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Coal trains in the suburbs (plus other transport issues)

Started by ozbob, August 20, 2012, 09:51:39 AM

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ozbob

From 612 ABC Radio Breakfast

Coal trains in the suburbs (plus other transport issues)

QuoteCoal trains in the suburbs (plus other transport issues)

20 August 2012 , 9:06 AM by Spencer Howson

A new protest group has formed in Brisbane and you may encounter them when you catch the train this morning. They're called STOP BRISBANE COAL TRAINS, and John Gordon is a former Environmental Engineer who founded the group. Globally, he'd like to see coal mining stopped altogether, but he's starting small by fighting to have coal trains that travel from West of Toowoomba through to Brisbane have their coal loads covered.

612 Breakfast also spoke to Transport Minister Scott Emerson about this issue as well as changes to driver's licence testing:

Click --> here!
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somebody

It was in a recent New Scientist that Coal dust causes more deaths per kWh than any other energy source, so long as you discount the massive 1975 dam failure in China.

ozbob

In this context, I would be far more concerned with road trucks and their consequences.

Freight running through suburbia is always less than optimal.  I can not see this Government moving forward with freight bypass lines any time soon.

Wandoan and the missing link is one option.  But there is a wider agenda here ...

The coal is washed and in any case they are doing monitoring,which will show the real impacts.  Wouldn't hurt to put covers on.
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ozbob

Quote from: Simon on August 20, 2012, 09:57:46 AM
It was in a recent New Scientist that Coal dust causes more deaths per kWh than any other energy source, so long as you discount the massive 1975 dam failure in China.

Source?  Evidence?

I think oil would be worse ...
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somebody

Quote from: ozbob on August 20, 2012, 10:06:40 AM
Quote from: Simon on August 20, 2012, 09:57:46 AM
It was in a recent New Scientist that Coal dust causes more deaths per kWh than any other energy source, so long as you discount the massive 1975 dam failure in China.

Source?  Evidence?

I think oil would be worse ...
Perhaps not that recent.  New Scientist, 26 March 2011, page 10.

Oil actually isn't mentioned, but I'd be surprised if it counted - it was referring to Electricity Generation.

ozbob

Oh, electricity generation only.  Nuclear might be interesting down the track ...
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somebody

Quote from: ozbob on August 20, 2012, 10:18:48 AM
Oh, electricity generation only.  Nuclear might be interesting down the track ...
Indeed it might, but that's likely to provoke an off topic flame war!

achiruel

I know this is causing a massive problem in the Hunter Valley at the moment also.

Even back when I lived in Newcastle (mid-90's) some people who lived near the coal line were complaining of the layer of black dust that settles on every surface (never mind the health effects!) and I'm sure the tonnages now would be far greater.

ozbob

From Brisbanetimes click here!

Coal trains to be monitored for pollution

Quote
Coal trains to be monitored for pollution
August 20, 2012 - 4:04PM

The level of coal dust from freight trains passing through Brisbane will be monitored by Queensland Rail (QR) for the first time in a decade.

State Transport Minister Scott Emerson says QR will work with the state government to test pollution levels from open rail wagons hauling coal.

"Ten years ago when that monitoring was done it showed that levels were safe in terms of coal dust," Mr Emerson told the ABC.

"But I do think it is appropriate for some more monitoring to be done and QR National is in negotiations with QR Limited to do some additional monitoring to see what the current situation is."

John Gordon, a former environmental engineer who established the group Stop Brisbane Coal Trains, said most people were oblivious to the problem.

"Huge trains travelling around the clock through the suburbs of Brisbane with uncovered payloads redefine the word stupid," he said.

Mr Gordon said monitoring the coal trains for the first time in 10 years was not good enough and they should be stopped.

"At a global level, you have one million tonnes of coal per month being exported overseas from the Port of Brisbane, which in an era of climate change is simply immoral.

"In effect we are exporting climate change, and taking no responsibility re the global consequences."

AAP

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/coal-trains-to-be-monitored-for-pollution-20120820-24i2p.html


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ozbob

I would be surprised if there is a significant issue with coal dust (the coal is washed).  Having lived next to the Ipswich line for the last 20 years have not noted any problem.

Still though, I think covers would be a desirable option.  Grain wagons have lids.

I recall someone complaining about coal dust around South Brisbane.  Coal trains don't run anywhere near South Brisbane.

The big issue is vehicle exhaust emissions.
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HappyTrainGuy

Damn coal fed hungry money wasting scaring children not enjoyable to smell steam trains  :hg

ozbob

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environs

#13
Quote from: ozbob on August 20, 2012, 17:44:08 PM
It is clear I think what the real agenda is.

I think the campaign would have been more credible if it had come from someone who was actually a genuine green, and was based more on substantive facts rather than a combination of emotive FUD designed to tickle the ears of an ill-informed NIMBY element, personality cult ego-tripping, and a seething undercurrent of anti-capitalist rhetoric.

Stop, and cover, do not have the same definition in any dictionary I know - one minute it's stop the "death trains" and the next is cover the loads, depending on the audience. The intellectual dishonesty and questionable motives have been compounded by the widespread deletion of comments and banning of those whose contributions have informed, rebutted, questioned or offered sound alternative viewpoints, all-the-while claiming to support "robust debate".

As to the facts, it is clear that QR Network have been involved with this issue for some time, as is apparent from their Coal Dust Management Plan, showing that they have collected data, done the research and have implemented a transitioning towards addressing concerns using practices such as "veneering".

(edited to fix link)

ozbob

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mufreight

Out of the square thinking perhaps but if the concerns of dust are so great then nthey could be greatky deminished by having all of the coal trains run through a water spray just west of Ipswich dampening the load prior to their entering the metropolotan area.
The use of covers would be quite complicated given that the trains from the Darling Downs are mostly loaded by end loaders rather than from overhead bins.
If all trains were loaded through chutes from overhead loadout bins covers similar to those used on wheat waggons would be practical but is less than realistic or practical given the present means of loading.


johnnigh

Beat up be buggered  :pr

Just because it was a slow news day doesn't mean residents' don't know about the fine coating of dust that we have to wipe away every day.

As I commented on my facebook page, I'm naturally skeptical of all of coal companies, QRNational and the govt that is in the pocket of the coal companies due to dependence on coal royalties and the complex of mates that run all these companies and the govt.

We residents along the line have been complaining about this more or less forever. Reminding us that it's going to get worse long before fabled alternative lines that avoid more of the suburban network is always timely.

ozbob

Beat up, wider agenda at play. It is a beat up in the sense that claiming there is a 'cover up'.  Bullsh%t, the issue is being investigated in depth.

I too have lived along the Ippy  for 30 years and coal dust is not an issue I have observed.  I think the dust is actually vehicle emission stuff.  I recall John a rather strident complaint re coal dust at South Brisbane ... coal trains don't pass through South Brisbane.

I do think that the wagons should be covered though, as then the real culprit can be identified.  Failing covering veneering at least.

Freight lines are something we have pushed for before but as always just pushed aside ...  the line from Rosewood to Bromelton and then up to port might be the only sustainable solution, that is if coal continues to be exported.
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ozbob

Quote from: environs on August 22, 2012, 17:19:20 PM
Quote from: ozbob on August 20, 2012, 17:44:08 PM
It is clear I think what the real agenda is.

I think the campaign would have been more credible if it had come from someone who was actually a genuine green, and was based more on substantive facts rather than a combination of emotive FUD designed to tickle the ears of an ill-informed NIMBY element, personality cult ego-tripping, and a seething undercurrent of anti-capitalist rhetoric.

Stop, and cover, do not have the same definition in any dictionary I know - one minute it's stop the "death trains" and the next is cover the loads, depending on the audience. The intellectual dishonesty and questionable motives have been compounded by the widespread deletion of comments and banning of those whose contributions have informed, rebutted, questioned or offered sound alternative viewpoints, all-the-while claiming to support "robust debate".

As to the facts, it is clear that QR Network have been involved with this issue for some time, as is apparent from their Coal Dust Management Plan, showing that they have collected data, done the research and have implemented a transitioning towards addressing concerns using practices such as "veneering".

(edited to fix link)


Yes, veneering would put the issue to rest. 

Latest tests will be interesting. Claims that the ' trains slowed down ' through test corridors lack credibility and start to demean the genuine concerns that people have ..
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ozbob

Twitter

QldResourcesCouncil ‏@ResourcesQLD

Brisbane train #coal dust conspiracy theories collapse on world's biggest rail corridor http://bit.ly/W6jYEk  #qldpol
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ozbob

The real issue is getting the coal trains out of the suburban network.  I don't think there is much hope for the southern freight corridor though, particularly with all the other pressing issues.  They are running I think around 17 coalies per 24 hours at the moment and they want to increase that.

This means more trains out of peak, more noise and disruption on the corridor, the major issue, and even less train paths for pass. The so call freight line loop at Darra West (bizarre that) just acts as noise amplification as they climb up to Darra (been a lot noise complaints), so they keep the down coalies on the main down.  This then means an lot of point noises at night as the trains cross over at Corinda. Can't win.

Stop the trains and there will be thousands of B troubles wrecking the road system and suburbs. 

If the coal exports are to continue then time to think freight lines ...
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colinw

Even when Wandoan to Moura goes through I think there will still be a fair bit of coal from places like Macalister & Acland coming through Brisbane.  Mines further west will possibly go via the new line & Wiggins Island, depending on whether the Government has enough brains to upgrade the Miles to Wandoan branch to decent standard from its current state of being virtually mothballed.

If coal traffic via Toowoomba does increase then the Southern Rail Freight Corridor will become critical, but I really cannot see that happening inside of 15 years.

What I worry about nearly as much is that the proposed Toowoomba Range bypass road will see a modal shift of a lot more grain and some coal onto road.

somebody


colinw

Quote from: rtt_rules on November 14, 2012, 14:20:15 PM
The problem with the coal trains are two things.

1) Ancient Axle loadings for bulk haulage
2) Ancient train length for bulk haulage

Increase (1) from 15.75t to even just 20t and you get a 33% bonus per train

Increase train lengths from 600-650m to 1300m and you get a 100% bonus

Do both and you get 133% more coal per train movement and less dust per tonne of coal shipped. I call that a win win win
Miners, suburban traffic, environment

You'll get Blackwater system size trains & axle loadings for the new route from Wandoan to Wiggins Island, but it is quite simply not happening down the Toowoomba range with the existing alignment with its tight curves, steep downhill gradient in the direction of loaded trains, and loading gauge constraints through the tunnels.   Blackwater / Goonyella loading gauge coal wagons are unable to run west of Grandchester, or through the suburban system - when that factory at Karrabin builds them they are sent north by road.

To get Blackwater or Goonyella size trains to the Port of Brisbane we would need new range crossings at Toowoomba and west of Grandchester, then either a dedicated freight line through Ipswich or the Southern Freight Rail corridor linking Rosewood & Kagaru.  The cost of such an upgrade would far exceed that of just doing the Southern Missing Link from Wandoan and sending the larger coalies to Gladstone.

Coalies through Brisbane will thus remain constrained to the current size for the foreseeable future.

ozbob

Yes, indeed Colin.  Also the issue of running through the suburban system, can't handle long trains either.
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somebody

Quote from: ozbob on November 14, 2012, 15:50:35 PM
Yes, indeed Colin.  Also the issue of running through the suburban system, can't handle long trains either.
In the sense that junction occupancy times are too long - or is the signalling system not up to it?

ozbob

Yes I would imagine but also the issue of where do you park them, particularly if something goes belly up ..
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HappyTrainGuy

Pretty sure some of the newer coal wagons up there aren't allowed in Brisbane due to the violating safe working spaces. Similar to electric locos being banned in the suburban area without modifications.

HappyTrainGuy

Coalies don't really park. They are stowed at Fishermans Island after unloading before being sent back again. Corinda-Yeerongpilly is all PNQ freight territory.

ozbob

Couriermail --> Coal trains in the suburbs labelled 'crazy'

Annerley?  I think the picture of the front gate gives you a clue as to the real agenda ...
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mufreight

Quote from: Simon on November 14, 2012, 15:58:16 PM
Quote from: ozbob on November 14, 2012, 15:50:35 PM
Yes, indeed Colin.  Also the issue of running through the suburban system, can't handle long trains either.
In the sense that junction occupancy times are too long - or is the signalling system not up to it?

Train length makes no difference to the operation of the signalling system.  Signals to the rear of the train clear as the track circuts are cleared or the control at Mayne clears then provided the track circuts show that the route selected by control is not occupied.

ozbob

I had some correspondence with Tuck Thompson yesterday and suggested he read this ARTC release --> http://bit.ly/W6jYEk  On their corridor there is no difference in dust between loaded coal trains, empty coal trains, passenger and freight trains.  Coal dust is an issue loading/unloading but the amount in transit is negligible, far less pollutants than road vehicle emissions.

SCT use the dust issue to get some media traction, and good on them, but their real agenda is to stop coal exports full stop.

As far as the issues of substance it is the fact that large numbers of coal trains are running through the suburban network.  This is the real issue because of the noise and general disruption (eg. bridge point noise at Corinda), disruption and path restriction to the suburban passenger network.  Long length coal trains will not run on the suburban network, if they could they would have done it years ago. 

The government and operators need to rethink their strategies if they are going to continue to export coal.  First thing cover up the wagons, can't hurt.  The amount of money they make they can well afford it.  If the missing link through Wandoan is not on then look seriously at the southern rail freight corridor option.  At minimum fix up the mess between Corinda and Darra and triplicate to Redbank and use coal to pay for it.
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HappyTrainGuy

Most of the coal lost from coal trains are forces put on the quick drop doors over longer transit times. Its also interesting how they didn't mention any of the data from the trackside monitoring stations up north (they only have a couple more coal trains than we do :P) which records the wind speed and directions, rain levels, temps, humidity, potential coal dust lost and is connected to the network in a way that it can pinpoint what train went past, where it was going, what mine it came from and its loadings. Heaven forbid should they know that the ballast ommits dust too  :hg

HappyTrainGuy

Pretty sure PNQ own those sidings (from memory longest one is about 800m and you'll struggle to stow a longer coalie there given the distance between the bridge-river and then PNQ being able to access their sidings to form, load and unload trains. I can't recall but I think Moolabin might also be under local controls outside of the QR network meaning additional signaling would be required) and QRN own the siding to the south at Clapham. If they ran them longer push them through the network faster. To me its pointless having anything set up for a coalie Corinda-Yeerongpilly when Yeerongpilly and beyond forms a 20km crossing loop. Push em through faster and stow them at FI like they currently do.

ozbob

Corinda to Yeerongpilly is actually Queensland Rail track and is used all the time by suburban units for positioning, as relief when there is an issue between Yeerongpilly and town on the southern line (conversley issue between Corinda and town western line) and may well be used for regular revenue services in the not too distant future.  What sidings there where at Tennyson were removed, still Moolabin of course.  Tennyson station waits for history to repeat ...   :hg
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colinw

I love thinking about the Toowoomba line, it being my old home town. I grew up within earshot of the line, and at night you can hear the constant coal traffic from Dad's place. He says the line is busier now than it has been at any time since he moved to Toowoomba in 1954.

I think increased train length can be accommodated much more easily than higher axle load and increased loading gauge.

West of Toowoomba there is little to prevent extension of loops at multiple locations, or construction of new long loops at locations like just to the west of Gowrie Jct.

Through Toowoomba itself is somewhat constrained due to level crossings, about the longest distances without an Lx where you could build a loop are between Griffiths St & North St (around 1300M) or from Jones St toward the top of the range, as there are no further level crossings after Jones St.  Perhaps some track duplication through Toowoomba and around the Main Line to Western Line angle near Bridge St is in order.

The top loop on the range - Rangeview - would be relatively easy to extend at both ends, it is not severely constrained at either end by tunnels or bridges, and the formation is already more than wide enough for two tracks thanks to the access road that was pushed through in the '90s.

The middle loop on the range - Spring Bluff - can only be extended about 200m in the up direction (toward Toowoomba) before encountering a single track tunnel. In the down direction it could be extended around 900 metres before encountering an area of unstable terrain where there have previous been large slips, and then a short tunnel, so a loop of around 1300-1500 metres is about the max that could be shoehorned in there.

The bottom loop on the range - Ballard - is potentially extensible at either end with no major impediments, however it does contain a very tight horseshoe curve on a relatively steep gradient so I am not sure whether restarting a 1500 metre train is something you would want to do there.

The first loop at the bottom of the range, Murphy's Creek could also be extended, constrained a bridge at the top end.  The main Lx in town is already impeded by the loop, but there are a couple of grade separations (minor underpasses) in the town so no big deal although those would need to be rebuilt for double track.  Being at the base of the climb, Murphy's would be an ideal place to build a yard of more than 2 tracks to keep empty (up) trains while running batches of loaded coalies down. Fleeting - running batches of trains in one direction - probably makes more sense than stopping & restarting long & heavy trains on the steep gradients of the range.

Travelling toward Brisbane, the final loop before hitting double track is Lockyer Siding There is little to prevent extension of this loop, one level crossing (very minor dirt road) is already on the loop. Toward Brisbane there is a single track rail over road bridge that would need to be double tracked.  Other than that, I see little reason why this couldn't be a 1500M or longer loop.

At Helidon (about 120km from Roma St) you then hit double track, which continues all the way to the western portal of the Victoria Tunnel.  There is nothing in this section to impede running long trains now.

Single track resumes at Yarongmulu through the Victoria tunnel.. There used to be a short loop at a location called Baanga between Victoria Tunnel and the #1 tunnel, but that is long gone. I don't see any point reinstating a loop in the area as it isn't that much further to Grandchester and then double track all the way to Brisbane.

Once you reach Brisbane I don't see any problem with long trains as long as they keep moving. As Mufreight rightly points out, there is nothing in the signalling system to prevent longer trains, as track circuits will detect occupancy regardless of train length.  If there are any problems with longer trains it is more likely to be time to clear junctions and congestion through that half baked schemozzle between Darra and Corinda.

As for the article in the CM - the real agenda there is nothing to do with coal dust.  I'll bet that if the trains were suddenly to acquire dust covers the complaints would continue. This is just the latest phase in a long anti freight rail campaign in the area, the previous issue being wheel squeal.

HappyTrainGuy

Quote from: ozbob on November 15, 2012, 11:57:28 AM
Corinda to Yeerongpilly is actually Queensland Rail track and is used all the time by suburban units for positioning, as relief when there is an issue between Yeerongpilly and town on the southern line (conversley issue between Corinda and town western line) and may well be used for regular revenue services in the not too distant future.  What sidings there where at Tennyson were removed, still Moolabin of course.  Tennyson station waits for history to repeat ...   :hg

In terms of the 2 actual running lines then yes they still belong to QR. The sidings however  ;D

ozbob

Crunch time is coming ... been at Darra for a while today,  plenty of coalies and freighters ... yes definitely busier now than ever. The western line carries the most tonnage on the suburban network.  They run 24 hours a day, and even stray into the peaks.  Been a good run of late though, there hasn't been much in the way of delays due to a failed coalie.  A few years ago there were a few.  Wouldn't like 1300 metres of coal train stuck between Ipswich and Darra ...

Proponent revises New Acland Expansion project
--> http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2012/11/14/proponent-revises-new-acland-expansion-project
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colinw

Rail Express, November 7, 2012 -> Legislation passed for Surat Basin rail link

Quote
News in Brief - November 7th 2012

Legislation passed for Surat Basin rail link

The Queensland Government has passed enabling legislation to clear the way for the required rail infrastructure to serve the Surat Basin coal deposits. The Surat Basin Rail (Infrastructure Development and Management) Bill creates the specific legislative framework for the Surat Basin Rail project.

The projected 214km multi-user railway between Wandoan, north-west of Toowoomba in the state's south and Banana, south-west of Gladstone in central Queensland would be used to access some 6.3 billion tonnes of coal reserves in the Surat Basin and connect to the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal. The railway would have the capacity to transport up to 42 million tonnes of coal per year on trains up to 2.5 kilometres in length.

A corridor of approximately 60 metres wide (wider in sections) would need to be acquired from affected landowners and fenced along its entire length and the new legislation incorporates a range of provisions relating land issues.

The legislation itself is no guarantee the rail link will go ahead. Progress has slowed on a number of proposed rail projects serving the Queensland coal industry influenced by general uncertainty in the mining industry, both locally and globally.

Mining giant Xstrata is partner in the Surat Basin Rail consortium and the company's proposed Wandoan mine would be a major user of the railway. Xstrata has yet to make a final investment decision to proceed with the Wandoan mine and its proposed merger with global commodities trader Glencore has also cast a shadow over future projects.

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