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The Sprinter is a high speed diesel railcar train manufactured by Goninan for use on interurban and semi-regional rail services in Victoriamarker, Australia. Their introduction allowed the acceleration of timetables and increase of service frequency on a number of lines, contributing to a growth in patronage for operator V/Line.

Design origins

The Sprinter concept dates back to 1989 when the Public Transport Corporation, having seen a substantial increase in patronage and reduction in costs following the introduction of faster, more frequent services as part of the 'New Deal' for Country Passengers program of the 1980s, required additional train capacity to meet demand.

At the time they were designed to supplement locomotive-hauled H type carriage sets on shorter runs (such as on the outer suburban Melton and Sunbury lines, as well as the interurban Geelong and Seymour lines) and thus provide faster and more frequent service to Melbourne'smarker fringe areas, and indirectly (primarily by freeing up other rollingstock) to more distant regions. Their introduction also enabled the retirement of the four DRC railcars from service.

In keeping with their intended operation, they feature high-capacity single-class seating and a single-car railmotor design over a multiple unit design, allowing a large number of passengers to be carried with greatly reduced operating costs and increased flexibility.

Manufacturing and testing

The Sprinters were built at a total cost of $65 million, of which the Commonwealth Government provided $24 million through its Better Cities program.

Twenty-two single-car stainless-steel-body railcars were ordered from A. Goninan & Co, Broadmeadow, for introduction to service between 1993 and 1995. Construction started in March 1993 and the final unit was outshopped in January 1995, with all units being transferred to Melbourne by rail on standard gauge transfer bogies.

The units then underwent acceptance testing across the network, with 7001 entering service on December 20, 1993 followed by subsequent units at around 1 or 2 per month. The order was completed with 7022's entry to service on June 17, 1995.

Passenger experience

Sprinters feature a mix of 3x2 and 2x2 economy seats arranged so that half of them face the direction of travel at any one time. Reflecting the nature of the sets and their intended use, these seats are slightly smaller than the seats found in H and N sets and VLocity DMU. They are finished in blue patterned cloth.

The cars are also fitted with a toilet and drinking fountains. Provision is made at one end of each carriage for one wheelchair and occupant to be carried - when this space is not needed able-bodied passengers may make use of the three wall-mounted fold-down seats. The toilet has a wide door and grab bars for use by disabled passengers.

While the capacity exists for several units to be coupled in service, passengers may not under normal circumstances move between coupled cars. A door is however provided, along with a detraining ladder, at the end of each car in case emergency egress is required. Conductors transfer between coupled cars at station stops when necessary, including for checking tickets.

Passenger luggage can be carried in the overhead racks, between the backs of seats, or in the luggage/bicycle storage area usually found at the Melbourne end of the carriage.

Ordinary access to the car is via four automatic plug doors, two on each side of the car and one at either end. These doors are controlled by the driver, and are wide enough to permit the access of a standard wheelchair.

Technical

Each car is powered by two air-cooled Deutz turbocharged V8 diesel engines, each rated at 235 kW at 2300 rpm, giving total power of 470 kW (approximately 630 hp) for traction and auxiliaries. These propel the car to a maximum speed of and also provide power for air-conditioning and other such passenger comfort devices. Power is transferred via a Voith T211RZ hydraulic transmission. With a tare weight of approximately 51 tonnes (nominal), each vehicle(without passengers) has a power/weight ratio of 9.2 kW/tonne or 12.4 hp/tonne –reasonably high by rail traction standards.

Sprinters use a Davies and Metcalfe EBC/5 EP anti-slide pneumatic disc brake system.

To facilitate use in multiple-unit formations, they are fitted with Scharfenberg-type couplers. This allows them to be coupled to up to seven other Sprinters to form an 8-car train. In case of emergency, such as a breakdown, they can be towed by other vehicles with such couplers (primarily VLocity DMUs), or a transition coupler can be fitted to allow coupling to locomotives with knuckle couplers.

Service

Sprinter services started in with 7001’s ("Sir Hubert Opperman") introduction in December 1993 and were progressively rolled out across the network, operating to interurban destinations such as Warragul and Kyneton, along with outer suburban destinations like Craigieburnmarker and Sunbury.

Sprinters were the first Victorian passenger trains to run at 130 km/h, and enabled acceleration of some services by up to 15 minutes. Furthermore, their relatively low operating costs allowed for an increase in service frequency on the Ballarat and Bendigo lines. These improved services contributed to an increase in V/line patronage from 6,516,000 passenger journeys in 1993-94 to 7,016,000 in 1995-96.

In addition, they performed some longer trips to destinations such as Alburymarker and Echuca, although this was not specially catered for in their designs and thus lead to some concerns over amenities – locomotive hauled N sets, currently used for Albury services, are fitted with buffets.

Due to the introduction of VLocity stock Sprinters have been returned to short-haul duties. They are particularly rostered for low-patronage services, freeing up VLocity units for service elsewhere.

Sprinters are used on lines including:

Accidents and other problems

The Sprinter fleet had a number of initial teething problems, including failures to trigger boom gates which led to their temporary removal from service shortly after initial introduction. They were also noted to have a high fault incidence mainly due to unreliable componentry and electrical circuitry.

Only one major accident involving a Sprinter has been recorded – this occurred on 20 November 1996 at the Spencer Street Rail Motor Depot.At around 1730 Sprinters 7010+7008 shunted out from the platforms at low speed after disembarking passengers from an up service. The cars were to run into the sidings at the Rail Motor Depot, but when the driver got up to adjust the offside rear-vision mirror he was locked out of the cab by the self-closing door. Unable to regain control of the vehicle, the train proceeded to collide with stabled Sprinters 7019+7016.

Despite being the aggressor, 7010’s damage was mostly superficial, consisting of broken windows and bent side panelling. 7019 came off much worse; with a buckled frame, the No. 2 cab bent downwards nearly 30 degrees at the saloon doors. The coupler was never recovered. Both trailing Sprinters received little damage.

After the accident investigation was concluded in April 1997, both Sprinters were hauled to Goninan’s Bendigo Workshops for evaluation. 7010 returned to service in 1998, but it was decided that repairing 7019 would be too costly and so the car was written off. Its interior was gutted before the car was hauled back to Melbournemarker on 12 July 1998. The car is now stored in the East Block of Newport Workshops.

Refurbishment

Since 2007 the Sprinter fleet have been undergoing a refurbishment program. The first, 7007 was the first unit and re-entered service on 12 September 2007 with a new livery and some internal changes. The second, 7002, returned on 27 November 2007 wearing a new variant of the livery. Refurbishment of the remainder of the fleet was to be completed by the end of 2008, but as of March 2009 only ten of the 21 cars have re-entered service.

Gallery

Image:Vline-sprinter.jpg|Sprinter 7009 leading two others in original V/Line Passenger liveryImage:D2 10228E1R1 7004wallan.jpg|Sprinter 7004 stops at Wallan on an up Seymour serviceImage:Refurbished Sprinter 7022.JPG|Sprinter 7022 in the yard at Southern Cross

References

  1. Lee, p.257
  2. MINISTER FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT: "NEW LOOK V/LINE FLEET TAKES TO THE TRACKS" - September 12, 2007
  3. VICSIG - Railmotors(Retrieved 2009-03-10).


External links

  1. V/LineCars.com information page (Unofficial)
  2. V/LineCars.com Sprinter destinations page
  3. Vicsig.net information page (Unofficial)



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