Someone mentioned timings for day & night services & whether or not people will travel dependant on arrival times etc. When looking at that, lets not forget the timings of the old Aurora, given the load it hauled with a couple of 44's ex Sydney, stopping at Goulburn & Junee, Crew changes, & loco change at Albury, it still ran a 13 hour go to woe service at max speed of 115 Km/h. What is the current TT for the down XPT, & stopping patterns to compare with the Aurora?
The current run is about 11 hours for the Melbourne XPT - 11:13 for the morning down train and 10:55 for the down night train.
The XPT is lets not forget a 160Km/h capable train a fair deal faster than the old, it also has a better acceleration/deceleration ability & better brakes as well, as the old Aurora had special speed boards for it based on the position of distant signals, to allow a safe margin to enable the train to be controlled & brought to a stand at a home signal in case it was at stop, as it could be if the distant was at caution.
In theory. It hasn't been able to run that fast for a while, I believe.
Given that for some time the Aurora was also pushed to the business traveller with in city arrival & depatures time to get to meetings etc & arrive refreshed after nights travel it worked for some time, & lets not forget decent meals on board & the dining car was open from 6.00pm for travellers & guests, with 8pm departure & 915 arrivals. The 8pm departure was no issue, the problem however was that its arrival would sit right on the outer edge of the morning peaks, a disadvantage for todays rail operators & governments.
Unfortunately, it's true that to time the arrival nicely with an XPT-style train, it has to arrive just before or during morning peak. Working on 11-hour runs, I estimated that an 8:30pm departure would give a 7:30am arrival. Would that be too early to arrive?
I know there are
in fact people who do
use the current overnight Melbourne XPT for the trip down, so they can get some good rest before working in Melbourne for the day, then fly back to Sydney.
The reality is that the XPT is no longer able to do the running it was designed to do, not because of the trains inability to do so but for the following reasons.
1: Track condition. No matter which way anyone looks at it, the track today is in far worse condition than it used to be, & the XPT is affectivelly throttled because of it, just as every other train is as well. This not just applies to the Southern line but to each of the main lines it runs over.
Sadly, and since the chance of it being fixed by the feds isn't the best, we don't need to plan big speed.
2: Actual speed boards. When the XPT came into service owing to the various problems with it, & that was the overheating issues & inability to run as desired, the TT's were altered as were the speed boards across the board in areas that they ran, owing to them being not that much faster than the loco hauled trains of the time. What happened that almost every old speed board applicable to a locomotive hauled train that was below 90Km/h was reduced in speed by an average of 10Km/h with the XPT boards also reduced to the same speed or a mere 5Km/h over the older loco boards under 80Km/h. A consequence was that the ordinary loco hauled trains ended up being slowed down & the timetables extended.
How did this affect the XPT?
3: Interstate or Country service requirements. The XPT when it came out was meant as a means to revitalise Rural rail transport, in other words it was meant to run to the major inland cities & replace existing daylight servives to & from them. In other words they were meant to be the old daylight express in updated convenience & speed, but perhaps they are better said to be in drag.
When they started running interstate & this is leaving a big gap in their saga, especially with the need to run overnight on the Melbourn & Brisbane services, they were not just meant to be interstate trains such as the Aurora/SOP & Brisbane Limited but also replacements for the almost all stations Mail train services. The reasoning being of course giving rural services a boost to run to all locations, & be everything to everyone. A big mistake, as it really does not meet those needs adequately.
Yes, there's a slight problem in that one. The original concept of the XPT also included shorter trains that had a driving trailer at the other end instead of a second power car. This would have made shorter XPT trains viable, and could have been a better solution to a number of routes where an XPT is overkill (Dubbo?) and where an Xplorer is a bit lacking (Griffith?)
So, since I left the railways & my career finished on the XPT's as senior relief on them, certainly things have gotten worse, I still travel on them but generally avoid them owing to the timings of them, & terrible seating over extended travel times. To sit up all night to Brisbane from Sydney is terrible, but the 1 1/2 hours better off by getting on at Wyong helps, but then again isn't that where I cam in above.
Things always get worse in NSW...
How come, when travelling on a main interstate train does it have to stop at such locations as Wyong & Fassifern? That is a minor point but surelly time tabling a service to NCLE to allow interstate passengers to get there not long before the XPT on the down or chang at BMD for those stations is better, more inconvenient for me, but none of those old daylight & O/night services stopped their in the past.
Who knows? Considering the speed limits, would there be much time gained by skipping Wyong and Fassifern? Granted, Wyong passengers can board at Gosford and Fassifern passengers at Broadmeadow with correct use of Wyong and Newcastle trains, so...
If & when the XPT is ever replaced with another train, it matters not, & will not change without track work & alignment upgrades, likewise a real rethink about what the service is actually supposed to be & where the patronage is going to come from. On that score, there really needs to be seperate trains that are configured differently for interstate & intrastate running, that way a decision is DMU or loco hauled, if the latter, then its a big call for exclusive engines in that sort of work. Again looking at the ACT situation, DMU really is the best option & probably the same for the NW area where the trains split at WCK.
Probably. I still think an intermediate solution should be found for long runs like Griffith; I would suggest an XPT-like solution for the interstate runs, and a truncated version thereof for long intrastate runs, and then a DMU for shorter intrastate runs which can also be used for regional runs in areas like the Southern Highlands and the Hunter.
That tells me that the Dubbo service cannot stand on its own, so it too would need to be DMU, certainly something that is more customer friendly than the Explorer. Of course the NCL & the Daylight service to Casino, & even the Grafton train is a long trip & really Grafton is the outer comfort limit for XPT travel, therefore a real need for probably a tilt train type there.
Tilt would be good, so long as it delivers real benefit in terms of running speed, but speed is important only to day services; night services need time for a good kip. (The supreme irony of my declaration here is that the morning XPT to Melbourne takes 18 minutes longer than the overnight one...)
If Melbourne's Spencer street is too short for what is affectivelly a 9car train with locomotive on it, then it needs to have something done about it, to allow a longer train with either the current push - pull XPT/DMU configuration or, a 10 car train with passenger locomotives up front.
Considering we've cooked up a plan to involve landside lounges, platform extensions shouldn't be an issue. That having been said, how long is Southern Cross? My calculations give me a two-loco, seven-trailer interstate train that would need a 220m long platform.
Such services really end up needing a fast timetable that runs at times that could be slightly slower for the overall run overnight, & no more than a 12 hour duration, & arrive at destinations around the 0830 mark. Daylight services need to be no more than 11 hours duration & arrive in their destinations no later then 7.30 pm. Certainly where they stop at has to be looked at for both picking up & set downs.
This, and optional stops too. I was thinking of both running 11-hour Melbourne runs, if possible. Brisbane takes longer, though.
IF loco hauled trains were considered, then the only way they could be considered being viable is if there were enough of them to ensure they were positioned at locations to ensure there was never a delay awaiting a loco, this is where the XPT type has an advantage as its a complete unit train. The only way to save a long stand by time at each end was to have them operate on some other service locally or perhaps express guaranteed freight services, but I don't see that happening.
No, loco-hauled isn't too viable. Not unless you have a driving trailer at the other end for push-pull, and that brings us back to what has been discussed earlier.
To cut it back then, I see 2 primary types of trains. Updated DMU's that operate to such locations as Canberra, Dubbo, & the NW/NT split at WCK. A fast tilt type train that would service the top end of the NCL as well as being used on the interstate trains. Each with better seating designed for long distance, something akin to airline seating that is appearing in the A 380's but even then with a bit more leg room.
Yes, for Economy. For First and Business, we're still open to suggestions on how to accommodate them.
The current use of Day nighter carriages to continue perhaps with more on a train & offer sleeping services at better prices.
Hmm - I was even considering offering an all-sleeper night train, using something along the lines of a European couchette car that would form sitting compartments, or even a class of fixed triple-bunk open compartments like the Chinese 'hard sleeper' trains.
But that wouldn't be Economy class anymore.Still the thing comes back to the track & alignments.
Sadly. Be nice to rocket up the North Coast.
EDIT: Nicked from the VIC forum, a 2008 post indicates we do have a market for this overnight service we're cooking up here. Business Class fares might have to be lower, though (alternatively, a corporate rate?).
By way of background, I fly a LOT between SYD and MEL, I am a member of a few social circles who also fly a LOT between SYD and MEL, and I have also been a travel agent with a large number of corporate clients, who also flew a LOT between SYD and MEL.
The information I have been able to gather is that an overnight rail service, appropriately priced and marketted, with a suitable schedule, would be a massive winner as far as the corporate clientele goes.
The current situation is that those travelling to SYD/MEL for a meeting have to either arise at OMG o'clock in order to be on the first flight or two, or fly down the night before and incur accommodation costs. The first option is not conducive to people operating at their fullest potential, the second option is not good for the company and the bottom line.
Operating an overnight sleeper train, at the same price as a flexible airfare (Flexi-Saver with Qantas, currently around $350 each way) with meals included, would allow business travellers to do whatever they have to do in a better condition than if they had flown down that morning, OR at less cost than if they had flown down the night before.
Again, speaking to a lot of people who do this run a lot, if there was a viable train service operating to a decent schedule, they would use it (it would need to be appropraitely marketted, of course).
By decent scehedule, the old SNora schedule would not pass muster - 2000-0900 would not work. 2000-0800 might though.
How the heck do you block the replies with replies now? I have been unable to find the method as the interface has changed, prefer the simpl older way of doing it by selecting the section & include it as a quote.
1 & 2
The overnight train with an 2030 dep & 9730 is ok for the Mlb- Syd- Mlb train, combines convenient times at both ends, not too late departure & not too early arrival especially in the winter.
I think 0730 departure is a tad early for the Melbourne service & suggest 0800. dep & Melbourne no later than 1830. 1900 at the latest.
If one is to be faster it has to be the day train in order to cut down the depart & arrival times outside both peaks, thus an 0900 dep & 1900 arrival is what should be targetted for, no more than 10hours overall. I believe that there is a need to cut down some of the stops on the train especially tha small as required stations. While I disagreed with this previously, the overall patronage has to be considered, thus major stops only, Strathfield, Campbelltown- MV? - Glbn, Yass, Harden? Coota, Junee, Albury. Seymour Melbourne. & reverse..
The theory that the XPT has not been able to achieve its potential speed is my point. The stupiditiy of current levels of things such as full type Rova Mech is hindering the services as well. without taking actual weather patterns in place.
If there are people who are prepared to use the train one way, then if the said convenience, & fares were right they would likely travel both ways or encouraged with return fare package & frequent user discount.
3 & 4:Big speed? I am only talking 160K's . If looking at big speeds then we go further down the track & go High speed, & thats been discussed too much. & my last say is that the existing route needs fixing, whether by feds, state or dare I even go down the path of suggesting a user levy such as applied years ago to motorise as a 3x3 on petrol that went solely into road. An extra $2.00 fare, & some other figure for freight users to go into a pool that would be used solely for Realignment & track UPgrade for everyones overall benefit. It will be the only way to get things done. Although I am wary of going down that path as both govs would then have an excuse to scale back their current pathetic rail investment & put it into road, therfore relying on the levy for work.
Only affect it had on the XPT was for publicity purposes & showed how much faster it was than the ordinary loco hauled trains. A 5 minute more in running times over set sections was not really notices, & there was always a built time recovery in the XPT tt, to allow for weather & track conditions, & just added headway to it. The means justifies any end.
5 Tilt. I see a seperate need for the Brisbane train owing to the distance & somehow the times have to be reduced, even if it means a different set for it, such as tilt, if the times could be got back to an 11 hour run it would be huge, even 12hours would help.
Platforms & train length. Problem with push pull XPT style is that the platform has a locomotive on the rear taking up passenger space.
When I talk locomotive I am talking of ones that are more Passenger & speed specific. China rail has variations to their old standard DF4 that operate on the faster pax trains. When the XPT trials I conducted on the Main north we used 42220 with approval to run at 130-135 Km/h, how hard would it be to have a fleet of that time of loco, that could run at up to 160? with better running times & arrival at Melburne means the lead engines can be removed & a small shunt done to release them prior to be ready for boarding.
Dare I even suggest that the train could also offer Motorrail services for passengers, & not just sleeping car users.
Again, If Spencer street needs extending so be it.
When looking at the Chines option of hard & soft sleeper, I don't see a lot of advantage with it as how many fit in the compartment now? 4 sleepers & 6 in seats, that is reasonable. The only benefit is to offer first class no more than 4 in the compartments for day as well as night. Problem with that is you reduce available seating capacity. The only solution would be to make the compartments smaller for 2 beds with upper & lower & 2/3 seats for daylight travel, similar to the old style sleepers.
ATM, the XPT on arrival at Mlbn has short turnround to refuel, clean & restock the train. being able to get a better run time, means some leeway there with the 2000 departure, that is my big concern with the limited amount of trains available. No way is a full 8 car set going to sit there waiting all day for the next run as in the old days so somehow that has to change.
As I said in the first post, to have loco's that can operate at the higher speeds needed for passenger trains they could be used on return freight services after getting to their destination & have new ones ready for the return, could save some times at the far end.
I would get the XPT off the Dubbo run, & the motors & cars could be spares, that allows more mainenance time for the motors, & possible extend their lives. A fleet of new DMU's for the Dubbo service & I would actually suggest a retiming of the western trains to start from the Dubbo end or maybe even Nyngang & run to Sydney. Exploders could go to Coota, & Junee for connections to Temora & Griffith.