Thinking outside the fence line- Sydney to Brisbane
The paper outlines the development of the Sydney - Brisbane 'coastal' railway. This includes the Sydney - Broadmeadow section completed in 1889 with some grade easing at the expense of extra length and curvature in the early 1900s, the linking up of branch line standard sections between Maitland and Kyogle and extension to Brisbane by 1932. This paper looks at the gains for train operations arising from two contemporary strategies for alignment improvement, where actual outcomes are able to be reliably estimated. The outcomes have been used to come to some useful conclusions in regard to improvement of poorly aligned main lines. Comment is given on the present state of the Sydney - Brisbane railway (which has 40 per cent of its length on tight radius curves) and the ongoing upgrading of the parallel Pacific Highway noting the decline in rail's modal share of corridor freight from about 24 per cent in 1996 to around 5 per cent today. The paper identifies that realignment is only part of the equation to get 'two hour' times between Sydney and Broadmeadow and suggests some of the additional strategies which would contribute to consistent gains in train times, although looking at these in any detail is a whole separate project. The paper also proposes a structured approach to future rail realignment north of Maitland, and for that matter on regional main lines elsewhere.