News: July 2010

New CityRail PPP “Waratah” Train Begins Testing

The new “Waratah” Public/Private Partnership (PPP) trains are being built by Downer EDI, for Reliance Rail who will lease the trains to RailCorp for CityRail suburban service. Named “Waratah” trains, the A-Sets will enter service from late 2010 to facilitate the removal of the aging fleet of S and R sets from the CityRail fleet.

The Waratah PPTV is seen here at Central at 0430 following a night of testing on the East Hills Line

The project celebrated another milestone on May 1st, with the special 4-car Pre-Production Test Vehicle (PPTV) delivered to Sydney behind 442s1. Unlike the revenue service trains, this train is only a 4-car set, designed specifically to test out the new trains reliability and compatibility with the network. Like the OSCar trains before them, the Waratah  will be subjected to an intense testing regime, to ensure that there will be no “surprises” after they enter service. The NSW Government does not need a repeat of the Millennium Train debacle, especially not around the time of an election!

Unlike the OSCar order before them, the Waratah order is the first to use a dedicated pre-production test vehicle (PPTV), with the purpose of identifying any oversights or faults in the train design or train components before too much work is done on the rest of the order. In the case of the OSCar trains, a number of 4-car sets were subjected to intense testing prior to entering service, and the sets involved were then sent back to United Group to be rebuilt, so as to be delivered in “as new” condition. The PPTV vehicle however, has entered service without any passenger seating, or any other passenger amenities. Aside from some dummy weight added, and testing equipment, the train is a shell – for the sole purpose of testing the trains design.

Since being delivered, the PPTV (also known as A0 within the enthusiast community), has run a number of trials around the RailCorp network in the dead of night (usually under a local possession authority, to ensure no adverse results to late night services). Typically, the PPTV is hauled to and from the possession by 442s1, which remains fitted with a special transition coupler. The cars used on the PPTV will be delivered as part of the final order, and are numbered as follows: D6479, N5442, N5342, D6379.

S52 is seen here at Erskineville with a service to the City Circle from the Bankstown Line. Scenes like this will soon be no more!

On June 28th, the first 8-car Waratah Set (A1) was delivered in the same manner as the PPTV, behind 442s1. The carriages delivered were numbered as follows: D6301, N5501, N5601, T6501, T6601, N5401, N5301 and D6401. This follows the existing numbering scheme as set out by previous CityRail trains, with “D” being unpowered driving cars, “N” being powered vehicles and “T” being unpowered non driving cars. The main distinction between the A-Sets and previous carriage numbering schemes, is that the cars on the train have a different number – e.g one driving car is D63xx and the other D64xx. Normally, all cars are delivered in sequence, in this case this would be from D6301 onwards in sequence – thus, D6401 would previously have been the 101st car to be delivered, not the second as it is in this case. Previous deliveries have followed this scheme – in the case of the OSCar trains for example, all driver trailer cars are numbered in the D69xx series, the Millennium trains before them numbered in the D10xx series, and so on.

Like the PPTV, A1 has been delivered without seats or exterior decals or logos, and will also be used to extensively test the new trains before they are approved for use on the system. It is expected that A1 and the PPTV will be used for further night testing before the PPTV is returned to Downer EDI, and deliveries of revenue sets can then begin. It is expected that the first A Set will enter revenue service before the end of the year.

PPL Ends NSW Operations

DL44, DL46 and VL351 await permission to leave the Sandown Line for the final time with 1877 freight to Dubbo.

Patrick PortLink (PPL), the rail operator for Patrick Corp (a division of Asciano Limited, owners of Pacific National) have ended their NSW rail operations. The first PPL service to be cut was T181/T182, Sandown to Botany container trip, with the final train running to Botany as T182 on Friday the 14th of May, 2010 behind hired motive power 48136 and 4887. This was followed by the final revenue service from the Patrick Terminal at Sandown (also known as Seaton’s Sidings) running as train 1877 to Dubbo on Saturday the 12th of June, behind DL44, DL46 and VL351. For the final week of operations, 1877 would stage directly out of Port Botany, until the final service ran on Saturday the 19th of June. The final PPL train in NSW would operate on June 26th, with DL44, 48136, 4503, DL46 and VL351 hauling 45 empty container flats to Enfield. The container flats were supposed to proceed onto Lithgow for long term storage with 4503, although for one reason or another, this never eventuated. DL44 and DL46 were to then return to service with PN Southern Coal, 48136 returning to PN Rural and Bulk and VL351 off-lease and returned to CFCLA.

For a full wrap up of the final PPL operations, look out for a forthcoming article detailing the final trains, as well as a more detailed summary of their final months of operation.

Sandown Line to Close?

As previously covered on Trackside (News to Me: The End of Sandown?), it would seem that the Sandown Line may be the next goods line in Sydney to close. With Shell Australia ending fuel services from their Sandown terminal in March 2010, and Patrick closing down their Sandown container terminal in June 2010, there would be no logical reason to keep the line open (unless another operator expresses interest in the Seatons facility). The line was booked out shortly before the end of June, only to be booked back in to allow Patrick PortLink to store some wagons in their sidings. Currently, the line is certified for use up to the Rosehill Accept signal, which is where the OHW on the line ends (it once extended as far as Sandown, although it has been long since removed). This allows the main platform at Rosehill to be used for Race Trains, although the line is unlikely to see any regular traffic other than these trains.

8044 rolls through Campsie with a short frieght bound for Port Botany. Services like this one, run by South Spur Rail Services, will now fall under the control of P&O - possibly with different motive power, possibly not!

The line is not yet closed, although no more traffic will regularly travel past Rosehill. As well as the PPL owned wagons at Sandown, Shell Australia also has a number of NTAF wagons stored in their sidings next to the Patrick facility. It is likely that these wagons will need to be removed eventually, either to be stored off site to allow the land to be used for other purposes, or for the wagons to be cut up and sold for scrap.

P&O Buys South Spur Rail Services from Coote Industrial

Coote Industrial sold subsidiary company South Spur Rail Services to P&O Holdings Pty Ltd during June 2010. As well as the wagons owned and used by South Spur Rail Services (SSRS), a number of locomotives were believed to have been included in the sale. The remaining locomotive fleet owned by Coote Industrial (acquired during their purchase of ALLCO Rail only a few years prior) will remain operated by Coote Industrial subsidiary Greentrains. Greentrains will continue to lease motive power to P&O for their trains, although what locomotives have remained with Greentrains and what locomotives were included in the sale is yet to be released. At the time of writing, it is unknown if P&O will continue to operate under the P&O Trans Australia name or roll all of their services under the South Spur name. Of course, the reverse may occur, with those services operated by SSRS brought under the P&O Trans Australia company name.

Current motive power on SSRS trains include members of the RL, 80, 830, 600, 48s, 442s and C  Classes. P&O Trans Australia trains are currently operated by P&O  owned 4471 and/or 4477, as well as leased motive power from CFCLA, including members of the G, EL, GL, VL, 442 and S Classes. P&O have previously hired members of the KL Class from CFCLA, as well as members of the CLF and CLP class from QRNational.

A New Player in the Coal Market

G514 leads B61, B65 and G513 south through Cowan with NW08 export coal from Newstan Colliery to Inner Harbour.

Southern Shorthaul Railroad (SSR) has entered the coal haulage market, with their first coal train from Newstan Colliery to Inner Harbour commencing operation in April 2010. Previously, all export coal from Newstan was hauled by Pacific National to either Inner Harbour or Kooragang Island, although when Newstan Colliery increased production and requested an extra rake to serve the mine, Pacific National was unable to comply (either due to locomotive or rolling stock shortages). This resulted in SSR winning a contract to transport coal from the mine to Inner Harbour four days a week (typically Monday to Thursday), and to Kooragang Island on the weekends. A rake of CHAY mineral hoppers were leased from CFCLA to undertake the contract, running as train NW08 from Goulburn to Newstan on April 20th. The locomotives used for the first month of services were SSR owned G513, B65, B61 and G514. 44206 replaced B61, then B65 for a short period at the start of June, with S317 replacing B61 at the time of writing. Originally a contract for three months, it would seem that this has been extended, with SSR looking to purchase further motive power and rolling stock to provide a more cost effective service.

Photos of SSR-hauled coal trains

The author would like to extend his thanks to Fred Sawyer, Maikha Ly, Chris Walters and the members of Railpage Australia and the Ausloco Yahoo Group for their assistance in compiling this article.

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A Simple Plan… ?

The plan was a sound one. Set up at Rookwood (Weeroona Rd, Strathfield), and get a nice, evenly lit photo of 42202, which remains in the Northern Rivers Railroad scheme, despite being in QRNational service. All going to plan, 42202 would lead 2152 QRNational Glenlee to Yennora freight, as it had done the day prior. Following this shot, a relocation to Mascot would be made to allow for a shot of RailCorp Mechanised Track Inspection Vehicle ML-039 over the Alexandria Canal, near Cooks River Yard. As this unit will one day be retired, it is always worth getting a shot of it; especially in places it is not often seen.

ML-039 is seen at Rookwood crossing 4MB4 PN Intermodal service.

We arrived at Rookwood at 0845, and with plenty of time before 2152, we spent our time recording the other freight movements along the stretch of track that links Chullora Junction with Flemington Goods Junctions – the former being the busiest junction on the Metropolitan Goods Lines, with most freight trains, be they interstate superfreighters or short container trip trains, passing through Chullora Junction at some point on their journey.

The first train to pass Rookwood would be just after 9am. Solo 44208 headed up T285 P&O Botany to Yennora container trip – 44208 having been recently repainted by Bradken Rail at Braemar, a “touch up” of the CFCLA colour scheme. While it would not appear that a full repaint was done, the CFCLA livery has been reapplied over the previously grey patch along one side of the loco, where 44208 had previously sustained accident damage.

Roughly half an hour later, the familiar blue and white livery of LDP001 and LDP003 could be seen navigating the northern fork of Chullora Junction, hauling 4MB7 QRNational freight to Brisbane. Twenty minutes later, triple 81 class rolled through with 8938 Manildra Group flour service to Bomaderry, having come into Sydney from Manildra overnight. They would cross 4MB4 at Chullora Junction, the latter train headed up by NR13 and NR60. NR60 was only recently repainted into the Pacific National “Stars” livery, from the previous National Rail “SteelLink” blue/grey scheme.

Curiously, at this point, we had not seen T280, which is one of the regular trains to operate between Yennora and Botany (the opposite working to T285, above). Normally T280 and T285 cross anywhere between Auburn and Campsie.  T280 especially is on a very tight path, as it leaves Yennora just after the “freight curfew” ends, to run to Botany before returning to Yennora before the afternoon “freight curfew” comes into effect. If the train is late into Botany, it is often late out, which throws loading and crew rosters way out, as the train will often be left sitting at Enfield to wait for the afternoon peak hour to subside.

Following close behind 8938 was ML-039, the RailCorp mechanised track inspection vehicle. ML-039 ran down to Chullora Junction, before moving out along the north fork of the junction, and then returning back to the goods lines. This movement would cause 4BM7 to come to a stop at the signal near the Weeroona Rd overbridge to await the line ahead to clear.

X53 and 42202 combine to work a short 2152 Glenlee to Yennora freight, seen here crossing 4BM7 QRNational interstate freight

Once ML-039 had departed for Botany, X53 and 42202 then appeared around the northern fork of Chullora Junction with 2152 Glenlee to Yennora container freight. Sadly, by the time the locos were in view, 4BM7 had moved up to the signal protecting the junction, and the shadows from the containers on the train were blocking the “ideal shot”. Not to mention the fact that 42202 was hiding behind a bright yellow X Class! As we are not ones to be discouraged, we set about getting  a shot of X53 and the 422 with their (short) train. Sure enough, as soon as they cleared the junction, 4BM7 was given the road to proceed onto the goods line to Sefton and on to Glenlee where they would shunt loading for Sydney, and wait for loading for Melbourne to arrive from Yennora (42202 and X53 would return to Glenlee with 1253, the Sydney to Melbourne loading for 4BM7, and then return to Yennora as 2154).

With the shot of 42202 a write off for today (a shot of the yellow X was an acceptable compromise), it was time to relocate to Mascot, to a spot overlooking the Alexandria Canal, near Cooks River Yard. The plan was to get a nice shot of ML-039 returning from Botany, possibly reflected in the (un)clean waters of the canal. When we arrived, any hopes of a reflection shot were firmly dashed, as the breeze was up – ensuring that the water was as unhelpful as possible. Never mind!

Shortly after we arrived, GL107 wandered past light engine, towards Botany on the main, followed by 4497 and 4703 push-pull with T250 Minto MIST to Botany container trip train (also on the main). Soon thereafter, a rake of containers was propelled back over the canal by 1443, this train running on the refuge. GL107 was waiting at the Botany end of the refuge, to shunt  loading bound for MIST at Minto. While GL107 and 1443 were shunting their wagons (the loading not bound for Minto would later run to Botany behind GL107, while 1443 would head back to Cooks River), ML-039 snuck past on the main, with the shot more or less blocked by the containers on the near track! Again, forced to make do, we did get a shot. Of course, it was not the one we planned on!

Determined to catch the rest of the traffic out of Botany, we moved to Gelco, located at the throat of the main Botany Yard complex. It was here that we recorded 4703 and 4497 running light to Mascot siding to pick up their train (T251 to Minto). Behind the light engines was T281 P&O Botany to Yennora container trip, behind 44209 and 4477. As the train was stopped at a signal, one of the crew members came over for a word, mentioning that the train had never made it out of Botany that morning (normally, the train that forms T280 in the morning runs out from Botany before the morning peak hour starts). As the train was late departing, they never made it to Yennora, hence why we did not see them at Rookwood that morning!

ML-039 is seen darting behind containers near Cooks River Yard

After the characteristically ALCo departure of 44209 and 4477, DL44 and 4892 headed up Patricks PortLink T171 from Botany to Sandown. They were followed in turn by 8049 and RL306 with 1443 South Spur Rail Services Botany to Walsh Point container freight. With P&O set to purchase SSRS from Coote Industrial in the immediate future, it remains to be seen if the existing Greentrains (a division of Coote Industrial) locomotives will continue to lead these trains, or if alternate (CFCLA) motive power will take over.

So, even with all of the setbacks, it was still a great day trackside, and some interesting movements were seen. With the aforementioned sale of SSRS, and the pending closure of Seatons at Sandown (and the resulting cessation of Patricks PortLink services from Botany), these sightings may be little more than a memory before the end of the year.

Finally, thanks to Chris Walters for his company on the day, and his assistance in compiling the train numbers for this article.

(News to Me) Last Run of the 86 Class?

Coote Industrial (owner/operator of Southern & Silverton) today railed two of their final 86 class west into Lithgow, possibly for scrapping. Cs5 lead the two 86 Class (8609/8622) as well as a short rake of container flats from Enfield to Lithgow today. Unfortunatly, I was unable to get photos of the movement.