Take the following in a constructive manner...
A long, long time ago, in a life far, far away, I used to run a little kiosk. If CountryLink aren't covering the incremental labour costs of their buffet car I'd be surprised - it is not exactly a high cost operation.
This is RailCorp, if there is a high cost way to do it, they'll find it!
I must say CL buffet prices are extremely reasonable. Most things are rec-retail. The meals are about what you'd pay in a supermarket for a Lean Cuisine still frozen (ie under $10). A privatised operation would be gouging their captive market. And staffing costs would almost certainly be substantially lower than a CL TA.
I don't see an allowance for depreciation or up-front purchase cost in any form. Obviously here we're all just guessing, but without that guess this comparison is a bit too far off. For a certain quality of service, one of the reasons that operations are structured the way they are is because they've made a trade-off between the up front capital costs and the ongoing operating costs.
Absolutely right. And I meant to mention that in the caveats but forgot.
The big problem I had here was loco hauling the XP trailers extend their effective life, and this changes an appropriate depreciation rate for them. Their book value is probably next to zip anyway ATM. "Fairly" accounting for this could be done any number of equally valid ways, and these would impact the outcomes.
Maintaining three underfloor engines and the passenger cabin costs $150, but maintaining two engines and no passenger cabin in an XPT set costs $300? Hmmm.
Assumptions were $50/hr for a DMU vehicle (550HP for an Xplorer plus an aux). $15/hr for a trailer. But yeah, I take your point.