Queensland’s newest train fleet deployed to the Sunshine Coast line

On Monday, March 2, Queensland’s newest trains, the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) fleet, were deployed to the Sunshine Coast line for the first time.

The NGR fleet has been deployed to Nambour on the Sunshine Coast to replace older train models to operate more than 40 existing weekly Sunshine Coast line services, Monday to Friday.

The final NGR train entered service for the Queensland Government in late January this year.

Manufactured by Bombardier, the NGR trains have travelled over eight million in service kilometres, and 150,000 passenger journeys, since December 2017.

Maintenance of the fleet is being carried out by Bombardier at Wulkuraka, near Ipswich, for 32 years, where testing and commissioning has been occurring.

The NGR trains are 147m long and weigh 260 tonnes and have a total passenger capacity of approximately 964 people, including 454 seated and 510 standing (depending on conditions).

Queensland Rail has also added an extra 32 weekly services to its South East Queensland (SEQ) timetable each week from March 2.

In addition, five services will extend on the SEQ timetable including extending an existing Caboolture service to start from Nambour at 5.38am weekdays, providing an additional morning peak train for customers between Nambour and Elimbah stations.

Queensland Rail said in a statement that the company has reviewed its operations across SEQ and have identified an opportunity to deliver these service improvements, within existing resources that are available.

“These changes will also reduce empty train running across the region by 1,460 kilometres per week, delivering extra services for our customers instead,” Queensland Rail said in a statement. 

“These improvements will deliver the largest number of weekly train services ever offered across SEQ and follows the introduction of 462 extra weekly services and 200,000 extra seats to our timetable in 2019.”

NGR to run on North Coast line for first time

Queensland’s New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) will be introduced to the Sunshine Coast line for the first time on March 2.

The change comes as Queensland Rail introduces 32 new weekly services across the south east Queensland network.

The services will join an extended inbound Caboolture service to Nambour, and come after 462 weekly services were introduced to the region last year. This increase responds to growing customer demand for rail in Queensland, said Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.

“Close to 190 million trips were taken on public transport in 2018-19, and after two record years, we’re on-track for another record 12 months when it comes to patronage.”

The new services will be introduced along with other major improvements to rail services in south east Queensland.

“We’re backing commuters with more trains, a $371 million statewide smart ticketing system, more than $357 million in train station accessibility upgrades and the largest public transport project in Queensland’s history: the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail,” said Bailey.

In order to deliver the new services, Queensland Rail found efficiencies in the network, better utilising its existing resources, said CEO of the government owned operator, Nick Easy.

“These changes will reduce empty train running across the region by 1,460 kilometres per week – delivering extra services for our customers instead,” he said.

The introducing of the NGR will be enabled with dedicated support facilities.

“The trains will operate 45 weekly services on the line, replacing older train models, and their deployment will be supported by a new NGR stabling facility coming online at Woombye,” said Easy.

Last month, the final NGR entered service. Alterations to the current rollingstock fleet are underway to comply with disability requirements.

Qld, NSW experience freight rail incidents during holiday season

In late December, four Pacific National freight train wagons, transporting copper anodes, derailed at Mingela on the Mount Isa line.

In response, Queensland Rail immediately closed the rail corridor between Sellheim and Mingela for all rail traffic while response crews worked to secure and inspect the site.

Recovery crews soon commenced necessary repairs and the network was opened less than a week later.

Crews broke down the damaged track, completed reballasting and replaced the damaged sleepers and rail. Recovery works were fast-tracked by the ability to source locally and services were able to resume before the start of the new year.

Meanwhile, the unprecedented bushfire season forced the closure of the Main Southern railway line in NSW, for two days from 4thJanuary to 6th.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) said it suspended operations due to extreme fire conditions and high wind activity in the rail corridor between Macarthur and Goulburn.

As of the 6th of January, ARTC reopened the Main South railway line, following completion of tree removal and restoration of power lines by power supply companies.

“We would like to thank our customers for their patience and cooperation during these unforeseen circumstances. We would also like to thank all emergency services for their support and acknowledge their continuing efforts at this time,” an ARTC spokesperson said.

Queensland rail bridges made stronger

Queensland Rail has announced that its $28 million project to replace 18 timber rail bridges with more durable structures is now complete.

“Over the last two years, Queensland Rail has been eliminating ageing timber rail bridges on the western line – some of which were more than 100 years old – and replacing them with stronger, more reliable, low maintenance steel structures,” said the minister for transport and main roads Mark Bailey.

The work included the replacement of a combined 830 metres of combined bridge length at 18 locations between Rosewood, near Brisband, and Chinchilla, and final works were completed at a bridge at Dalby in late October.

“The new steel structures are set to significantly reduce the time required for bridge maintenance moving forward,” said Bailey.

The structures now use untreated steel girders to serve as a more cost-effective alternative to concrete. Steel was sourced from One Steel and local companies were used for crane hire and labour, according to the government.

“It’s fantastic to see this investment not only bolster the strength of the rail line, but also support the local jobs and businesses along the way.”

The bridges are all along the western line rail network, which is a major freight artery for the Darling Downs and South West Queensland regions, transporting about 7,000 freight and passenger trains each and every year,

“It’s fantastic to see the West Moreton timber bridge replacement project reach the finish line. This major investment has modernised our infrastructure on the line and will ensure the ongoing safety and reliability of the West Moreton rail system.”

Adani making noises to move own Carmichael coal

Adani has set up an Indian subsidiary to focus on rail projects and reportedly applied for accreditation to operate rollingstock in Queensland, raising the idea it may plan to freight its own coal from its Australian mine.

According to India Times, Adani told the Indian stock exchange on Thursday: “The company has incorporated a wholly own subsidiary for the business of building, construction of transportation facilities like the metro and monorail segment, rapid rail transit system, and engineering, procurement and construction, thereof.”

Meanwhile,  ABC on Thursday reported on documents from the Queensland Office of State Development which show that the company has applied for accreditation as a licensed Rail Infrastructure Manager and Rolling Stock Operator.

The company is also yet to put out a tender for rail haulage from its mine site despite its deadline for exporting coal from the Carmichael mine site in 20 months’ time.

The ABC spoke to an analyst who believes Adani will not undergo conducting its own freight operations due to the upfront capital costs.

You’re talking $100 million plus for locomotives and wagons, plus maintenance costs and staffing — maybe up to $200 million,” one analyst told reporters, arguing that Adani will use the threat of conducting its own operations as “a bargaining chip to use in negotiations” with providers.

Adani is looking to build a narrow-gauge spur line to link to Aurizon’s Central Queensland Coal Network (which links mines to Queensland’s major coal ports).

Queensland Rail to roll out 430 additional weekly train services

Queensland Rail has announced it will add 200,000 seats and 430 additional weekly services to South East Queensland routes from July 29.

The operator will also upgrade a further 59 existing services from three- to six-carriage trains through the rollout of the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) fleet being developed with manufacturer Bombardier.

The plans follow on from previous incremental improvements dating back to December 2018.

Queensland Rail chief executive officer Nick Easy said that from this date the company would restore the 8,290 services a week that had been promised for the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula line that opened in October 2016. Since that time, the program has benefitted from 172 new drivers, with a further 79 trainee drivers currently in training.

“An incredible amount of work has taken place behind the scenes to ensure Queensland Rail can deliver these improvements for customers reliably and sustainably, underpinned by the largest driver recruitment and training program in Queensland Rail’s history,” Easy said.

The CEO added that the Queensland Government’s Citytrain Response Unit had already executed extensive “operational readiness and planning activities” in preparation for the changes.

“Delivering a new timetable is a complex task which requires the consideration of a range of interconnected logistics beyond the availability of traincrew, including the planning, stabling and maintenance of trains, rostering and daily train movements,” Easy added.