Sunday, 26 January 2014

The trials and tribulations of the Down Shore Line at Hornsby

In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to travel home on some evenings via Hornsby. This entails travelling from Wynyard to Hornsby via the Down Shore, changing at Hornsby and back to Thornleigh via the Up Main. I do this usually when I just miss my normal train (Wynyard to Thornleigh via Macquarie Park) and want to escape the oppression of the platforms at Wynyard due to the heat and being shouted at almost constantly by the station announcer.
At Hornsby every single train on the Down Shore queues up to get into the Down Shore platform and quite often there are two or more trains queue back through Waitara waiting to get in to the platform. There are a number of reasons for this: 

  • There is no overlap between the signal at the end of the platform and the crossovers on the Down Main or Up Shore - the distance from the signal to the points is about 2 metres. Because of the lack of overlap there are two speed controlled train stops along the platform which are 'up' when the signal is at stop.
  • In the afternoon peak approximately 60 percent the trains terminate at Hornsby and thus require increased dwell time at the platform.

A perusal of the working timetable shows the occupation of the Down Shore Platform in the evening peak:

  • 16:00 - 16:30: 10 mins
  • 16:30 - 17:00: 13 mins
  • 17:00 - 17:30: 11 mins
  • 17:30 - 18:00: 12 mins
  • 18:00 - 18:30: 12 mins
  • 18:30 - 19:00: 12 mins
  • 19:00 - 19:30: 10 mins

Terminating trains are allowed 3 minutes and there are numerous occasions where there are two minutes between the departure of one train and the arrival of the other.
While the terminating trains are part of the problem (they rarely clear the platform in three minutes) a major contributing factor is that almost every train has to crawl into the platform due to the speed related train stops because the signal is usually at red.
An additional platform would be the super fix but space (and money) realistically precludes this from happening. An easier fix is to move the Main/Shore junction further north up near the Bridge Road over bridge. While this option would cost money it is relatively easy to implement - some straightening of the down ends of the Up and Down Shore platforms would be required. 
Currently the 527 points (so that Down Shore terminating trains can access the Up sidings) is approximately 40 metres from the end of the Down shore platform - if a train is terminating AND going into these roads the road could be set into the sidings before the train arrives thus negating the need for the speed related train stops. Likewise the crossovers from the Down Main into the shed arrivals road are approximately 200 metres from the platforms - this is over an 8-car train length and trains stops in the platform would not be required at all in this case.
The plan sees the loss of the Up Refuge which is rarely used and the Up turnback which is also rarely used -especially with the latest timetable which has Down Main North suburbans reversing in platform 4 rather than running up into Hornsby Yard to reverse
While there is a cost and some significant re-arrangement of Hornsby Yard the end result would see increased efficiency in the operation of trains from the Down Shore in the evening peak. The  speeding up of the clearing of terminating trains would also have a great effect.
Below are the current arrangement and the my planned arrangement of Hornsby Yard.

Hornsby Now
Hornsby Planned

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Sunnyside of Life

The line north of Glenn Innes saw it's last train on Sunday 22 October 1989 - a steam train hauled by 3001 - commemorating Henry Parkes Federation address of 100 years earlier. This train only made it to Tenterfield. The last train to Wallangarra is believed to be a private extension of the Friday's only north Mail to Tenterfield which ran on 18 November 1988, hauled by 4491. Since the demise of regular passenger trains to Wallangarra in 1972the 19 kilometres between Tenterfield and Wallangarra had seen considerably few trains, by the 1980s they were few and far between.
783.957 kilometres from Central is the platform of Sunnyside. Just over 10 kilometres from Tenterfield and 8.2 kilometres before Wallangarra it is the last but one station on the Main North Line. Opened on 16 January 1888 and closed as a station on 12 May 1973, the platform still exists.
280 metres to the north of the platform is the bridge over Tenterfield Creek. It is one of the delightful Whitton queen post ballast top bridge's and has up of six 42 foot spans spans.
A passing visit in late December 2013 saw that at least two of the spans have failed and it is only a matter of time before one of the spans collapses.

A view from the Up side northern end.

The two northern spans

The northernmost span

The abutment at the northern end

The two centre spans

The 'builder's plate on the adjacent road bridge

The abutment at the northern end

The northernmost span

The second to last northernmost span

The southernmost span, another failed span

The southern abutment

The two southern spans

The centre spans

The centre spans