Showing stories from September 2012

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NZ rail sleepers infected with alien fungi

Posted Saturday, 1 September, 2012 by bevans in New Zealand Rail News

HEADS should roll at KiwiRail after the state-owned company imported wooden sleepers infested with fungi not found in New Zealand, minority party New Zealand First says.

KiwiRail imported 100,000 sleepers which weren't up to hardwood standard and laid 7000 of them, the NZ parliament was told last week.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said the 7000 had "some degree of decay" and were being replaced.

Roy Hill army of workers happy to lay iron ore foundations for Rinehart

Posted Saturday, 1 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

GINA Rinehart's first major solo iron ore project, the $9.5 billion Roy Hill mine, is a hub of activity as it nears the development phase.

And for the likes of Drew Nimmo, the opportunity to work on Australia's next major iron ore mine was too good not to chase.

While a significant drop in the iron ore price and talk of the end of the boom has spooked the market, and the sceptics have turned their attention to the likes of Mrs Rinehart's project, questioning whether it will secure the funding to be built, it is still all systems go at the site to prepare it for construction.

Gheringhap Sightings w/e 1/9/2012

Posted Sunday, 2 September, 2012 by GheringhapLoop in Gunzelling Reports

There were 120 sightings for this week. This is one sighting less than last week, making a total of 4150 sightings for this year to date. On day 245 last year we had recorded 3746 sightings. This is 404 sightings up on the same time last year.

A 'bold' light rail system to 'transform' Perth revealed

Posted Sunday, 2 September, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

A new light rail network linking Perth's inner northern suburbs and the CBD is a "bold" project that will transform transport in the city, according to the state government.

The exact route and timetable for the 22 kilometre line was revealed today but the pricetag - expected to be well above $1 billion - will not be determined until at least 2014.

The Metropolitan Area Express, nicknamed MAX, will run from the Balga TAFE campus south along Alexander Drive and Fitzgerald Street to the CBD and then divert west to the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre in Nedlands and east across the Causeway.

CSX: 1 freight train hits rear of another freight train in Chicago, cars derail;

Posted Monday, 3 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

CHICAGO — A freight train struck the rear of another freight train in southwest Chicago early Sunday, derailing several rail cars and damaging a third freight train on an adjacent track, authorities said. Local reports said power was briefly knocked out to more than 2,500 people in the neighborhood.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries following the derailment shortly before 2 a.m. CDT Sunday, CSX rail spokesman Bob Sullivan told The Associated Press.

State in talks to keep $41m of unspent funds

Posted Monday, 3 September, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

FEDERAL and state Labor governments are squabbling over the return of $41 million in commonwealth funding for a rail electrification project in South Australia that has been shelved indefinitely.

South Australian Transport Minister Pat Conlon said the state government had received $258.3m from the commonwealth of $293.5m originally committed for the project. He said $217.3m had been spent on a full track upgrade, necessary preliminary electrification works, contract design and preparation as well as $36m for rebuilt stations in the northern Adelaide suburbs of Elizabeth and Munno Para.

Mr Conlon said discussions were ongoing with federal Labor about whether the state could keep the unspent funds, but he refused to provide details of any negotiations with the commonwealth.

"The unspent funds are within a special deposit interest bearing account, held within the (Transport) Department," Mr Conlon said.

Rail line fate to be known soon

Posted Monday, 3 September, 2012 by bevans in New Zealand Rail News

Comments posted on KiwiRail's website suggest the end is near for the Napier-Gisborne rail line but the agency says no decision has been made and an announcement on its future is due "very soon".

The comments state the line is not commercially viable to operate today or in the foreseeable future from Napier.

Even if demand for freight services was generated locally, an estimate of the costs to maintain the service would far exceed the potential revenue gained.

Historic railway steams into business world

Posted Monday, 3 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

Like most romances, the one with rail can empty a wallet in a flash, which is why steam train enthusiasts have turned their love affair into a business.

Income from hauling empty rolling stock to and from repairers will fund long haul steam train journeys from Canberra for an international tourist market.

Virgin Rail: alarm over bidding process raised before loss of franchise

Posted Monday, 3 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

Virgin Rail has reacted to being branded a sore loser over the west coast contest by claiming that it has raised concerns over the franchising process with senior Conservative politicians over several years.

Tony Collins, chief executive of Virgin Rail, rejected claims made by the transport secretary, Justine Greening, that the company had only raised objections to the franchise regime once it had lost out to FirstGroup for the London-Glasgow contract. Speaking on BBC Radio 5, Collins said the rail operator had warned the Department for Transport [DfT] that it faced a repeat of the auctions for the east coast route, which saw GNER and National Express hand back the keys shortly after winning the franchise with aggressive bids.

"There must be some misunderstanding at DfT," said Collins. "We have had several meetings over the last two or three years where we have expressed our concerns over the bid process, how it evaluates the bids and how it leads to the sorts of failures we have seen on East Coast with NatEx and GNER."

Light rail cost said to blow out

Posted Monday, 3 September, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

A RETIRED development analyst has warned the Sunshine Coast not to follow the Gold Coast by installing a light rail network.

Alan Midwood, who wrote the Midwood Report on property investment, has described the Gold Coast light rail project as a cost burden that has already proven a failure.

The Sunshine Coast Council has endorsed light rail as its vision for public transport and has begun studying the business case and feasibility of a system, including potential routes.

The first stage of a light rail system on the Sunshine Coast has been put at $1.3 billion.

Sydney Railcorp train driver Sleiman Khalil can DJ on side after he was sacked

Posted Tuesday, 4 September, 2012 by Speed in New South Wales Rail News

IT IS official. It is okay for Sydney's train drivers to have a second job - as a DJ.

Sydney transport plan half-funded

Posted Tuesday, 4 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

THE NSW government admits it has only half the money needed to fund a major new Sydney transport masterplan.

Ministers will unveil their $100 billion 20-year strategy to ease the city's congested road and rail system on Tuesday, with plans including a new M5 tunnel and a second harbour rail crossing.

There will also be a switch to single-deck metro-style trains as part of the CityRail system and redesigned bus networks, including dedicated bus corridors to the northern beaches.

The government will also examine the possibility of extending the motorway network, including the M4 and M2.

Green light for rail network

Posted Tuesday, 4 September, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

WEST Australian Premier Colin Barnett yesterday defended his decision to go ahead with a $1 billion light rail network for Perth despite a potential $1.5bn hit to the state's budget from lower iron ore prices.

Mr Barnett said the states had to take the initiative on the economic development of the country because Julia Gillard and the federal government were failing to act.

The Metro Area Express system is being designed to carry 35,000 people a day in a network linking several northern suburbs to the city. It is being touted as a "transformational" public transport project to manage Perth's rapidly growing population and ease congestion.

The city's public transport use is expected to double by 2031 as Perth grows by about 50 per cent to as many as 2.7 million people.

Branson legal challenge holds up rail contract

Posted Tuesday, 4 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

LONDON (AFP) - Richard Branson's Virgin Rail Group on Monday succeeded in holding up a deal that threatens to strip it of its British rail franchise.

Virgin Rail launched a legal challenge last month after losing the long-term deal with the British government to run the major West Coast Main Line railway from London to Glasgow to rival FirstGroup.

The Department for Transport had earlier said that the legal move was "no reason" to delay the new contract signing -- due to take place on Tuesday -- but on Monday backtracked and accepted that the competition for the 13-year franchise remains alive.

"As a result of a legal challenge, which the government intends to defend robustly, we have not yet signed the contract with First West Coast, and consequently the competition remains live" transport minister Theresa Villiers said in a written statement.

Rains lash Mumbai again, rail and road traffic hit

Posted Tuesday, 4 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

Torrential rain continued to lash Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra for the second day on Tuesday, disrupting road and rail traffic.

Mumbai's lifeline, the suburban trains, were hit badly due to waterlogging on railway tracks in several parts of the city, an official said.

While the Harbour Line and Central Railway suburban trains were running late by 20-30 minutes, an average 15 minute delay was reported on Western Railway.

Strong passenger numbers for Hunter rail line

Posted Wednesday, 5 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

The New South Wales transport agency has refuted recent claims of an exodus of passengers from Hunter rail lines, saying in fact the opposite is true and patronage is growing.

Transport for NSW says data for the period between 2001 and 2011 shows significant growth on the Hunter rail line.

It says patronage has grown by around 20 per cent, with an extra 227,000 journeys.

Moreton Bay rail link is a budget "must" say new State members

Posted Wednesday, 5 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

The Moreton Bay Rail Link, from Petrie to Kippa-Ring, has been listed as a State Government Budget must by the region's newly-elected members.

Member for Redcliffe Scott Driscoll said it was ``the biggest issue for the Redcliffe community'' and was "a must" for this year's budget.

``No other state electorate has locked in, and kept locked in, funding for a project of this size,'' said Mr Driscoll.

``This project will not only provide a much-needed rail link for Redcliffe residents but will encourage tourists to visit the Peninsula and will create local jobs.''

Member for Murrumba Reg Gulley said the community would benefit from the rail link and improvements to bus service networks.

``Through delivering better infrastructure and public transport in our local area, people will be provided with cost-effective, more efficient transport alternatives.

O’Farrell reveals missing links

Posted Wednesday, 5 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

The NSW government is considering distance-based road tolls, higher parking charges and asking trucking companies to help pay for highway upgrades as part of a $100 billion transport blueprint that includes new motorways and a second harbour rail crossing in Sydney.

The draft 20-year transport master plan, released yesterday, includes dozens of major projects but many have been listed as medium- or long-term priorities that are unlikely to be started until at least a second or third term of government.

Premier Barry O’Farrell and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian would not commit to any of the projects, apart from the $8.5 billion North West Rail Link in Sydney and a second harbour rail crossing as part of a new CBD rail line.

Tram 'super stops' improve traffic flow

Posted Wednesday, 5 September, 2012 by railblogger in Tram and Light Rail News

MELBOURNE'S tram ''super stops'' were designed to improve passenger safety and disability access, but research shows they help speed up commuting. The platform stops - there are now 360 in Melbourne - reduce tram stopping times by about a third over kerbside stops, a Monash University study has found.

Activists close down coal rail project

Posted Wednesday, 5 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

Activists have closed down a coal haulage railway construction project in the NSW Hunter Valley, to protest the rapid expansion of the export coal industry and its impacts on public health and the environment.

Activists arrived at the Hunter 8 Alliance construction compound at Rutherford before dawn this morning, erecting a wooden tripod to prevent access to the site. An activist is perched on the tripod, 10 metres over the gateway to the site, refusing to move.

Steve Phillips, spokesperson for protest organisers Rising Tide, said: “This railway construction project is designed purely for the benefit of coal corporations, yet it is being paid for with taxpayers’ money.”

Queensland level crossing trials new warning system

Posted Wednesday, 5 September, 2012 by MikeyJackson in Queensland Rail News

Queensland Rail is trialling a new warning system to alert motorists when a train is approaching a rail crossing. The valet system consists of lights embedded in the road for a distance of up to 150 metres before the crossing, which start flashing when the train is approaching, giving motorists more time to slow down and stop. The three-month trial is at a level crossing between Ingham and Lucinda, in north Queensland, which is constantly used by cane and freight trains. QR says it's drivers reported 472 near misses at rail crossings last year, making it clear existing systems were not working.

CN Rail expands fleet with car, container acquisitions

Posted Wednesday, 5 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

Sept 4 (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co will invest a third more this year than it has in recent years to expand and upgrade its fleet of rail cars and containers, prompted by strength in the economy, a company official said on Tuesday.

CN, Canada's biggest railroad, said it is buying more than 2,200 new freight cars as well as 1,300 new containers as traffic increases in a number of its markets, notably the coal export market and intermodal sector.

Intermodal traffic involves transport of a wide variety of goods by more than one form of carrier, such as rail and truck.

If Gisborne is losing rail 'then we need better roads'

Posted Thursday, 6 September, 2012 by MikeyJackson in New Zealand Rail News

Federated Farmers Gisborne is disappointed the Wairoa to Gisborne rail line is to be mothballed under KiwiRail’s Infrastructure and Engineering Business Plan. The Federation now challenges the Government to increase road funding to support the region’s exporters. "When KiwiRail says they are going to mothball the track beyond Wairoa to Gisborne, it is a euphemism for closure," says Hamish Cave, Federated Farmers Gisborne-Wairoa provincial president.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: Backers make their case for Victorville-Vegas line

Posted Thursday, 6 September, 2012 by MikeyJackson in International Rail News

For years people have poo-pooed the idea of a privately-funded high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California because it ends at Victorville. The logic goes that who would want to drive to Victorville and then park and ride? Apparently, according to a recent interview with one of the backers, we will. Anthony Marnell, a Vegas investor in the XpressWest project linking Southern California and Sin City, sat down with VegasInc, the town’s business journal. In a lengthy talk, Marnell makes the case that the Inland area is the real target market. Here’s his answer to the question “Why Victorville?”:

Rail link must be built: NSW govt

Posted Thursday, 6 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has defended plans to build Sydney's North West Rail Link despite claims it won't improve road congestion.

Motorists will save just one minute per trip between Rouse Hill and Macquarie Park by 2031 if the rail link is built, News Ltd reported on Thursday.

But Ms Berejiklian said there is "no question" that the project must go ahead to support the estimated 200,000 people expected to move to Sydney's north west in coming decades.

Coal train derailment closes line

Posted Thursday, 6 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

The Independent Transport Safety Regulator is investigating the derailment of a coal train in Muswellbrook that is delaying freight services through the Hunter Valley.

A fully laden Pacific National coal train derailed on the Ulan Branch line near Bengalla at about four o'clock yesterday afternoon.

NW rail link 'dud deal'

Posted Thursday, 6 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

The State Government has rejected suggestions the 8-billion dollar North West rail link would have little impact on road congestion.

The Opposition says figures in the Government's Transport Master Plan, show that by 2031, when the link is due to open - the commute between Rouse Hill and Macquarie Park would be just one minute faster than by road.

Opposition Leader John Robertson says the Government has exposed the flaws in its own transport strategy.

Once in a lifetime event to celebrate major centenary

Posted Thursday, 6 September, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

In a never to be seen again event, five major rail freight companies will couple their latest locomotives together as one train to travel Adelaide - Port Augusta return on Friday 14 September.

Open to the public, this major event marks the 100th anniversary since the Governor General turned the first sod to construct the massive 1690km Trans-Australian Rail (TAR) line across the inhospitable Nullabor plains.

Connecting East and West for the first time, the project was a major undertaking for the new Commonwealth Government of the day and was a key condition for WA joining the federation.

The locomotives from CFCLA, Genesee & Wyoming, Pacific National, QR National and SCT Logistics have a combined horsepower of 20,000Hp, enough power to haul 7,100 tonnes up hill.

The event is a celebration of the importance of rails role in Australia™s history yesterday, today and tomorrow. To showcase the old and new, the once-in-a-lifetime modern train combination will align with a Pichi Richi steam train at Stirling North, South Australia to travel side-by-side into Port Augusta Train Station for the Official Ceremony.

Coal loader protest halts NCIG construction

Posted Thursday, 6 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

Police have arrived at the site of a coal loader construction project in the Port of Newcastle, where activists have scaled a large crane.

The Rising Tide group says the protest action is aimed at halting work on the NCIG project and was timed to ensure minimal risk to employees on the site.

Baillieu to outline infrastructure plans

Posted Friday, 7 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

The Victorian government is set to reveal the next stage in plans for an urban underground rail tunnel.

Premier Ted Baillieu will announce the start of the formal planning process for the nine-kilometre tunnel during his address to Infrastructure Partnerships Australia in Melbourne on Friday.

Hope for Zig Zag icon

Posted Friday, 7 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

An audit of Lithgow's iconic Zig Zag Railway reveals more than 150 incidents where the tourist attraction failed to meet safety standards.

The Transport Minister Gladys Berejikilian has met the railway's management to discuss the assessment and present a safety program.

The General Manager Michael Forbes says the cost of upgrading the attraction is yet to be discussed.

Rail line closes, replacement buses crash

Posted Saturday, 8 September, 2012 by railblogger in Victorian Rail News

Commuters waiting for rail replacement buses this afternoon suffered more chaos when the buses collided.

Buses had been called to Newport station after the Werribee line was suspended between Newport and Laverton because of overhead power equipment failures. But the delays were compounded when one of the buses tried to squeeze past the other and collided, witness Jay Kingcott said.


Posted Saturday, 8 September, 2012 by ozfreight in Railpage Australia News

SCT Horsham freight will start using the new WCL yard on tuesday 11/09/12. WCL is moving their heavy lift forks this weekend to the Dooen site .WCL expects to handle up to 20.000 containers a year from the new facility soon. from 5 services a week to 9, according to the Wimmera Mail. 

Rail links the key plans for Gold Coast

Posted Saturday, 8 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

LIGHT rail will connect to heavy rail at Parkwood and Robina and extend north to The Spit, east to Bundall and south to Coolangatta under a proposed council transport strategy.

The multibillion-dollar, 20-year plan drafted in consultation with the State Government would see a major overhaul of the current transport plan which is now 14 years old.

Transport Strategy 2031 reveals a "ladder" system, with heavy rail connecting with light rail at Parkwood and at Robina, and a rapid bus system linking east and west routes.

Heritage Express steams into Orange

Posted Saturday, 8 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

A gleaming engine, great clouds of steam, and many, many excited children - but this isn't platform 9 3/4, it's the Orange railway station, where the Heritage Express is ready for departure.

The Heritage Express is the work of the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum. On Saturday the train was running a shuttle service from Orange to Spring Hill, startling some local cattle and giving motorists waiting at level crossings an unexpected sight.

Rail sale option for FMG

Posted Saturday, 8 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

Fortescue Metals Group could consider selling its rail infrastructure if iron ore prices do not recover, as part of the company's wave of debt-reducing asset sales.

Speculation was rife in investment banking circles yesterday that Fortescue was mulling selling its critical rail network as a "nuclear option" if iron ore prices did not improve and the company needed to raise more capital to protect its cash flow and operating assets.

In the Pilbara yesterday to speak to Fortescue's workers about the drastic job cuts made this week, chief executive Nev Power told _WestBusiness _ that Fortescue was not yet drawing up plans to sell the rail lines linking its mines to Port Hedland but would "consider anything and everything on its merits" if an approach was made.

Gheringhap Sightings w/e 8/9/2012

Posted Sunday, 9 September, 2012 by GheringhapLoop in Gunzelling Reports

There were 119 sightings for this week. This is one sighting less than last week, making a total of 4269 sightings for this year to date. On day 252 last year we had recorded 3862 sightings. This is 407 sightings up on the same time last year.

Glenhuntly commuters want more warning signs

Posted Sunday, 9 September, 2012 by Speed in Victorian Rail News

COMMUTERS want better warning signs at Glenhuntly Railway Station to educate people on the risks of illegally walking through level crossings.

Tram call to tackle CBD violence

Posted Monday, 10 September, 2012 by railblogger in Tram and Light Rail News

RUNNING trains and trams later on weekends could help stem the tide of drunken bashings in the centre of Melbourne, according to one of the state's top policemen. Superintendent Rod Wilson, the man in charge of policing in the city centre, urged the state government and public transport operators to consider a trial whereby trains and trams would run until 3am or 4am to cope with some of the 380,000 people who flood the city each night on weekends.

''My main beef is that we've got to get fair dinkum about a public transport option to get people home,'' Superintendent Wilson said. ''At 3am, people are out in the street, they can't get back into any club, their night's over, but cab drivers are saying, 'No, not you', then they're hanging out in the road trying to flag down a police car they think's a cab.

Vline fails passengers again on the Ballarat Line

Posted Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

A vline service between Melbourne and Ballarat has this morning struck a tree near Gordon (approximately 25 Kms from Ballarat)  No passengers have been injured however the train has been disabled. Railpage understands the tree may be wedged under the train.

Vline is currently working on a plan to detrain the passengers and arrange travel through to their final destination. It is likely the line will be blocked for several hours until the train can be repaired.

Asciano extends Linfox deal

Posted Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

Ports and rail operator Asciano says a five-year extension of an agreement with privately-owned logistics company Linfox will generate revenue of up to $400 million.

Asciano’s Pacific National rail business’ current contract to supply rail haulage to Linfox to move containers interstate was due to expire on December 31.

Qld rail union not expecting big job cuts

Posted Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

Queensland Rail (QR) workers will find out on Tuesday afternoon whether they will face significant job cuts.

There was no mention of cutbacks in Tuesday's state budget, as any staff reductions would be the responsibility of QR as a government corporation.

First tracks for Gold Coast light rail laid

Posted Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

NOW that the Gold Coast light rail tracks are being laid, it's the clearest sign that the project is a step closer to reality.

Concrete was used to secure the steel tracks in place yesterday as the rollout started along Queen Streetin Southport.

But it means later this year centre-street parking in Nerang Street, Southport, already hit hard by light rail construction, will be dug up to make way for the tracks.

Locals want Burra rail line reopened

Posted Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

A petition has been presented to State Parliament to re-open the Burra rail line.

Motel owner Paul Henley is behind a community proposal to reinstate the line between Burra and Gawler.

It was last used in 1992 by a heritage steam train.

Amtrak funding in crosshairs in presidential race

Posted Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

WASHINGTON (AP) — Warning to Amtrak from Mitt Romney and Republicans: You're on your own.

The platform Republicans adopted at their convention included a call for full privatization and an end to subsidies for the nation's passenger rail operator, which gobbled up almost $1.5 billion in federal funds last year.

"It is long past time for the federal government to get out of the way and allow private ventures to provide passenger service," the platform said, arguing that taxpayers dole out almost $50 for every Amtrak ticket.

Long a political cudgel in the halls of Congress, Amtrak is among a number of transportation functions Republicans say should be turned over to the private sector — including airport security, also on the chopping block in the GOP platform. At its core, the debate juxtaposes differing visions about what role government should play in ensuring public access to services — even if they're losing money hand over fist.

Twiggy and Gina: A Marriage of convenience

Posted Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

Media speculation has suggest that Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG)  and Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting could do a deal to share infrastructure, which could save the companies more than $1 billion each.

Melbourne to Albury train delays 'unacceptable'

Posted Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

Local State Government politicians will meet with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) on Thursday to discuss issues with the Albury to Melbourne line.

Speed restrictions are in place along sections of the line while the track is repaired and upgraded, leading to delays for passengers.

At the end of last month, V/Line announced it plans to change its timetables to reflect the longer travel times.

Minister announces 500 jobs cut from Qld Rail

Posted Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

Transport Minister Scott Emerson has revealed another 500 jobs will go at Queensland Rail, which is on top of 14,000 public service job cuts.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls handed down the Liberal National Party (LNP) Government's first state budget in Parliament this afternoon.

High Speed Rail: if they’ve got it, shouldn’t we have it too?

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

It was a hot issue at the start of 2011, but there hasn’t been much discussion of High Speed Rail (HSR) in the public domain since the first phase of the Federal Government’s study was released more than a year ago.

The numbers in the report had a chilling effect on some of the earlier enthusiasm for east coast HSR. In particular, the study estimated the cost to build a line from Brisbane to Melbourne would be $108 billion (plus rolling stock and 15% for procurement costs), none of which could be recovered from earnings.

The Global Mail took up the slack last week with this article, Fast times, fast trains (catch up Australia!) by Gordon Weiss. Another look at the issue is timely, because the second and final phase of the HSR study is due to be released later this year.

Thumbs up for light rail

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

THE City of Stirling has backed the light rail project, but Mayor David Boothman says including Scarborough Beach Road should be made a priority.

The State Government recently announced $15.8 million had been committed to plan a light rail system, to be called the Metro Area Express.

The proposed route links Mirrabooka to the CBD via Alexander Drive and Fitzgerald Street.

Cr Boothman described the City’s stance as “very much pro light rail and public transport”.

Oakajee port and rail infrastructure facing a 'slow death'

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

THE troubled $6 billion Oakajee port and rail infrastructure in Western Australia is facing a "slow death" in its current form as the falling iron ore price challenges the bankability of the Japanese-backed project and its proposed mine designed to support the infrastructure.

As Australia's major iron ore miners scale back expansion plans - including BHP Billiton shelving new port infrastructure - in the more profitable and iron-rich Pilbara region, analysts have questioned the viability of the Oakajee project to support the emerging Mid-West miners.

Japan's Mitsubishi was left to drive the project when previous joint venture partner Murchison Metals pulled out after admitting last year it could not fund its half of the infrastructure, which followed a series of cost blowouts, timeline delays and fights with potential customers.

Mitsubishi was also forced to take over Crosslands Resources, which is developing the Jack Hills mine in the Mid-West and is touted as one of the main assets to support the infrastructure, but industry sources have long challenged its economic viability, even when the iron ore price was higher.

Tas passenger rail 'too expensive'

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by bevans in Tasmanian Rail News

An upper house inquiry has been warned about the high costs involved in developing a passenger rail service for Hobart's northern suburbs.

Tasmania's rail operations will be relocated to the multi-million dollar transport hub at Brighton in the next 12 to 18 months.

The move will result in the decommissioning of the rail line from Brighton to Hobart.

An Upper House inquiry is exploring the idea of using the line for a passenger service.

TasRail Chairman Bob Annells has warned of the high costs involved.

'Rail Hoons' sentenced for damage

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

TWO members of "The Rail Hoons" caused $86,000 damage for graffiti ranging from 10cm tags to murals covering half a train.

David Houghton, 22, and Curtis Charles Olive, 23, pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court on Wednesday  to hundreds of graffiti drawings over five years.

They damaged buses, trains, bus shelters, buildings, poles and traffic signs.

They were part of a gang known for tags and murals on Queensland Rail property around jail.

Houghton told police the ultimate thrill and adrenalin rush was graffiti on trains.

Rail station concerns after bashing

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

A 21-YEAR-OLD man was bashed and robbed at the isolated and unmanned Corio train station on Monday night after winning money on the pokies just minutes before.

The incident has prompted renewed calls to fix the dilapidated station, which is located at the end of a lonely road behind the Shell Geelong refinery.

The man had allegedly accepted a lift from three unknown men at the nearby Gateway Hotel before being taken to the train station carpark and attacked.

He fled to a nearby Hungry Jack's fast food restaurant, where police were called.

"The victim had been playing pokies and drinking at the Gateway Hotel and after winning money left the hotel on foot," Senior Sergeant Rod Lloyd said.

"He was approached by a number of people who offered to drive him home and he's accepted and been driven to Corio train station.

Rail delays after man killed by train on Essex line

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

A man was killed when he was hit by a train close to a level crossing in Essex.

The victim was struck by the Greater Anglia train at Bures, near Sudbury, causing delays to passengers.

Paramedics attended but the man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said his death was not being treated as suspicious.

In the past fortnight, three other people have been fatally injured by trains in the eastern region.

US rail groups track shale boom

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

When the cold, windswept plains of North Dakota opened to large-scale European settlement in the 1870s, the region was part of the Wild West. Resistance from native Americans had been largely broken and settlers from other parts of America poured in, seeking quick fortunes.

Nearly 150 years later, parts of North Dakota around the Bakken Shale formation – a vast, oil-bearing geological formation in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan – are boom towns again. Camps have been set up for temporary workers and infrastructure is straining to cope.

Training group backs high-speed rail link plan

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

The training organisation Energy Skills Queensland says a proposed high-speed rail service linking Bundaberg, Gladstone and Rockhampton would be a major boost for job seekers.

Business group Capricorn Enterprise released a glowing pre-feasibility study on the idea last month.

Energy Skills Queensland is expanding its Gladstone training program to attract workers from Bundaberg and Rockhampton.

Melbourne ratepayers could be hit with a new public transport tax

Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012 by railblogger in Other Transport News

MELBOURNE ratepayers would be hit with a new public transport tax under a controversial plan by a major lobby group. The Committee for Melbourne says revenue raised could fund projects such as the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel and expansion of the Dandenong line.

The committee would not speculate on the likely cost of the levy, but in a scheme on the Gold Coast households pay $111 a year; a similar charge in Melbourne would pour almost $180 million a year into the coffers.

The committee said councils could collect a flat or variable levy from metropolitan ratepayers on behalf of the State Government.

Airport rail plan extends to Hills

Posted Thursday, 13 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

A rail link to Perth Airport will run down the middle of Tonkin Highway, tunnel under runways and stretch to the foothills as part of the State Government's preferred model.

The route will connect the Midland rail line to the proposed consolidated international and domestic airport terminal.

The State Government has earmarked the project for between 2021 and 2031 but the route needs to be finalised so it can be incorpor- ated in the airport's current redevelopment plans.

High Court set to rule on Pilbara rail lines

Posted Thursday, 13 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

THE High Court is tomorrow due to hand down its decision on the seven-year long battle over access to iron ore rail lines in the Pilbara.

The battle has been between BHP and Rio on the one side and rival producers on the other seeking access to their lines at an agreed price.

No myki? No go. Time runs out for Metcard

Posted Thursday, 13 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

Myki will become the only ticket valid for Melbourne's public transport system on December 29.

Metcard validating machines on trams will be switched off the day before, and Metcards will cease to be sold at train stations by the end of October.

More than 85 per cent of public transport users already use Myki, up from 20 per cent at the start of the year.

Transport Ticketing Authority chief Bernie Carolan said the biggest remaining challenge lay in convincing the one-in-four bus passengers that still use Metcard to switch.

Passengers swap trains for buses

Posted Thursday, 13 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

PASSENGER trips on Melbourne trains dropped by almost 7 million last financial year, but the decline in rail patronage was more than matched by increases in tram and bus trips.

In total there were 536.8 million boardings on Melbourne's public transport system last financial year, a 3.4 per cent increase on 2011-12. But the boost in patronage is almost entirely attributable to more people taking to the city's buses, which carried a remarkable 17 million more people in 2011-12 than they did in 2010-11. There were 123.2 million bus trips in 2011-12 - a 15.8 per cent jump on the previous year. At the same time, the number of journeys on trains dropped 3.3 per cent, from 228.9 million to 222 million. It is the first financial year in which train patronage has declined since 1993-94. Overall, patronage has grown by 53 per cent in the past eight years.

NSW grain rail lines to receive $277 million upgrade

Posted Friday, 14 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

NSW Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay today provided an update on maintenance and upgrade work on the state's grain rail lines.

"We have a mantra in the O'Farrell Government, and that is to 'get the state moving again.'

"To help achieve this, over the next five years the government will be spending more than a quarter of a billion dollars on maintenance and upgrade works to the state's 996 kilometres of grain rail lines," Minister Gay said.

Since coming to office in March 2011, the O'Farrell Government has invested $61 million on maintenance and upgrade works to the state's grain lines - or more than $3 million a month - with about 100 people actively working on the tracks each year.

Woman fatally struck by train in Melbourne's west

Posted Friday, 14 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

TRAIN services on the Sydenham line have reopened after an incident in St Albans earlier today.

A woman was struck and killed by a train near St Albans shortly before 7am.

Tickets stretched for free travel on 1 October

Posted Friday, 14 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

CityRail customers who purchase a seven day or 14 day MyTrain ticket will get a free day of travel on 1 October, to help reduce ticket queues after the Labour Day long weekend.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said weeklies will be valid for eight days, and fortnightly tickets for 15 days if purchased between Sunday 23 September and Saturday 29 September 2012.

“Customers who buy their Weekly and Fortnightly MyTrain tickets next week will
benefit by gaining a free day of extra travel. The new expiry date will be automatically
added to their ticket,” the spokesperson said.

Truck & train collide in suburban Brisbane

Posted Friday, 14 September, 2012 by Peter_J in Rail News

A train collided with a semi-trailer at the station on St Vincents Rd just after 6.30am.According to witnesses, the vehicle, which was carrying a heavy electrical transformer, appears to have broken down while parked across the tracks

Historic day for Wimmera transport

Posted Friday, 14 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

THE first train service at the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal at Dooen has marked a new era for Wimmera transport.

Terminal operator Wimmera Container Line unloaded and reloaded the first train at the site yesterday, which will provide a central location for grain handling and export processes and will improve access to grain ports.

Rail safety body approved by parliament

Posted Saturday, 15 September, 2012 by bevans in Gunzelling Reports

Australia will soon have its first national rail safety investigator after legislation cleared parliament.

Draft laws, introduced by Transport Minister Anthony Albanese in June, aim to cut red-tape as part of the government's plan to nationalise maritime, rail and heavy vehicle safety rules by 2013.

Answer on Lewisham rail a bridge too far

Posted Saturday, 15 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay has failed to provide the parliament with an answer on how raising a Lewisham rail overpass would affect traffic on Parramatta Rd.

Last week the Courier revealed part of Parramatta Rd could be closed during construction of the inner west light rail extension so a Lewisham overpass can be raised.

The issue was raised in parliament last week by Labor upper house MP Walt Secord, who asked Mr Gay what measures would be put in place to ensure Parramatta Rd was not gridlocked.

Albanese announces additional funding for ARTC in South Australia

Posted Saturday, 15 September, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

Federal Labour Minister Albanese announced during a speach at Port Augusta yesterday additional funds totalling $16m would be made available for re-railing parts of the ARTC network west of Port Augusta.  The funds thought to be for new track in the form of rails will be spent west of Port Augusta on the TAR in the area of Tarcoola. 

Days of steam return for train passengers

Posted Sunday, 16 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

WHILE the rest of the world is building high-speed rail, train travel between Australia's biggest cities is getting slower.

The timetable for train services between Melbourne and Sydney has recently been padded out by up to 85 minutes because operator CountryLink cannot keep to its published schedule. Little more than 10 of its twice-daily services to Sydney have arrived on time this year, although its Melbourne-bound services fared better.

Victorian operator V/Line will also rewrite its timetable in coming weeks to reflect its inability to keep time on the Albury line. Last month, just 2.8 per cent of V/Line trains between Melbourne and Albury ran on time.

Commuters Ride on Talking Trains

Posted Sunday, 16 September, 2012 by GrahamH in Victorian Rail News

Melbourne commuters have been riding the first trains capable of 'conversing' with cars in a bid to reduce accidents at level crossings.

During July and August, the Frankston line has been part of a trial of a 'intelligent transport system' designed to help cut collisions between cars, trucks and trains.

Gheringhap Sightings w/e 15/9/2012

Posted Sunday, 16 September, 2012 by GheringhapLoop in Gunzelling Reports

There were 114 sightings for this week. This is five sighting less than last week, making a total of 4383 sightings for this year to date. On day 259 last year we had recorded 3975 sightings. This is 408 sightings up on the same time last year.

FMG wins right to appeal rail access

Posted Sunday, 16 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

Fortescue Metals Group has won a court battle that could open Rio Tinto's and BHP Billiton's tightly-held rail lines in the remote iron ore-rich Pilbara region of Australia to rival mining companies.

The High Court ordered today that appeals be allowed to an earlier Competition Tribunal ruling that had overturned a government decision to allow Fortescue access to Rio Tinto's two lines. The case has dragged on for years, during which time Fortescue has developed its own rival line to export its ore.

The decision comes as spot prices for the steelmaking commodity abundant in the arid north of Western Australia slump and mining companies struggle to contain costs and remove capacity bottlenecks from their operations.

Rail delivered opportunity and nation-building in the 1900s and is re-entering a

Posted Sunday, 16 September, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

UNITING a nation - a century of Trans-Australian Rail. Pity someone needing to cross Australia in 1900. The choices were equally bleak.

There was a journey of thousands of kilometres over rough desert terrain or a lengthy voyage across the Great Australian Bight, famous for its miserable, choppy seas.

Despite fierce opposition, Western Australia eventually voted "yes" to join the Federation in 1901.

An inducement was the promise of a train.

Coalition to claim back rail link cash for highway

Posted Sunday, 16 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

THE federal Coalition will promise today to take back the $2 billion allocated by the Gillard government for the Parramatta-to-Epping rail link and use it to complete the duplication of the Pacific Highway.

In a speech to the Nationals' federal conference in Canberra, the party's leader, Warren Truss, will say the money saved from scrapping the rail link will be added to the $3.6 billion already allocated in the federal budget for the highway, enabling a Coalition government to contribute $5.6 billion.

Rail gains steam as a crude oil mover

Posted Monday, 17 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

Canada’s oil patch is quietly sending large new volumes of oil on rail cars, even as it fights to overcome mounting opposition to plans for new pipelines to the U.S. Gulf Coast and Canada’s West Coast.

Though solid numbers are not available, industry sources say upward of 80,000 barrels a day of Canadian oil is now moving to market on rail cars. It’s a small fraction of the 2.3 million barrels a day the country exports, overwhelmingly by pipeline. But rail is rising fast: last year at this time, some 5,000 barrels a day left Alberta on trains. By next year, executives, oil producers and energy traders estimate it will exceed 200,000 barrels a day.

Qld trials new measures at rail crossings

Posted Monday, 17 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

Drivers approaching railway crossings will be warned about oncoming trains via messages broadcast over their car radios under a Queensland trial.

The state government has shortlisted three organisations to take on the $1 million Rail Level Crossing Safety Technology Trial, announced in June.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson said NFA Innovations, La Trobe University and Railnet Safety Systems will vie for the chance to test three new safety measures at different sites around Queensland.

Is a Melbourne Airport Rail Link Finally Ready For Take-Off?

Posted Monday, 17 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

There are plenty of reasons why Melbourne was rated ‘most liveable’ city in the world for the second straight year. Its score of 97.5 per cent in the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey was close to the perfect score, with the city only docked points for climate, culture and petty crime.

When looking at the transport picture, however, it seems strange that it did not lose points for infrastructure. One of the biggest downsides to Victoria’s capitalis in the lack of a convenient connection from the airport to the city; when one compares Melbourne to the other great cities on the EIU list, this is a glaring omission. Tourists and business travellers alike have noted this lack of transport between the city proper and its airport.

There has been endless debate over the real need, viability and sustainability of a Melbourne Airport Link but it appears now that the idea is closer to reality than before.

Motorists rail at Essendon crossing see RED

Posted Monday, 17 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

AN Essendon railway crossing has been voted the worst intersection in Moonee Valley by motorists.

The congested spot at Buckley and Rose streets received the most votes of any of the municipality's intersections in the 2012 RACV/Leader Redspot survey.

Drivers said the intersection was particularly problematic during peak periods, with motorists facing long delays and queues at the rail crossing.

In the previous Redspot survey in 2010, Niddrie's Calder Freeway-Keilor Rd intersection was the most frustrating.

Deal struck on coal loading facility

Posted Monday, 17 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

Two coal coal companies have reached agreement on the use of rail coal loading facilities in central Queensland.

Bandanna Energy is planning to build a coal load-out for its proposed Springsure Creek mine, which will connect to the Blackwater to Gladstone coal rail lines.

PTUA President to step down

Posted Monday, 17 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

“It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to lead the campaign for better public transport for the past nine years”, said Mr Bowen.

“In that time we’ve had some significant wins: all-night services on New Years Eve, more services moving Melbourne towards our ‘every 10 minutes to everywhere’ vision, and recognition from politicians of both sides of the importance of public transport, and of the issues of overcrowded and infrequent services and the lack of timetable co-ordination between modes.”

“And the PTUA has grown in stature, with membership numbers increasing, the popular discount ‘Commuter Club’ ticket scheme, and regular member meetings giving a chance for our members to hear and ask questions of prominent players in Victorian public transport. And we have a strong presence in the media, as well as on social media.”

Grain rail lines back on the agenda

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

AT A TIME when it is making savage overall spending cuts, the NSW government has re-affirmed its commitment to maintenance and upgrading of grain rail branch lines.

Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay said the government would spend about $277 million over the next five years on the State’s 996 kilometres of grain rail lines.

He said it had already spent $61m on the lines in the 18 months since it came to office in March last year, however discussions with industry and regional communities indicated more needed to be done.

Public to get transport plan say

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

The chairman of the Gold Coast council's city planning committee says a vision for the tourist capital's transport future is more than a wish list.

The Draft Transport Strategy 2031 will go to community consultation next month.

Councillor Cameron Caldwell says the strategy is aimed at creating a smart, connected and sustainable city.

Fortescue could be forced to sell Pilbara assets

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

Mining analysts say the Fortescue Metals Group may have to sell some more of its assets in the Pilbara to reduce its debt.

Fortescue, Australia's third-largest iron ore miner, requested a trading halt on Friday after its shares sustained their worst loss in almost four years.

It is currently in negotiations with banks to waive debt covenants on some of its $8.5 billion of debt.

Pengana Capital fund manager Tim Schroeders says there are many assets that Fortescue could sell to bring down debt.

Celebrations mark rail centenary

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

Six locomotives have been coupled for a trip to Port Augusta to commemorate the centenary of work starting on the trans-Australian railway.

The modern locomotives formed a single train which left Adelaide, then arrived at Port Augusta alongside the historic Pichi Richi steam train.

Australasian Railway Association CEO Bryan Nye said it had probably been the only chance people would get to see so many locomotives form a single train.

"So many people's grandparents or parents were involved in the rail industry and I think it's that romance and that involvement with the past that keeps people really fascinated by it all," he said.

Split track derails mine shipments

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by bevans in Tasmanian Rail News

Tasrail is confident the state's west coast mines will get product to port on time, despite the closure of a rail line due to a train derailment.

The Melba Line track split apart yesterday, causing the train carrying 15 wagons of ore to drop in between the rails.

There was no major damage to the train or its cargo.

Double the trains to Ferny Grove

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by Mouse in Press Releases

Passengers will be able to turn up and go with daytime trains arriving every 15 minutes on the Ferny Grove train line starting from Monday, October 8.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson announced the start date for the election commitment, which will see 28 new train services a day between 9am and 3pm.

"For too long passengers on Brisbane public transport have paid too much for poor frequency," Mr Emerson said.

On the way: off-peak trains every 15 minutes for some commuters

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

Passengers travelling on the Ferny Grove railway line will benefit from off-peak services every 15 minutes from next month - but similar frequency boosts may be years away on other lines.

The Liberal National Party promised during the state election campaign to introduce 15-minute off-peak frequency on the Ferny Grove line.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson announced today the extra services would begin on October 8, at a cost to the government of $18 million over two years.

Mr Emerson said the move to 15-minute frequency would mean an extra 28 train services a day between 9am and 3pm.

QR National proposes name change to Aurizon

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

The nation’s largest rail freight group QR National Limited today announced a proposal to change the company’s name to Aurizon Limited.

Shareholders will be asked to approve the name change at the Company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Brisbane on November 7.

QR National Managing Director & CEO Lance Hockridge said the name change was the logical next step in the company’s transformation to becoming a world-class operator.

The new name is a combination of Australia and Horizon. It conveys the geographical scope of our expanding operations, as well as the extraordinary growth opportunities that are on the horizon for the company.

Railway electrification could land county taxpayers with a bill

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

COUNTY taxpayers could end up footing the bill for work to electrify railways through Oxford.

Network Rail is due to start the process of electrification of railways through the county in order to introduce electric trains on some routes, and highways works may have to be carried out by the county council at the same time.

They hope to introduce electric trains on key routes such as the Oxford to London Rail route and the East-West rail route via Bicester to Milton Keynes.

Rail funding bolsters campaign for grain lines

Posted Tuesday, 18 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

It is hoped major upgrades to rail lines in the Lachlan and Coonamble districts will allow heavier loads to be transported by rail.

Fifty-five thousand wooden sleepers will be replaced at Ungarie, Tottenham and Lake Cargelligo and level crossings around Coonamble are being improved as part of the State Government program.

New rail safety investigator

Posted Wednesday, 19 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

The Transport Safety Investigation Amendment Bill 2012 establishes Australia’s first national rail safety investigator by tasking the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) with responsibility for investigating safety events on all metropolitan passenger and freight rail networks across Australia.

Currently, Australia’s rail safety system is a patchwork of regulators and laws.

From 1 January next year, the new national approach will see more investigations conducted across a greater range of safety matters.

The ATSB has a proven record in conducting independent investigations that achieve practical improvements to transport safety. The findings from the ATSB’s investigations will help improve overall safety and identify areas of improvement.

The ATSB’s rail safety investigation role will complement the work of the new National Rail Safety Regulator.

State Government reveals plans to build overpass at Oaklands Park railway statio

Posted Wednesday, 19 September, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

PLANS for a train overpass to ease traffic congestion at the Oaklands Park rail crossing have been unveiled by the State Government.

The $100 million overpass would go over Morphett Rd and include an elevated station, accessed by lifts and stairs.

The unfunded plan includes up to 100 more carparks at the station, as well as walking and cycling paths.

A spokesman for Transport Minister Patrick Conlon said a $2 million study into how to ease traffic congestion at the intersection of Diagonal and Morphett roads found an overpass to be the most cost-effective solution.

Strike action to hit commuters on Monday

Posted Wednesday, 19 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

MELBOURNE'S railways will be hit by a series of three-hour strikes by Metro Trains' maintenance staff on Monday.

The strikes could lead to cancellations, as the workers taking industrial action are from four major depots where the city's trains are repaired. A second round of stopworks is planned for Wednesday.

The strikes follow negotiations between the operator and four unions representing train repair staff.

'No link' between royalties fund and underground rail

Posted Wednesday, 19 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

Brisbane's multi-billion-dollar underground rail project is not funded by the regional infrastructure fund tied to the Gillard government's mining tax so it is misleading to link the two issues, a federal government source says.

The revamped $4.5 billion cross-river rail project is currently before the federal government's funding advisory body, Infrastructure Australia, for consideration.

Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan has previously threatened to dock states some of their federal GST or infrastructure funding if they raised state-based mining royalties.

Mayor proposes alternative light rail route

Posted Wednesday, 19 September, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

Perth's Lord Mayor says she does not want a light rail network in the CBD to interfere with pedestrian traffic in the Hay and Murray Street malls.

Last night, the City of Perth voted to support the State Government's plans for a rail network across the business district.

But, the council passed a motion proposed by the Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi, which ruled out putting tracks through Hay and Murray Streets.

Vic armed rail guards doing a 'fine' job

Posted Wednesday, 19 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

ABOUT 3000 fines have been issued by the new armed guards patrolling Melbourne's train stations in the seven months since the Victorian government began deploying its latest crime-fighting tool.

One hundred and forty Protective Services Officers (PSOs) now patrol 20 of Victoria's 215 metropolitan train stations, after Hoppers Crossing and Reservoir stations were added to the network on Tuesday night.

Acting Premier Peter Ryan said about 3000 offences had been detected by the PSOs since February as part of their role which includes making arrests and detecting breaches of bail.

New trains to join Melbourne fleet in time for new November timetable

Posted Wednesday, 19 September, 2012 by vanessa in Victorian Rail News

Visiting Alstom's factory in Ballarat, Mr Mulder said the first of the new trains is arriving five months early. "These trains have the highest level of locally sourced input ever seen in the delivery of X'Trapolis trains to Melbourne, providing about 65 full-time jobs in Ballarat, with another 70 indirect jobs," Mr Mulder said. "They will modernise and expand Melbourne's train fleet as new services are delivered following the completion of the Sunbury Electrification Project. "Metro services on the new Sunbury line will begin on 18 November this year, bringing a completely new train timetable and a boost to train services in Melbourne's growing north-western suburbs.

Council Reacts to Rail Yard Relocation Plan

Posted Wednesday, 19 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News


There are new details on a proposal to remove the rail switch yard from downtown Sioux Falls.

The terms being hashed out but under the possible agreement, Burlington Northern Santa Fe would sell most of the downtown rail yard to the city, which would clean it up and develop it for commercial use. It involves far less construction than a decades old plan that has all but been scrapped by the city. City officials say the news is a “breath of fresh air.” The city council is encouraged too.

“You have to be optimistic about it at this point,” Councilor Dean Karsky said following Tuesday’s briefing.

Blow to Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill mine as rail infrastructure contract deferred

Posted Thursday, 20 September, 2012 by vanessa in Western Australian Rail News

A CRITICAL piece of infrastructure for Gina Rinehart's $9.5 billion Roy Hill project has been deferred. Macmahon Holdings confirmed to PerthNow that tendering for a key contract for the development of the iron ore mine had been deferred. PerthNow understands the tender process will not recommence until at least next financial year as Roy Hill attempts to sure up funding for the project.

EU transport chief calls for common rail standards

Posted Thursday, 20 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

A single European rail network with genuinely open competition and common standards is urgently needed to let trains relieve congested roads, according to EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas. He has vowed to push ahead with reforms requiring national rail networks to open up, which could lead to direct trains from Britain to destinations across the continent.

At the opening of Innotrans, Europe's largest transport convention, in Berlin, Kallas said €20bn (£16bn) of a €50bn European infrastructure fund could be made available for national transport projects to make the networks interoperable, helping stimulate growth. He proposed a single central rail agency to certify all new rolling stock built to a single standard across the continent.

Up to 20-million dollars for losing rail bidders

Posted Thursday, 20 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

The State Government says up to $20 million dollars of taxpayer's money will be paid to bidders who lose out on running Sydney's north west rail link.

The Government has confirmed the compensation will apply to three shortlist bidders.

The Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, says the contribution is in part needed because of the damage to the State's reputation caused by previous cancelled rail projects.

Sheriff: 5 Injured In Rail Cart Crash At Glouster Mine

Posted Thursday, 20 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

GLOUSTER, Ohio -- The Perry County Sheriff’s Office said five people have been transported to area hospitals after two rail carts crashed at the Buckingham Coal Company Underground in Glouster, Ohio Wednesday morning.

The sheriff’s office tells NBC4 the office received a 911 call from the Buckingham Coal Company Underground located on Township Road 295 reporting a crash between two rail carts in the mine at about 7:13 a.m. Wednesday.

The accident happened at shift change Wednesday morning when two track-mounted carts collided at a dip in the tracks.

Commercial negotiations continue over Bomen hub

Posted Thursday, 20 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

Wagga Wagga City Council says it is continuing to work with its commercial partners in funding the Bomen rail freight hub.

Regional Development Australia (RDA) Riverina Chairman Tom Watson has been assured the $14 million allocated to the project by the federal government will be forthcoming.

It comes after the Opposition claimed RDA grant funding would be diverted to spend on new government promises.

No date for rail line reopening

Posted Thursday, 20 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

V/Line says it is making progress repairing the Gippsland train line but still cannot say when the track will reopen.

Train services have been suspended east of Moe while V/Line crews repair a water-damaged section of the line.

The Morwell wetlands have had to be drained so repair crews can get to that section of track.

Feds approve first leg of Calif. high-speed rail

Posted Thursday, 20 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

The Federal Railroad Administration gave its approval Wednesday for construction on the first phase of California's high-speed rail system, clearing the final technical hurdle for construction to start next year on a 65-mile span from Merced to Fresno.

The decision supports the California High-Speed Rail Authority's so-called hybrid alternative, which state officials say is the least costly approach and the one that is least harmful to the environment. Rail authority Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales said the federal decision will allow the project to break ground next year.

Committee reports on grain industry future

Posted Thursday, 20 September, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

A State Parliamentary committee which has investigated South Australia's grain industry says it wants the Federal Government to establish an independent organisation to oversee grain classification.

The committee, formed in March last year, has now released its final report.

Rail renaissance faces challenge

Posted Friday, 21 September, 2012 by bevans in New Zealand Rail News

Underground link looms as next big step for public transport system.

Rob Askew was amazed by the post-Britomart turnaround in rail commuting. Photo / Chris Gorman

Auckland's public transport system has taken a quantum leap since the first diesel train shuffled into the $211 million Britomart station nine years ago, but it remains a political punchbag.

Although train patronage has more than quadrupled and the overall system including buses and ferries carried 36 per cent more passengers last year than in 2003, there is concern about slackening momentum when Auckland desperately needs Government buy-in for its next big transformational step - the central rail link.

Labor backs light rail

Posted Friday, 21 September, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

ACT Labor is promising to build a light rail network through Canberra if it wins October's election.

The first stage of the Capital Metro project would include a 12 kilometre light rail route linking Gungahlin and Civic.

The project has been costed at $614 million, with Labor committing $30 million in capital funding over two years.

Labor says it will establish the ACT's first large-scale private sector partnership to plan, finance and develop the project.

FMG open to Roy Hill rail talks

Posted Friday, 21 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Nev Power was back in an upbeat mood yesterday, talking up the prospects of the company's expansion and potential deals with Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill project as FMG brought an end to another of its major debt issues.

Speaking at the opening of Fortescue's second train unloader at Port Hedland yesterday, Mr Power was happy to fuel talk of a potential rail deal with Mrs Rinehart, saying he would welcome an approach over shared infrastructure from the Roy Hill project.

"We would welcome discussions with Roy Hill, or for that matter any of the other potential projects in the Pilbara," he said.

"We recognise that there are a lot of other iron ore projects in that area that we could provide a rail service for, so absolutely.

Talks focus on rail fix progress

Posted Friday, 21 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

V/Line officials will meet engineers today to discuss the progress of work to repair the Gippsland train line.

Services were suspended east of Moe after a driver noticed the foundations of a section of track between Moe and Morwell had washed away.

Repair crews have drained the Morwell wetlands to get access to the track and are now ready to begin reinforcing culverts.

BHP suspends $5bn in Qld rail and port plans

Posted Friday, 21 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

BHP Billiton has shelved plans to build more than $US5 billion worth of rail and port infrastructure in Queensland as part of a broader review of its coking coal growth ambitions.

The miner and its partner Mitsubishi this year cancelled a planned expansion of the Peak Downs coking coal mine and closed their Norwich Park and Gregory operations.

The company recently laid off Brisbane-based workers who had been working on coking coal growth projects after flagging no new major projects would be approved this year across its global operations.

Last month BHP cancelled its $US20 billion-plus Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine expansion and a $US20 billion outer harbour for its iron ore business at Port Hedland.

Railway shares slide after earnings warning

Posted Friday, 21 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

A surprise profit warning from Norfolk Southern Corp. sent shares tumbling across the entire North American railway industry, hammering Canadian carriers along with their U.S. counterparts.

Analysts say Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. experienced collateral damage from Norfolk’s surprise announcement that it expected earnings of $1.18 (U.S.) to $1.25 a share in the third quarter. The projection, made after the market closed Wednesday, fell far short of the $1.63 a share that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected, and stunned investors.

Truck hits protection beam on low-level bridge

Posted Saturday, 22 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

Traffic was held up in Marius Street in Tamworth on Thursday after a high vehicle tried, and failed, to clear a low level rail bridge near Viaduct Park.

Around 11:00am a truck attempted to pass under the Rail Viaduct on Marius Street, near the Macquarie Street intersection.

Mayor puzzled over mining worries

Posted Saturday, 22 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler says he cannot understand why Greenpeace has concerns over mining developments in central western Queensland, after the lengthy environmental approval process for the Alpha Coal and Rail project.

A Greenpeace report says proposed coal mines could put the Gallilee Basin above the entire United Kingdom in levels of carbon pollution.

New Territory for Ads, With a Moving Target

Posted Saturday, 22 September, 2012 by Speed in International Rail News

The front of the MetroCard is not the only new territory being given over to commerce. This year, for the first time, [New York's] Metropolitan Transportation Authority began allowing ads to cover passenger windows on buses. Calvin Klein and Broadway producers embraced the spot.

Vline train to Shepparton collides with car stuck on railway tracks

Posted Saturday, 22 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

Last night the Vline passenger service from Melbourne to Sheppaton (GVL) train 8333 collided with an empty vehicle which was stuck on the railway tracks near the town of Wandong.

The car believed to have been driven by a 19 YO man who was attempting to cross the tracks some distance away from a purpose built railway crossing. The car became stuck on the tracks and despite the man's best efforts to remove the vehicle, including the use of a car jack, his efforts failed.

Apple's turn to be accused of copying (Swiss Rail)

Posted Sunday, 23 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

SWITZERLAND'S national rail company has accused Apple of stealing the look of its station clocks for the iOS 6 operating system used by iPhone and iPad devices.

Both designs have a round clock face with black indicators except for the second hand, which is red.

A spokesman for the Swiss Federal Railways, or SBB, said the Apple design was ''identical'' to the one designed by the rail company in 1944.

Gheringhap Sightings w/e 22/9/2012

Posted Sunday, 23 September, 2012 by GheringhapLoop in Gunzelling Reports

There were 117 sightings for this week. This is three sighting more than last week, making a total of 4500 sightings for this year to date. On day 266 last year we had recorded 4039 sightings. This is 407 sightings up on the same time last year.

New Macmahon CEO says boom over

Posted Monday, 24 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

NEWLY installed Macmahon chief executive Ross Carroll says large scale rail projects will be off the agenda under his leadership as the company adapts to life after the resources boom.

Mr Carroll says exponential growth in the resources sector over the next three or four years that some have predicated "was not going to come".

"Definitely the boom's over," Mr Carroll told ABC Television on Sunday.

"I think we are much more reliant on current production volumes rather than all this new work being out there.

North West Rail Link builders shortlisted

Posted Monday, 24 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

THREE organisations have been short-listed for the North West Rail Link's multi-billion-dollar tunnelling contract as planning gets well underway.

The organisations, selected from six business conglomerates including more than 60 companies who put in a bid for the tender, will now partake in a second pitch for the tender next month.

The shortlisted companies include Baulderstone Bouygues North West Rail Joint Venture, Rapidlink Joint Venture (Obayashi, McConnell Dowell, Laing ORourke Australia) and Thiess John Holland Dragados Joint Venture.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said contracts to build the rail tunnels, tipped as the deepest and longest tunnels ever built in Australia, were expected to be awarded next year.

Road Worrier Puts Queensland Free Railway Wi-Fi To The Test

Posted Monday, 24 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

The free Wi-Fi offered by Queensland Rail to Brisbane commuters is one of the more generous options available in Australia, but how well does it perform in practice? Road Worrier decided to find out.

The Queensland Rail offer isn't the only free public transport Wi-Fi deal in Australia. Sydney Ferries has free coverage, and there have been smaller scale trials in Adelaide, Queensland and Sydney. However, for system-wide scope, the Brisbane deal takes some beating.

Wooden sleepers plan 'off the rails'

Posted Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

THE Baillieu government has been accused of condemning central Victorian train travellers to slower journeys and damaging the environment in a bid to save money as it rehabilitates the Seymour railway line.

Thousands of degraded wooden sleepers on the regional line are being replaced with new wooden sleepers harvested from redgum forests in New South Wales, after the government opted not to lay concrete sleepers because of higher cost and pressure from freight rail operators.

Concrete sleepers are held to be superior to wooden ones because they last more than three times longer, which makes them environmentally friendlier, and because they enable trains to run at faster speeds.

Rail cost 'modest' to boost Esperance Port

Posted Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

Iron ore mining hopefuls in the Yilgarn region say only "modest"

improvements to rail lines to Esperance Port would be needed to cater for the export of an extra 15 million tonnes of ore a year.

According to Yilgarn Iron Producers Association chairman Jonathan Lea, the State Government-owned Esperance rail line is in better shape than expected, and would need minimal capital work before being able to carry up to 26mtpa of ore - enough to support the initial expansion of Esperance's port for iron ore producers.

Rail corridor at White Bay ripped up

Posted Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

THE state government has denied the removal of 500m of rail lines to make way for the White Bay development would jeopardise possible future light rail lines to the Balmain.

Acela run expected to match U.S. rail speed record of 165 mph

Posted Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

Sometime after 8 p.m. Thursday, a train will come roaring out of the north from Delaware toward Perryville at 165 miles per hour, matching the fastest speed ever attained on a U.S. rail line.

After putting on the brakes, the Acela Express will make the 13-minute run back to Wilmington before sprinting down the track for seven more round trips by 2 a.m.

Similar tests also are to be carried out this week and next on three other sections of track — in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts — the first step in upgrading passenger service in those areas to 160 mph. Federal regulations require tests of 5 mph above maximum operating speeds.

Arrests on rail attack

Posted Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

POLICE have arrested two people following a robbery at Corio railway station earlier this month.

Senior Constable Simon Keogh said a 29-year-old female and 34-year-old male, both of South Geelong, had been arrested and charged with robbery.

A 21-year-old man was allegedly bashed and robbed at the isolated and unstaffed Corio train station on September 10 after winning money while playing poker machines earlier that night.

Will Perth Beat Melbourne to An Airport Rail Link?

Posted Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

Transport infrastructure in Perth appears to have moved to the top of the state government’s priorities.

Just weeks after the announcement of updated light rail plans, the government has released details for a rail line connecting commuters and travellers to and from Perth Airport.

As is the case with Melbourne Airport, this type of infrastructure has been deemed critical in supporting passenger growth as the number of travellers continues to rise.

“Perth Airport will continue to experience substantial passenger growth and it is critical transport infrastructure is planned to ensure adequate services are in place to cater for the projected demand,” said Minister for Transport Troy Buswell. “The State Government has demonstrated its commitment to the development of the airport precinct and associated infrastructure with the $1 billion Gateway WA project which encompasses a number of road network improvements to facilitate effective movement of people and freight.”

Buswell added that it is extremely important that commuters be given options in finding ways to get to and from the airport.

Goodwood residents demand answers on rail upgrade

Posted Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

THE community has been left in the dark about the State Government's project to separate train lines at Goodwood, residents say.

Millswood Cres residents, whose homes back on to the train line, say they have been given little or no information about imminent works to separate the freight and commuter rail lines near Leader St.

John and Mary Vanderkolk, who have lived on Millswood Cres for 32 years, were angry about the lack of information. Transport Department staff visited the couple's house about six weeks ago to inspect a tree close to the property's back fence.

QLD integrated rail project gathers momentum

Posted Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

QR National's $2 billion heavy haul rail system – which proposes to link mines in the Galilee and Bowen Basins to Queensland ports in Abbot Point and Hay Point areas – is a step closer to approval following the release of its environmental impact statement (EIS) terms of reference (ToR).

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney announced yesterday the release of the Central Queensland Integrated Rail project's ToR, which he says take into account 21 submissions from public and advisory agencies on the project’s draft terms of reference.

Rail boss takes on forestry

Posted Tuesday, 25 September, 2012 by bevans in Tasmanian Rail News

The chairman of Tasmania's struggling railway network will also take on the role of heading up the Forestry Tasmania board.

Cabinet has approved the appointment of Bob Annells, after the shock resignation of Miles Hampton last week.

After only three weeks in the job, Mr Hampton quit in protest at the Government's plans to restructure Forestry Tasmania.

GVK unlikely to build Alpha rail: Palmer

Posted Wednesday, 26 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

MINING magnate Clive Palmer says the Indian corporation chosen to build a coal railway in central Queensland is unlikely to complete the project.

Mr Palmer's China First Project lost out to Indian-Australian joint venture GVK-Hancock in June to build a rail corridor to link the Bowen and Galilee basins with the Abbot Point coal terminal.

Mr Palmer has questioned GVK's ability to deliver the project after it was caught up in India's "coalgate" scandal.

The company failed to meet the strict deadline set by the Indian government to develop a coal mine in Jharkhand state.

Surfers operators fear holiday rail work

Posted Wednesday, 26 September, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

THE company behind the light rail plans to carry out new construction work through Surfers Paradise just before the busy Christmas holidays, potentially crippling scores of businesses.

GoldLinQ will suspend work at the northern end of Surfers Paradise but is expected to start new works from Hamilton Avenue to Thornton Street in the lead up to the city's peak holiday period.

Local operators are appealing to them to stop work on the $1.2 billion project throughout the whole tourist precinct during the school holiday period from December 16 to January 29.

Hotels that may be affected include The Islander Hotel, owned by Mayor Tom Tate, the Grand Chancellor, Mantra Legends Hotel, the Watermark Hotel, Q1 Resort and Spa and Wyndham Surfers Paradise.

According to information obtained by the Bulletin, about 20,000 people stay in the precinct each day.

Make room: transport survey

Posted Wednesday, 26 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

ALMOST two-thirds of Australians believe investment in public transport is more important than investment in roads, a survey has found.

In Victoria 63 per cent of people surveyed said investing in public transport was the highest priority, compared with 20 per cent who believed it was most important to invest in roads.

One thousand Australians in all states and territories were quizzed in the University of Sydney quarterly survey, which has monitored shifts in national attitudes to transport issues since 2010.

Driver injured in car-train accident in central Qld

Posted Wednesday, 26 September, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

The driver of a car that crashed into a train on Queensland's Central Highlands is in Emerald hospital with head and chest injuries.

Charges likely after rail crossing crash

Posted Wednesday, 26 September, 2012 by bevans in New Zealand Rail News

Police say a mother will probably be charged with allegedly driving her car with her two children inside in front of a passenger train.

The woman and her two sons, thought to be aged about five and eight, were "extremely fortunate" to escape uninjured in the crash at a level crossing near Darfield, west of Christchurch, about 5.15pm yesterday, Sergeant Dan Harker said.

"The car bounced back off the train rather than getting sucked under it. A tenth of second difference and they would have been hit with the full force of the train, and that would have been awful."

20 die in China coal mine plunge

Posted Wednesday, 26 September, 2012 by bevans in Other Transport News

BEIJING (AFP) - A coal mining accident in northern China Tuesday left 20 miners dead and 14 injured, state media said, in the latest incident to hit the industry.

The cable of a rail carriage taking workers into the mine in Gansu province snapped, sending the 34 miners plummeting into the pit, Xinhua news agency reported.

The injured have been transported to hospital, including three who were in a serious condition, it said.

Officials at the Baiyin city work safety administration, which oversees the Qusheng mine, refused to comment when contacted by AFP.

China to complete Tibet rail link ahead of schedule

Posted Thursday, 27 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

China is set to complete a strategically significant 253-km rail link from Lhasa to Shigatse, near its border with Nepal, by 2014 — a year ahead of schedule.

Railway authorities say the rail link, which is an extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, will be completed in two years’ time and will have an annual freight capacity of 8.3 million tonnes, as reported by state-run Xinhua news agency.

China began construction on the rail line — half of it on bridges and in tunnels through the mountains of Tibet — in 2010. The line will also run through the Grand Canyon of the Brahmaputra, or Yarlung Zangbo as it is known in Tibet.

Next generation trains designed to cope with peak demand delayed

Posted Thursday, 27 September, 2012 by railblogger in Victorian Rail News

THE first of the 33 next generation trains won't be on the tracks until at least December 2016, industry experts say.

The prediction comes despite operator Metro telling the government it needs 54 new trains by 2017 to cope with growing peak demand - and has sparked fears of commuter chaos and job losses.

The Baillieu Government promised seven new trains in its first term, the first of which was delivered five months early on September 19, and a further 33 afterwards.

Danger in old rail sleepers, says MP

Posted Thursday, 27 September, 2012 by bevans in New Zealand Rail News

An internal document urging KiwiRail workers not to stand on rail bridges or railway sleepers marked for replacement raises further concerns about the state of the country's rail network, New Zealand First MP Brendan Horan says.

Mr Horan said the document was issued to workers after a man fell through a decaying sleeper this month. It warned workers to avoid walking on rail bridges and especially marked sleepers.

Schoolkids race to visit every train station in a day

Posted Thursday, 27 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

One day, 16 railway lines, 209 stations, 17 schoolchildren.

Is it possible to visit every railway station in Melbourne in a day, and make a detour to Stony Point for an added degree of difficulty?

It's a maths problem likely to defeat all but the most numerically gifted of trainspotters, but high school teacher Andrew Lorimer-Derham and his class of VCE students from Alexander Secondary School believe they have the answer, and they're putting it to the test today.

Job cuts confirmed at New Zealand rail

Posted Thursday, 27 September, 2012 by bevans in New Zealand Rail News

New Zealand’s state-owned rail operator KiwiRail confirmed this week that it is to axe 158 jobs. Infrastructure and Engineering staff (I & E) are taking the brunt of redundancies, reducing the division’s 714-strong work force to 556. The company is looking to shave $200 million from its books over the next three years, including $14 million per annum in wages, and there is talk of a second round of job cuts in March. KiwiRail currently employs 4,100 staff nationwide.

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) has played the central role in imposing the cuts. Plans to make the workforce bear the brunt of the cost-cutting program were first outlined in joint “consultation” meetings in July, at which the RMTU boasted it had put forward “all options for achieving cost savings” (see: “New Zealand rail union collaborates with job cuts”). The final scale of the cuts was arrived at after “weeks” of discussions with the union, according to KiwiRail. Rick van Barneveld, I & E general manager, noted: “We’ve worked very closely with the union and staff to ensure all those affected have the information they need, and understand the process.”

Hastings port expansion in doubt as Patrick pulls plug

Posted Friday, 28 September, 2012 by Speed in Victorian Rail News

THE Baillieu government's plan for a massive expansion of the Port of Hastings has been dealt a blow with the port operator confirming it will close operations there.

Patrick Stevedores has told staff that its Hastings operations will be wound back from November, meaning the port will be used commercially only sporadically, mainly to handle petroleum and gas.

The move follows a decision earlier this year by BlueScope Steel to transport its steel from Port Kembla in NSW by rail rather than ship.

Commuters rail against a machine in new Facebook send-up

Posted Friday, 28 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

IF you have ever fed a $20 note into a CityRail ticket machine and walked away with a pocket full of change, then you will appreciate a new Facebook page sending up the network.

Frustrated commuters have turned to Facebook to vent their anger with the city's train system, with a new page CityRail Memes lampooning the network's woes attracting almost 21,000 likes in just five weeks.

The page features dozens of humorous images satirising CityRail's failures with no section of the train system immune.

CN testing natural gas-fired locomotives in oilsands rail corridor

Posted Friday, 28 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

Canadian National Railway is exploring whether its feasible to use cheap and relatively clean natural gas to power its trains instead of diesel.

To start out, CN has retrofitted two of its existing diesel-fired locomotives to run mainly on natural gas,. It's testing the locomotives along the 480-kilometre stretch between Edmonton, a key energy processing and pipeline hub, and the oilsands epicentre of Fort McMurray, Alta.

Longer term, CN and three other partners are looking at developing an all-new natural gas locomotive engine as well as a specialized tank car to carry the fuel.

Natural gas giant Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) is providing the fuelling, which, along with maintenance, will be taking place in Edmonton.

Last whistle blows for the Northlander rail run

Posted Friday, 28 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

It’s obvious how the passengers riding the Northlander feel about the Ontario government’s move to kill the train that runs between Toronto and Cochrane and replace it with buses.

“I think it’s wrong-headed,” says Laurell Ritchie, a retired CAW representative who takes the train from Toronto a few times a year to visit friends in South River.

“It’s stupid. There are other options ... Everyone talks about going green, so rather than cut it out they could reduce the schedule to something like three times a week and have a promotion campaign, instead of clogging up Highway 400 from here to kingdom come.”

The Liberals are doing away with the Northlander as part of a plan to sell the Crown-owned Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC). It’s a cost-saving measure tied to reducing the provincial deficit. The province says it spent $100 million in subsidizing the ONTC in 2011.

No hope for Hope Street bus service

Posted Friday, 28 September, 2012 by railblogger in Other Transport News

SUPPORTERS of the Hope Street bus in Brunswick have made a last-ditch plea to the government not to cancel the service, fearing its removal will damage the lives of about 150 aged people who use it.

The two-kilometre bus service is due to make its last run tomorrow, after Public Transport Victoria last month ordered its operator to cease by September 30.

Belgian rail strike to hit Eurostar, Thalys services

Posted Friday, 28 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A strike by railway unions in Belgium next Wednesday is set to disrupt Eurostar passengers travelling between London and Brussels and hit the Thalys high-speed services between France and Germany.

The strike will run for 24 hours from 4.00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, a spokesman for Belgium's socialist FGTB union said on Thursday.

Libs defend light rail stance

Posted Friday, 28 September, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

ACT Labor and the Greens are targeting the Liberals for refusing to support the idea of building light rail in Canberra.

Both parties have committed to the transport system, with Labor promising to build the $600 million project in partnership with the private sector.

The Liberals have not released a policy on light rail during the election campaign, but have previously criticised the idea.

North Shore Station security

Posted Saturday, 29 September, 2012 by QSB6.7 in Victorian Rail News

POLICE have detailed a raft of security measures needed at North Shore train station to keep passengers safe.

A crime prevention assessment of the station has outlined a lack of CCTV cameras and poor lighting, and warned of the isolated walk to other facilities.

Rail yards climb aboard shale boom in Texas

Posted Sunday, 30 September, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

HONDO - A few years ago, this was a cotton field distinguishable only for its location along a railroad track and a bucolic view of the Hill Country in the distance.

This year, an estimated 15,000 rail cars will move through Hondo Railway's 175-acre property - many of them carrying fracturing sand bound for drilling operations in the Eagle Ford Shale formation.

Call to fix 'hideous' rail stations

Posted Sunday, 30 September, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

MELBOURNE'S railway stations are badly designed, unpleasant places that will be incapable of handling predicted passenger growth, an influential public transport academic says.

Melbourne University transport strategist Chris Hale argues that the city's railway stations are well behind world standards and need major investment to turn them into vibrant public places that can also efficiently handle peak-hour commuter bursts.

Sydney’s rail future under a cloud

Posted Sunday, 30 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

A document called “Sydney's Rail Future – Modernising Sydney's Trains” was released by the Barry O'Farrell NSW government in June. It plans to modernise the Sydney rail network by converting it to a "three tier" system: rapid transit, suburban and intercity.

Fuel tanker fire blocks highway

Posted Sunday, 30 September, 2012 by bevans in Other Transport News

A fuel tanker that caught fire after hitting a kangaroo has disrupted traffic on the Goulburn Valley Highway, south of Nagambie.

Firefighters have now extinguished the blaze and are working to cool a tanker compartment still containing 8,000 litres of diesel fuel.

The B-double fuel tanker caught fire at about 5.20am. The driver of the truck escaped without serious injury and tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire.

Country Fire Authority rostered duty officer Shane Sutton said a column of black smoke had been visible for much of the morning.

Avoid 'Carmageddon' and embrace rail transport

Posted Sunday, 30 September, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

AS CANBERRANS wrap their heads around another attempt to get light rail built in their city, Westside Los Angeles is enjoying ''Carmageddon 2''. We love sequels. ''Carmageddon'' is a fancy name for the closing of the wildly popular 405 freeway - a main artery between LA and everywhere - for the demolition of a bridge.

Last year at this time they shut the freeway, and expectations of horror, anarchy and much hair on fire turned out to be wrong. We all stayed home, held hands, sang songs and survived. And the freeway reopened 12 hours early. This year there's much less pre-closure ''buzz'', and marketing, and a general sense of complacency … so right now I may be atop my roof, shotgun in hand, praying I see the dawn. I don't own a shotgun.

Gheringhap Sightings w/e 29/9/2012

Posted Sunday, 30 September, 2012 by GheringhapLoop in Gunzelling Reports

There were 119 sightings for this week. This is two sighting more than last week, making a total of 4619 sightings for this year to date. On day 273 last year we had recorded 4212 sightings. This is 407 sightings up on the same time last year.

Rail line puts Leederville in the lead

Posted Sunday, 30 September, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

A VIBRANT cafe strip is the heartbeat of the Perth suburb of Leederville, just 3km from the CBD. Oxford Street is a mix of cafes, shops, a fashionable small movie theatre and home to the city's famous Kailis fish market.

It also neighbours picturesque Lake Monger, an undulating parkland teaming with birdlife and popular with cyclists, walkers and joggers.

The suburb's house price sales have dropped 0.3 per cent over the past five years, but it has performed better than any other Perth suburb in the 12 months to June.

Govt rail plan assurance

Posted Sunday, 30 September, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has defended the government’s newly-released draft transport master plan for the State, which has been criticised for being light on detail of when projects will start and how they will be funded.

She said with the State’s population set to grow by more than 25 per cent by 2031, the government was determined to “under promise and over deliver” on transport.

“This is the first time we have a plan that incorporates all of NSW, not just major cities, and it looks at an integrated, strategic plan for public transport, roads and freight,” Ms Berejiklian told The Land.

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