CityRail and the proposed job cuts


Let me preface this by saying I am not an expert in these matters, and nor do I claim to be – I am just a regular commuter who happens to be a train enthusiast also. The following is just my opinion on issues relating to CityRail following reading this article on the SMH.

I suggest reading the article first.

So CityRail is bleeding money at an astonishing rate – I don’t think that will come as a great surprise to anyone familiar with them. The Libs recognise this and want to do something about it – this is good. What is bad is the way they want to do something about it – it is the typical knee jerk reaction of “jobs must go” without analysing the underlying causes of the issue.

That said, some fat can most likely be cut from the staffing also, but not necessarily where the Libs want to cut from. Now, if the article is to be believed (and let’s face it – the Australian media are about as reliable and accurate as CityRail is efficient and cost effective), in the last financial year CityRail employed 40 managers at over $240,000 a piece – that’s close to $10m per annum right there, and I imagine no one really knows what they do. Reports abound of layers of management, who only manage other managers … seriously something that needs to be looked at. Another item is the cited growth in staff numbers over the last seven years, but where are they? I don’t see them on the trains or at the stations.


But of course the Libs’ main focus IS on the front line staff – the people who directly work to get you to and from work every day. The guards have been in a tentative position since the design of the Waratah, with no middle cabs, and cameras to monitor the doors. Within the community it was recognised this would be a step towards Driver Only Operation. But I ask you, do you as a commuter want only one staff member on the train, distracted by monitoring the cameras when they are trying to focus on driving? In case of emergency if you are at the back, and the only person to help you is at the other end, what happens? If something happens to the driver, such as the heart attack that caused the Waterfall tradegy a number of years back, who is there to help you? And for those in wheelchairs, who helps them on and off the train at short platforms where the driver’s cabin is past the platform?

That last point may not sound like an issue when there are station staff to help, but most stations with shorter platforms are those with lower patronage, and therefore are the next target of the Libs. Again I do not like the idea of cuts in this area – imagine sitting in a remote, unattended station late at night when someone threatening approaches – it happened to me a number of years back at Arncliffe which isn’t even remote, where someone blocking the only exit was yelling abuse at me with no provocation, excepting that my skin colour was different to his. Ok so stations have help points, but by the time someone actually gets to the station to help you it may be too late.

That said, some station staff can probably be cut, but not at the small stations. There is one larger station (which will remain unnamed) that most times I pass through have staff that sit around chatting to each other – it is clearly overstaffed, and I am sure there are other examples. These stations should be the focus rather than the smaller ones, as having unattended stations is a security issue for passengers.


So, if we aren’t going to touch much in the way of front line staff, it’s back to head office, and back to unnecessary layers of management. But that is not the only area savings can be made. Judging by the regularity of anti-corruption roles advertised, I think it is safe to assume corruption is a bit of a problem, but at least they seem to be trying to deal with it – how much I wonder is lost each year though to corruption alone? And then there is trackwork – the work itself needs doing to ensure the ongoing reliability and safety of the network, and staff are needed to do it, but I wonder when equipment is hired from outside do they take into consideration the length it is required for? For a two day shutdown, do they hire for four days (allowing a day either side to get the equipment to and from the site), or do they hire it for a week? Is there equipment hired every week where the cost of hire is greater than the long term cost of buying outright? I think this sort of thing needs to be audited to ensure no wastage.

Another clear, and costly area of wastage is the government itself – well the previous government, but I doubt this one will be much different. The highlight of this was the Millenium Train debacle – ordered in three tranches. When the first tranche started coming into service, they were rushed in I suspect for political purposes as they were already a couple of years late. Being rushed into service meant the bugs hadn’t been ironed out yet, and there were very well publicised failures – the most memorable probably being one set blocking Milsons Point during peak hour because a set of doors wouldn’t close properly. This was entirely avoidable, and at least CityRail seemed to have learned their lesson by phasing in the OSCars and Waratahs more sensibly. BUT, whilst the government did go ahead with the second tranche, they cancelled the third even though by this point the Milleniums were reportedly proving to be the most reliable in the fleet – the only justifiable reason for cancelling the third tranche was that the government had already had to bail out the project, but after investing so much money already the real reason was more likely political, as they had bad publicity at the start.

So, a few years later, and we need more trains – OSCars are coming in but aren’t configured for suburban work, so the government put out a new tender – the tender goes to Downer EDI who built the Milleniums, but instead of ordering more of the same (and I will say it again – reportedly the most reliable in the fleet) where all the R&D is done, they insist on a totally new design adding who knows how much to the cost of the project. A different fleet also means less sharing of parts adding to the ongoing maintainence costs. As the Waratahs start to come on line, there are reports of another bailout being required … is it Downer EDI that’s the problem here, as I don’t recall hearing this sort of thing regarding the OSCars (built by UGL)? My favourite part of this article is that (in reference to the government becoming the sole shareholder) “Sources said the Treasurer, Mike Baird, was expected to sell the negotiated deal as ”an investment” for taxpayers because there would be an immediate return on the money from 2018 through a 30-year train maintenance contract Reliance has already signed with RailCorp.” – so even the Libs are into creative accounting as technically they will be paying themselves – I don’t see any investment for there. So, Libs, the ball is in your court to ensure future rolling stock purchases are properly scoped out, that the manufacturer doesn’t have a history of requiring bailouts (a shame, as I like the Millenium’s build quality over anything else in the fleet), and that excessive requirements and changes aren’t put on the manufacturer when an existing design is proven.


You can add to this sort of thing the previous government wasting tens of millions of dollars on a study to say what every man and his dog could have told you – that a metro from the CBD to Rozelle wouldn’t work, and wanting to later extend it through an area where the most populated areas couldn’t have stations due to agreements signed with operators of pieces of motorway.

However, assuming all these issues can be addressed, then if the article is to be believed, I expect that CityRail would still be running at a large loss. Some of it could be recouped through small increases in ticket prices, but I think we are already close to the point where price increases will drive people away, meaning that overall income may even decrease. But this brings me to my final point:

CityRail is a service, not a business.

Yes, there are aspects of big business that can be carried over to services such as CityRail, but you need to to remember what it is there for in the first place – in this case to get passengers from A to B safely, quickly, and relatively comfortably. As a side note I might add I am a passenger, not a customer – passengers are by default also customers, but the very fact the CityRail call us customers now shows they have forgotten the service they are there to provide.

As much as they need to cut costs, I think over the longer term CityRail will never break even let alone be profitable – the sizeable, aging fleet (though the Waratahs will help there), combined with a vast network with poor alignments and slow travel times will always ensure that. Add to that the Sydney/New South Welsh mentality that a journey must not involve interchanges, and the expectations that “Intercity” rolling stock must be maximum comfort at a low ticket price, and they are screwed.

There needs to be more investment in infrastructure also to increase capacity and draw in more passengers, such as a second city/harbour crossing and extending the line from North Sydney out Manly way, but of course it is cheaper to run buses so that will never happen.

A possible solution is not privatisation, but to nonetheless get a third party in (most probably from overseas) that knows how to run a large network like this efficiently.

CityRail Waratah

I finally got to ride on a Waratah tonight (set A5, car N5405), and I must say I wasn’t impressed. The key issue I had was sideways wobble – it was significantly worse than a Tangara even, and I was feeling a little motion sick by the end – I didn’t even realise the track was so rough around Petersham until today. I take it the suspension is different to the Milleniums, and perhaps a single cushion. Aside from that the seats were extremely hard (harder than I ever remember the M bug’s seats being when first introduced), and the stairway handrails are thin which would be uncomfortable if you had to stand for a long trip.

The quality of the fitout seemed ok though, and the motion of the seats was very nice. The automated announcements were rather quiet and were often drowned out by background noise, but I expect this is a simple setting. The interior seemed to be modernised just for the sake of modernising it, when the M bug interiors are still fine. Unfortunately they are just as subject to vandals as any other train, with the windows being scratched up already.

Overall verdict – they should have stuck to the proven Millenium design, and really need to do something about the sideways wobble.


Lower Hunter Valley – 2 January 2012


This gallery contains 1 photo.

Being a public holiday, when a friend (raichase), suggested we head to the Hunter Valley for some rail photography, I thought “why not?” – I got a leave pass from the missus, and off we went. Sadly though the public … Continue reading

KiwiRail (plus added Taieri Gorge Railway) October 2011


This gallery contains 1 photo.

Time for lots (and I mean lots) of rail photos from New Zealand – most taken around Dunedin/Port Chalmers, expect where noted. The lighting wasn’t good on a lot of them, so there’s been some post-processing. I must say it … Continue reading

Spoiled for choice – NSW Spoil Wagons – part ten – noted wagon codes / modelling recap

Updated 30 October 2012

I am restructuring this page as a detailed summary of all known RailCorp spoil wagons. Once complete, the old posts will be removed, and this republished.

I hope to have one representative photo of each wagon, with links to more photos I have uploaded on Flickr.

Wagon code check letters are not always visible, legible, or even present, but I’ve filled what I can.

NACF (former NDSF)
A former NDSF side tipper with the sides welded shut, and the lifting gear removed – I am only aware of the one conversion at this stage.

– 1470B

Modelling: No model that I am aware of – scratchbuild.

More photos

Formerly a BD/NOAF open wagon, the NDBF has a shortened open section to allow end decks – this means whereever it is in the consist, it allows passage from one side of the train to the other. It can also be used as a shunter’s float, and is typically seen at the ends of the consist (occasionally around the middle also).

You can see in some photos signs for the “Emergency Brake Release Valve” – a friend has advised that these wagons are also fitted with a very primitive brake valve for the use of the person controlling the propelling movement … basically it’s just a standard ball cock valve mounted up on the handrails.

All the below have long decks, unless otherwise noted.
– 2067C
– 2071C
– 2075P
2081K (two large ribbed panels on one side now replaced by flat panels)
– 2083E?
2542W (rebuilt – all side panels flat)

Modelling: Richmond Line Models NDBF, or kitbash Silvermaz BD/NOAF.

More photos

The NDCF I understand to be converted from GP/NOHF concentrate wagons, and at one stage I believe were all painted yellow. Recently however they are being repainted in bright orange.

1609A (noted as yellow 13/10/2012)
– 1615S (different fabricated ends) (last noted as yellow 13/10/2012)
– 2091K (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 2096C (now orange)
– 2098E (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 2103J (last noted as yellow 25/08/2012)
– 2503Y (pressed ends) (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
2506S (last noted as yellow 13/10/2012)
2507E (last noted as yellow 13/10/2012)
– 2524Q (last noted as yellow 13/10/2012)
– 2761U (last noted as yellow 25/08/2012)
– 2936B (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)

Modelling: Kitbash Silvermaz GP/NOHF.

NDCH (type one – ex NOBX)
More photos

Formerly common, but now harder to find are the rusty old NDCHs that originate from NOBX open wagons.

The majority seem to be rib-sided with flat panels where the doors used to be, however there is at least one with all flat panels. There is a mixture in the ends also – I believe the flat paneled wagon(s) have flat ends, where the rib-sided ones have either pressed or corrugated ends – some have one of each.

1610E (ribbed ends)
2063M (ribbed ends) (last noted as rust brown 13/10/2012)
2074G (one ribbed end, one pressed end)
2526T (ribbed ends) (last noted as rust brown 13/10/2012)
– 2751
2754Q (one ribbed end, one pressed end)
–Β 2760L (pressed ends)

Modelling: Plain-sided, IDR Castings NDCH. Rib-sided, kitbash AR Kits BDX/NOBX or IDR Castings NDCH.

NDCH (type two – ex NOGF/NOGX)
More photos

The second type of NCDH is easily distinguished by it’s different underframe, and that they all have flat panels the whole length of the wagon. The origins of this wagon appear to be NOGF and NOGX (HGM/HGX) wagons based on information on the Comrails website. It also mentions NOAF (BD) wagons, but I believe these to have been recoded NDNF (see below).

1613X (pressed ends, two codeboards each side) (last noted as rust brown 13/10/2012)
– 2101Y?
2502N (pressed ends) (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 2528R? (fabricated ends) (noted as rust brown 25/08/2012)
2534J? (codeboards mostly illegible – one pressed end, one NDCF style end) (last noted as rust brown 13/10/2012)
2545D (pressed ends) (last noted as rust brown 13/10/2012)
2769A (fabricated ends) (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)

Modelling: Kitbash Silvermaz HGM/HGX/NOGF/NOGX.

More photos

Whilst I have seen Louvre Vans such as the NLGX mentioned as the origin of the NDMX, some research and debate has led me back to the NOBX open wagon. See Railpage for details.

They were easily distinguished from other spoil wagons in that they were the only ones painted blue, however they are rapidly being repainted bright orange, and I haven’t seen a blue NDMX for a while.

– 1801V (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 1802H (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
1804C (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 1805L (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 1808P (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
1809B (first noted as orange 13/08/2011)
– 1810U (last noted as blue 13/08/2011) (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 1811G (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 1812L (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 1813B (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 1815T (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
1816F (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
– 1817Y? (first noted as orange 13/10/2012)
1819J (first noted as orange 13/08/2011)
– 1820F (first noted as orange 25/08/2012)

Modelling: Kitbash IDR Castings NDCH, or use bases from AR Kits NOBX.

More photos

Similar to the NDBF, the NDNF is also a former BD/NOAF wagon, but with the full length being open (ie no end decks). Note most have partially corrugated sides and pressed ends, however NDNF 2637N has completely flat side panels, and NDNF 2536E had one pressed end, and one corrugated end.

1604J (flat panels one side, though one reenforced – ribbed ends) (last noted as rust brown 13/10/2012)
– 2066Q?
– 2531?
2536E (pressed ends) (last noted as rust brown 13/10/2012)
–Β 2537N (flat panelled)

Modelling: Kitbash Silvermaz BD/NOAF.

More photos

The NDQF container wagons are usually seen these days carrying spoil bins. They, along with the NQJX have also been leased out to private operators in the past, to be used as normal container wagons (for example Silverton trip trains).

I understand that these wagons are former NDXF concrete sleeper wagons (some of which are now NDYF concrete sleeper wagons), which in turn are cut down NOBX open wagons.

– 1608K
– 2050L
– 2089B
– 2623K
– 2627A
– 2636W
– 2666A
– 2685H
– 2756W
– 2773L

Modelling: No model that I am aware of – scratchbuild, possibly using an NOBX as reference for measurements.

NDSF (type one – reinforced panels)
More photos

The NDSF is a side-dumping wagon, generally used to deliver ballast, but sees occasional use on spoil trains. It comes in two types distinguished by how much angular support the sides have.
Some useful info, pictures, and line drawings can be found on Railpage.

1470 (now NACF 1470B)
1482L (noted still yellow 27/10/12)
1483V (noted orange 27/10/12)
– 1484H

Modelling: No model that I am aware of – scratchbuild.

NDSF (type two – flat panels)
The NDSF is a side-dumping wagon, generally used to deliver ballast, but sees occasional use on spoil trains. It comes in two types distinguished by how much angular support the sides have.
Some useful info, pictures, and line drawings can be found on Railpage.

– 1476R
– 1477
– 1479V
– 1480

Modelling: No model that I am aware of – scratchbuild.

More photos

Ten NDVF container wagons were built in 2005 by UGL at the Goulburn Rolling Stock & Fabrication Centre, and they are a complete new build.

– 4080Q
– 4081C
– 4084G
– 4085P
– 4089F

Modelling: No model that I am aware of – scratchbuild.

Another side-dumping wagon used mainly for delivering new ballast, the NHSF do see occasional use on spoil trains.
Again some useful info and pictures can be found on Railpage.

– 1460J
– 1462E
– 1463N
– 1464W
–Β 1466R

Modelling: No model that I am aware of – scratchbuild. American style Difco side dumpers are similar however.

More photos

A more recent wagon type is the NQAF. This is an unusual wagon, which are former NLJF “jewellery vans”, which in turn are former NLHX lourve vans. RailCorp had four of these jewellery vans, which travel at the end of concrete sleeper rakes, and have seats and equipment below floor level to allow pandrol clips to be placed on to newly laid track, but I have only ever seen NLJF 2072K in service. The other three (2071, 2073, and 2074) have since been cut down and converted into NQAF container wagons.


Modelling: No model that I am aware of – scratchbuild, or heavy kitbash of AR Kits or On Track Models HLX/NLHX louvre van.

More photos

The NQJX container wagons are usually seen these days carrying spoil bins. They, along with the NDQF have also been leased out to private operators in the past, to be used as normal container wagons (for example Silverton trip trains).

These wagons are cut down NOBX open wagons. The possible exception is NQJX 10101L, which the NSW Rollingstock site reports came from an unknown louvre van, though it doesn’t have the characteristic louvre van ends, and the code boards show the same weight, capacity, and only a minor difference in length between 10101L and the other NQJX wagons (14.9m vs 14.96m). It is probable that NQJX 10101L is also a former NOBX.

– 10102U
– 10105B
– 10107T
–Β 10108F
10109Y (missing code board on one side 23/10/2012 – spray painted number)
– 10110K
– 10112F
– 10113Y
– 10115J
– 10116S
– 10117E
– 10120S
–Β 10121E

Modelling: Hanovale or Scaleways NQJX, if either is available. Otherwise scratchbuild using an NOBX as reference for measurements.

I wish to thank Chris Jones for helping me fill in some gaps, the NSW Rollingstock website, the Comrails website for providing leads on the origins of some wagons, and those on Railpage that were able to provide information also.

Spoiled for choice – NSW Spoil Wagons – part nine – NHSF


This gallery contains 12 photos.

Last in the series is the NHSF, another side dumper – again some useful info and pics can be found at No model is available that I know of, though an Amercian Difco side-dumper could probably be kit-bashed into … Continue reading

Spoiled for choice – NSW Spoil Wagons – part six – NDMX


This gallery contains 12 photos.

Whilst I have seen Louvre Vans such as the NLGX mentioned as the origin of the NDMX, some research and debate has led me back to the NOBX open wagon. See for details. They were easily distinguished from other … Continue reading