SMH Letters Sydney to Brisbane railway has crooked track record

Sydney to Brisbane railway has crooked track record


There is no doubt that the Pacific Highway has a bad safety record, and that it needs upgrading ("Highway action is essential", January 19). However, much of that record is due to the high volume of road freight between Sydney and Brisbane - articulated trucks claim 30 per cent of the lives lost on the highway.

In 1996, at the start of a substantial upgrade, interstate road freight on the highway was about 1.5 million tonnes a year. Now it is more than 6 million. During the same period, rail's share of Sydney-Brisbane freight has fallen from about 25 per cent to less than 10 per cent.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation has nearly completed track and signal upgrades, which should at least hold rail's share on this corridor. However, the corporation's submission to Infrastructure Australia recognises that: " For rail … to maintain competitiveness against a constantly improving road network, there is no alternative but to start to consider deviations of the current poorly aligned sections of the network."

The Sydney to Brisbane railway was built as a string of branch lines for much of its length. The worst sections need straightening, and this should be given equal priority with Pacific Highway upgrading. Indeed, in some sections, such as Kempsey to Eungai, it would be possible to combine road upgrades and track straightening on the same corridor.

Funding from Infrastructure Australia should be conditional on a more enlightened approach from the NSW Government and the Roads and Traffic Authority, which has resisted shared road-rail corridors.

Track straightening for faster and heavier freight trains has worked well on the Queensland North Coast line, where rail now handles more than 25 per cent of land freight. In addition, the track straightening facilitated the introduction in 1998 of the Tilt Train, which can reach 160 kmh.

The same approach is needed for the NSW North Coast line.

Philip Laird Faculty of Informatics, University of Wollongong
Oh What a Gasser! Rex Mossop.
Tell us something we didn't know, Philip.
Faculty of Informatics???
Where do they get these words from?
I see, Grasshopper!
I have a simple solution to the Sydney Brisbane line!

Straighten up the curves, put the axle loads upto 32t and then increase the loading gauge to handle double stacks and TOFC and then you are on a winner. Anyone think my ideas are stupid. I know a lot of people talk about fast trains I think my idea has more potential.
Oh What a Gasser! Rex Mossop.
And if you want to keep the NIMBY's happy, build it down the middle of a freeway. Put in two lines, so you can carry most of the traffic non stop, and you are on a big winner.
"How long will the next train be? Six cars would be my guess."
Building a new cutoff between Taree and Newcastle along the freeway would've made a real jolt to time savings. Not surprised it wasn't done, and with a few more years of Central Coast development it'll be just about impossible. Sigh.
Nickel Plate High Speed Service

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