Freight Australia/Pacific National XRB Diesel Units

 
  Z VAN Junior Train Controller

The thread regards V544 being sold to One Rail has prompted me to ask some questions about these stored units. https://www.railpage.com.au/locos/v-class-freight-australia

An opinion, very broadly until recent years the various State Government Systems did not run that many Goods trains that were always multiple headed and often on route shunting was required!

More recently this century nearly all at Goods trains are hauled by multiple units. However the culture of using booster/slug non drivable units has remained.

These units like V544 are relatively young and have not seen a lot of real use.

The three XRB units are stored that can mean several things. One as the word implies or stored and usable components removed making the return to traffic totally uneconomic.

So could they have a new lease of life as all of the recent Portland Grain trains for instance are triple headers as are most of Pacific Nationals Steel and Melbourne Perth trains.

Over to People who know facts and current Locomotive ideas and policy of use.
Regards PTE.

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  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Operationally a pain.
Much easier not to use them than to use them.
Noting mention of the Portland grain trains how often do any three locos appear regularly and in the order needed to have an XRB in the middle.
Presumably PN has a surplus or at least a sufficiency of locos without them.
Ill conceived operationally and a false economy. Big (white) animal with a long trunk.
  GT46C-ACe Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gold Coast QLD
Don't really get why they never had cabs to begin with, they're were used on intermodals but always needed to be in the middle of 2 NRs, cutting down on being able to chuck 3 locos together and go. Cabless locos on paper seem a good idea when looking at those multiple unit consists but when every loco can be driven they're much more useful.

Even BHP of all operators recabbed their trio of booster units, if a conveyor belt like operation like that doesn't find them a benefit it kinda says it all.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Why did freight Australia order the XRB units and where are these units currently stored ?

Did they initially appear on BG ?
  Dangersdan707 Chief Commissioner

Location: On a Thing with Internet
Why did freight Australia order the XRB units and where are these units currently stored ?

Did they initially appear on BG ?
freightgate
They were ordered and built for PN. As for being the Superior Gauge, they were only first tested on it, as they were built using second hand Clyde bogies. Currently Stored in Port Augusta iirc, though feel free to correct me on that.
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
Why did freight Australia order the XRB units and where are these units currently stored ?

Did they initially appear on BG ?
They were ordered and built for PN. As for being the Superior Gauge, they were only first tested on it, as they were built using second hand Clyde bogies. Currently Stored in Port Augusta iirc, though feel free to correct me on that.
Dangersdan707
Errrrr......



BL34-XRB560-BL29 get ready for another test run at Pakenham Sunday, 11th December 2005 Photo: Chris Gordon
Somebody
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Why did freight Australia order the XRB units and where are these units currently stored ?

Did they initially appear on BG ?
They were ordered and built for PN. As for being the Superior Gauge, they were only first tested on it, as they were built using second hand Clyde bogies. Currently Stored in Port Augusta iirc, though feel free to correct me on that.
Errrrr......



BL34-XRB560-BL29 get ready for another test run at Pakenham Sunday, 11th December 2005 Photo: Chris Gordon
speedemon08
Testing on BG as DD707 has suggested.
  GT46C-ACe Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gold Coast QLD
Even says test in the photo caption, real gotcha moment...
  GD Train Controller

Location: Geelong Vic
Question re the XRB's what makes them any different from older loco's that are no longer allowed to lead?

These older units are effectively without a usable cab.
  Greensleeves Chief Commissioner

Location: If it isn't obvious by now, it should be.
Question re the XRB's what makes them any different from older loco's that are no longer allowed to lead?

These older units are effectively without a usable cab.
GD

I suspect their ownership. PN don't really have anything left that is never allowed to lead. Even BL28, which was black-banned by the crews due to its' cab conditions is getting money spent on it to enable it to lead.

If they were owned by SSR or the like then they might be more likely to be seeing use but even then if there was a downturn in traffic they'd probably be one of the first units stored.
  GT46C-ACe Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gold Coast QLD
Difference is one has a cab that could be brought up to working order, the other has no cab at all and is always unable to lead.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
These locos have a use but, in my view, only where there is a more or less set consist of three locos; the outer ones to provide cabs and the XRB purely as a banker. Division of such a lash-up on a regular basis would inevitably be more complicated and time consuming than any normal multi loco makeup.
How many regular 3-unit consists are there that stay together for any length of time?
How many could tolerate a 3,000 hp loco in lieu of a regular 4,000 hp unit?
Portland grain has been suggested but how often do the same three locos not only turn up but in the same order. Never, it seems, and who knows what goes on at multiple loading points if there are any?
Seems to me that SSR might be able to make them work in lieu of the multitude of Ss, 48s and 49s that they seem able to cobble together between 'cabbed locos' but even this would be problematic at terminals. SCT's Dooen service might be similar.
No matter what; I see the XRBs as a 'fad' and the best thing would be to either fit them with cabs or as parts donors to repair and/or upgrade something else.
Restrict them to the Long Island steel between a couple of 'any old things' for the crew to ride on and release the Gs and BLs currently needed, but wasted, there.
  Galron Chief Commissioner

Location: Werribee, Vic
In looking at what of PN's has been going through Gheringhap in the past week, the grain trains are mostly 2 loco 40 wagon trains. There is the odd 3 loco service. Would having a 3rd 3000hp loco on the services regularly result in those 40 wagon trains becoming 50 wagon trains who knows. The system seems to be setup to deal with grain trains of the 40 wagon type.

PN have had issues with loco's breaking down on the BG grains of late. could a 3rd loco be warranted either as insurance, or to give the extra HP for a faster run? only the bean counters at PN can probably tell if that would be profitable or not.

As to the other trains, the fruity most of the time is a 2 loco 30-40 wagon service as well, but its possibly not the peek time of the year for this train, so possibly doesn't have the loading to warrant. During the peek may be a diferent story. They where running extra services at one point last year/early this year. using an XRB to free up a cabed loco may be viable.

No one here knows, or if they do, are willing to say, what true state they are in either. If they went into storage operational, getting them going shouldnt take much. If they went in with issues, well, it will come down to weather they can get them going cheaper than a G/81/BL that they might have in storage elsewhere in the country.

Slave units like these have never taken off like they could have in this country. Abundance of, and willingness to use old bangers for as long as they do may mean that they stay in storage until the old bangers start running out.
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
Slave units like these have never taken off like they could have in this country. Abundance of, and willingness to use old bangers for as long as they do may mean that they stay in storage until the old bangers start running out.
Galron
B units in the US also got phased out in the early 90's when it was easier to build locomotives with a cab than without.
  GT46C-ACe Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gold Coast QLD
Cabless hood units fell out of favor not long post covered wagons in the US. GP9B, GP30B, SD24B, GP60B are the only hood units without cabs, being purchased by a grand total of 3 different RRs. UP got 9/24/30Bs whilst ATSF got 7/60Bs and the PRR got 9Bs, none in great numbers with a near 30 year gap between the 30Bs and 60Bs. Pretty sure that says it all.

Considering only 6x cabless units have been built for use here (BU Class slugs with a designed use aren't being counted, however there were only 4) with 3x of those gaining cabs whilst the others have gone to storage should give an answer to the questions posed.

As for the 2 unit consists being questioned, the answer is in the fact they haven't bothered to go the route of trying to make the XRBs work on those services as they are useless beyond being in the shafts. It's cheaper to use the amount of HP to move the train and send out a rescue loco vs keep locomotives around specifically to free up cabbed power....do those grainies run round the clock? Do the locomotives currently used also see service elsewhere during their day? If the answers are no and yes, don't consider XRBs to be a thing...
  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

VicSig has photos of the XRB class:
https://vicsig.net/photos/search

Enter XRB% in the Description field.
Click Results per page: 30
Click Order descending
Click Submit Query

(% is a wildcard and will cover the range XRB560 – XRB562)

November 2013 seems to be the last in Victoria. Some locos went the other way, by having the No 2 cab removed when upgraded, eg Australian National’s AL to ALF class.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
To use an XRB in a two loco consist (say a Mildura) you need at least the following when you reach your destination:

A double ended loco with two usable/acceptable cabs or a turntable.
A three road yard - one for the train, one for the XRB and one for the runaround.
Permission to fly shunt the XRB. (haha) Rolling Eyes

The cabless concept was flawed from the start. Might have been a little more useful had hostler controls been fitted.
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
The cabless concept was flawed from the start. Might have been a little more useful had hostler controls been fitted.
YM-Mundrabilla
I thought they did have them, so they could be moved short distances under their own power. ISTR  photo of the controls in a RD/MP magazine around a decade ago.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
The cabless concept was flawed from the start. Might have been a little more useful had hostler controls been fitted.
I thought they did have them, so they could be moved short distances under their own power. ISTR  photo of the controls in a RD/MP magazine around a decade ago.
KRviator
You may well be right KR... That would make sense but, on the other hand, that might be too sensible. Smile

Few locos interest me less than an XRB (or BU for that matter) and I was going only on Wikipedia which says:

'The units do not have hostler controls for moving them around yards and depots, only being fitted with a dead engine device and park-brake button.'  (Whatever that means in practical terms).

I have seen the same wording elsewhere but it may well have all have come from the same reliable/unreliable source in the beginning.

I have since found an ARTC Waiver (TOC Waiver Reference Number – 1973) in which the notes read inter alia as follows:

TOC Waiver Reference Number – 1973

1. The XRB class is a cabin less slave unit designed to be an additional source of power for existing train consists. The XRB does not have its own control stand and in operation control of the XRB is provided by the attached locomotive through the MU connection. The XRB is always to trail a lead locomotive.

Either way they are virtually useless. Sad
  lowtensionearth Station Master

Deleting the cab from the second series XR class allowed the radiator to be enlarged and an additional fan incorporated into the design. The increased cooling capacity was considered important for the work the locos were going to do. The design adopted for the XR was a compromise due to the short donor chassis length and the XRB was a chance to overcome the shortcomings of the cabbed locomotives. The XRB’s also allowed an updated radial type dynamic brake which was also considered desirable.

Overall the XRB is a better locomotive than the XR with the exception that it lacks a cab. Weight and chassis considerations preclude it easily being fitted with a cab.

The XR was a good concept taking an older inefficient locomotive and within limitations turned it into a successful upgrade. Unexpected chassis rectification work, in service failures and the desire to work the engines away from Victoria led to the project developing into the XR2 which used the otherwise available mechanical parts but installed on a new chassis. The XRB was a continuation of the XR2 absorbing the remaining on key hand components for a different intended use and business unit. It was always intended to bolster that groups fleet of slave locomotives which is why the cooling system upgrades and the like were prioritised. In hindsight using the components for more XR2 engines may have been the wiser decision.
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

The cabless concept was flawed from the start. Might have been a little more useful had hostler controls been fitted.
I thought they did have them, so they could be moved short distances under their own power. ISTR  photo of the controls in a RD/MP magazine around a decade ago.
You may well be right KR... That would make sense but, on the other hand, that might be too sensible. Smile

Few locos interest me less than an XRB (or BU for that matter) and I was going only on Wikipedia which says:

'The units do not have hostler controls for moving them around yards and depots, only being fitted with a dead engine device and park-brake button.'  (Whatever that means in practical terms).

I have seen the same wording elsewhere but it may well have all have come from the same reliable/unreliable source in the beginning.

I have since found an ARTC Waiver (TOC Waiver Reference Number – 1973) in which the notes read inter alia as follows:

TOC Waiver Reference Number – 1973

1. The XRB class is a cabin less slave unit designed to be an additional source of power for existing train consists. The XRB does not have its own control stand and in operation control of the XRB is provided by the attached locomotive through the MU connection. The XRB is always to trail a lead locomotive.

Either way they are virtually useless. Sad
YM-Mundrabilla
Under PN ownership with PNs operating model, I agree they are of limited use, however I could see a more flexible operator finding work for them. If SSR were to semi permanently couple an XRB to a 47/48/T they would have a 4000hp single ended unit. Sounds a bit like an RL without the crappy bogies.
  GT46C-ACe Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gold Coast QLD
With 2 locomotives worth of parts to maintain....
  ed31880 Train Controller

Another issue being the undersized fuel tank
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

With 2 locomotives worth of parts to maintain....
GT46C-ACe
Yep....sub-optimal. Dragging stuff around the countryside with 70 year-old museum pieces couldn't be described as best practice either but it still pays apparently.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
With 2 locomotives worth of parts to maintain....
GT46C-ACe
As Delta Airways showed for quite some time with the various MD variants it operated, if the capital cost is low enough to offset the maintenance, its gets you to the same profitability answer.

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