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New Narrow Gauge Wabtec Locomotives for Western Australia

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New Narrow Gauge Wabtec Locomotives for Western Australia
Posted by M636C on Saturday, July 1, 2023 7:42 AM

CBH (Cooperative Bulk Handling) a grower controlled organisation operates the grain trains in Western Australia. They currently have 25 Motive Power (Boise) CM27C and CM33C Locomotives, all CM27C units on narrow (3'6") gauge and CM 33C units on both gauges. They currently have 572 grain hoppers on both gauges.

CBH have decided upon a dramatic expansion and are purchasing 7 new standard gauge locomotives and have just announced an order with Wabtec for 17 new locomotives from Wabtec. They are also buying 200 SG grain hoppers and 450 NG hoppers from CRRC China. This pretty much doubles the fleet size.

These are not a continuation of the Cummins engined MP series but are model CM20ACi units with 7FDL-8 engines. They are also AC traction. It is expected that these will be externally similar to the CM20EMP type provided to Indonesia as type CC206, but are of course AC traction rather than DC.

The last GE USA locomotives built new for narrow gauge in Australia were ten 1200HP units built for Queensland with FVBL-12 engines in November 1952.

The new units will be less powerful and lighter than the existing MP27C units, although with AC traction they may be able to haul the same loads. This might not be a big disadvantage. While stopped in the terminal station of Miling on a wet day, an MP27C managed to fall onto its side on the unballasted track. It was revered easily and quickly but the track repairs probably took longer.

Interestingly, the standard gauge locomotives were ordered from Progress, possibly because Wabtec don't have an existing design for Australian conditions.

Peter

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, July 1, 2023 11:22 AM

Railfan son in law in Sydney has 2 views of the narrow guage arguments.  He does like NG preservation movement but cannot understand desires to have NG main line interconnections or worse the use of dual guage tracks.

IMO changing out NG sleepers a major problem but start now just replacing worn out sleeepers with longer ones.  Concrete ties made for both guages.  There is the question would sleepers ends need ballast underneath to prevent breakage?  That could be a major expense.

EDIT:  What are the standard Australian sleeper lengths for each of the guages?

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Posted by M636C on Saturday, July 1, 2023 10:34 PM

blue streak 1

Railfan son in law in Sydney has 2 views of the narrow guage arguments.  He does like NG preservation movement but cannot understand desires to have NG main line interconnections or worse the use of dual guage tracks.

IMO changing out NG sleepers a major problem but start now just replacing worn out sleeepers with longer ones.  Concrete ties made for both guages.  There is the question would sleepers ends need ballast underneath to prevent breakage?  That could be a major expense.

EDIT:  What are the standard Australian sleeper lengths for each of the guages?

 

I probably should have further explained the use of two gauges in Western Australia. Firstly, Western Australia is big. It is around the size of the Western 1/3 of the Continental United States, but has smaller mountains but possibly bigger deserts.

Here is a map of the southern half of Western Australia showing the railway gauges:

ARC_Map_Network (arcinfra.com)

I'm viewing this on a 24" monitor and the lettering is still a bit small. Also remember that the Pilbara standard gauge iron ore lines have an extensive network, all of which is north of, and hundreds of miles from the network on this map.

I also attach a documentary about Western Australia from the 1950s. Apart from the standard gauge line to Kalgoorlie in the east of the state, the trains shown are all narrow gauge and all steam. They don't still mine blue asbestos, and the name of the town has been removed from the map to stop people trying to visit.

The Wide West - YouTube

Standard gauge came to Western Australia in 1965 or so, both the mining railways in the Pilbara and the new line connecting Perth to Kalgoorlie which was open by 1967, and the connection in South Australia to the East Coast was opened in January 1970, linking Sydney on the East Coast to Perth on the West Coast.

The dual gauge line from Kwinana to Northam was built in a new alignment following the Swan and Avon rivers, replacing a steeply graded narrow gauge line which required helper locomotives on all freight trains. It connected the major narrow gauge grain lines to Perth and the grain export terminal at Kwinana.

I honestly don't know the dimensions of sleepers (ties) on each gauge. I think the difference is less than 12", the difference in gauge being 1' 2-1/2". Most dual gage these days had concrete sleepers with Pandrol style clip fasteners.

A large section of the Narngulu to Mullewa line was recontructed around 2016 and this was in fact constructed to standard gauge on dual gauge sleepers in order to use available construction trains and track machines, then converted back to narrow gauge for service. It can of course be converted back to standard gauge just as easily if the operatord decides to use SG trains. The grade crossings have rails laid to both gauges to ease conversion.

But as you can see from the map, there are extensive grain lines, some of which are closed but still able to be reopened if demand increases. With CBH doubling their fleet some of these lines might be reopened.

So far the cost of converting these lines to standard gauge has not seen to be justified, but largely because the dual gauge trunk line allows the grain trains to run to the port along the same tracks as the interstate intermodal trains.

Just viewing the map, the narrow gauge lines out of Merriden might have remained open if the line from Northam to Merriden had been dual gauge. These lines were still open in 2008 when I visited Merriden.

I hope this answers some of your questions.

Incidentally, the MP locomotives owned by CBH all used a common body shell, quite large by narrow gauge standards. The MP27C used the Cummins QSK60 V-16 engine of 2700 HP and the MP33C used a Cummins QSK78 V-18 of 3300HP (both gross ratings). These are smaller engines in the same family as the QSK95 used in the Siemens Charger locomotives.

Peter

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Posted by kgbw49 on Sunday, July 2, 2023 12:16 AM

Here is the Wabtec press release:

https://www.wabteccorp.com/newsroom/press-releases/cbh-acquires-narrow-gauge-locomotives-from-wabtec

Here is the information page on the C20ACi from which Wabtec will be developing a dual-cab version for this order:

https://www.wabteccorp.com/locomotive/light-weight-locomotives/c20aci-locomotive

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Posted by M636C on Sunday, July 2, 2023 12:41 AM

kgbw49

Here is the Wabtec press release:

https://www.wabteccorp.com/newsroom/press-releases/cbh-acquires-narrow-gauge-locomotives-from-wabtec

Here is the information page on the C20ACi from which Eabtec will be developing a dual-cab version for this order:

https://www.wabteccorp.com/locomotive/light-weight-locomotives/c20aci-locomotive

 

The most recent locomotive design with two cabs from GE or Wabtec is the CM20EMP. I would expect that the CM20ACi  would use much of the CM20EMP design with the AC equipment substituted for the DC gear. The cabs and hood could be taller but GE tended to use standard bodywork on their export units regardless of the available loading gauge.

GE CM20EMP - Wikipedia

Peter

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Posted by M636C on Tuesday, July 4, 2023 11:01 PM

This video shows trains around Geraldton in 2017. I was there at the time and met John Phillips while he was taking these videos.

Sadly the video doesn't clearly show any of the sections using dual gauge sleepers (ties) mentioned earlier. It does show the heavy iron ore trains and the condition of the track generally. There are good shots of a current CBH grain train, hauled by two of the MP27C locomotives. These are the two tone blue locomotives, easily recognised.

Trains around Geraldton West Australia 2017 - YouTube

Peter

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