained.
Though commercially, being able to connect to more passengers might be a pertinent consideration.  Especially if Tooowoomba gets passenger rail services that they can connect to.
james.au
But being based in Warwick, the train would run Warwick - Toowoomba - Warwick, meaning that pax from Brisbane would only be able to travel to Warwick and have to find another way back. That traffic would be better served by Downssteam who are based in Toowoomba (and are yet to run a train).
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Would the section Nth to Toowoomba be in better condition?

Yes, but is nowhere near as scenic and doesn't have the wineries and would still need to be maintained.
Though commercially, being able to connect to more passengers might be a pertinent consideration.  Especially if Tooowoomba gets passenger rail services that they can connect to.
But being based in Warwick, the train would run Warwick - Toowoomba - Warwick, meaning that pax from Brisbane would only be able to travel to Warwick and have to find another way back. That traffic would be better served by Downssteam who are based in Toowoomba (and are yet to run a train).
Graham4405
Or the train runs Warwick-Twba-Wk-Wallangarra-Wk-Twba-Wk?

Other operators (eg ECHR, LVR, SRS and NSWRM in NSW) often run long positioning moves (>90km) before they run a tour.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Would the section Nth to Toowoomba be in better condition?

Yes, but is nowhere near as scenic and doesn't have the wineries and would still need to be maintained.
Though commercially, being able to connect to more passengers might be a pertinent consideration.  Especially if Tooowoomba gets passenger rail services that they can connect to.
But being based in Warwick, the train would run Warwick - Toowoomba - Warwick, meaning that pax from Brisbane would only be able to travel to Warwick and have to find another way back. That traffic would be better served by Downssteam who are based in Toowoomba (and are yet to run a train).
Graham4405
Or the train runs Warwick-Twba-Wk-Wallangarra-Wk-Twba-Wk?

Other operators (eg ECHR, LVR, SRS and NSWRM in NSW) often run long positioning moves (>90km) before they run a tour.
"james.au"


My thoughts
That's ok when running infrequently on govt track, but if running on your own track positioning move is expensive and time consuming.

If you own the track you need to run frequently to justify the track. Monthly is not frequently and not a significant contributor to the local economy if at all, better off with a rail trail or move to where the line is in commercial use, so on average 2-5 days a week, but not with steam engines every time, diesel and rail motor for the less busy time.

Warwick - Stanthorpe - Warwick is on the upper end in length of track of what others seem to manage to keep in service and provides a classic ranges tour with multiple stop options along the way and Stanthorpe itself is a destination, so more than a train ride and something people outside he gunzels may choose to do again at a frequency of more than once a lifetime or decade.

The extra distance to Wallangarra is unlikely to be viable with little on offer apart from a DG station. Keep the station/yard, offer gang motor tours of the track, but the track south of Stanthorpe through to New England is best removed and converted to a rail trail.

SDSR have also an interest in returning the Allora branch back to service. Again not too far, they take over part of the former main which is in good condition plus return a 6km branch to service. Now from Warwick they can offer two destinations so a bit of variety. Short run for the quieter days, longer run for the busier days and maybe also an option to for shorter run on the southern line.

Would be nice to see if they could retain a short section of the SW line to keep the Warwick junction alive. But not much on offer within a few km of the station. It would be going for a train ride for train rides sake.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
Or the train runs Warwick-Twba-Wk-Wallangarra-Wk-Twba-Wk?

Other operators (eg ECHR, LVR, SRS and NSWRM in NSW) often run long positioning moves (>90km) before they run a tour.
james.au

Warwick - Wallangarra - Warwick or Warwick - Toowoomba - Warwick are both a full day trip, allowing for some time at the destination. I can't see your suggestion being particularly viable. Even either of the two options I have stated in this post would be costly and thus command very high fares, probably $200+ return if SDSR have to maintain the track!
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
The extra distance to Wallangarra is unlikely to be viable with little on offer apart from a DG station.
RTT_Rules

The great thing about Wallangarra as a destination is the lunch-time dining options. A 3 course meal in the RRR and a choice to two pubs, one in Wallangarra Qld and the other in Jennings NSW, all within a short walk of the platform!

SDSR have also an interest in returning the Allora branch back to service.
RTT_Rules

Whilst this was in their original plan, it seems to have fallen by the wayside. There is a lot of work to do including a bridge replacement. The plan was to run the RM14 replica on the branch, but it is now on loan to another (non-operational) group.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Documents produced by the Southern Downs Regional Council in 2016 show the Big W warehouse at Warwick generates 4,000 container movements to Brisbane per annum, and GrainX at Allora loads and exports 3,000 grain containers (using Qube A-Doubles). Neither using rail between Warwick and Brisbane, but with Watco now on the scene and the tunnel clearance project finished...there's opportunities beyond SDSR.

QR documents suggest SDSR is still the owner of the Allora Branch. However GrainX was involved in trying to reopen the line in 2014, but couldn't find interest in rail operators to provide services or rollingstock.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Documents produced by the Southern Downs Regional Council in 2016 show the Big W warehouse at Warwick generates 4,000 container movements to Brisbane per annum, and GrainX at Allora loads and exports 3,000 grain containers (using Qube A-Doubles). Neither using rail between Warwick and Brisbane, but with Watco now on the scene and the tunnel clearance project finished...there's opportunities beyond SDSR.

Interesting.

QR documents suggest SDSR is still the owner of the Allora Branch. However GrainX was involved in trying to reopen the line in 2014, but couldn't find interest in rail operators to provide services or rollingstock.
"Sulla1"


3000 boxes per annum is not huge, just one 400-450m train a week, but a start. The two traffic combined would likely sustain the line to Warwick and if any cattle, bonus points and open the Allora branch if there was a suitable capital injection. That bridge Graham mentioned is 45m long and barely 1.5 high, simple culvet replacement would likely make that issue go away with fewer dollars.


Sounds good for the future of the NG Gowrie to Warwick with DG on new Inland to Brisbane to cut operational costs even further.

The SW line however would unlikely be retained with grain put on the Inland post gauge conversion.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The extra distance to Wallangarra is unlikely to be viable with little on offer apart from a DG station.
RTT_Rules


The great thing about Wallangarra as a destination is the lunch-time dining options. A 3 course meal in the RRR and a choice to two pubs, one in Wallangarra Qld and the other in Jennings NSW, all within a short walk of the platform!



SDSR have also an interest in returning the Allora branch back to service.
RTT_Rules

Whilst this was in their original plan, it seems to have fallen by the wayside. There is a lot of work to do including a bridge replacement. The plan was to run the RM14 replica on the branch, but it is now on loan to another (non-operational) group.
"Graham4405"


Interesting, however unfortunately I cannot see lunch being attractive enough to sustain 40km or what ever of railway. Perhaps maintained to a lower standard and using track machines sized equipment may prove a viable option over a line sustained in HR standards with suitable speed.

Looking at the bridge on google street view, its a low rise 45m long structure, likely easily replaced with culvets for most if not all of it. SDSR need to just find a friendly supplier who can supply at an attractive price or even donated. Perhaps some of the bridge span can be reduced with fill?  The road bridge is for example is just 20m long using culverts. Oberon heritage rail were able to get support from local contractors and council to provide labour and machines to do similar work including repair LX and reinstate former LX previously removed. After that 6km of track left idle for 15 years over flat terrain shouldn't be too hard to raise from the dead for a rail motor. At a guess 1:3 or 1:2 sleeper replacement is needed. No need to get the RM back unless you have work for it.

More funds would be needed for container traffic, but look at the US for some of their short branch lines and how bad some of those lines are and used by heavy freight services. No gold plating.
  Sunbird Locomotive Fireman

Documents produced by the Southern Downs Regional Council in 2016 show the Big W warehouse at Warwick generates 4,000 container movements to Brisbane per annum, and GrainX at Allora loads and exports 3,000 grain containers (using Qube A-Doubles). Neither using rail between Warwick and Brisbane, but with Watco now on the scene and the tunnel clearance project finished...there's opportunities beyond SDSR.

QR documents suggest SDSR is still the owner of the Allora Branch. However GrainX was involved in trying to reopen the line in 2014, but couldn't find interest in rail operators to provide services or rollingstock.
Sulla1
Big W announced last year that there Warwick DC will close in 2023 when the lease finishes.
It was announced along with other site closures around the country and they did not give a specific reason for the closure. However I suspect the Toowoomba bypass altering the preferred route for trucks travelling between Melbourne and Brisbane was a factor.

In the case of Grain X I'm not convinced the owner is serious about using rail. Whenever he gets complaints about running an industrial facility in the middle of an otherwise sleepy village (those tree change pensioners know how to whinge) he always says he needs to be there because of the rail connection. Obviously he doesn't want the cost of building a new facility elsewhere so I think he just goes through the charade of using rail to get the council off his back.

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