Service Cuts to Overland - GSR Press Announcement

 
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Which is exactly why I suggested using a variable gauge  DEMU set. Try reading for comprehension.
justapassenger
Generally speaking it would help if people tried

a) making suggestions that are affordable and

b) making suggestions that acknowledge the interaction with what is principally a freight railway

Razz

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  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Which is exactly why I suggested using a variable gauge  DEMU set. Try reading for comprehension.
"justapassenger"

Have you considered the effects of coming down the hill with only disc brakes?
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
Generally speaking it would help if people tried

a) making suggestions that are affordable and

b) making suggestions that acknowledge the interaction with what is principally a freight railway

Razz
bingley hall
I'm with you, Bing.

No alternative mentioned is likely to give any positive return on investment.
  sas85 Chief Commissioner

Location: V1
So going off the GSR announcement, if you travel with GSR on an alternative service you get an upgrade, or partial refund, yet no mention of any sort of refund if you choose the road coach option, despite being cheaper than the rail fare and lose the ability to move about and purchase food/beverage at locations other than 15 minutes at Tintinara (no hot food to bought back on board) 30 minutes at Nhill and 15 minutes at St Arnoud.
Hopefully it's just an oversight and a refund is offered for the Firefly option.
  AFULE Chief Train Controller

Location: South Australia
If the SA Govt was to give GSR the future surplus Jumbo's on a free loan arrangement and they modified them, I still don't think it would stand up.

GSR has not been interested in the O'land service for years, and have only been operating it because of the funding being proved by the SA/Vic governments.

The bigger question is, will GSR be around in 5 years time?
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
That's a bit difficult when there is a break of gauge at Ararat.
VRfan
The bean counters in our midst need to remember that governments built and ran the railways as a necessary service to the community, not to make profits. They made very big losses. So do our roads. I'm sure that the provision of toll gates every few kilometres as on European freeways could remedy that, but your road freight, vehicle and passenger charges would sky rocket. That's fair isn't it? A few increases in taxation are in order. After years of middle class welfare and feathering the nests of wealthy tax dodgers instead of making necessary infrastructure improvements, that's fair too. In the meantime, the very poor standards of our rail and road systems qualify Australia to be regarded as a second class country in comparison to European and North American countries, China and Japan, but please don't make Gina pay a fair price for what she rips out of our irreplaceable resources, or the stock exchange cowboys make some contribution to society for the obscene profits they make by 'investing' huge amounts for periods lasting for all of three seconds while the electronics do their work.

Great Southern Rail should be left to run its very expensive luxury trains (with a panoramic view for every passenger) and V-Line gauge-convertible multiple unit trains should run right into Adelaide and Spencer Street stations, changing gauge on the fly as in Spain and Eastern Europe. While it would be nice to have high speed rail, achievable higher speeds on a train running from Geelong to Ballarat along the abandoned corridor of the former double track reservation would enable the serving of the two large cities (by Australian standards), Beaufort, Ararat, Stawell, Horsham and even Dimboola, Bordertown and Keith, making them, with high speed broadband, desirable decentralized places in which to live to alleviate the gross overpopulation of Melbourne and even Adelaide. Such a route would also provide a by-pass for freight trains in case of blockages on the Geelong-Maroona-Ararat line.

Having been a frequent overnight sleeper passenger on the Overland for many years, and presently a user of the convenient and comfortable V-Line train/bus service via Bendigo, and sometimes Ballarat, I have great admiration for the bus drivers who are both skilled and careful, but my safety is at risk from other vehicles every second that I am aboard the buses. With a relatively modest increase in running times by the provision of strategically placed passing/overtaking loops, I am convinced that a rail service (with disk brakes and all – eg.  regeneration with roof mounted energy dissipators) would be both possible and well patronized.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
SAR526:  what subsidy per head would you support?

Let's say 10 cars (2 trains of 5) at $3m each + = $300m + borrowed over 25 years at 5% per annum interest = $15 million a year just in interest. before it even turns a wheel.  

Assuming 60 seats in 4 of those cars = 240 passengers max at 30% loading = 72 passengers per train (big ask probably).  

The required fare to cover this, assuming 72 passengers per trip 365 days a year is $571 per passenger.

If the most you can charge is, say, $90, then the subsidy is $481 before adding in operating costs.

I'm for some subsidy but not this much.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
SAR526:  what subsidy per head would you support?

Let's say 10 cars (2 trains of 5) at $3m each + = $300m + borrowed over 25 years at 5% per annum interest = $15 million a year just in interest. before it even turns a wheel.  

Assuming 60 seats in 4 of those cars = 240 passengers max at 30% loading = 72 passengers per train (big ask probably).  

The required fare to cover this, assuming 72 passengers per trip 365 days a year is $571 per passenger.

If the most you can charge is, say, $90, then the subsidy is $481 before adding in operating costs.

I'm for some subsidy but not this much.
"kipioneer"

Good numbers! I just happen to be sitting a friendly financial guru's office right now, she crunched some numbers and reckons a better standpoint would be to consider average interest payment in the initial period (when the principal is high) of a 25 year loan on $300m to be nearer to $20,476,500pa.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

G'day SAR526.

I say what is below as one whole has probably caused others nausea by my raves about the potential viability of an overnight "Motel on Wheels" Overland service.

Forgetting you political rhetoric I think Neil has given a very fair answer. but still leaves you to answer others.

Please answer these questions:
  1. If the train travels substantially in daylight what is an acceptable journey time?
  2. To what must this journey time compare?
  3. Considering a daylight trip which will occupy a precious part of the business day who will use the service?
  4. What will they be prepared to pay?
  5. Why would they use the train?

An example of potentially effective routes are Melbourne to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon in Vic, Sydney to Newcastle, Nowra, Bathurst in NSW and Perth to Bunbury. This list is not exhaustive and may not represent services which the respective managements consider viable. (Why doesn't the Bunbury train continue into the town centre, the reservation is still there?) I measure this by the trip duration being 9potentially) much shorter than the total air time. Over these routes the journey time air/rail comparisons are much as for Europe.

To total city to city air travel Melbourne to Adelaide is about 3 hours door to door. (don't ask me how I know?).  Can a train meet that at a viable cost?

Your response to the financial aspects of the OL is close what put rail in the dubious place in the 20th century.
  • The public thought the railways owed them a service even if they didn't use it.
  • The railways thought the government, read public, owed them the money to operate.
  • The workers thought the railways and government owed them a job.
  • The politicians wouldn't accept the advice of railway commissioners who were squeezed between political service expectations and what passed off as an excuse for funding.
  • Neither left or right parties were on the side of railway management and failed to take their advice seriously.

Regards
Ian
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

It would appear that your keyboard is broken.
mynameismike

mine too. i set the satnav for loxton, SA, but it keeps going to redhill, SA, and the spellcheck keeps doing autocorrects turning 'heath loxton' to 'mitch poxton.' advice anyone ?
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

G'day SAR526.

I say what is below as one whole has probably caused others nausea by my raves about the potential viability of an overnight "Motel on Wheels" Overland service.

(snip) To total city to city air travel Melbourne to Adelaide is about 3 hours door to door. (don't ask me how I know?).  Can a train meet that at a viable cost?

Your response to the financial aspects of the OL is close what put rail in the dubious place in the 20th century.
  • The public thought the railways owed them a service even if they didn't use it.
  • The railways thought the government, read public, owed them the money to operate.
  • The workers thought the railways and government owed them a job.
  • The politicians wouldn't accept the advice of railway commissioners who were squeezed between political service expectations and what passed off as an excuse for funding.
  • Neither left or right parties were on the side of railway management and failed to take their advice seriously.

Regards
Ian
steam4ian

ian

there are aspects of the overnight motel on wheels thing that are appealing and it at least means the horrid routing and current speeds are not an issue.  and it's the only niche where the train has something to offer that other modes don't, really.  i suppose the question is, how do you develop that market, and how do the other overnight capital runs do by comparison ?  

thanks to all (well, just about) for the good discussion on this train.  it's sad but the downgrading seemed like it was only a matter of time, so a few smart ideas are going to be essential if there's to be any hope going forward.

ben
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
changing gauge on the fly as in Spain and Eastern Europe. Shocked
SAR526
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

^^
what he said.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
to alleviate the gross overpopulation of Melbourne and even Adelaide.
"SAR526"

Wow! Melbourne and Adelaide 'grossly overpopulated'? Don't go somewhere like Manila, Mexico City, New York, Beijing, Bogor, Dehli, Mumbai, Cairo, Dhaka, Chennai, Tokyo, Seoul, Jakarta, or any other 'real' city then...
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
....

While it would be nice to have high speed rail, achievable higher speeds on a train running from Geelong to Ballarat along the abandoned corridor of the former double track reservation would enable the serving of the two large cities (by Australian standards), Beaufort, Ararat, Stawell, Horsham and even Dimboola, Bordertown and Keith, making them, with high speed broadband, desirable decentralized places in which to live to alleviate the gross overpopulation of Melbourne and even Adelaide. Such a route would also provide a by-pass for freight trains in case of blockages on the Geelong-Maroona-Ararat line.

....
SAR526

I don't consider Adelaide to be overpopulated in the same ways Melbourne is; however it would take more than a train service and broadband for me to live in those small plains towns !
  Calgully Deputy Commissioner

Location:
SAR526:  what subsidy per head would you support?

Let's say 10 cars (2 trains of 5) at $3m each + = $300m + borrowed over 25 years at 5% per annum interest = $15 million a year just in interest. before it even turns a wheel.  

Assuming 60 seats in 4 of those cars = 240 passengers max at 30% loading = 72 passengers per train (big ask probably).  

The required fare to cover this, assuming 72 passengers per trip 365 days a year is $571 per passenger.

If the most you can charge is, say, $90, then the subsidy is $481 before adding in operating costs.

I'm for some subsidy but not this much.
kipioneer

I think you've got an extra zero in capital cost there.

10 cars at $3mill each is $30 million (not $300 million).

So using your algorithm, that's $1.5 million per year interest rather than $15 mill, and brings the cost per passenger down to $57.

I also think your 30% loading is too pessimistic.   Posters earlier in this thread claim that even today the Overland is regularly close to full even when its down to 4 cars.
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
Steam4Ian wrote:

G'day SAR526.

I say what is below as one whole has probably caused others nausea by my raves about the potential viability of an overnight "Motel on Wheels" Overland service.

*I too would personally prefer an overnight service. What standard of accommodation do you envisage? Sleepers? Your train would cost a lot more than a multiple diesel set. If seats, sleep almost upright and spend the day in the same clothes?

Forgetting you political rhetoric I think Neil has given a very fair answer. but still leaves you to answer others.

*I'm sorry if making some suggestions as to how the governments could get the funds to pay for trains without borrowing Aaron's huge amounts at exorbitant interest rates is seen as political, so be it. It is a fact, even if it is out of fashion in financial circles, that with appropriate safeguards to keep within what can be afforded by the nation's productivity, governments can create the credit interest free without going to the people whose financial 'expertise' landed the world in its present mess. Webb re-built the railways and his brand new engines and rolling stock passed the school where many of my fellow students had no shoes and had a dripping sandwich for lunch because the financial experts of the time insisted on exactly the wrong way to end the depression that their machinations caused in the first place. Then my grandparents' generation built a city with trams and a state with an extensive railway system with virtually nothing except courage and a lot of hard work. If what I read daily from some of you, I wonder if you are really interested in getting this nation into some sort of parity with the rest of the developed world or making excuses for doing nothing. It is a question of what society is prepared to spend money on. More roads, long proven to be generators of still more traffic. New airports and upgraded old ones. Do they not also require subsidies and government expenditure? Last night I watched two sleek Italian electric locomotives pulling a passenger train alongside the Giro bicycle race through a mountain pass in very rugged alpine county. I wondered when we might have such luxuries. If others can do it – even the former Soviet block which I do NOT admire – why is it that we can't?

Please answer these questions:

[ol][li]If the train travels substantially in daylight what is an acceptable journey time?[/li][li]To what must this journey time compare?[/li][li]Considering a daylight trip which will occupy a precious part of the business day who will use the service?[/li][li]What will they be prepared to pay?[/li][li][left]Why would they use the train?[/left]



[left]An example of potentially effective routes are Melbourne to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon in Vic, Sydney to Newcastle, Nowra, Bathurst in NSW and Perth to Bunbury. This list is not exhaustive and may not represent services which the respective managements consider viable. (Why doesn't the Bunbury train continue into the town centre, the reservation is still there?) I measure this by the trip duration being 9potentially) much shorter than the total air time. Over these routes the journey time air/rail comparisons are much as for Europe.
[/left]
[left]*I've used trains on all four Victorian routes as well as Perth to Bunbury, and agree that your examples are all viable and desirable.
[/left]
[left]To total city to city air travel Melbourne to Adelaide is about 3 hours door to door. (don't ask me how I know?). Can a train meet that at a [u]viable[/u] cost?[/left]
[/li][/ol]
*Business men will use the subsidized airways rather than the subsidized railways. Their time is money, but many prefer to travel overland. Their means of transport will be subsidized buses or cars on subsidized roads in danger from collisions with subsidized road freight transport. It's a matter of choice and often necessity. Whose subsidies should have priority?

Your response to the financial aspects of the OL is close what put rail in the dubious place in the 20th century.
[ul][li]The public thought the railways owed them a service even if they didn't use it.
*But they did. It's the abandonment of public transport by those who happily use other means to the detriment of the amenity of the whole community in traffic congestion and the blight and huge public cost of such works as freeways (e.g. the monstrosity being built over South Road, or the destruction of the formerly beautiful boulevard that was Portrush Road). Government money spent on rail and tramways BAD! Much more government money spent on facilitating private transport, GOOD? [/li][li]The railways thought the government, read public, owed them the money to operate.
*I suspect that they took what they were given and no more.[/li][li]The workers thought the railways and government owed them a job.
* Well that's a lot better than paying them a pitiful handout and calling them dole-bludgers. A society which doesn't aim at giving everyone a chance for gainful employment is a pretty rotten one. Public works during the depression eased a lot of misery and fed a lot of hungry kids.[/li][li]The politicians wouldn't accept the advice of railway commissioners who were squeezed between political service expectations and what passed off as an excuse for funding.
*The commissioners whom I remember were passionately interested in the improvement of rail services. They were underfunded, but if their proposals had been heeded we'd be very much better off today.[/li][li]Neither left or right parties were on the side of railway management and failed to take their advice seriously.
* With that I heartily agree.[/li][/ul]
I'm afraid that we won't agree on our basic beliefs about the nature of society. We'll just have to agree to disagree, but thanks for the courteous nature of your reply and your many interesting and thoughtful postings.

Regards
Brian.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
SAR526 Governments cannot create credit interest free, they must borrow for capital works like acquiring railcars.

They do have the advantage that they can borrow using bonds - interest only loans that are repayable at maturity with interest payable to the bond holders at regular intervals - and can repay those bonds by issuing further bonds.

This they can do while the revenue earned through taxes, and charges - for example the fares charged for travel in those railcars - can service the interest paid on the bonds.   The political retoric that debt is bad is just that, and an excuse not to provide or renew infrastructure.

Webb's borrowings in the 1920s came very close to the limit of the ability of the state to service his debt.  He may have pulled the railway into the 20th century but at a considerable cost that nearly bankrupted the state.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
I think you've got an extra zero in capital cost there.

10 cars at $3mill each is $30 million (not $300 million).

So using your algorithm, that's $1.5 million per year interest rather than $15 mill, and brings the cost per passenger down to $57.

I also think your 30% loading is too pessimistic.   Posters earlier in this thread claim that even today the Overland is regularly close to full even when its down to 4 cars.
Calgully
You're right about the amount, but I thought 30% occupancy each day on a 7 day a week service in both directions was wildly over optimistic.   Why otherwise is GSR reducing the service?

I suspect $3000000 per railcar is a little on the low side, too.

The point of my figure was to show there was a cost that needed to be met before anything else was taken into consideration: the cost of the money to provide any new cars.

Add in crewing costs, servicing costs, track access costs, admin overheads, and so on, and any subsidy can get very large very quickly, given the constraints on the maximum fare that can be charged due to competition from other transport sectors.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Supposing I ask a simpler question, IF the Overland was such a fine, mighty and popular service when ran as a night train why did GSR elect to change to a day train? IF the overnight service was so popular and now it's on the bones of it's butt why wouldn't GSR have already announced the change in business model and timetable back to what it used to be? Could I postulate that the faith in the productivity of the night service is well misplaced? Iain's views as to the timetabling and his explanation of the reasoning whilst sounding terribly romantic clearly is somewhat less than popular.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Supposing I ask a simpler question, IF the Overland was such a fine, mighty and popular service when ran as a night train why did GSR elect to change to a day train? IF the overnight service was so popular and now it's on the bones of it's butt why wouldn't GSR have already announced the change in business model and timetable back to what it used to be? Could I postulate that the faith in the productivity of the night service is well misplaced? Iain's views as to the timetabling and his explanation of the reasoning whilst sounding terribly romantic clearly is somewhat less than popular.
"Aaron"


Which also brings about another question.......
Back in AN's day, they experimented with a daylight Overland, Why did they do that?
Was the writing on the wall back then that an overnight service was not economical?
Was the writing on the wall that any service was not economical?
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
The economic fact is The Overland can continue in its current form only while the cars being used are fit for the service and don't start costing buckets of money to simply maintain.

Two services a week seems to best use crews - only the one is needed.

Once you start talking new rail cars and equipping to go back to overnight, forget it.
  Calgully Deputy Commissioner

Location:
You're right about the amount, but I thought 30% occupancy each day on a 7 day a week service in both directions was wildly over optimistic.   Why otherwise is GSR reducing the service?

I suspect $3000000 per railcar is a little on the low side, too.

The point of my figure was to show there was a cost that needed to be met before anything else was taken into consideration: the cost of the money to provide any new cars.

Add in crewing costs, servicing costs, track access costs, admin overheads, and so on, and any subsidy can get very large very quickly, given the constraints on the maximum fare that can be charged due to competition from other transport sectors.
kipioneer

Yes I get your point - and it's often ignored.

But it's nothing like as dire as your post suggested.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Which also brings about another question.......
Back in AN's day, they experimented with a daylight Overland, Why did they do that?
Was the writing on the wall back then that an overnight service was not economical?
Was the writing on the wall that any service was not economical?
"Pressman"

A sleeping train with cabins has to be heavier and hence more costly to run than a day train full of seated pax too.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Some things against the over night Overland:
  • Operating cost in term of attendants and services.
  • Pathing as most freights leave Melbourne or Adelaide post 1500 hrs.
  • Difficulty maintaining a schedule due to pathing, lowers reliability.
  • Heavier train 20 pax per car not 60.
  • Needs a change of approach.

Only by daylight running could the OL get a journey time half respectable even for a sleeper.

Commercially the opportunity for business targeted travel was never explored. It would require additional capital investment to make the sleepers viable as travelling motel rooms.
The upside is that fares could be significantly higher. Forget budget air fares look at the mid price range then add a hotel room in Melbourne.

GSR do not seem to run anything that looks like a public amenity service. By aiming for tourists time tabling becomes less critical, only correct day arrival is required.

Long before GSR took over the AN had run the OL service down. The problem was that the loading could walk and AN couldn't manage people or livestock. GSR to their credit have upgraded the train to a standard comparable to USA and Canada.

So romantic as I am even I can see the difficulties.

Regards
Ian

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