Refurbished 7007 at Southern Cross in
|Manufacturer||A Goninan & Co|
|Entered service||December 1993|
|Number in service||21|
|Operator(s)||V/Line, Metro Trains Melbourne|
|Car length||25.9 m (85 ft 0 in)|
|Width||2.92 m (9 ft 7 in)|
|Doors||4 plug doors|
|Maximum speed||130 km/h (81 mph)|
|Weight||51 t (50 long tons; 56 short tons)|
|Prime mover(s)||2 × Deutz BF8L513C|
|Power output||470 kW (630 hp)|
|Transmission||Voith T211RZ hydraulic|
|Braking system(s)||Davies and Metcalfe EBC/5 EP pneumatic disc|
|Coupling system||Scharfenberg coupler|
|Track gauge||1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)|
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. The tenders for the construction of the 22 railcars closed in November 1989.
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's 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 & testing
On 11 October 1991, the Federal Government announced the purchase of 22 Sprinters, built at a total cost of $65 million, of which the Federal 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 commenced in March 1993 with the final unit outshopped in January 1995. The first two units were fully fitted out at Goninan, with the other 20 units internally fitted out at the PTC North Bendigo workshops. All were transferred to Melbourne by rail on standard gauge transfer bogies.
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 DMUs. 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. 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.
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, one on each side of the car at each end. These doors are opened by a push button mounted beside them and closed by the driver, and are wide enough to permit the access of a standard wheelchair.
Each car is powered by two air-cooled Deutz turbocharged V8 diesel engines. Power is transferred via a Voith T211RZ hydraulic transmission. 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 couplers. This allows them to be coupled to other Sprinters to form a train as long as eight carriages.
Sprinter operation commenced in December 1993, with an official launch on the Ballarat corridor on 16 December 1993, with a special service running to Ballarat station and back, with the then Transport Minister, Alan Brown and other guests on board. A maximum speed of 143 km/h was achieved during this trip. They were launched on the Bendigo corridor on 17 March 1994, with a special service running to Bendigo station and back. The Sprinters were launched on the Geelong line on 1 September 1994, with a special service running to Geelong station, launching on the Seymour line on 14 December 1994, with a special service running to Seymour station, and finally launching on the Traralgon line on 16 June 1995, to coincide with the newly built Traralgon station.
For operation on the longer routes a portable buffet cart was trialled - the first such service since 1961, on the Horsham and Warrnambool lines. The cart was delivered to V/Line Passenger at Spencer Street Station on 12 August 1996, and its first use was on the 10:30am Melbourne to Bendigo and 1:20pm return service on the 15th of that month. By September 1996 the cart was in regular use between Seymour and Wodonga.
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 6.5 million passenger journeys in 1993/94 to 7.0 million in 1995/96.
In addition, they performed some longer trips to destinations such as Albury and Echuca, although this was not specially catered for in their designs and thus led to some concerns over amenities such as lack of catering.
Following the introduction of VLocity stock, Sprinters have been returned to short-haul duties. Since 2008 a pair have been hired to Metro Trains Melbourne to operate services on the Stony Point line with units periodically rotated.
Sprinters are used on lines including:
- North-East line to Seymour
- Gippsland line to Traralgon
- Bendigo line to Kyneton and Bendigo
- Geelong line to Geelong and Waurn Ponds
- Ballarat to Bacchus Marsh, Melton and Ballarat
- Stony Point line between Frankston and Stony Point, leased to and operated by Metro Trains Melbourne
The Sprinters were specifically designed to also run on the South Gippsland line to Leongatha and still includes the town on its list of V/Line routes. Although they never ran this service, these trains were tested along the line from Dandenong to Cranbourne for a short period of time after the Leongatha service was withdrawn on July 24, 1993 until the electrification of the line to Cranbourne was completed in March 1995.
Accidents and other problems
The Sprinter fleet had a number of teething problems, including failures to trigger level crossings, which led to their temporary removal from service on 9 January 1996 on all lines except the Bendigo line. They were also noted to have a high fault incidence mainly due to unreliable componentry and electrical circuitry.
Only three major accidents involving a Sprinter have been recorded – the first occurred on 20 November 1996 at the Spencer Street Rail Motor Depot when at around 17:30 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 assessment. 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 Melbourne on 12 July 1998. After being stored in the East Block of Newport Workshops it was later scrapped.
The second occurred on 15 November 2003. Sprinters 7003, 7004 & 7005 were on the 15:49 service to Ballarat when 7003 being the lead unit struck a vehicle stuck on the tracks between Ballan and Gordon. Over 60 people were injured with 7003 rolling on to its side and finishing in a ditch while 7004 & 7005 derailed. 7003 sustained significant damage to its driver compartment and side, 7005 to its driver compartment after striking 7003 as it jackknifed and 7004 sustained only minor damage. The Ballarat line was closed for three days for the clean up.
The third occurred on December 2, 2016 when 7012 caught fire at Seymour railway station while preparing to haul a passenger train to Melbourne at around 12:30pm. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
All but the last 3 Sprinters have been named after prominent Victorian sportspersons.
|7001||24 Mar 1993||20 Dec 1993||Sir Hubert Opperman|
|7002||16 Apr 1993||20 Dec 1993||Steve Moneghetti|
|7003||27 May 1993||8 Jan 1994||James Tomkins|
|7004||1 Jul 1993||8 Jan 1994||Nick Green|
|7005||6 Aug 1993||8 Feb 1994||Michael McKay|
|7006||3 Sep 1993||1 Mar 1994||Andrew Cooper|
|7007||29 Sep 1993||28 Mar 1994||Faith Leech|
|7008||27 Oct 1993||20 Jun 1994||Gary Ablett|
|7009||24 Nov 1993||15 Jul 1994||Bob Davis|
|7010||14 Jan 1994||19 Jul 1994||Andrew Gaze|
|7011||11 Feb 1994||24 Aug 1994||Raelene Boyle|
|7012||9 Mar 1994||1 Sep 1994||Roy Higgins|
|7013||20 Apr 1994||26 Oct 1994||Lionel Rose|
|7014||25 May 1994||24 Oct 1994||Kirstie Marshall|
|7015||6 Jul 1994||14 Nov 1994||Louise Dobson|
|7016||27 Jul 1994||28 Nov 1994||Michael Tuck|
|7017||17 Aug 1994||28 Dec 1994||Debbie Flintoff-King|
|7018||14 Sep 1994||7 Feb 1995||Bill Roycroft|
|7019||7 Oct 1994||1 Mar 1995||Danni Roche||Scrapped|
|7020||4 Nov 1994||5 May 1995|
|7021||16 Dec 1994||8 May 1995|
|7022||17 Feb 1995||17 Jun 1995|
On Track Models is producing HO Scale V/Line Sprinters. Models will be released in single or two-packs, with all liveries represented.
At time of writing, no ready-to-run N scale models of the V/Line Sprinter exist. Brimbank Models is currently developing an N Scale body designed to fit over a readily available Tomix mechanism.
- Lee, Robert (2007). The Railways of Victoria 1854-2004. Melbourne University Publishing. pp. 255, 257. ISBN 978-0-522-85134-2.
- Chris Banger (November 1997). "Sprinters". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society. p. 338.
- "General News". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society. December 1991. p. 396.
- Sprinter Railpage
- Sprinter Vicsig
- Newsrail February 1997 p.87
- 'High speed with Sprinter', Tracks Magazine (Railways of Australia Network)): pages 14-17. January, February, March 1992
- "Public transport reforms - Moving from a system to a service - Part 8: Efficiency of public transport". Victorian Auditor-General's Office (Australia). 1998-05-14.
- Ballan Vicsig
- Berry, Jamie; La Canna, Xavier (2003-11-17). "Two men charged over train accident". The Age. Melbourne.
- "New Look V/Line Fleet Takes to the". From the Minister for Public Transport. Government of Victoria. 12 September 2007. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
- Sprinter naming summary V/Line Cars
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