The problem of trucks on our highways

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Thoglette
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The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby Thoglette » Tue Dec 19, 2023 4:25 pm

Companion to the ..in urban streets thread, kicked off by this one from “the bleeding obvious files”

Australia’s freight used to go by train, not truck. Here’s how we can bring back rail – and cut emissions

Philip Laird, University of Wollongong, 19 Dec 3024 writing in The Conversation.

He notes that
Spending on roads across all levels of government is now more than A$30 billion a year.

Federal grants enabled the $20 billion reconstruction of the entire Hume Highway (Melbourne to Sydney), bringing it up to modern engineering standards. A similar sum was spent on reconstructing most of the Pacific Highway (Sydney to Brisbane).

What do our trains get? In 2021–22, the Australian Rail Track Corporation had a meagre $153 million to maintain its existing 7,500 kilometre interstate network
Not surprisingly our freight rail infrastructure is in a sad state. Then freight firms have to pay full price for this “service”. Or they can stay on the faster, “free” roads.

He points out that we’ve known for twenty years that
If we replaced 260km of steam-age track with these three sections and another 10km elsewhere, we would cut two hours off the Melbourne–Sydney freight transit time. Energy use would fall at least 10%. Better still, faster tilt trains could then run, potentially halving the Sydney–Melbourne passenger trip to 5.5 hours.
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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby am50em » Tue Dec 19, 2023 5:55 pm


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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby g-boaf » Wed Dec 20, 2023 7:44 pm

Thoglette wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2023 4:25 pm
Companion to the ..in urban streets thread, kicked off by this one from “the bleeding obvious files”

Australia’s freight used to go by train, not truck. Here’s how we can bring back rail – and cut emissions

Philip Laird, University of Wollongong, 19 Dec 3024 writing in The Conversation.

He notes that
Spending on roads across all levels of government is now more than A$30 billion a year.

Federal grants enabled the $20 billion reconstruction of the entire Hume Highway (Melbourne to Sydney), bringing it up to modern engineering standards. A similar sum was spent on reconstructing most of the Pacific Highway (Sydney to Brisbane).

What do our trains get? In 2021–22, the Australian Rail Track Corporation had a meagre $153 million to maintain its existing 7,500 kilometre interstate network
Not surprisingly our freight rail infrastructure is in a sad state. Then freight firms have to pay full price for this “service”. Or they can stay on the faster, “free” roads.

He points out that we’ve known for twenty years that
If we replaced 260km of steam-age track with these three sections and another 10km elsewhere, we would cut two hours off the Melbourne–Sydney freight transit time. Energy use would fall at least 10%. Better still, faster tilt trains could then run, potentially halving the Sydney–Melbourne passenger trip to 5.5 hours.
But we prefer to invest in roads instead of those evil socialist trains. :roll:

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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby cyclingnolycra » Thu Jan 18, 2024 1:30 pm

Yeah the whole subsidising of trucks on our roads is just ridiculous. There are lots of good things the government could subsidise; trucks have plenty of downsides so I don't get why we are so content to keep at it. The truck lobby has done well in making the general populace think that "trucks keep Australia moving" (albeit there's some truth in it.)

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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby brumby33 » Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm

cyclingnolycra wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 1:30 pm
Yeah the whole subsidising of trucks on our roads is just ridiculous. There are lots of good things the government could subsidise; trucks have plenty of downsides so I don't get why we are so content to keep at it. The truck lobby has done well in making the general populace think that "trucks keep Australia moving" (albeit there's some truth in it.)
There's a lot of truth in it, by the time you load up a train and that train gets going, about 10 B-Doubles could be more than halfway there and that's why they are preferred and not all freight goes to or from a Capital City. Produce from Farms and products to farms is big business in Australia. Warehouse to warehouse especially in the outlying areas of Capitol Cities, some have rail links but others don't. The only advantage of trains is that once loaded, they can take a lot more than many B-Doubles and can continuously keep rolling as they have driver and staff changes along the way at intervals, but a B-Double even with rest tops can do 2 trips in the time a train can do one. Many Logistics Companies now have it that the trailers are already loaded, strapped, sealed and ready to go, all the driver has to do is hook up to the trailer, do his safety checks and head up the highway. A mate of mine who has his own new Prime Mover, hooks up trailers in Brisbane (B-Dbles) down to Sydney, unhooks, then collects 2 other loaded trailers, heads to Melbourne, does the same down there and does the reverse and back to Sydney and Melbourne within 3 days including his correct rest breaks around 2,000km each way and usually he'll do that about 3 times per fortnight. So in a round trip he'll have 4 full loads in 1 round trip, lets see a train have that turn around.
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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby bychosis » Thu Jan 18, 2024 7:17 pm

Trucks vs trains is a bit of a catch 22. Trains have been all but forgotten and therefore not optimised to modern standards. Trains are ‘no good’ so they aren’t used well enough to be worth optimising.

Trucks have been well optimised for a long time so they are ‘better’ than trains so we keep using them and the systems are well optimised and worth investing in.

Lower emissions is a good argument for trains, but they need investment to be good enough to be invested in to be best.
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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby Thoglette » Fri Jan 19, 2024 1:32 am

brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
...and not all freight goes to or from a Capital City.
The vast majority is mine to port, followed by Port to distribution centre (aka capital centre) then inter-city and then city to regional centre. Somewhere in there is farm to port or distribution centre and the rest is noise.
brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
.... Produce from Farms and products to farms is big business in Australia.
Which is why railways went to ports via many farming towns with silos. Any sort of broad acre farming supports this
brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
...The only advantage of trains is that once loaded, they can take a lot more than many B-Doubles and can continuously keep rolling as they have driver and staff changes along the way at intervals,
Only?
What about:
1. Use a lot less fuel
2. Use less staff
3. can easily be electrified
4. are a s*#(AT)$t load safer
brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
...but a B-Double even with rest tops can do 2 trips in the time a train can do one.
Only in Australia, where we've let our rail lines run down so badly that the Indian Pacific averages less than 60kph.

If you hadn't maintained the Hume properly since 1946 (never mind upgrading it) those B-doubles would be running pretty slowly.
brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
... So in a round trip he'll have 4 full loads in 1 round trip, lets see a train have that turn around.
A single double stack car will do the same load as a B double, and 50 cars is business as usual under EU rules (not sure what our rules are but I'm far too lazy to look tonight).
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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby warthog1 » Fri Jan 19, 2024 11:09 am

I worked in freight for a while a long time ago though.
Worked for Toll/NQX in Alice and they had the Woolworths contract.
All of the chiller freight came by road as it gave them and extra day and a half of shelf life vs the rail.
A big saving in throwing out less stock.

Agree that rail is safer but it will simply never be as flexible or fast in delivery times.
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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby brumby33 » Fri Jan 19, 2024 12:38 pm

Thoglette wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2024 1:32 am
brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
...and not all freight goes to or from a Capital City.
The vast majority is mine to port, followed by Port to distribution centre (aka capital centre) then inter-city and then city to regional centre. Somewhere in there is farm to port or distribution centre and the rest is noise.
brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
.... Produce from Farms and products to farms is big business in Australia.
Which is why railways went to ports via many farming towns with silos. Any sort of broad acre farming supports this
brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
...The only advantage of trains is that once loaded, they can take a lot more than many B-Doubles and can continuously keep rolling as they have driver and staff changes along the way at intervals,
Only?
What about:
1. Use a lot less fuel
2. Use less staff
3. can easily be electrified
4. are a s*#(AT)$t load safer
brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
...but a B-Double even with rest tops can do 2 trips in the time a train can do one.
Only in Australia, where we've let our rail lines run down so badly that the Indian Pacific averages less than 60kph.

If you hadn't maintained the Hume properly since 1946 (never mind upgrading it) those B-doubles would be running pretty slowly.
brumby33 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 5:42 pm
... So in a round trip he'll have 4 full loads in 1 round trip, lets see a train have that turn around.
A single double stack car will do the same load as a B double, and 50 cars is business as usual under EU rules (not sure what our rules are but I'm far too lazy to look tonight).
All well and Good Thoglette, unfortunately the Governments have let the rail go to almost ruin but it is good for running coal, grain to ports as well as Intermodal (shipping containers from Port to Port) but like it's importance back in the old days of steam, I don't think the Governments have ever really got their hearts on rail.
In Europe and the USA, Canada, Rail is a going concern, but you have more than 15 times the population spread in Cities all over their continents and they especially in the USA and Canada often have double up containers on each carriage.

I don't know enough of the logistics side of things to make a comparison, but you would think by now, those in the know would have freight moved from A to B in the most time/cost efficient way possible by now.

Many of the large trucking Companies are already fully geared for transport and storage and contracted supplies to their clients, many such as Linfox, Lindsay Bros, Toll etc have huge logistic Businesses that take control of Supplies, if rail was more economical or more practical, then I think they would have already done it that way.

My Dad was a railway man, drove freighters as well as passenger trains and it's all gone down hill since he retired back in 89, around then, the Gold Coast Motorail used to run through Byron Bay, now it's become a rail trail.....Trains up the New England used to run up to Tenterfield and Glen Innes, now only to Armidale. Much of the long distance rail is also only single track requiring loops long enough to hold trains waiting to come through. I've also had experience driving Semi's, not interstate but from Logistic centres to retailers/wholesalers.
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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby DavidS » Fri Jan 19, 2024 8:36 pm

Rail could be, and should be, a better alternative to trucks for busy routes. But rail in Australia is pathetic, there is just no interest. Just look at fast train proposals, never get anywhere and are usually half baked.

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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby g-boaf » Fri Jan 19, 2024 9:56 pm

bychosis wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2024 7:17 pm
Trucks vs trains is a bit of a catch 22. Trains have been all but forgotten and therefore not optimised to modern standards. Trains are ‘no good’ so they aren’t used well enough to be worth optimising.

Trucks have been well optimised for a long time so they are ‘better’ than trains so we keep using them and the systems are well optimised and worth investing in.

Lower emissions is a good argument for trains, but they need investment to be good enough to be invested in to be best.
In some other countries you even find freight trains ran at night on the high speed lines at 200km/h.

Things could be done better but too many vested interests get in the way and often with various half-truths - like the old one about HSR needing special tracks everywhere - while they forget that overseas you find HSR running quite easily at normal speeds and normal voltages directly into cities and branching off at some point onto dedicated lines and switching over voltages (and going from line-side signals to in-cab signalling).

Air freight is still a strong opponent though - especially if you have an A330 converted freighter on the route - that can take a LOT of cargo quickly.
Last edited by g-boaf on Sun Jan 21, 2024 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby Thoglette » Sat Jan 20, 2024 8:06 pm

brumby33 wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2024 12:38 pm

All well and Good Thoglette, unfortunately the Governments have let the rail go to almost ruin but it is good for running coal, grain to ports as well as Intermodal (shipping containers from Port to Port) but like it's importance back in the old days of steam, I don't think the Governments have ever really got their hearts on rail.
No argument from me there.

Further, the freeway crowds have gotten very good at having “shovel ready” projects for any price, location and ribbon-cutting timeframe the minister wants.

The Rail folks are still stuck with an all-or-nothing mindset, so as a result nothing gets built.
brumby33 wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2024 12:38 pm
I don't know enough of the logistics side of things to make a comparison, but you would think by now, those in the know would have freight moved from A to B in the most time/cost efficient way possible by now.
Unfortunately, through privatising the railways and socialising the costs of road transport, the exact opposite has happened.

Not that the freight companies care: they are taking their (near-monopoly) profits regardless.
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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby brumby33 » Sat Jan 20, 2024 11:41 pm

Take the New England Rail trail North of Armidale for example, been left for ruins for many decades now and the same for the Casino to Gold Coast rail, there are still the old timers jumping up and down making up petitions with a hope that the Government will turn around and re-open that rail link once more but that will never happen and as soon as it's been proposed to make it into a rail trail, you get all those old timers trying everything they can to stop that from happening by placing logs or even thumb tacks to puncture bicycle tyres.
The Government would have to spend Billions to rebuild those lines up again for what.......a handful that might use it, it was only ever really for passenger rail and not really for freight so it'd be more economical to send Coaches there instead.
Even today, the railway is pathetic, the poor old 44 year old XPT train still takes the Pensioners and backpackers up beyond Grafton and Casino. Those poor old trains have enough kms on them to take them to Pluto and back and they don't look like they're going to replace them anytime soon. Even when new, the rail lines were never safe enough to benefit a train such as the XPT. There's a section of rail around Braunstone, South of Grafton, that they can get up to 145kph but then have to slow down to 70kph because the rail has a bend in it down the bottom of the run, I know this because I've travelled up front in the XPT with my Father who drove them between Taree and Grafton and Dad loved to drive them but agreed, the rail isn't suitable for a train like this, they were capable of up to 180kph if they had the right rail lines to do it.

I realise we were talking freight trains before, but what i'm writing about above is just the typical example why State Governments don't want to know about rail except for City rail and yet back in the late 1800's, the country forged ahead on rail, the steam era built Countries like ours and the USA, rail was important back then during the industrial revolution, not so much on the East side of Australia but on the West side, Rail is incredibly important up there in the iron belt of Tom Price and Port headland.
Many may not remember that Darling Harbour in Sydney was pretty much a huge rail yard area with lines going everywhere, hauling coal and other freight around the Sydney precinct long before it was made into an entertainment hub. Enfield as well used to house Locomotive workshops that made everything for rail like wheel sets, boilers, rail trucks were built there too....all gone!! Goninans made the Sydney electric train car sets in Sydney and Newcastle.

Even after the rail gauges were standardised across the nation, Famous runs like the Indian Pacific and the Ghan still do well albeit they are not a cheap ride, I often wonder how they attract enough people to make it worth their while on a regular basis. A lot of freight including food produce is sent by rail from Melbourne and Adelaide to Perth and to Darwin. Much of the rail industry still exists but much of it has gone as well. Many rail depots in NSW that were still around in the 1970's are all but gone into rail History. Big railway towns are no longer railways towns, places like Grafton, Taree, Goulburn and Junee, the depots are gone and are only towns where railway crews change over these days.

Cheers

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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby elantra » Sun Jan 21, 2024 4:28 pm

brumby33 wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2024 11:41 pm

44 year old XPT train still takes the Pensioners and backpackers up beyond Grafton and Casino. Those poor old trains have enough kms on them to take them to Pluto and back and they don't look like they're going to replace them anytime soon. Even when new, the rail lines were never safe enough to benefit a train such as the XPT. There's a section of rail around Braunstone, South of Grafton, that they can get up to 145kph but then have to slow down to 70kph because the rail has a bend in it down the bottom of the run, I know this because I've travelled up front in the XPT with my Father who drove them between Taree and Grafton and Dad loved to drive them but agreed, the rail isn't suitable for a train like this, they were capable of up to 180kph if they had the right rail lines to do it.


Cheers

brumby33
I’m old enough to have done the Brisbane to Sydney (and return) a few times over the years.

It’s actually quite a pleasant journey on the XPT train but it does take about 14 hours.
And you do get the strong impression that much of the way, the speed potential of the service is fundamentally restricted by the winding nature of the rail corridor, particularly north of Newcastle and up to about Port Macquarie

I actually caught this train from Brisbane to Coffs Harbour rather than drive my nice little car back in 1996 - because I worked out that it was definitely going to be faster than road and cost about the same (for 2 adults)

Since then the NSW and Australian Gov have spent billions on the Motorway from NSW border to Coffs - spurred on by the disastrous Bus crashes that occurred just over 30 yrs ago.
so it might be faster to drive in 2024
But I actually doubt that it would be much faster because the flip side of the equation is that congestion between Brisbane and the NSW border has been exponential since 1996 and on average it takes half an hour longer to get to southern Gold Coast from Brisbane by road than it did 30 yr ago

I can actually vividly recall hiring a car in Coffs and driving north towards Grafton on that holiday, looking for some classic railway bridges to photograph.
And then seeing the day’s XPT passenger train whizzing along the straight section of line at what I guessed was about 130 km/hr.

As far as I know this interstate line carries 6 freight trains per day but only 2 passenger services.

It’s actually a very remarkable engineering feat from Casino/Kyogle to Brisbane, I believe that construction started in 1922 and took a few years to complete
It’s even more remarkable that the Queensland and NSW governments were able to agree to a plan to fund it and build it, since they haven’t been able to agree on lots of other things since those days

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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby g-boaf » Mon Jan 22, 2024 6:28 am

Agree on the above but will probably get yelled at for “off topic”. :roll:

Big problem is the tracks often aren’t at the best standards so the XPT has to go slower. In reality it can go 160km/h or better (I think one time one of them reached 200km/h) but track conditions and alignment prevent going faster. The original version of the trains themselves overseas have been re-engined with MTU (Maybach) engines of the type MTU 16V4000 R41R. And the power cars are even being used on freight trains.

Fixing that is not a viable option because it would be seen as supporting socialist trains by half of the voters (and the right wing media) so instead money is burned on roads. Howard’s battlers in my area seem to think like this.

It’s time to just build HSR - no more studies, no more dithering, build it. Loop off it with standard lines where necessary and run fast freight on it at night.

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Re: The problem of trucks on our highways

Postby elantra » Mon Jan 22, 2024 1:00 pm

g-boaf wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2024 6:28 am


It’s time to just build HSR - no more studies, no more dithering, build it. Loop off it with standard lines where necessary and run fast freight on it at night.
But to dither is the Australian bureaucratic way !

There is currently under construction a visionary Railway construction project - the Inland Railway, from Melbourne to Brisbane.
Which of course is a multi-billion dollar project, and is said to have the support of many of Australia’s big logistics companies and organisations.

https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/

Many parts of this project are now ready to roll, throughout Victoria and New South Wales.

But the project has hit a huge snag as it approaches the Queensland border.
There’s a lot of complicated intergovernmental skirmishes and local opposition to it in Queensland.
Even the Koalas are against it.

Hopefully for the sake of commonsense and energy efficiency these issues will be resolved sooner rather than later.




But don’t hold your breath.

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