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.


News to Me: The End of Sandown?

4903 and GM22 are waiting for their train to be loaded at Seatons Transport sidings, Rosehill. May 2009.

John Bennett’s Railway from Clyde reached the terminus at Sandown in 1891. Located 24.23km from Sydney and on the southern bank of the Parramatta River, the line was built to serve the river, with a wharf constructed for that purpose. A passenger service was also provided from 1892. Safeworking for the line was Ordinary Staff and Ticket, and a number of sidings for local industry were also provided along the length of the line. The Sandown Line was eventually purchased by the colonial government in 1900 after Bennett’s Railway encountered financial problems, with government operated services operating on the line from 1901.

The line would be electrified in 1959, with a passenger service operating between Clyde and Sandown, stopping at a number of local industrial platforms for the local workforce. The line was also used to store trains when required for race days at the nearby Rosehill Racecourse. By 1990, passenger numbers to Sandown were dwindling, and the final regular passenger service on the line would run in 1991. The wires remained until 2002, for the purposes of storing trains away from the main Carlingford Line when required on race day.

Safeworking on the line was Ordinary Train Staff and Ticket until 1943, when it was replaced by Large Electric Staff. Miniature Electric Staff would then be implemented in 1985, until May 1992 when Ordinary Train Staff was once again re-introduced to the line for a month. The Ordinary Train Staff and Ticket was replaced by Yard Working in June 1992, with trains having to notify Goods Control (located at the Rail Management Centre, Sydney Terminal) to get permission to depart the line. Typically freight trains can only run between Clyde and Rosehill (where the line becomes separate from the Carlingford Line) when they will not interfere with the running of the CityRail service to Carlingford.

Although there were many different sidings along the line, the two that are in place at present are the Shell Australia sidings, and Seatons Transport sidings. The former sidings are all that remain of a large network of tracks and sidings within the Shell Oil Refinery, while the latter is a container depot operated by Patrick.

Shell owned NTAF wagons loaded with fuel at Camelia on 1225 Canberra Fuel. November 2009.

During 2009, Shell Australia announced that it would be no longer transporting fuel by rail. Until 2009, Shell had transported fuel by rail using their own rolling stock to Canberra, Dubbo and (West) Tamworth. Additionally, Caltex had used the loading gantry to load their own rolling stock, bound for Bomen (Wagga Wagga). Pacific National had provided the motive power and crews, having taken over the contract as part of the purchase of Freight Australia in 2004. Normally X or 80 class locomotives would be used on the fuel trains, although it was not unheard of for members of the 81, 48 and even EL classes to be used. PN would run their locos onto the branch at midday to commence shunting the terminal on any given day of departure, departing for Clyde Yard when shunting was complete (which could be anywhere from 2pm to 5pm), ready to depart for their final destination after the evening peak hour (most fuel trains departed Clyde after 7pm, allowing for an early morning arrival into the terminal for unloading, with the empty service returning overnight). Despite the fact that a number of Shell NTAF wagons are stored in the rail loading facility, these have not been used since the gantry closed in March 2010.

In addition to the fuel traffic, Patrick maintains a container facility at Sandown, known as Seatons Transport Sidings. Here, container traffic is brought in and out by road and rail. In April 2010, Patrick announced that the facility would close, with all operations transferred to Port Botany. Rail access into the site would be finished by the end of June 2010, with Patricks PortLink to also finish up all operations by the end of June. The demise of PPL as a rail operator has not come as much of a surprise to some, as PPL have lost a number of contracts in recent years, scaling back operations to a single train to/from Dubbo, and a shuttle train between Seatons and Botany. The final container trip between Seatons and Botany ran on Friday May 14, behind 48136 and 4887 (both units owned by Pacific National). The “regular” motive power for this train, PPL-owned 4903 and 4906 were nowhere to be seen, having failed for the last time the week prior. They are now stored in Botany Yard, pending the decision on their future.

As well as Patricks PortLink, Independent Railways of Australia ran a train from Seatons during the first half of 2010. The train would run from Port Botany or Cooks River as T269, departing after the afternoon peak hour was finished, to run to Sandown. After shunting at Seatons, the train would then depart for Blayney as 1861. Normal motive power for the train were members of the GL and 14 classes (the former on hire from CFCLA, the latter purchased by IRA, then LVRF from Denmark in 2005). The final IRA train to Sandown ran on June 8, behind locos GL101 and 1431.

DL49 standing in Seatons Transport at Rosehill, waiting for T172 to load. January 2010.

With the cessation of the container shuttle service to and from Port Botany, this left only one train operating out of the Seatons terminal – 1877 Sydney to Dubbo container freight, run by Patricks PortLink from Botany to Sandown on a Tuesday/Thursday and Saturday afternoon, ready for a departure that evening for Dubbo, returning as 8178 to Port Botany later in the week. In the last few weeks of this service, Pacific National DL Class dominated the running of the service, with the occasional PN-owned 48 class, PPL-owned 4503 or CFCLA-owned VL351 on the train. Normal practice was for PPL to run two “feeder” trains to Seatons from Port Botany to form the evening service to Dubbo. T185 would depart Botany anywhere from 9:30am to 11:30am, to arrive into Sandown an hour later. The loco(s) on T185 would then shunt the wagons into Sandown to allow containers to be loaded, before the train would be set aside on the loop road to allow for T171 to shunt into the facility. T171 would typically depart Botany at midday, although it would spend a bit of time at Enfield before proceeding on to Sandown. Once both trains had been shunted and assembled, it would form T172 to Enfield where the locos would run around and the evening crew put on the train to take it through to Dubbo as 1877.

The final PPL service to depart Sandown is expected to run before June 31. Road operation will continue from Sandown for a short period of time, before it too is removed, and the facility closed. Interestingly, the reasoning behind the closure of both facilities is thought to be related to high, ongoing operating costs.

Sydney’s Forgotten Industrial Railways – John Oakes
Special thanks to members of the Yahoo Group “Ausloco” for their assistance in compiling this article.