Rural rail subsidised by up to $4,000 a trip, prompting overhaul call

 
  scott83 Assistant Commissioner

Location: TWBA
The glory days of land based long distance travel are over, never to return. All long distance passenger trains should be of a 5 star standard to attract money and all PT coaches should be heading to the local airport. Anything else is a waste of time....

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  tazzer96 Chief Commissioner

When the 2nd Electric tilt returns to service, QR should trial a daily westlander on a good timetable. Its not like they can lose more money on it, so give it a shot.  The timetable is designed to make it fail.  

The Inlander as a non-luxury has no hope.  Convert it into a weekly luxury train like the Spirit of the Outback and you have a bit of hope.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
When the 2nd Electric tilt returns to service, QR should trial a daily westlander on a good timetable. Its not like they can lose more money on it, so give it a shot.  The timetable is designed to make it fail.  

The Inlander as a non-luxury has no hope.  Convert it into a weekly luxury train like the Spirit of the Outback and you have a bit of hope.
tazzer96
The SOTO is a shadow of its former self. Yes the change in the 90's from the Midlander was successful, but the numbers are often coach load only. SOTO survives because Longreach is a destination, Mt Isa and Charlieville are not and most people who go there only spend a day or so there in their 4x4.

Westlander and Inlander have insufficient population base to service for use as local or regional transport, yes the timetable doesn't help but I doubt its a deal breaker. Inlander, 24hr to do 1000km, Westie 17hr to do 750km. NSW and Vic have far more viable services because the distances are moderate in comparison, the track superior and population also 10 fold more.

The Westie, just may be able to achieve something is truncated and made day return or return the following day. The Inlander has nothing.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Truncated to where RTT?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Truncated to where RTT?
james.au
The Midlander used to go from Rocky to Winton, so truncated to Longreach but starting from Brisbane in early 90's. The numbers got a big boost then especially on the NCL where it was part of a large pool of services on offer. I used to often catch it back on Sunday night to Brisbane.
  tazzer96 Chief Commissioner

The westlander does go through enough population to make it viable.  The area in which it goes through doesn't have viable air travel.
The westlander should probably be truncated to toowoomba with a coach to brisbane.  Simply because that section is shocking.

The line from toowoomba to charlieville should be upgraded to 20 TAL with speed upgrades so it is minimum 100kph from oakey to cunnamulla.  This could and should be done fairly cheaply and would have huge benefits for freight.  But doing that would offer the westlander a solid speed.  All it would take is putting down more ballast, concrete sleepers and upgrades to some bridges. (or you can just speed restrict them)  An upgrade of this nature could easily be done for $300 million, an amount that is possible to returned via access fees and lower highway maintenance.

The main reason the midlander was truncated was because winton is because it took over 3 hours to travel that section due to the very slow speed limit.  It was simply smarter to bustitute that section.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
The westlander does go through enough population to make it viable.  The area in which it goes through doesn't have viable air travel.
The westlander should probably be truncated to toowoomba with a coach to brisbane.  Simply because that section is shocking.

The line from toowoomba to charlieville should be upgraded to 20 TAL with speed upgrades so it is minimum 100kph from oakey to cunnamulla.  This could and should be done fairly cheaply and would have huge benefits for freight.  But doing that would offer the westlander a solid speed.  All it would take is putting down more ballast, concrete sleepers and upgrades to some bridges. (or you can just speed restrict them)  An upgrade of this nature could easily be done for $300 million, an amount that is possible to returned via access fees and lower highway maintenance.

The main reason the midlander was truncated was because winton is because it took over 3 hours to travel that section due to the very slow speed limit.  It was simply smarter to bustitute that section.
tazzer96
Sounds good, but (there is always a but Smile ) unless it is marketed people don't know it exists. Also if having to change to bus in Toowoomba, why not bus it the whole way?

In all honestly, I would expect most patronage of a revamped service would be from Dalby eastwards. Provide a fast(ish) rail service from Dalby to Brisbane, put the people further west on the bus.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
I am not advocating road charging. James is the one who is advocating that solution and I am totally against road charging. I'm saying to let the current system go as it is funding these new roads. If electrical cars become a reality for everyday motoring then there will probably be an uprise in tolls paying for new major roads to be built.
simstrain

@simstrain, a thought went through my mind today that perhaps i wasn't 100% clear wiht my explanation of road user charging.  Was i clear in that I would expect fuel tax, road user charges through rego and some other charges to be eliminated, and perhaps costs significantly reduced?  This would offset the road user charge introduced on a cost recovery basis.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I am not advocating road charging. James is the one who is advocating that solution and I am totally against road charging. I'm saying to let the current system go as it is funding these new roads. If electrical cars become a reality for everyday motoring then there will probably be an uprise in tolls paying for new major roads to be built.

@simstrain, a thought went through my mind today that perhaps i wasn't 100% clear wiht my explanation of road user charging.  Was i clear in that I would expect fuel tax, road user charges through rego and some other charges to be eliminated, and perhaps costs significantly reduced?  This would offset the road user charge introduced on a cost recovery basis.
james.au
As fuel consumption per vehicle km decreases changes will be required in the road funding model, however this is probably a decade or more away and in the mean time traffic density is increasing off-setting the loss of revenue.
  tazzer96 Chief Commissioner

Sounds good, but (there is always a but Smile ) unless it is marketed people don't know it exists. Also if having to change to bus in Toowoomba, why not bus it the whole way?

In all honestly, I would expect most patronage of a revamped service would be from Dalby eastwards. Provide a fast(ish) rail service from Dalby to Brisbane, put the people further west on the bus.
Graham4405
Mainly because that section is so shockingly bad.  because that section is also by far the most costly as you generally need a second (third?) loco and use a lot of fuel getting up.
It would be the best balance between train and coach.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Replacing the Westlander with a daily service Brisbane - Dalby sounds like a good idea. Wire the Westlander carriages with MU cables and configure the service as push-pull to raise the speed and acceleration of the service.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
Replacing the Westlander with a daily service Brisbane - Dalby sounds like a good idea. Wire the Westlander carriages with MU cables and configure the service as push-pull to raise the speed and acceleration of the service.
LancedDendrite
The biggest hurdles would be the slow range descent/ascent (lots of curves, oh, the flange squeal!) and getting through the suburban system. The current timetable is 6:02 from Roma Street to Dalby and 6:38 from Dalby to Roma Street. The Bus Queensland service timetable is 3:45 and 3:50 respectively, Murrays is 3:15 and 3:00 (less stops). You can drive it in 2:30 (with low road traffic levels), a decent Toowoomba bypass would reduce this considerably.

A new rail corridor adjacent to the second range (road) crossing should have been funded to reduce rail times on the range. Why do half the job?
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Replacing the Westlander with a daily service Brisbane - Dalby sounds like a good idea. Wire the Westlander carriages with MU cables and configure the service as push-pull to raise the speed and acceleration of the service.
The biggest hurdles would be the slow range descent/ascent (lots of curves, oh, the flange squeal!) and getting through the suburban system. The current timetable is 6:02 from Roma Street to Dalby and 6:38 from Dalby to Roma Street. The Bus Queensland service timetable is 3:45 and 3:50 respectively, Murrays is 3:15 and 3:00 (less stops). You can drive it in 2:30 (with low road traffic levels), a decent Toowoomba bypass would reduce this considerably.

A new rail corridor adjacent to the second range (road) crossing should have been funded to reduce rail times on the range. Why do half the job?
Graham4405
Im assuming the time is lost on the Roma St-Toowoomba sector?  Am i right in thinking that the current range crossing is single track for most of the way?
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
Replacing the Westlander with a daily service Brisbane - Dalby sounds like a good idea. Wire the Westlander carriages with MU cables and configure the service as push-pull to raise the speed and acceleration of the service.
The biggest hurdles would be the slow range descent/ascent (lots of curves, oh, the flange squeal!) and getting through the suburban system. The current timetable is 6:02 from Roma Street to Dalby and 6:38 from Dalby to Roma Street. The Bus Queensland service timetable is 3:45 and 3:50 respectively, Murrays is 3:15 and 3:00 (less stops). You can drive it in 2:30 (with low road traffic levels), a decent Toowoomba bypass would reduce this considerably.

A new rail corridor adjacent to the second range (road) crossing should have been funded to reduce rail times on the range. Why do half the job?
Im assuming the time is lost on the Roma St-Toowoomba sector?  Am i right in thinking that the current range crossing is single track for most of the way?
james.au
There are 3 causes of major time loss, the Brisbane Suburban system - Roma Street to Rosewood (Quad track Roma Street to Darra, then dual track to Rosewood), the Little Liverpool Range - Grandchester to Yarongmulu (Single track), the Main Range - Murphy's Creek to Harlaxton (Single track with 3 passing loops). The Main Range has some very tight curves and several tunnels.

Even Toowoomba itself is a problem due to the location of the station. It is necessary to reverse out of the station. A solution would be to use Willowburn station (has been tried before for the Westlander) for services to the West.

I think a new DMU set would be preferable to using the Westlander cars with locos at either end. But now we are entering fantasyland... Smile
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
The westlander does go through enough population to make it viable.  The area in which it goes through doesn't have viable air travel.
The westlander should probably be truncated to toowoomba with a coach to brisbane.  Simply because that section is shocking.
tazzer96

The section is only 'shocking' as it's slow due to the curves.

That section is also by far the most scenic part of the whole journey.

Again, marketing...there doesn't appear to be any and who would want to be propped up in saloon carriages, the sleeping cars now long gone.. when a bus is faster...and a vain hope that at some point a new service, utilising new equipment may be launched that operates on a daily timetable.

It's important to remember that in the mid 1950's, the Warrego highway was little more than an unsealed goat track and the train was the only comfortable, fast and economical means of travelling from the west to Brisbane.

Yes...those days have long gone...

Mike.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The westlander does go through enough population to make it viable.  The area in which it goes through doesn't have viable air travel.
The westlander should probably be truncated to toowoomba with a coach to brisbane.  Simply because that section is shocking.

The line from toowoomba to charlieville should be upgraded to 20 TAL with speed upgrades so it is minimum 100kph from oakey to cunnamulla.  This could and should be done fairly cheaply and would have huge benefits for freight.  But doing that would offer the westlander a solid speed.  All it would take is putting down more ballast, concrete sleepers and upgrades to some bridges. (or you can just speed restrict them)  An upgrade of this nature could easily be done for $300 million, an amount that is possible to returned via access fees and lower highway maintenance.

The main reason the midlander was truncated was because winton is because it took over 3 hours to travel that section due to the very slow speed limit.  It was simply smarter to bustitute that section.
tazzer96
This argument I feel justifies it complete closure more than keeping it.

This isn't enough people west of Toowoomba to justify a "local" service.

The upgrading of the line to 100km/hr and 20tAL will never pay for itself. When the Inlander comes there will be come conversion back along the NG to SG, probably as far as the last coal mine and the rest closed. However I do feel with decent track SG to Dalby, or though some may argue to Miles or Roma with better knowledge is potentially justified for decent freight service to Brisbane when decent tracks and run time to Brisbane is available. Then you could say a SG DMU is now viable.

As for sight seeing up the range to Toowoomba, if this is all this line is good for in regards to passenger services, then it should not be funded by the taxpayer.
  tazzer96 Chief Commissioner

If you have seen the amount of trucks with intermodal containers, grain, fuel and cattle that travel through toowoomba heading west to places like charleville, roma and dalby.  Then you would know an upgraded line would certainly pay for itself.   It's mostly a case of adding more ballast and concrete sleepers.  


So far inland rail won't be going further north or west than toowomba. (and its a case of whether to go via toowomba or a more direct way)
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The amount of trucks doesn't equal rail convertible.  But I'm sure there probably is a case for a terminal at Dalby or further west but not as far as Charlieville

The Inland will go via Toowoomba and the SG run to the coal mines. No ifs or buts on this.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

There are several major 120-year old bridges west of Toowoomba (and countless smaller ones) that will need replacement or upgrading for 20-tonne axle loads, and all of the 60lb rail west of Miles and 42lb rail west of Charleville will need replacing too, so an upgrade of the Western Line will be no small or cheap exercise. Despite 7-million tonnes of coal going over the Toowoomba Range each year it still hasn't been cleared for 20-tonne axle loads yet.

As for the freight moving west of Toowoomba on the Warrego Highway, a significant proportion (up to 400,000-tonnes) is moving to the Northern Territory border at Camooweal, and more is heading to South Australia via Cunnamulla, so upgrading the Western Line won't capture any of that long distance freight.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
and the SG run to the coal mines. No ifs or buts on this.
RTT_Rules
Is that just a hunch RTT or do you have something else more firm that suggests conversion will happen?
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
More I think about this anti social pro privatisation anti community garbage from a government who are clearly narxacistix the more angry I become.

So what if it costs money. Why would Anyone expect anything other than a coat for Public services.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

The question of any standardisation west of Toowoomba on the Western Line is becoming very murky. The ARTC is currently surveying a seperate standard gauge line beside the existing double track QR line between Grandchester and Rosewood. If dual gauging or standardising the existing Western line west of Rosewood is not being considered then this opens up the very real scenario that there will be a parallel standard gauge ARTC owned line and narrow gauge QR line between Toowoomba and Brisbane.

In a way, this will make sense to QR and the Queensland government, as the track access fees paid by Aurizon for the Acland coal traffic would make the inner portion of the Western Line one of the most "profitable" freight lines per kilometre in QR's possession. If QR retains its narrow gauge line to the mines it and the Queensland Government get all of the coal track access fees. If the ARTC takes over or standardises the line to the mines, then QR and the Queensland government risk losing most or all of those track access fees. Long and short, even if a standard gauge line is built east of Toowoomba, the Queensland Government will retain its own narrow gauge line and standard gauging west of Toowoomba is likely to be discouraged at a political and treasury level.

There is now a very real possibility QR and the ARTC will establish competing networks in southern Queensland rather than there being a single standard gauged network.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
I think that the Grandchester-Rosewood path is the planned Inland Rail alignment, so I'm not sure that this suggests that there is anything 'confrontational' in the wings between QR and ARTC.  Also, it is my understanding that the new Inland Rail alignment will be dual gauge from Yelarbon all the way to Brisbane. So the ARTC track will already have the ability to take the traffic from the QR mainline from Townsville which I suspect means that QR and Treasury have signed off on it.  I think I would have.  If the Federal Government is going to pay for new track in some of the more traffic rich but terrain terrible area of the state, I'd take it in a heartbeat!

To me, I'd really like to see some of the benefit cost calcs that underly the decision to dual gauge this section.  Taking that (Federal) cash and converting lines (with some more cash thrown in from the Queensland government if it so wishes for upgrades to axle loads) would really add to the East Coast SG network and open up a whole range of opportunities.  I doubt there would be any case though for a separate SG line parallel to the NG line with both being operational.

On the current NG line @Sulla1, do you think that with the coal loading that the line is actually profitable, financially - i.e. revenue exceed expenses?
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
The amount of trucks doesn't equal rail convertible.  But I'm sure there probably is a case for a terminal at Dalby or further west but not as far as Charlieville

The Inland will go via Toowoomba and the SG run to the coal mines. No ifs or buts on this.
RTT_Rules

Please be respectful of the town and spell it correctly.

CHARLEVILLE...Ok Question
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

QR made $235-million from its track access fees last year...it also made an operating profit of $223-million last year, and that money goes into the Queensland Treasury as general revenue. Losing the Western Line traffic will have a significant impact on that profit. If that income moves to the ARTC, the Queensland Government won't be able to recoup it in the same direct way for their budget. To date there has been no sign off from the Queensland Government for funding or participating in the Inland Rail link, and the current surveys highlight that fact.

As I said, previous statements aside about dual gauging, the current surveys underway are for a separate ARTC standard gauge line beside the narrow gauge QR lines east of Grandchester...in the same manner the standard gauge line was originally built south of Albury.

As for the money the Western Line makes, it carries around 25-30 freight/coal trains a day and 7-million tonnes on its first 200km (and very little beyond). Compare that to the North Coast and Mt Isa lines that carry similar tonnages, but do so over 1000 to 1700km of track. Per kilometre, the Western Line makes far more money than the other two, and with a fraction of the annual maintenance costs. I can't see QR or the Queensland Government walking away from that income.

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