Rail replacement trucks for the Frankston line

During May and June 2018 no trains are running on the Frankston line beyond Carrum due to level crossing removal works, with passengers being transported on rail replacement buses. But they aren’t the only ones being disrupted – freight trains are also being replaced by road transport.

Twice a day a 40 wagon long train departs the Melbourne Freight Terminal at South Dynon bound for the BlueScope Steel plant on the Stony Point line at Hastings.

XR558 and G541 wait for their train to be loaded with coil steel at the Melbourne Freight Terminal

The train skirts the edge of Southern Cross Station.

XR558 and XR559 southbound at Southern Cross with a load of coil steel

Then rolls through the river end of Flinders Street Station.

BL29 on the down load of 'butterbox' coil steel containers through Flinders Street track 9A

Then traverses the tracks at Richmond Junction.

'Butterbox' coil steel wagons make up the rear half of the train

Heads towards Caulfield.

G531 and G541 lead the down Long Island train through Malvern station

Eventually making it south towards Frankston.

Load of coil steel on the down Long Island steel train at Frankston

Then heads along the single track Stony Point line.

XR551 and BL30 with the down steel train outside Frankston with a load of 'butterbox' coil steel containers

To arrive at the BlueScope Steel plant beside Westernport Bay in Hastings.


Photo via Southern Peninsula News

So how many trucks are needed?

As you might imagine, steel is bloody heavy.

Each of the first 20 wagons are loaded with a pair of ‘jumbo’ coils of steel sheet.

G528 and XR551 leads the down steel train past North Melbourne station

While the 20 wagons at the rear carry a pair of ‘butterbox’ containers of coil steel.

'Butterbox' containers trailing a load of coil steel on the down journey

The average wagon has a tare mass of around 20 tonnes (based on a RKLX class wagon) and with a loaded gross mass of 74 to 79 tonnes – or 30 tonnes for a single container!

For the proposes of comparison, the permitted gross vehicle mass of a standard six-axle semi-trailer in Victoria is 42.5 tonnes – or a single container per truck.

With 40 containers and 40 steel coils per train, and two trains per day each way, that is an extra 320 trucks on the Monash Freeway each day.

Good thing the trains will return in June 2018!

Footnote

More on BlueScope Steel’s use of rail transport across Australia

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