|The Cane Rail Network|
To enable Tully Sugar Mill to crush sugar cane at a constant rate of around 700t/hr, a consistent supply of freshly harvested cane is required. To achieve this aim reliably and efficiently, a well-constructed and maintained rail network is exclusively used. Where the cane growing area has expanded well beyond the existing rail network, semi-tippers are used to transport the cane from the farm to the nearest delivery siding, where it is then brought to the mill on the rail network.
The entire rail network consists of over 200km of mostly 60lb rail for the main line, as well as approximately 80km of track for delivery sidings and loops.
The rail network meanders throughout the picturesque Tully district to encompass the cane growing areas, and is in a continual state of upgrade and expansion.
The rolling stock used to carry the harvested cane to the mill are called “Bins”. They have a nominal capacity of 4 tonnes. In the Tully district, these “Bins” are all paired up to form one “Unit” of 8 tonne capacity. They are only separated for maintenance or repair. This increases efficiency and assists in maintaining high mill crush rates. There is also a growing fleet of 10 tonne bins being introduced into the system to replace the 4 tonne bins. There are approximately 1650 “Units” in service and these usually manage to carry an average of 8.3 – 8.5 tonnes each. In each day the Mill requires approximately 2100 loaded Units, so some Units are loaded twice in a day.
To haul the rolling stock Tully Sugar Mill currently has a fleet of 15 Locomotives.
Of these there are six 40 tonne DH (Diesel Hydraulic) locomotives and six 18 tonne Com-Eng locos which are usually paired up as three “double-headers” and two 18 tonne Com-Eng locos that are not paired up. The double-headers are used to greatly improve tractive power and increase hauling capacity. In addition to this there are three 8 tonne Baldwin locomotives used for maintenance and repair work to the rail network.
On dayshift during the season there are 9 locomotives in service. During the night there are between 5 and 7 operating.