Canberra-Eden rail needs another look

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 18 May 2021 21:12
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Worth another look at re-opening this line?

Canberra-Eden rail needs another look

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  theanimal Chief Commissioner

it is not re-opening a line, there never was a line.
  Transtopic Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
The Queanbeyan to Bombala Line is an existing line, but now closed.
  SinickleBird Assistant Commissioner

Location: Qantas Club at Mudgee International Airport
There is a major problem with these “just reopen this old line - it won’t cost much at all” proposals.

Applies to Lithgow-Mudgee, Queanbeyan-Bombala, Young-Blayney, Gulgong-Maryvale (earthworks still in place, though never laid), Oberon ..... And probably a fair proportion of closed routes in other states.

Old rail lines were built by pick and shovel, spoil transported by horse and wagon etc. As a result, the alignment was designed to minimise the movement of dirt and rock, while maintaining workable grades. This means lots of curves where the country is hilly, often on tight radii, low axle loads and relatively short trains.

None of the above apply to modern train operations. It makes no sense to just re-lay some track and start running 15-wagon trains hauled by 48 class.

You need to completely redesign the route - likely more land acquisition, definitely much more earth moving, modern standards of perway = huge cost.

This is why my BS detector goes off every time some foamer  starts on “let’s reopen the old line to...”
  apw5910 Chief Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
"Yet another study into an uneconomic line from Canberra to Eden needs another go."
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

There is a major problem with these “just reopen this old line - it won’t cost much at all” proposals.

Applies to Lithgow-Mudgee, Queanbeyan-Bombala, Young-Blayney, Gulgong-Maryvale (earthworks still in place, though never laid), Oberon ..... And probably a fair proportion of closed routes in other states.

Old rail lines were built by pick and shovel, spoil transported by horse and wagon etc. As a result, the alignment was designed to minimise the movement of dirt and rock, while maintaining workable grades. This means lots of curves where the country is hilly, often on tight radii, low axle loads and relatively short trains.

None of the above apply to modern train operations. It makes no sense to just re-lay some track and start running 15-wagon trains hauled by 48 class.

You need to completely redesign the route - likely more land acquisition, definitely much more earth moving, modern standards of perway = huge cost.

This is why my BS detector goes off every time some foamer  starts on “let’s reopen the old line to...”
SinickleBird

I can't think of a better explanation than this as to why old lines should just be left to rot. Murwillumbah is another one and while I have no issue of the old line being used as the solar train and don't see an issue with extending it to Mullumbimby. They are not capable of running modern rail and there needs to be more then just 1 rail service a day to make it worthwhile to put money in to.
  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

There’s a daily TrainLink coach from Eden to Canberra, a 3 days-a-week TrainLink coach from Bombala to Canberra via Dalgety and Jindabyne, and a twice-a-week V/Line coach from Bairnsdale to Canberra via Bombala and Nimmitabel. How do you turn that into 2404 passengers a day?

Re the above, the Monaro Rail Trail website has Trail Flyover Videos of the existing right-of-way: https://www.monarorailtrail.com.au/maps/trail-flyover
The section south of Nimmitabel is interesting. 115 km/h freights and 160 km/h tilt-trains???

It'll be struggling to be a rail trail, let alone becoming a rail line again and adding new track from Bombala to Eden.
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
"Canberra-Eden rail needs another look".

We've had another look and the answer's no.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Again it is best to leave it to the Cooma Rail museum and if your in the area stop in and support them. As for re opening it for main line use that is 99.999999% not going to happen and if it did there would have to be new track laid for modern rolling stock.
  ANR Chief Commissioner

It will always be looked at again and again with every election cycle.

I think if they rebuild it, people will use it, especially in the snow season. With faster internet, people may even consider moving to the Snowy Mountains. An incredible part of Australia that has another side to it in the off peak season.
  theanimal Chief Commissioner

It will always be looked at again and again with every election cycle.

I think if they rebuild it, people will use it, especially in the snow season. With faster internet, people may even consider moving to the Snowy Mountains. An incredible part of Australia that has another side to it in the off peak season.
ANR
I think we need to accept that passenger trains to the Snowy in winter will never be sufficent justification to build a railway. The justification would be around freight to help fund the construction.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

It will always be looked at again and again with every election cycle.

I think if they rebuild it, people will use it, especially in the snow season. With faster internet, people may even consider moving to the Snowy Mountains. An incredible part of Australia that has another side to it in the off peak season.
ANR

The line doesn't go to the ski resorts and so your theory is invalid. Freight is the only thing that can make it viable and not passenger traffic.
  62440 Chief Commissioner

I don't know why this thread has legs. A line from Cooma to Eden wouldn't go anywhere near Bombala, it is a new route which crosses a couple of mountain ranges after Nimmitabel.
What freight do you envisage in Mt per year? Are there ant potential mines along the route?
Is it a freight line that has a passenger service or a passenger line that takes freight (this determines gradients and curves and hence construction costs)?
What intermediate towns would benefit?
As one who has carried out formal studies in rail reopening, this one wouldn't even qualify for a study.
  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

Two of the three optional routes from Eden, including the preferred route, are via Bombala:
https://createdigital.org.au/100-year-old-rail-line-connect-canberra-to-the-coast/

A million bucks disappeared in a feasibility study.
  SinickleBird Assistant Commissioner

Location: Qantas Club at Mudgee International Airport
“A million bucks disappeared in a feasibility study.”

I could have told them it’s a dog for half that much. How do you get a gig like that?
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
I could have told them it’s a dog for half that much. How do you get a gig like that?
"SinickleBird"
Easy. Buy a briefcase, establish an office more than 5 km from home, and call yourself a consultant.
  c3526blue Deputy Commissioner

Location: in the cuckoos nest
Unfortunately the Ontoit analysis is seriously flawed.  It appears to be a typical exercise by a consultant to give the client the answer they wanted right from the beginning.  Assumptions and analysis are as badly flawed if not worse than those of the original proposal.

What should happen is that a new proposal (strategically) should be developed using the two recent studies as a base, then a proper and accurate feasibility study and cost/benefit analysis prepared.

Despite all the armchair (loafer) experts advice on here naysaying the proposal I am open minded and want a proper analysis undertaken.  Biased studies tilted massively in favour or against the proposal do nothing to clarify the projects potential.  Get real people.

Happy projecting,

John
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
The more ridiculous a railway thought bubble/proposal the more likely is someone to throw taxpayers' money at it.

It must be government policy that it is sometimes easier to throw money away than not to throw money away.
  tom9876543 Chief Train Controller

I thought the Bombala line had a ruling gradient of 1/40?
I think the line climbing up from Queanbeyan towards Goulburn is 1/40 as well.

The article about proposed line seems to show max gradient of 1/60 between Eden and Bombala.

I believe the requirement for modern freight line is ruling gradient of 1/80.
This plan fails miserably to meet that requirement.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Unfortunately the Ontoit analysis is seriously flawed.  It appears to be a typical exercise by a consultant to give the client the answer they wanted right from the beginning.  Assumptions and analysis are as badly flawed if not worse than those of the original proposal.

What should happen is that a new proposal (strategically) should be developed using the two recent studies as a base, then a proper and accurate feasibility study and cost/benefit analysis prepared.

Despite all the armchair (loafer) experts advice on here naysaying the proposal I am open minded and want a proper analysis undertaken.  Biased studies tilted massively in favour or against the proposal do nothing to clarify the projects potential.  Get real people.

Happy projecting,

John
c3526blue
John, totally agree.  While I have doubts as to the viability of the line, and having been involved in more than a few working parties regarding rail transportation in my earlier days that included experts from overseas and hired to look into the overall rail transport in the regions, each of those big costly reports ended with reccomendations that clearly suited the government of the day and what they wanted for the future.

Perhaps if one was to put such reports on a graded listing at the top would be the Travers Morgan report that was handled by a U.S company whose brief primarilly was to get certain freight off rail.  My copies of the report clearly showed so many areas where business that was at a high for rail had some of the most ridiculous reasons to remove that viable business from rail and therefore was the cause of freight being turned away from lines.

Some lines that had at least 4 trains each day in both directions were cut to one service when the other business was cut, today the line is closed.  That took place in more ways and locations which one sees strewn across the state never to re-open and local shire councils now and for years have had to foot the bills in the costs of repairs and maintaining the road networks within their own council boundaries.

I wonder really as to how much politically correct reasons were used in the working out of this projects viability, in other words it was doomed before it started.
  a6et Minister for Railways

I thought the Bombala line had a ruling gradient of 1/40?
I think the line climbing up from Queanbeyan towards Goulburn is 1/40 as well.

The article about proposed line seems to show max gradient of 1/60 between Eden and Bombala.

I believe the requirement for modern freight line is ruling gradient of 1/80.
This plan fails miserably to meet that requirement.
tom9876543
The lower the ruling grade the better it is for the freight haulage.  If as you say the modern requirement for a freight line is 1:80, then almost every mainline in NSW would not fit that requirement.  Even the short south Sydney - Goulburn fails as it has a ruling grade of 1:75.

If the new line was built, and given that there is not much freight business on the line past the garbage tip at Tarago, then there is ample time to be able to remove much of those grades under the 1:80, although if the line goes ahead, then there are a fair number of areas along the old lines that would need a lot of work to reduce the lines grades overall.  

Perhaps the biggest project would be the section from Queenbeyan to Michaelago owing to its grade and curves that would reduce the loading from the Eden end.  It is more likely that if the project went ahead that a set gradient would need to be put in place in order to have viable loading.  

The project though would likely need to have something akin to grades like the INR, and why it heads North to QLD before it hits the grades North of Coota, and a new line being connected from Illabo to  Forbes/Parkes line.
  tom9876543 Chief Train Controller

The lower the ruling grade the better it is for the freight haulage.  If as you say the modern requirement for a freight line is 1:80, then almost every mainline in NSW would not fit that requirement.  Even the short south Sydney - Goulburn fails as it has a ruling grade of 1:75.
a6et
Ok maybe modern freight railway lines require 1/75 grade for optimal operation. I'm happy for any expert to tell us what modern railways lines require.
The point still stands - 1/40 is not ideal. I guess the Newcastle line also has 1/40 so freight trains can operate on the old Bombala line.


If the new line was built, and given that there is not much freight business on the line past the garbage tip at Tarago, then there is ample time to be able to remove much of those grades under the 1:80, although if the line goes ahead, then there are a fair number of areas along the old lines that would need a lot of work to reduce the lines grades overall.  
a6et
I think the point is, the Eden - Canberra railway line business case assumes the old Bombala - Queanbeyan line can be reinstated at minimal cost.
You should realise that if major upgrades are required to the old railway line, the business case probably falls apart.


Perhaps the biggest project would be the section from Queenbeyan to Michaelago owing to its grade and curves that would reduce the loading from the Eden end.  It is more likely that if the project went ahead that a set gradient would need to be put in place in order to have viable loading.  
a6et
I am not sure why you chose Queenbeyan to Michaelago as the difficult section of the old line. I think you are wrong.
The line just south of Nimmitabel is worse, it has tight curves and steep gradients. Tuggeranong doesn't have steep gradients.


I think the Canberra - Eden railway line will never be built, this is a hypothetical conversation.
  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

The original report has its own deep flaws, apart from what seem to be optimistic engineering costs.

The report proposes all sorts of potential passenger markets, using 160 km/h tilt-trains, such as commuters to Canberra from Michelago (current pop 560; projected 4000) and cruise ship day-trippers to Canberra from Eden. Yet it acknowledges that passenger operations would not be profitable and would ‘require a subsidy in the order of 30% of revenue in order to operate on a revenue-neutral basis at competitive fares’.

The viability of the project is predicated on dubious freight tonnages, mainly exports from Eden and capturing freight from western and southern NSW. The projected tonnage from day one of operation is 5 million tonnes per annum. The assumption is that, as Eden has lower wharfage charges than other NSW ports, customers will prefer to use it (see below). Some of the freight sources given are timber products (mainly Eden Area – 26%), agricultural products (such as grain from the Western, Central, Riverina and Southern districts of NSW – 43%) and quarry products (to Sydney, from an as yet non-existent industry – 12%).

Eden currently exports about 1.2 million tonnes, presumably woodchips. The report proposes carrying 1 million tonnes of this, from the areas within 100 km of Eden. A further 470,00 tonnes of timber would be carried north to the mills at Tumut, Tumbarumba and Wagga Wagga. No mention is made of how the timber would finally get to Tumut and Tumbarumba, other than ‘this (the tonnage) would significantly increase were the Tumut Branch from Cootamundra to be reopened’.

The proposal expects to capture 66% of the grain that goes to Port Kembla from the above-mentioned areas and 10% of the grain that goes to the Port of Newcastle.

It also expects to capture 1 million tonnes from the Melbourne – Brisbane, Adelaide – Brisbane and Perth – Brisbane Intermodal markets.

There is no accounting for the rail improvements required north of Canberra. For example, the freight catchment area map shows some sort of wye in the vicinity of Joppa Junction, to provide direct access to Eden from the west of NSW. No mention is made of cost, or the length required for the south-western arm, in the report body. Nor is there any analysis of the Port of Eden’s ability to handle the tonnages or type of freight and whether upgrading would increase wharfage charges. It merely refers to an upgraded port.

The report proposes a 50:50 public private partnership. There doesn’t seem to be too many companies keen to sign up for 50% of a loss-making business.

There are plenty of proposals that can be invalidated by simple back-of-the-envelope calculations (with or without a $1 million cheque inside said envelope). This is one of them.
  a6et Minister for Railways

The lower the ruling grade the better it is for the freight haulage.  If as you say the modern requirement for a freight line is 1:80, then almost every mainline in NSW would not fit that requirement.  Even the short south Sydney - Goulburn fails as it has a ruling grade of 1:75.
Ok maybe modern freight railway lines require 1/75 grade for optimal operation. I'm happy for any expert to tell us what modern railways lines require.
The point still stands - 1/40 is not ideal. I guess the Newcastle line also has 1/40 so freight trains can operate on the old Bombala line.


If the new line was built, and given that there is not much freight business on the line past the garbage tip at Tarago, then there is ample time to be able to remove much of those grades under the 1:80, although if the line goes ahead, then there are a fair number of areas along the old lines that would need a lot of work to reduce the lines grades overall.  
I think the point is, the Eden - Canberra railway line business case assumes the old Bombala - Queanbeyan line can be reinstated at minimal cost.
You should realise that if major upgrades are required to the old railway line, the business case probably falls apart.


Perhaps the biggest project would be the section from Queenbeyan to Michaelago owing to its grade and curves that would reduce the loading from the Eden end.  It is more likely that if the project went ahead that a set gradient would need to be put in place in order to have viable loading.  
I am not sure why you chose Queenbeyan to Michaelago as the difficult section of the old line. I think you are wrong.
The line just south of Nimmitabel is worse, it has tight curves and steep gradients. Tuggeranong doesn't have steep gradients.


I think the Canberra - Eden railway line will never be built, this is a hypothetical conversation.
tom9876543
The lower the ruling grade is the better it is, as such the short south to Goulburn is 1:75 however there is a short section of 1:40 at Picton from the Southern end of the platform to the old Hume Highway bridge. On Exeter bank there was 1:66 around the S bends and taxed steam & early diesels in adverse conditions owing to the curvature of the line. However it was basically short enough to not tax the loco's.

South of Goulburn to Harden there were quite a few 1:40's wich taxed trains on the down but worse on the up as Bethungra spiral kicked in, why many of the goods trains had to have two engines for the loads both directions.

Every line out of Sydney with the exception of the west had 1:40 grades, the West past Penrith had 1:30 & 1:32 from Valley Heights to Katoomba, 1:40/42 facing up trains ex Lithgow to Zig Zag, along with many 1:40 grades west of Lithgow as well.

The aspect regarding the Queenbeyan - Michelago section is concerned is that from approx Tarlee the line heads to the top of a range and drops down near the old station of Tuggeranong from there its a series of curves until the line drops to Michelago. For up trains its a fair slog, (others would know the gradient there) as I have witnessed in the past, even from Bredbo - Michelago the line is pretty much uphill for up trains where there is another range and series of tunnels.  For down trains which would include to Bombala there would be a lot of work needed especially in bridge replacements, south of Cooma the line would need to be totally rebuilt and in certaint areas rerouted.  

The 1:40 section in particular would be an issue as it immediatly knocks down the load for trains over that section.  The other point is what will the grade be going down the escarpment to Eden?  Having worked trains down the Illawarra escarpment from Moss Vale - Undanderra, which sits as a ruling grade of 1:30/32 from Summit Tank was not an easy task and even for modern trains with more powerful loco's and working Dynamic brakes compared to my time when having a single dynamic working on a double headed train was a case of caution all the way, consider also how many derailment/runaways there has been on that line in recent year.

I also am not sure that it will ever be built but I know I will never see it.  If it is built that last section to Eden would need to be on a long grade at reasonable ratings for it to work.

I did a quick look at the line south of Cooma, and the number of curves and deviations is incredibe and not easy to follow anymore.  It goes a long way inland to get easier curves, meaning a new line would be the only real option if it was to ever go ahea.
  apw5910 Chief Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
The whole Curve and Gradient Diagram book is available as a pdf
download from https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/media/documents/2017/Curve_and_Gradient_Diagrams_V2-0_b.pdf

Joppa Junction to Bombala is on page338 onwards.

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