RD December 2019 Blurb
The Goonyella Coal Network
The first railway to serve coal deposits west of Mackay in Queensland’s huge Bowen Basin, covering an area of over 60,000 square kilometres and containing the largest coal reserves in Australia, was officially opened by Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck on 5 November 1971. The railway linked a new export shipping terminal at Hay Point to Goonyella coal mine – joining two locations almost unknown at that time. However, within a few decades the word “Goonyella“ would become synonymous with one of the world’s largest and most heavily-trafficked coal carrying rail networks. John Hoyle takes a detailed look at a system that, today, comprises a total of 1,021.3 track kilometres with 182.773 kilometres of double track, hosting trains that typically consist of 126 hopper wagons hauled by three 4000 kW locomotives.
Faster rail for the NSW Western Main Line
The three main lines out of Sydney, Northern, Southern and Western, and the South Coast line, all have alignment problems. These are exemplified by an excess of curvature, created in the early 1900’s in order to get easier grades for the then small-wheeled steam locomotives. Of these routes, the Western line has always been a bit of an orphan. Crossing the Blue Mountains, where severe gradients and curvature were unavoidable, there followed around 250 km of rolling country that was not conducive to good alignment. As a result, Western passenger trains have always been slower than those on other mainlines. Philip Laird and Max Michell examine some upgrading options for that part of the NSW Main Western line between Lithgow to Orange.