October 2010 News

Waratah “A1” Begins Testing on The CityRail Network

After delivery on the 28th of July, the first 8-car Waratah Train or “A Set” commenced its testing on the CityRail network in August. A historic test occurred on the night of August 13th, when A1 made a trip between Camelia and Carlingford under its own power. This test seemed unusual to some, as the Waratah trains will not be used on the Carlingford Line in revenue service. The testing was done on the Carlingford Line due to the isolation of the line (thus making it easy to close for testing), and because of the steep gradient of the line providing a good test for some of the other steep grades in Sydney.  This marked the end of the testing period with the PPTV (Pre Production Trial Vehicle), which will be returned to Cardiff at a future date. The motor cars from the PPTV will be used in one of the future Waratah trains, while the driver trailer units will be used as spares to replace damaged rolling stock in the event of an accident or derailment.

The main criticism of the Waratah train to date is it’s late introduction, although this is due in part to the extensive testing and quality control being imposed on the train before it is accepted into service. The seamless introduction of the OSCar trains to the network was due to the rigorous testing program imposed on them before they were accepted into passenger service.

The 78 8-car Waratah trains are being supplied by Reliance Rail, a consortium of Downer EDI Limited, AMP Capital Investors, Royal Bank of Scotland and International Public Partnerships Limited. The trains will be maintained by Downer EDI, on a 30-year contract to Reliance Rail. As reported in the July news, these trains will be leased by RailCorp and used for CityRail services. This is a dramatic shift in the previous method of rolling stock acquisition, where RailCorp would purchase the rolling stock outright from a manufacturer.

The first 8-car set is due to enter service by December 2010, with at least four sets expected to be in service by March, 2011.

Endeavour/Xplorer Refurbishment Program Complete

EA2504 is the lead car on SP31, Sydney to Canberra passenger.

The Xplorer railcars were introduced in 1993, as part of a project to re-introduce a daylight service to North Western NSW, as well as to allow the removal of the older, locomotive hauled passenger trains from the regional rail network. The Endeavour railcars were a follow on from the Xplorer design, albeit being modified to better suit commuters rather than booked seat passengers. The first Endeavour railcar would enter service in 1994.

Although minor changes had been made to the fleet of both the Xplorer and Endeavour cars over their operating lives, no major overhaul had yet been performed. By May 2005, a number of changes had been made to the CityRail and CountryLink networks since the cars entered service. The most notable was the introduction of the new CountryLink colour scheme on the refurbished XPT locomotives and cars, as well as the introduction of the Hunter Railcars for use in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region. By the end of 2006, a number of companies had been shortlisted to tender for the refurbishment of both the Xplorer and Endeavour railcars. The contract would eventually be given to Bombardier Transportation Australia in January 2008.

The first railcars to undergo the refurbishment process would be TE2804 and LE2864, transferred to Bombardiers workshops at Dandenong (Melbourne, Victoria) on the 4th of March, 2008. Initially, the railcars were hauled down by an 81 class locomotive, although later transfers were often made under their own power. Once the cars to be refurbished had arrived at Dynon Freight Yard, the railcars were lifted from their bogies and placed onto broad gauge transfer bogies for the final leg of the journey. Due to the setup of the points at Dandenong, all transfers were run in push-pull configuration by Pacific National locomotives and crews, using surplus log and cement wagons to provide braking power for the railcars. The railcars then repeated the same process in reverse when they were to be returned to Sydney.

LE2858 is seen between log wagons at Springvale Victoria, on transfer back to Dynon where it will be put onto it's bogies and run back to Sydney with TE2808 and EA2508.

The final transfer run would run from Dandenong to Dynon on Monday the 23rd of August, 2010, comprising cars TE2808, LE2858 and EA2508. These three cars marked the end of the refurbishment process, with all of the Xplorer and Endeavour cars now back in service at the time of writing.

Something that often goes unreported in today’s media is when something is delivered on time – RailCorp pledged to have all of these railcars back in service by October 2010, under their 2010 Customer Charter, and they achieved this with over a month to spare.

2010 CityRail Timetable – 10.10.10

The 2010 CityRail Timetable is set to begin on the 10th of October, 2010, bringing with it a number of service improvements to Illawarra and South Coast Line commuters who felt they “missed out” in the 2009 Timetable.

The completion of the Cronulla Duplication is the main trigger for the new timetable, allowing an increase in services between Cronulla and Bondi Junction during morning and afternoon peak hours, as well as during the off-peak times and on weekends.

Another major change is that most weekend South Coast Line services will now terminate and commence from Bondi Junction, rather than Sydney Terminal. This will have the added bonus of “isolating” the Illawarra and South Coast Lines from the rest of the network, ensuring that any problems elsewhere in the network will not flow on to disrupt Illawarra and South Coast services.

Finally, South Coast Line services previously performed by Endeavours will be replaced by electric trains where possible, with the Endeavours to be restricted to running between Bomaderry and Kiama (with the exception of positioning moves to/from Wollongong Yard, and empty car runs to/from Port Kembla to decant). Under the current timetable, a number of morning services between Kiama and Wollongong are provided by Endeavour sets running to/from Bomaderry. These services would normally connect with an electric train at Dapto, Unanderra or Wollongong, although now these services will terminate at Kiama, connecting with either a Sydney or Thirroul bound train at Kiama.

V65 at Otford with a Sydney bound passenger train. With the new CityRail timetable, all weekend services on the South Coast will operate to/from Bondi Junction, pushing the V-Sets to Monday to Friday operation only... Is this the beginning of the end for these veteran trains?

Finally, one other change is the increase in services on the South Line (Campbelltown via Granville) on a weekend from two trains per hour to four.

QRNational Sale

The sale of QRNational (the largest public float since Telstra was sold) is set to proceed, with pre-registration open for interested parties to receive a pre-allocated offer of shares.  Advertising has saturated both television and print media, with statements as “Australia’s largest coal hauler” being used to generate interest. However, this tactic might indeed scare off potential investors who are fearful of the company’s dependence on export coal for income. With global coal demand tipped to peak by 2020, it is questionable if QRNational can continue being a major player should the demand for coal from nations such as China be reduced. While QRNational has been making steady inroads in intermodal transport, it is still competing with companies such as SCT and Pacific National, especially on the lucrative east-west corridor.

SSR Newstan Coal Contract

Further to the report in the July News, Southern Shorthaul Railroad have continued to make their presence felt  in the business of coal transport, cementing their contract with Centennial Coal for transport of export coal from Newstan Colliery to Kooragang Island (Newcastle) and Inner Harbour (Port Kembla). To increase reliability and efficiency of the service, SSR has supplemented their two G Class locomotives (G513 and G514) on the train by obtaining G511 on long-term lease from CFCLA (which was recently painted into SSR colours at Bradkens Braemar Workshop prior to closing – see below). Following a period where G511 was used to allow G513 and G514 to return to EDI at Cardiff for maintenance, G511 replaced the two B Class (B61 and B65) on the train during August. For a short time the train ran as triple G Class, although in recent days C503 (also on lease from CFCLA) has been seen on the train.

Watch this space!

Freightliner in NSW

A number of new XRN Class locomotives have broken cover, undergoing trials in the Hunter Valley for X-Rail. X-Rail is a joint venture between Xstrata and Freightliner to provide additional export capacity for Xstrata mines. This is in addition to the current services already run for Xstrata by Pacific National. Three XRN Class are currently in service, XRN001 to XRN003. The X-Rail colour scheme is yellow, blue and grey.

In addition, the first GL Class in Freightliner livery has been sighted in Adelaide, awaiting transfer back to NSW to work North Western export container services. GL111 is on long term lease from CFCLA, and has been repainted into the Freightliner corporate scheme accordingly.

Bradken Closes Braemar Workshop

Bradken Rail closed their Braemar Workshop in mid July of this year, with at least 50 employees out of work. The Braemar plan has been notable for a number of repaints for CFCLA and SSR, as well as having done the refurbishment on the ex-DSB MZ III Class for Independent Rail. Bradken had just completed a major project providing coal hoppers for Pacific Nationals Hunter Valley and Queensland operations, with parts of the wagons imported from China and assembled locally. Management has placed the blame squarely on increased competition from overseas companies, notably rolling stock manufacturers in China.

Authors Note: I’m aware that the October news is rather light on interesting photos, however it has been a busy couple of months. Please watch this space!

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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.