Melbourne trams and speed cameras

Years ago I found a speed camera set up in an interesting location – beside the tram tracks on Maribyrnong Road, Ascot Vale.

Z3.165 on route 82 passes a mobile speed camera setup on Maribyrnong Road

Checking the speeds of both motor vehicle,s and a a procession of trams on route route 57 and 82.

Z3.200 on route 57 passes a mobile speed camera setup on Maribyrnong Road

Tram drivers have been caught speeding before – such as this 2006 article from ‘The Age’.

A Melbourne tram has been clocked speeding by police – the first time a driver has been caught by a radar gun.

A traffic policeman with the laser radar gun clocked the tram at 57kph in a 40kph zone on Malvern Road, Prahran, shortly after 7.30am, a police spokeswoman said.

The officer intercepted the tram and issued the driver with an on-the-spot fine, she said.

“It’s the first time that a member has detected a speeding tram. He said it was quite unusual,” she said.

The officer, from Stonnington traffic management unit, said the tram driver was “co-operative”, the spokeswoman said.

“There was no animosity,” she said.

The driver was fined $215 and will lose three demerit points from his normal driver’s licence.

Yarra Trams spokesman Colin Tyrus said the driver also would be counselled by the company and would be subject to an internal disciplinary process, but would not disclose the process for privacy reasons.

“There’s no exception for tram drivers to the speed limit,” Mr Tyrus said.

“This is something that Yarra Trams regularly refers to in refresher training and initial training, that drivers are required to observe the road laws of the state of Victoria, and that includes speed limits.”

As well as running red lights.

About four trams an hour are running red lights in Melbourne’s CBD, a Herald Sun investigation has revealed.

Pedestrians have had to jump out of the way as trams hurtle through intersections on a red light.

But Victoria Police statistics reveal that since September 2006 only two tram drivers have been booked for running red lights.

A spokesman for the Rail, Tram and Bus Union said: “I don’t think any driver blatantly goes through a red light.”

Yarra Trams spokesman Colin Tyrus said tram drivers were trained to do their best to be on time, but not at the expense of safety.

He said trams were 30m long and unable to accelerate through an intersection like a car.

He added that drivers could cause injuries to passengers if they hit the brakes too suddenly.

Tram drivers are required to hold a normal driver’s licence – but for tram drivers who started the job before the rule was introduced in 1984, they had to be grandfathered in.

Lenny Bates started working at the Kew depot in 1955, forsaking a promising career as a registered plumber. In the ensuing 5½ decades he was a conductor, a driver, a trainer of hundreds of other drivers, and finally a driver again.

He spent his later years on routes 109 from Box Hill to Port Melbourne and 48 from North Balwyn to Docklands, gaining recognition and affection for his colourful and detailed announcements about local landmarks along the route.

As trams evolved, Mr Bates embraced whatever training was required to master the new models. ”Lenny came to the depot when we had 1920s technology, and progressed through that into today’s high-tech trams … He came from pencil and paper up to the touch screen,” Mr Andrews says.

But he never learnt to drive a car, even after a rule was brought in that tram drivers must have a valid driver’s licence. An exception was made for him.

Footnote: how fast can trams go anyway?

The Yarra Trams “Infrastructure – Tram Track Design” standards list the maximum speed for each class of tram.

Flash of blue as an E class tram powers through the frog at William and Bourke Street

Under Appendix C “Tram Specifications”.

W8, Z3, A1, A2, B1, B2 classes
65 km/h powers off
75 km/h forced braking
Speed at max current draw: approximately 30 km/h
Acceleration: 1.5 m/s² ± 0.05

Citadis C1 class
77-80 km/h powers off
No forced braking
Speed at max current draw: 29 km/h @ 600V, 21.8 km/h @ 450V
Acceleration: 1-30 km/h ± 1.57 m/s², 1-60 km/h ± 1.57 m/s²

Citadis C2 class
70 km/h powers off
No forced braking
Acceleration: 1.03 m/s² ± 5%

Combino D1 class
70 km/h powers off
No forced braking
Speed at max current draw: 39-55 km/h
Acceleration: ≤1.3m/s² to 39 km/h, ≤0.95m/s² avg. to 70 km/h

Combino D2 class
70 km/h powers off
No forced braking
Speed at max current draw: 30-55 km/h
Acceleration: ≤1.3m/s² to 30 km/h, ≤0.86m/s² avg. to 60 km/h

Flexity E class
Max speed: 80 km/h
60 km/h traction cut
65 km/h brakes apply
Acceleration: 1.3m/s² to 30 km/h (fully loaded)

As well as the standards to which new track is built to.

Laying new tram tracks along Toorak Road at St Kilda Road

In table B16 “Minimum Design Speed”.

Straight Track and Tangent Track 85 km/h
Curves up to 50 m radius 15 km/h
Curves from 50 to 100 m radius 20 km/h
Curves from 101 to 240 m radius 30 km/h
Curves from 240 to 429 m radius 45 km/h
Curves from 430 to 999 m radius 60 km/h
Greater than 1000 m radius 85 km/h
Through special work 15 km/h
Minimum speed for mainline curves into tram stops 40 km/h

‘Signs you’re doing it wrong’ at Mentone station

I paid a visit to Mentone recently, taking a look at the new station opened in July 2021 following the removal of the Balcombe Road level crossing. However there are a few ‘signs’ that the Level Crossing Removal Authority’s design is flawed.

EDI Comeng 495M departs Mentone on the up

On leaving the station, I found a loooong flight of steps linking the station with Como Parade West.

Loooong flight of steps links Mentone station with Como Parade

I had a pram with me, so I had to take the loooong zig zag ramp instead.

Loooong zig zag ramp links Mentone station with Como Parade

The ramps down to the platform weren’t much better.

Ramps between platform and concourse level at Mentone station

Running from platform level below ground, past street level – but with no access – ending on the elevated concourse

Ramps between platform and concourse level at Mentone station

On Como Parade West the heritage listed station building had been restored.

Heritage listed station building and gardens at Mentone now restored

But the bus stops outside were untouched.

Transdev bus #1155 BS05DN on route 903 at Mentone station

1980s brick and only a handful of bus shelters for waiting passengers.

Spartan looking bus interchange at Mentone station

Behind the shops on Como Parade West I found a nice grassy area, but it didn’t lead anywhere – just a concrete wall facing the giant zigzag ramps.

Siemens 741M departs Mentone on the up

While on the other side was a sea of car parking.

Car park fills the northern half of the former Mentone station site

The driveway to which featured a ‘Pedestrians obey traffic signals’ sign.

'Pedestrians obey traffic signals' sign at the entrance to the Mentone station car park

I gave up on waiting for the pedestrian lights to change, so continued along the endless car park instead.

Car park fills the northern half of the former Mentone station site

Luckily the ‘Parkiteer’ cage for bicycle parking was right outside the station entrance.

Parkiteer cage at Mentone station

But it appears demand was underestimated – temporary ‘Wheelie’ bike racks had also been provided next door.

'Wheelie' bike racks outside the entrance to Mentone station

And cycling routes were an afterthought – a sign on the main concourse reading “CYCLISTS DISMOUNT – walk your bike on the ramps and through the Mentone Station precinct”.

'CYCLISTS DISMOUNT - walk your bike on the ramps and through the Mentone Station precinct' sign

But the final piece of a flawed design – access to the station from the east.

Fence added at Mentone to block the desire line between the east station entrance and the surrounding streets

The original design neglected a formal path between the station entry and Station Street, so an informal one was soon worn, until somebody noticed it – and blocked it off with a fence!

Fence added at Mentone to block the desire line between the east station entrance and the surrounding streets

So how much did this half-baked level crossing removal cost? A total of $536 million – including the removal of three level crossings at Balcombe Road in Mentone, Charman Road and Park Road in Cheltenham, and two new stations at Cheltenham and Mentone.

The only upside seems to be the colour – blue.

Alstom Comeng 639M arrives into Mentone on the up

Unlike previous level crossing removal projects that were a sea of grey, Mentone station has received it’s own unique colour – neighbouring Cheltenham station appearing in gold.

Footnote – why so many steps?

The reason for the elevated concourse reached by long ramps and stairs is the ‘hybrid’ trench design. The railway line dives below ground to pass beneath Balcombe Road, then rises slightly into the new station at Mentone.

Alstom Comeng 602M arrives into Mentone on the down

It then rises again to ground level after the station.

Alstom Comeng 611M trails a down service out of Mentone

This design reduces the amount of excavation required to construct a rail-under-road grade separation, but results in a station concourse raised above ground level, and requires the station platforms to be located away from the road, extending the distance to connecting bus routes.

Hauling coal at the Bowen Rail Company

There is a new rail operator in Australia called the Bowen Rail Company, and they’re keeping quiet about two facts – the cargo they haul, and who their parent company is. But why?

Bowen Rail Company photo

Let’s take a look

Off to the Bowen Rail Company website – “Queensland’s next-generation rail freight business”.

Named for the Whitsunday town of Bowen, the company says “We aim to support the community of Bowen and help drive economic prosperity for the region.”

They were “created to transport Queensland’s high quality resources for export to the world“.

Their operations are “safe, environmentally responsible and efficient“.

And finally an answer to what they are transporting – export coal from Bravus Mining and Resources’ Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin!

You’d be hard pressed to find a mention of coal on their website.

The only other mention being a September 2021 media release titled “State-of-the-art Bowen Rail locomotives arrive to transport Carmichael coal”.

And a November 2021 piece simply titled “Statement on dangerous protest activity“.

Which speaks of nothing except protesters targeting their coal trains.

So why does the Bowen Rail Company exist?

Their “what we do” page has some cryptic clues.

The Bowen Rail Company is Queensland’s next-generation rail business, created to transport Queensland’s high-quality resources for export to the world.

Their area of operation.

Bowen Rail Company will operate on the Carmichael Rail Network; a 200km narrow gauge railway that connects Queensland’s Galilee Basin to existing rail infrastructure and the North Queensland Export Terminal.

And their “foundation customer”.

The Carmichael Rail Network is part of the Bravus Mining and Resources’ Carmichael Project and the Carmichael Mine will be the railway’s foundation customer.

But to find the real answer, you need to look elsewhere – such as this September 2020 exclusive by ABC News.

The Adani group has launched its own rail business to haul coal to its Queensland port, while avoiding any public mention of the parent company or the controversial Carmichael mine.

It follows years of pressure from anti-coal activists that has prompted a string of potential Adani contractors to walk away from the mining giant, increasing the cost of doing business.

Bowen Rail Company (BRC) last month announced it was launching a haulage business to service Abbot Point export terminal.

Head of project delivery, David Wassell, said the company had bought its own “state-of-the-art locomotives and rollingstock” and would recruit about 50 workers.

Neither the media release nor the company website mention Adani or the Carmichael mine.

But company searches show BRC is owned by an Adani group company in India, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited, via two holding companies in Singapore.

The searches show the directors of BRC are all senior Adani staff in Australia.

So Bowen Rail Company is just a shell company of Adani Mining, proponent of the massively controversial Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, created because no other Australian rail operator would touch the project with a ten foot pole.

So how did Adani get so desperate?

Protests against coal mining are nothing new – including the blocking of railways used to export coal.

Break Free Australia - 8th May
Break Free Australia photo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

But Adani’s plans to build the massive Carmichael coal mine in Queensland saw everyday people join the protests, not just hardcore activists.

20171017-StopAdani-Downer-Somerton-0102  IMG_4861
John Englart photo (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Protesters not just targeting Adani, but companies who could become involved in the project, such as mining services companies.

Embattled Indian miner Adani says it will build and run Australia’s biggest coal venture in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin on its own after parting ways with mining services giant Downer.

On Monday, Adani released a statement revealing both parties had cancelled a conditional $2.6 billion contract as part of Adani’s cost-cutting drive spurred on by the Queensland Government’s veto of its $1 billion Commonwealth loan bid.

The split comes after Downer was the target of a nationwide activist campaign pressuring them to quit the Carmichael project in central Queensland.

And banks that could help fund the project.

Australia’s big four banks have all ruled out funding or withdrawn from Adani’s Queensland coal project, after Westpac said it would not back opening up new coalmining regions.

NAB ruled out funding the Carmichael project in September 2015, a month after Commonwealth Bank parted ways with Adani as project finance adviser.

The CEO of ANZ, Shayne Elliott, in effect ruled out financing the mine last December when he predicted a downward shift in the bank’s exposure to coalmining would continue for the foreseeable future.

By 2018 this saw the scope of the project being cut.

The controversial mine in the Galilee Basin has been scaled back significantly from earlier plans, following years of legal and environmental disputes.

Adani Mining chief executive officer Lucas Dow said the mine would initially begin on a small scale and “ramp up” to a capacity of 27.5 million tonnes a year — less than half the size of the approved project.

This cut also included the rail portion of the project.

ABC News graphic

Dumping their plans for a dedicated railway, and instead connecting to the existing Aurizon network.

Adani has ditched plans to build a new rail line from Abbot Point to get coal out of Queensland’s Galilee Basin, opting for a cut-price solution using existing lines.

The Indian miner had planned to build a new 388km line from its controversial Carmichael mine to Abbot Point for export, but now says it will “instead leverage existing rail infrastructure”.

The new proposal will make use of the existing Aurizon rail infrastructure that runs to Abbot Point. A new narrow-gauge rail line of about 200 km would be constructed to connect the existing network to the Carmichael mine site, reducing the length of the track Adani would have to build by 188km, and significantly reducing the cost.

Adani’s original proposal was for a 388km standard gauge track that was expected to cost $2.3bn.

Adani stating.

“By connecting to the existing network we can fast-track project delivery, reduce capital expenditure and deliver coal more quickly to countries in Asia,” Adani Mining’s chief executive, Lucas Dow, said in a statement on Thursday. “We’re 100% committed to getting the Carmichael project off the ground.”

The company said its Plan B solution would follow the same route, meaning existing approvals and land use agreements could be used.

Aurizon was the frontrunner to haul coal for Adani, so was soon targeted by activists.

Aurizon’s annual general meeting, held in Brisbane today, was dominated by concerns over Aurizon’s potential involvement in the destructive Adani Carmichael coal project.

Both shareholders inside the meeting and #StopAdani activists outside called on the rail freight company to refuse to provide coal haulage services to Adani, or invest any shareholder capital in rail upgrades necessary for the Adani project.

So was Genesee & Wyoming Australia, who was the first rail operator to bow out in August 2019.

The ABC has learned Genesee & Wyoming Australia (GWA) declined to participate in the Carmichael coal project, after Adani approached it to supply coal haulage services from its planned mine.

“GWA has previously been approached to service the Adani Carmichael project and we have decided not to participate,” the company confirmed in a statement to the ABC.

But Pacific National didn’t rule out getting involved.

Pacific National, the major rail freight company in NSW and the fastest growing in Queensland, told the ABC: “We haul coal, that’s what we do.”

“We wouldn’t rule out dealing with Adani or any other mining company that had the necessary approvals,” the company said.

But the situation for Aurizon was was not so clear cut, thanks to their role as manager of the Queensland rail network.

Aurizon is legally obliged by the Queensland Competition Authority to consider and assess the request by Adani to access the network. Both companies are bound to keep discussions about access confidential.

A sticking point being who would fund upgrades to the existing network.

The capacity of the existing Goonyella to Abbot Point line would need to be increased to carry coal from Carmichael, based on current freight volumes. The line has capacity to freight 50m tonnes per annum and currently carries about 28mtpa for companies that have contracts to export through the Abbot Point terminal.

Adani plans an initial expansion of Abbot Point to 60mtpa and plans to ultimately mine and export 27mtpa from Carmichael. The Goonyella line does not have the capacity to service an expanded port, or the Carmichael mine at peak production.

Adani also says its planned spur line will have additional capacity to provide access to other potential future mines in the Galilee Basin. Any additional coal freight from the Galilee would necessitate a more significant upgrade of the Goonyella railway.

Aurizon said it could not comment on any potential access request by Adani or subsequent discussions with the company due to confidentiality restrictions put in place by the QCA. But the rail operator did provide a statement that explained the process if any expansion to its infrastructure was required.

“The process includes assessment of potential future demand from other users of the particular coal system; and the scope of expansion required, how it connects to the network and how it will be funded,” a spokesman said.

But that’s not the end of it

On the construction front, they had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find someone to build the new line – signing a deal in October 2019 with a tiny company called Martinus Rail.

Adani’s announcement on October 18 that it had awarded a $100 million contract to Martinus to build a 200-kilometre rail line from the Carmichael mine to existing rail tracks operated by Aurizon came just two weeks after Malaysian engineering group Gamuda Berhad acquired a 50 per cent stake in the NSW group.

Gamuda’s overseas investors and staff are likely to be less susceptible than Australian investors and workers to pressure from activists opposing the Carmichael mine, which is moving ahead with construction after receiving final environmental approvals.

Several companies with big Australian operations, including engineering groups Aurecon and Cardno, have ruled themselves out of working on the Carmichael project after being targeted by activists.

Ownership of which was uncertain.

It is unclear who has ultimate control of Martinus. Neither Gamuda or Martinus responded to requests from The Australian Financial Review for comment.

Martinus does not file financial statements with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which until June 2019 required accounts to be submitted from companies with consolidated revenues of $25 million or more. The revenue threshold was raised to $50 million in July.

But their construction partner pulled out in September 2020.

Malaysian engineering firm Gamuda has ditched plans to buy half of Australian rail firm Martinus Rail, which has the contract to build 200km of rail connecting Indian firm Adani’s proposed 10mn t/yr Carmichael thermal coal project in the Galilee basin in northwest Queensland to the existing network.

Raising questions as to whether they could even complete the work.

The deal leaves Martinus, which in April secured a second contract with Adani to build A$220mn worth of infrastructure associated with the Adani railway, with limited financial backing to complete these major projects. Martinus has not carried out any new projects previously the size of the Adani rail connector, with the main project featured on its website being a 12.6km dual-track heavy gauge passenger line in the Moreton Bay region of Queensland.

In November 2020 Adani Australia rebranded to ‘Bravus’.

India’s Adani Enterprises has changed the name of its Australian unit to Bravus Mining and Resources.

The rebrand comes as the miner readies to ship out its first coal next year in the face of years of vocal opposition from climate change activists, whose catch cry “Stop Adani” became a marketing slogan emblazoned on t-shirts and earrings.

“We will continue to stand up and deliver for the good of our community, no matter how courageous it requires us to be, and Bravus, our new name, reflects this intent,” Chief Executive David Boshoff said in a statement.

Then in July 2021 parent company Adani Ports transferred the Bowen Rail Company to another Adani subsidiary.

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (Adani Ports) has announced in its latest Annual Report (page 129) that after setting up the haulage operation for the controversial Carmichael coal project under the Bowen Rail Company (BRC), it is transferring the ownership of BRC to another Adani subsidiary, Adani Enterprises. The significant ownership transfer is being made after Adani Ports’ Sustainability & CSR Committee determined that Adani Ports “will divest its investments in [BRC] to fulfil Carbon Neutral Commitments”.

But despite all of this, on 18 November 2021 the Bowen Rail Company ran their first test train.

The media release still pretending the companies are not related.

This achievement is a shared celebration between two of Adani Australia’s companies; Bowen Rail Company which provides rail haulage operations, and Bravus Mining and Resources.

But no mention of how much of the 200 kilometre long Carmichael Rail Network was still to be complete.

Footnote: other Australian rail operators hauling coal

Pacific National has been hauling coal in the Hunter Valley for decades, having inherited contracts from the State Rail Authority of NSW.

I.D. No 14451 (914) 10-04-2013 Pacific National diesel locomotives 8217 + 8218 + 8253 + 8221 up coal Wambo to Port Kembla Th etrain is nearing railway station Lochinvar, in the Hunter Valley west of Newcastle, N.S.W., Australia.
John Ward photo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

But has since expanded their operations into Queensland.

Rod Williams video

Aurizon is the other big player, getting their start hauling coal all over Queensland for decades as Queensland Rail.

Using both electric and diesel locomotives.

Aurizon 4123 trails a coal train on the Newlands System

And expanding into the NSW Hunter Valley in the 2000s.

08645 (212) 15-04-2009 QR National 5002 + 5007 work a down empty coal train that is passing the railway station at East Maitland, N.S.W. Australia.
John Ward photo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

One Rail Australia (formerly Genesee & Wyoming Australia) saw the money to be made in moving coal, and also moved into the Hunter Valley.

XRN 027
Hugh Llewelyn photo (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Southern Shorthaul Railroad has won coal haulage contracts in the Lithgow area of NSW.

Rod Williams video

And finally a parallel with the Bowen Rail Company – Xstrata. Dissatisfied with the incumbent rail operators, in 2010 they bought their own locomotives and rolling stock to bypass them entirely.

14435 (913) 10-04-2013 Xstrata diesel locomotives XRN 024 + XRN 017 + XRN 001 down empty coal train approaching railway station High Street, Maitland, N.S.W., Australia.
John Ward photo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

And Whitehaven Coal, who bought their own locomotives and wagons in 2011 – but unbranded, in an attempt to avoid unwanted attention.

PoathTV – Australian Trains video

A few regulatory footnotes

Bowen Rail Company Pty Ltd was registered as a company on 16 December 2019 – ACN 638 074 889. Their ABN is 77 638 074 889 and it has been active from 7 January 2020.

They were accredited as a rolling stock operator by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator in 27 October 2021.

Photos from ten years ago: November 2011

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is November 2011.


Work on Regional Rail Link was kicking off at Middle Footscray.

Siemens train approaches Middle Footscray, passing the remains of houses compulsorily acquired for the RRL project

Excavators having rolled in.

VLocity passes an excavator and a pile of rubble

To demolish the compulsorily acquired houses along Buckley Street.

A backyard gazebo left behind, at least until Monday

Work on the extension of suburban trains to South Morang was almost complete, with track laid up to the future terminus.

Up end of the platform at South Morang, under the Civic Drive overpass

As was duplication of the single track section between Keon Park and Epping.

Heading along the single track, an up X'Trapolis arrives at Keon Park

The Metcard ticketing system was still hanging on, but new LCD next train displays were being rolled out.

Metcard barriers at Flagstaff Station, with the new LCD next train displays behind

Southern Cross Station was in the middle of a revamp – adding more shops.

A bit more work done at the Collins Street concourse

While South Yarra station still had it’s little kiosk sticking out into the concourse opposite the ticket gates.

South Yarra station kiosk sticking out into the concourse opposite the ticket gates

Things that go bump

On 26 November 2011 a V/Line train bound for Albury derailed at West Footscray.

Detraining passengers through the conductor's van with a single ladder

The train split between two tracks.

N470 and carriage set SN1 derailed on the standard gauge at West Footscray, split between the main and local tracks

The incident investigation report finding:

Shortly after its exit from the Bunbury Street tunnel the locomotive encountered a track defect at a location beneath the Nicholson Street road overbridge in Footscray that caused the derailment of one wheelset.

The train continued for about 1200 metres with the locomotive in this partially-derailed state until it encountered a turnout, resulting in the complete derailment of the locomotive and the first passenger car, and the derailment of the leading bogie of the second passenger car.

There were no injuries to passengers or V/Line personnel; however the track sustained significant damage.


Back in May 2011 work started on platform stops along Swanston Street – months later, the stop outside Melbourne Central was still incomplete.

New tram stop *still* under construction on Swanston Street outside Melbourne Central

Yarra Trams marking November with fuzzy Movember moustaches on the front of their trams.

Movember mo' on the front of B2.2083

They’ve missed a few Movembers in the years that have followed, and switched to a simpler stick on decal.

And some other bits

A $300 million expansion of Highpoint Shopping Centre was underway, with tower cranes at work on the 30,000 sqm extension, taking the centre to a total of 156,000 sqm.

Construction work at Highpoint viewed from Ascot Vale to the east

Mobil petrol stations on the way out, having been taken over by 7-Eleven.

One of the last Mobil petrol stations?

Down at the west end of the Melbourne CBD things were much emptier.

Melbourne Assessment Prison and the CBD skyline

Emporium Melbourne was just a big hole between Little Bourke and Lonsdale Streets.

Overview of the site from Curtin House

A day of planespotting

I made a trip out to Melbourne Airport to photograph the procession of planes.

Virgin Blue 737-700 VH-VBY

Finding Virgin Blue’s only ‘blue’ plane.

Pushing back Virgin Australia 737-700 VH-VBY

Air New Zealand 747 – since retired.

Air New Zealand 747-400 ZK-NBT about to take off

United Airlines 747 – also retired.

Two big jets - United Airlines 747 and Singapore Airlines A380

V Australia 777 – subsumed into Virgin Australia.

V Australia 777-300 VH-VPF

Skytraders A319 – famous for another reason.

Skytraders A319 VH-VHD

Tiger Airways A320 – merged into Virgin Australia and since retired as a brand.

Tiger Airways Australia A320 VH-VNK

Singapore Airlines A380 – on hiatus thanks to Covid.

Singapore Airlines A380 9V-SKD gets pushed back from the terminal

And a Strategic Airlines A330 – liquidated in 2012.

Strategic takeoff from Melbourne Airport runway 09

And a trip to Adelaide

I ended November 2011 with a trip to Adelaide.

Descending into Adelaide over seemingly endless suburbs

Where I rode some trams.

Citadis 202 at the Mosley Square terminus, Glenelg

Their ‘Jumbo’ railcars.

Passing Jumbo 2104 in the hills between Hallett Cove and Lonsdale

And the diesel version of Melbourne’s Comeng railcars.

Afternoon peak, a few commuters depart Comeng 3137 at Marino Rocks station


Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.

Infrastructure inspection trains of Victoria

Across Victoria there are a number of specialised rail vehicles used to inspect the tracks for faults – so let’s take a look at them.

Track evaluation vehicle IEV100

IEV100 is a track evaluation vehicle that traverses the Victorian railway network to test track quality. Self propelled with a diesel engine, and with the option to use standard or broad gauge bogies, this Plasser & Theurer EM100 track recorder was acquired by V/Line in the 1980s, passing to VicTrack following privatisation the 1990s.

EM100 running through Southern Cross Station on the down goods lines

It was then overhauled by Metro Trains Melbourne in 2012, with the original mechanical measurement wheels being replaced by a modern non-contact laser measurement system.

IEV100 on the up suburban lines at West Footscray

IEV100 was once capable of measuring the overhead contract wires, but the pantograph was removed around 2015.

IEV100 on the up suburban lines at West Footscray

Overhead inspection carriage IEV102

IEV102 is an overhead inspection carriage used across the Melbourne suburban network, converted from a retired V/Line passenger carriage in 2010, following a spate of overhead wire failures.

T377 leads T369 and the inspection carriage towards Flinders Street Station from Richmond

From a glass cupola atop the carriage, staff and video cameras onboard the carriage monitor how the pantograph tracks along the overhead wire.

Lead pantograph raised for the inspection run

Initially the carriage was hauled around the network by a pair of Metro Trains Melbourne’s T class locomotives, but from 2018 Southern Shorthaul Railroad took over the job.

T385 leads P18 through Footscray on an inspection run bound for Werribee

In October 2021 further changes happened, when a laser instrumented pantograph was installed atop the carriage, automating the collection of data.

New laser instrumented pantograph atop overhead inspection vehicle IEV102

‘AK’ track recording cars

The AK cars are a set of three specially equipped ex-NSWGR carriages fitted out for track inspection purposes. They are operated by the Australian Rail Track Corporation over their standard gauge lines behind hired motive power a few times each year.

GM27 leads GM22 on the down at Tottenham

Video cameras are mounted to the front of the train.

Both video cameras now in place on 8224

Wide inspection windows at the end of each carriage.

8135 leads the up AK cars working through Sunshine towards the Tottenham Triangle

Laser track measurement equipment beneath one of the carriages.

Laser measurement equipment beneath carriage AK 2383

And an accommodation carriage for the crew on their long journey across Australia.

Accommodation car AK 2384

Evaluation vehicle EV120 ‘Evie’

EV120 is a Geismar model RB2214TM locomotive hauled track and overhead inspection vehicle for the Victorian broad gauge rail network, acquired in 2021 to replace overhead inspection carriage IEV102 and track inspection vehicle IEV100.

Pantograph and roof view of the 'B' end of EV120

It has laser track measurement equipment attached to each bogie.

Laser track measurement equipment fitted to the A end of EV120

A pantograph on the roof.

Track inspection equipment and pantograph at the B end of EV120

And forward facing camera fitted to locomotives that haul it.

Forward facing camera fitted to the nose of P18 during the inspection run

Southern Shorthaul Railroad currently provides diesel locomotives and crews to haul it around the network.

P18 leads EV120 and P16 through Middle Footscray on a down inspection run to Sunbury

Ultrasonic rail flaw detection

Speno Rail Maintenance Australia operates a fleet of hi-rail Ultrasonic rail flaw detection trucks, which appear in Victoria from time to time.

Speno ultrasonic rail tester truck FL17 and accompanying hi-rail 4WD on the goods line at Brooklyn

The hi-rail truck tows an ultrasonic sensor array, scanning the steel rails for microscopic flaws.

Sensor array deployed at the rear of the ultrasonic rail testing truck

With a second crew following behind to mark any issues with paint.

Speno crew mark flawed rails with paint following the passage of the ultrasonic rail flaw detector

LIDAR and ground penetrating radar

In 2019 and 2020 V/Line completed an ad-hoc survey of their network using a variety of hired test equipment strapped to a surplus diesel locomotive.

P12 on arrival at Southern Cross Station

The first survey used LIDAR measure equipment, a NovAtel GPS receiver, and 360 degree camera equipment to create a digital map of the network.

LIDAR, NovAtel GPS receiver, and 360 degree camera equipment mounted to the front of P12

And was followed up by a ground penetrating radar system supplied by Zetica Rail to measure trackbed condition, including ballast depth, fouling and roughness.

Zetica Rail ground penetrating radar equipment fitted to the end of P15

Further reading

More photos