XPT Replacement Discussion

 
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I think my last post was a bit too much shot from the him and lacked - for what it's worth - my usual level of clarity.  

It should have been pretty obvious that even with 5 types of vehicle you can't make up enough small and large trains to meet CL's current agenda.  And as for "types", we're really talking about changes - mostly relatively minor - to the internal fitout, and a properly speced train would allow these to be changed to meet changed timetable needs relatively easily.

Likewise, if I was to factor in other options, I can the Overnight services, for example, Syd-Mel and vice versa would be say a 6-7am start and just after lunch, but this means you need for trains instead of current 2. Pax trains get priorty during the day, freighters get a free run at night, fair compromise me thinks and makes it easier for O/N door to door to be achieved. I'd also run at least 2 dailies to Brisbane, but thats another complex issue again. If you can cut the overnight trains, you cut the number of cars from 6 to 5, but better still, you cut the lead driver cars from 2 to 1, saving probably 1 car in costs. But at plus 60 cars, 6 different cars is not a huge drama compared to CL's current status.
RTT_Rules

Not all obviously, but a lot of CL's destinations are a 12 hour journey (if you include the coach connection).    For a day service that's basically 8am  to 8pm.  An hour or two either way and you have either a terribly inconvenient departure or arrival time.  For example, a just after lunch 1pm departure from Syd means an arrival in Mlb at between 1 and 2 am.  I know it probably should be about an 11 hour run, but it isn't.  And quite frankly midnight isn't exactly a great arrival time either, as door to door you're turning up at your host's house in the wee small.

I'm of the view that 2 appropriately sized trains per route is about right.  For the 12 or more hour runs that's 1 train a day each way.  Places like Dubbo at ~8 hrs would get 2, Canberra @ 5hrs 3.  An advantage of a DMU fleet is it's easier to reduce capacity to the extremity of the network without compromising frequency to the inner part.  For example, the NCL with a DMU fleet could operate 1 train to Grafton that splits, half going on Brisbane and the other half returning to Sydney as a red eye, complemented by a mid north coast train running UP-DOWN.  That gives the mod-Nth coast 3 trains a day: morning, afternoon and night (as per now).  Far Nth coast gets a day and night train (vs a very late and very early day train plus a red eye).  That required a fleet 5 DMUs vs the 5.5 XPT units for the current timetable.

A viable minimum seat number for a DMU is also probably ~200 seats, but depends on a number of factors.


Luggage, checked luggage must be an option, but you can provide options to reduce the amount. CL wouldn't check in our stroller, policy, they will not touch baby things! By reducing the doors on each car from 4 to 2, you can use the vestible space (which is the crush zone) as bag storage.
RTT_Rules

People have luggage, and the further they travel the more they tend to have.  That's a fact of life.  From a fleet management/design perspective - no checked luggage would mean sacrificing a row of seats per vehicle (assuming it was built for purely long distance runs and not commuter runs as well) for more PAX luggage space at the expense of a dedicated luggage area.

That's the least of my issues with checked luggage, there are a lot of good reasons to ditch it IMHO - not least because in the era of wheeled suite cases very few PAX are not capable of handling their own luggage these days.


I tried to reduce the number of types, but the buffet I had to have in two types of cars. If you look at the RTT, I believe it has two, cars 2 and 5. I think a 4 car train is the limit of the single buffet train. Otherwise there is too many people walking past those seated near the buffet.
RTT_Rules

Well the XPT has 1 large buffet, but it's usually staffed by 2 and there is a queue from second class and another shorter queue from first class Smile.

I'd have thought the buffet should be a profit centre for train operators, but they aren't.  But again, talking up space in the train while it is an issue, probably isn't a big one.

If you view the primary competition for delivering regional PT services as busses, this is another advantage road coaches have: they can naturally off-board their catering.


FC me thinks must be booked seating, EC, mmm. I'd like to say they should have option to show up and ride, ie stand until a seat is available. But there are issues with this. I think in 21st century with booking possible as the train is actually in service. ie book a seat 5min before arrival using your iphone, but 5hr after it intially departed is not a big issue. I think there is also sufficent demand for most services to have two levels of seating. CL should also have option to upgrade regular users to FC when numbers are low to enable more EC tickets to be sold.
RTT_Rules

The difference between FC and EC service standards in CountryLink is trivial.  The only real difference is whether or not you're sitting next to a government or self funded pensioner.

And yes, there are advantages to the operator to being able to offer price differentiation.  I would argue that occurs already even within EC on CountryLink.  

Where FC/EC costs is you need to have allocated seating.  It means you need all the infrastructure to book seats, allocate seats/re-allocate seats, check people are in the right seats etc, and for what?  Again, this is not an issue busses have to deal with in the country.

There probably does need to be a mechanism to ensure a train isn't 200% oversold, and a way for travel agents to sell tickets.  But that isn't the same as allocated seating.

Anyway, if you go with my agenda of no allocated seating, no checked luggage and if possible off-boarded meal catering, the fleet type requirements drop to 2: cab and non cab.

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  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Y'know, I think the most important suggestion I've read in recent posts has been DTMW's suggestion to introduce yield management to dramatically improve PRASM (passenger revenue per available seat mile) during peak periods. This goes hand-in-hand with djf01's endless experiments in ways to reduce CASM (cost per available seat mile). I rather think that this introduces the possibility of much better revenue, substantially improving NSW Trains' position.

I still think, however, that the interurban service should be run as its own division with a proper V set replacement. I do think, however, that the fares need to go back up to reflect this (introduce uncapped distance-based pricing with 75km flag-fall, maybe); alternatively (or in addition to this), it might be a worthwhile exercise to explore the possibility of reintroducing InterCity First (or some other premium cabin name), offering a 'proper' travel experience with fares to match, and then an OSCar experience for the remaining cars. If it's a viable proposition (including Opal readers at the appropriate doors), I think it solves the comfort problem for those who are willing to pay that bit more.

This allows a potentially more profitable (nominally-)premium cabin, on top of increased revenue from the great unwashed. I slightly suspect that this will end up depressing demand and therefore required capacity, though, and this obviously will have a strong effect on the direction of fleet management.

For those who continue to whine about sitting on "hard" seats while also being too cheap to pay fares reflecting the level of amenity they demand, listen to them attentively. Murmur in agreement. Then continue as planned. If they continue to complain, tell them that expecting the NSW taxpayer to subsidise their luxury ride is just rude. If they continue to complain, shoot them.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
I think my last post was a bit too much shot from the him and lacked - for what it's worth - my usual level of clarity.  

It should have been pretty obvious that even with 5 types of vehicle you can't make up enough small and large trains to meet CL's current agenda.  And as for "types", we're really talking about changes - mostly relatively minor - to the internal fitout, and a properly speced train would allow these to be changed to meet changed timetable needs relatively easily.


Not all obviously, but a lot of CL's destinations are a 12 hour journey (if you include the coach connection).    For a day service that's basically 8am  to 8pm.  An hour or two either way and you have either a terribly inconvenient departure or arrival time.  For example, a just after lunch 1pm departure from Syd means an arrival in Mlb at between 1 and 2 am.  I know it probably should be about an 11 hour run, but it isn't.  And quite frankly midnight isn't exactly a great arrival time either, as door to door you're turning up at your host's house in the wee small.

I'm of the view that 2 appropriately sized trains per route is about right.  For the 12 or more hour runs that's 1 train a day each way.  Places like Dubbo at ~8 hrs would get 2, Canberra @ 5hrs 3.  An advantage of a DMU fleet is it's easier to reduce capacity to the extremity of the network without compromising frequency to the inner part.  For example, the NCL with a DMU fleet could operate 1 train to Grafton that splits, half going on Brisbane and the other half returning to Sydney as a red eye, complemented by a mid north coast train running UP-DOWN.  That gives the mod-Nth coast 3 trains a day: morning, afternoon and night (as per now).  Far Nth coast gets a day and night train (vs a very late and very early day train plus a red eye).  That required a fleet 5 DMUs vs the 5.5 XPT units for the current timetable.

A viable minimum seat number for a DMU is also probably ~200 seats, but depends on a number of factors.


People have luggage, and the further they travel the more they tend to have.  That's a fact of life.  From a fleet management/design perspective - no checked luggage would mean sacrificing a row of seats per vehicle (assuming it was built for purely long distance runs and not commuter runs as well) for more PAX luggage space at the expense of a dedicated luggage area.

That's the least of my issues with checked luggage, there are a lot of good reasons to ditch it IMHO - not least because in the era of wheeled suite cases very few PAX are not capable of handling their own luggage these days.


Well the XPT has 1 large buffet, but it's usually staffed by 2 and there is a queue from second class and another shorter queue from first class Smile.

I'd have thought the buffet should be a profit centre for train operators, but they aren't.  But again, talking up space in the train while it is an issue, probably isn't a big one.

If you view the primary competition for delivering regional PT services as busses, this is another advantage road coaches have: they can naturally off-board their catering.


The difference between FC and EC service standards in CountryLink is trivial.  The only real difference is whether or not you're sitting next to a government or self funded pensioner.

And yes, there are advantages to the operator to being able to offer price differentiation.  I would argue that occurs already even within EC on CountryLink.  

Where FC/EC costs is you need to have allocated seating.  It means you need all the infrastructure to book seats, allocate seats/re-allocate seats, check people are in the right seats etc, and for what?  Again, this is not an issue busses have to deal with in the country.

There probably does need to be a mechanism to ensure a train isn't 200% oversold, and a way for travel agents to sell tickets.  But that isn't the same as allocated seating.

Anyway, if you go with my agenda of no allocated seating, no checked luggage and if possible off-boarded meal catering, the fleet type requirements drop to 2: cab and non cab.
djf01
Hi,
I don't understand with 5 types, not numbers of vehicles (cars) you cannot mix and match to make what ever small and large trains you need provided your pool is large enough.

Syd-Mel is 10-11hr, maybe a repaired NE SG + TT rail cars could shave off a bit more especially if only run during the day'ish. You can have a start that is 6-7am and another around lunhc that gets you there around 10pm which is fine. I'd also seriously consider an late afternoon service to Wagga and return first thing to fill the gap lost but no more O/N services and provide a practical day return to Sydney. Likewise Vic's look after their own side from Albury south to Mel.

Dubbo I agree, make two services a day, one would be an extension of the Bathurst morning run. the other current. The current Dubbo would also contain a 2-3 car set for west of Orange 1-2 x per week.

NCL, definitly keep 3 trains, I think your justification, the longer it is the lower frequency is a bit off along this route considering you have 3 x 6-7 cars now. Ideally two trains to Brisbane to provide a day return option for those on the upper NCL, the 3rd service to/from Grafton as per now (or though I have a soft spot for to-from Lismore, if not two to BRisbane, 2 to Lismore)

Canberra needs to go to 3 per day, morning, midday and late PM departure. No ifs or buts. Longer term withimproved track I'd got o 5.

Note: the above is seperate to my previous proposal of cars, about 60 which was 100% like for like timetable and capacity replacement.

Checked luggage or luggage space in the cars. Last you need need is the too many big bags being dragged into the saloon's. Seriously leave the checked luggage alone and provide the space. Its practical, safer (bags not blocking emergency exits or dropped trying to lift them up to the racks, esepcially for the aging population. The wheels means nothing to where you store them.

You won't find a DMU car capable of 200 seats, esepcially when the current cars are barely 50. Perhaps you mean European type articulated DMU's?

People want to eat, getting rid of the buffet is pointless. You would probably find this space in revenue per m2 is the most profitable of the train. Leave the buffet and deal with it in the design and ordering. The RTT has two buffets on a 6 car train, need to learn from this experience. Stopping at a station for an extended period of time to enable people to buy food, means you need a huge resource for a very short space of time. Fine at stations like Broadmeadow, but after that, no. Reason why railways got rid of them. The staff have little to do between stations, get them to sell food.

two classes vs one. QR choose 1 class on its CTT, all the larger seats that limit to 3 across on narrow gauage. This is nice, but it adds cost. Look at the RTT 3 across in BC vs 4 across and closer in EC. I'd provide two classes. Discount tickets holders should not be entitled to discount BC/FC. They should at least cover the difference in cost between the two classes.

Allocated seating in FC is a must. EC, I could go either way, but look at the discount airlines, they abandoned it for one reasons. Fights, arguments and delays getting people to sit down. I'm not confident the great un washed can manage the non assigned seating for long periods of time on a busy trip. It costs nothing if you cannot sell more seats than physically there, as Jetstar found out.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
[quote=djf01]Where FC/EC costs is you need to have allocated seating. It means you need all the infrastructure to book seats, allocate seats/re-allocate seats, check people are in the right seats etc, and for what? Again, this is not an issue busses have to deal with in the country.

There probably does need to be a mechanism to ensure a train isn't 200% oversold, and a way for travel agents to sell tickets. But that isn't the same as allocated seating.
[/quote]
From your last sentence I presume that by "no allocated seating" you are referring to the original Jetstar approach - you buy a ticket that guarantees you a seat on a particular service, you are just not sure where?

(If you mean "you ticket doesn't guarantee of a seat at all", then I think that's impractical given the frequency of service and typical travel times. Being able to buy tickets from the buffet [i]might[/i] be acceptable to accommodate last minute flexibility, but a last minute purchase should not and would not be the norm for a CountryLink style service, from either the point of view of the traveller or operator.)

If so, I don't see where you get substantial further cost from having allocated seating. Booking and allocation is a problem for an IT system, that is essentially a one off cost. Checking a seat number against a ticket is an inconsequential increment compared with checking a ticket.

For travellers, I do see the benefit in being able to select your seat[s] in advance. For individuals it might just be personal preference - for groups, particularly family groups, it might start to border on being a necessity.

I also see the benefit for the operator, in being able to have had seating resolved [mostly] ahead of time, particularly when services are heavily booked. It is just a potential source of conflict and frustration that you don't need. Where services are lightly booked my experience has been that they are pretty flexible anyway about where you can sit - allocated seating still helps in this respect because the cabin manager can look at their manifest and see whether your request to jump forward a few rows is going to cause issues later in the trip or not. A manifest that shows name, seat, origin and destination is also useful for identifying at a glance whether those in the cabin are those who should be in the cabin - it reduces ticket checking time.

Even if there is some sort of incremental cost, you can always sell "choose your own seat ahead of time!", either for explicit additional revenue or just as a feel-good reward sort of thing.

It has been a long time since I caught a long distance bus, and that would have been in Qld (Brisbane - Isa or similar - see - I know long distance travel pain), but I still recall seating being allocated.

Having multiple hard product classes of travel (which doesn't [i]really[/i] require allocated seating - you've conflated things there) does impose a material complexity and loss of flexibility cost - which is why true low cost aviation carries don't do multiple hard product classes, but where demand is sufficient the additional revenue associated with the differentiated hard product makes up for that. I think that would be the case for a regional rail service, but you would probably want a cabin that could be reconfigured within a reasonable period of time (perhaps a couple of days) to give you some flexibility as markets changed.

I use the checked luggage service, so I obviously value it - particularly when I have a couple of hours to wait for the service at the Sydney end. I also attach some sort of security value to it - I'd rather have my luggage locked up somewhere while I'm absent mindedly staring out the window than have it stashed out of my sight in the racks in the vestibule area. I'd also hate to see the overhead racks loaded up to the hilt - a 20 kg bag dropped or falling from overhead rack height would make a nice mess of anyone sitting underneath. I'd cope without checked luggage, but would be sorry to see it go.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

[quote=Watson374]Y'know, I think the most important suggestion I've read in recent posts has been [b]DTMW[/b]'s suggestion to introduce yield management to dramatically improve PRASM (passenger revenue per available seat mile) during peak periods. This goes hand-in-hand with [b]djf01[/b]'s endless experiments in ways to reduce CASM (cost per available seat mile). I rather think that this introduces the possibility of much better revenue, substantially improving NSW Trains' position.
[/quote]
Given the role of CountryLink, and the fact it is heavily subsidised, you have to question the point of yield management. It's not like higher paying customers in FC generate more profit, they just add to the losses.

[quote=RTT_Rules]Hi,
Syd-Mel is 10-11hr, maybe a repaired NE SG + TT rail cars could shave off a bit more especially if only run during the day'ish.
[/quote]
AFAIK, the XPT struggles to achieve a 12 hr Syd-Mlb run, and this is one of the issues because you can't assign 2 sets to just that run.
10 or even 9 hrs is certain feasible on the current alignment, but not if the trains are mixing it with freighters.

You can have a start that is 6-7am and another around lunhc that gets you there around 10pm which is fine. I'd also seriously consider an late afternoon service to Wagga and return first thing to fill the gap lost but no more O/N services and provide a practical day return to Sydney. Likewise Vic's look after their own side from Albury south to Mel.

Dubbo I agree, make two services a day, one would be an extension of the Bathurst morning run. the other current. The current Dubbo would also contain a 2-3 car set for west of Orange 1-2 x per week.

[quote]
Canberra needs to go to 3 per day, morning, midday and late PM departure. No ifs or buts. Longer term withimproved track I'd got o 5.
[/quote]
Canberra probably could go to 5 trains per day, but I think it'd need to operate completely DOO to avoid increasing costs. Daily patronage is (usually) in the 200-300 a day range, and spreading that over 5 trains is pretty thin me-thinks. More trains would boost patronage I suppose, perhaps enough to cover the fact they'll all be Endeavours Smile.

[quote]
You won't find a DMU car capable of 200 seats, esepcially when the current cars are barely 50. Perhaps you mean European type articulated DMU's?
[/quote]
Specifically I was think of the V'Locity sets, with 216 seats. You'd lose some for extra luggage space, so ~200. CountryLink's XPT fleet is ~2700 XPT seats and 1100 Xplorer seats. That's 38 V'locity Vehicles (lets say 13 sets) to replace the XPTs and 16 for the Xplorer fleet, which is only 5 or 6 sets (not really enough). With 20 x 200 seat DMU set fleet you could easily offer a comparable timetable offering to CL's in terms of seat delivery but with higher frequencies, and hopefully at a cost comparable with - if not quite as cheap as - road coaches.

[quote]
People want to eat, getting rid of the buffet is pointless. You would probably find this space in revenue per m2 is the most profitable of the train. Leave the buffet and deal with it in the design and ordering. The RTT has two buffets on a 6 car train, need to learn from this experience. Stopping at a station for an extended period of time to enable people to buy food, means you need a huge resource for a very short space of time. Fine at stations like Broadmeadow, but after that, no. Reason why railways got rid of them. The staff have little to do between stations, get them to sell food.
[/quote]

The model which I think could approach the price (to taxpayer) benefits of rail vs busses is to operate the rail services as close to the way modern bus lines are run. That means: single class seating (to reduce the size of the fleet, both in total cabin size and types of vehicles required), off board catering (somehow, not exactly sure) and no checked luggage. This eliminates a lot of the comforts obviously, but it also greatly reduces required staffing levels to go with the smaller fleet requirements.

I'm not really sure what the best way to handle catering is. *Something* needs to be provided for routes as long as CL's - Canberra being a possible exception. I understand on VIA trains in Canada there is a small self service galley (the trailers on their trains were designed for to have a first class airline style galley), and perhaps that sort of model could work: vending machines that spit out a lean cuisine and provide a microwave or 2 for PAX to nuke their own dinners. There are issues with ensuring safe food handling for frozen products though, and any sort of dispensing machine that goes beyond chips and chocolate will have this issue.

Another probably more realistic possibility is have vending machines for casual purchases, have meals catered off-board and collected in bulk by the TSA at designated stations. Orders are taken and paid for either by smart phone, as part of the ticket sale, or through a TA and a portable EFTPOS machine. Caterer delivers X meals to the train, and PAX collect their meals from the TA in the vestibule.

[quote]
Allocated seating in FC is a must. EC, I could go either way, but look at the discount airlines, they abandoned it for one reasons. Fights, arguments and delays getting people to sit down. I'm not confident the great un washed can manage the non assigned seating for long periods of time on a busy trip. It costs nothing if you cannot sell more seats than physically there, as Jetstar found out.[/quote]
The issue is you need to have someone allocate the seat, then someone else to check the right person is in the right seat. Same with the checked luggage, you need someone to check the luggage in the first place, load it, unload it at the *correct* location, and the infrastructure in place to track down and return to their owner missing bags, argue over compensation for damage etc etc. To say all of this *needs* to be done to provide a public transport service is ... well ... simply untrue.

[quote=donttellmywife]From your last sentence I presume that by "no allocated seating" you are referring to the original Jetstar approach - you buy a ticket that guarantees you a seat on a particular service, you are just not sure where?

(If you mean "you ticket doesn't guarantee of a seat at all", then I think that's impractical given the frequency of service and typical travel times. Being able to buy tickets from the buffet [i]might[/i] be acceptable to accommodate last minute flexibility, but a last minute purchase should not and would not be the norm for a CountryLink style service, from either the point of view of the traveller or operator.)
[/quote]
Yep. Exactly. The advantage is you don't *need* to check the tickets. It only becomes a revenue protection measure, and random/semi-random enforcement is enough.

[quote]
For travellers, I do see the benefit in being able to select your seat[s] in advance. For individuals it might just be personal preference - for groups, particularly family groups, it might start to border on being a necessity.
[/quote]
Last Easter I took the family down to Canberra. As always these days it's a question of designing the trip, checking availability, then making the bookings (which these days often involves a deposit and a cancellation fee). I check availability on CountryLink web site - no dramas. I go ahead and book the accommodation over the net. Then I call the CL call centre and try and book the seats the internet had quoted me a fare for and the call centre said they couldn't/wouldn't take the booking. The reason? Although there were enough seats, they couldn't find enough seats together for the kids to be with the parents. By "early binding" seat allocations they were forced to turn away business because of seat allocation policies even though they had vacancies. And because I can't book the bikes through the website the booking has to be through the call centre.

In practice, travelling with small kids on crowded services is rarely a problem because people - especially all those grannies on CountryLink - are happy to move and make space for the kids. And even if no-one does this voluntarily immediately, all I have to do is say "right kids, I have to go and sit over there, you kids can sit here, try not to make too much noise" and the horrified people in the neighbouring seats make space anyway.

Anyway, so I've book and pre-paid the hotel but can no longer book the train even though it has vacancies. I'd presumed the internet let me book the tickets because it's engine simply didn't check for seat adjacency as a requirement with young kids. But thinking about it a bit - I make sure I completely close down my all my browser sessions opn the CL site and call back again. Different operator, but this time "jeeze you're lucky - last available adjacent seats!"

The Canberra train probably isn't the best example because it's only on very rare occasions it's ever fully booked (Easter School Holidays and Floriade), but it also a small train so it doesn't take much extra load to fill it up.

[quote]
I also see the benefit for the operator, in being able to have had seating resolved [mostly] ahead of time, particularly when services are heavily booked. It is just a potential source of conflict and frustration that you don't need.[/quote]
That reminds me of an incident I saw about 15 years ago now. Some guy had had a few drinks and decided he was going to sit in seat X and decided to be a bit intransigent about it. He (politely) told the passengers who were *supposed* to be in that seat to find somewhere else. This (eventually) brought the senior TA who was told the same thing - first politely, then not so politely. The TA took a few attempts to resolve it, but not before after it came to blows. Maybe you're right in sorting out these issues in advance is a good thing. But then, perhaps not having anything to conflict about in the first place might be just as effective.

[quote]
Where services are lightly booked my experience has been that they are pretty flexible anyway about where you can sit - allocated seating still helps in this respect because the cabin manager can look at their manifest and see whether your request to jump forward a few rows is going to cause issues later in the trip or not. A manifest that shows name, seat, origin and destination is also useful for identifying at a glance whether those in the cabin are those who should be in the cabin - it reduces ticket checking time.
[/quote]
And without a manifest or allocated seating, you don't need a cabin manager!

[quote]
It has been a long time since I caught a long distance bus, and that would have been in Qld (Brisbane - Isa or similar - see - I know long distance travel pain), but I still recall seating being allocated.
[/quote]
The only long distance busses I've taken recently have been CountryLink. IIRC CL do assign seat numbers on the bus, but the driver in each case has just said "sit anywhere you like" regardless of loading. Loading of luggage was usually done by the driver at the interchange railway station, but often with the assistance of the PAX. Done as he checked the PAX and destinations off the manifest so bags were stacked in the right order. On disembarkation the driver opens the hold, unloads some bags but PAX are able to unload their own bags too if there are lots.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Given the role of CountryLink, and the fact it is heavily subsidised, you have to question the point of yield management.  It's not like higher paying customers in FC generate more profit, they just add to the losses.
"djf01"
The point is to make more money? I mean, the underlying sentiment I'm buying here is DTMW's suggestion that high demand for sleepers during peak periods is a case to charge more for them.
  DHT Assistant Commissioner

The point is to make more money? I mean, the underlying sentiment I'm buying here is DTMW's suggestion that high demand for sleepers during peak periods is a case to charge more for them.
Watson374

Second this notion.  Containing costs is one side of the equation to a successful business, increasing revenue is the other side.  Yield management increases overall revenue if applied properly.  So long as the increase in revenue generated is offset by the increase in costs, then separated first/economy makes sense. Market based fares a good idea, drop fares in times of low demand, raise them in times of peak demand.

Also, I do not agree that first class should be abolished. First class passengers on Countrylink get very little over above an economy class passenger, even though fares are c 40% higher than the economy fare. At the same time only 20% less passengers are carried in an first class carriage compared to an economy class carriage.  Comparing like-for-like, a first class carriage will generate more for the bottom line than an economy class.  

Sleepers are much more questionable. In order to generate the same income as an economy class carriage, the sleeper fare needs to be in the order 3 times the economy fare, much higher than it is now.  In addition there are costs for catering and linen etc which also need to be covered. The business case for sleepers is poor and I doubt prices can be raised to a level where the business case is sound.
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
Money? I hope no one thinks this is all about making money from ticket sales to pay for a train?

The government subsided 69% of Countrylinks ticket income (78% of Cityrail's income was covered by Government ) in the 2010-11 FY. A large proportion of passengers are pensioners etc, and it is a worsening trend.
PAX for Countrylink have been stabble at 1.6m / year... but that is after falling from 2.5m/year 10-15 years ago.


Whilst a project such as the 2 car Bathurst Bullet have been a success, the XPT is not increasing in patronage. I took the Dubbo XPT on a Wednesday to Dubbo two months ago, which maybe the quietest day. Patronage was reasonable until Orange. But will below 50% at Dubbo. A bit hard to justify more trains.

XPT when it is replaced will be replaced with something Xplorer or a Velocity type unit.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Or a faster cheaper bus . Yep bendy bus to Orange and road bus to Dubbo . Only one change for those west of Orange and a bit less paperwork than shooting people ...
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Money? I hope no one thinks this is all about making money from ticket sales to pay for a train?

The government subsided 69% of Countrylinks ticket income (78% of Cityrail's income was covered by Government ) in the 2010-11 FY. A large proportion of passengers are pensioners etc, and it is a worsening trend.

Jim K
The poor cost recovery of CountryLink (or alternatively, the relatively high net cost to government for the service delivered) is a direct threat to its continued existence.  Measures to increase revenue that don't fundamentally change the cost structure of the service or the type of service delivered are a significant opportunity to ameliorate that threat.

(There is a difference between subsidy and concession.)
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
The way things are an XPT replacement is not feasable, maybe they are better off continuing to overhaul the current fleet when time allows, didn't they get new technology engines ten years ago? Are their newer versions available?
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Given the role of CountryLink, and the fact it is heavily subsidised, you have to question the point of yield management. It's not like higher paying customers in FC generate more profit, they just add to the losses.
djf01

Yield management does not mean you need to have multiple classes of travel, with differences in hard product (i.e. seats that are different in some way).  Yield management means that you actively vary your fares in order to maximise your revenue from a particular service.  CountryLink already do this, to a limited extent, now.  (As part of varying your fares to maximise revenue, higher fares for the same physical class of travel might attract soft benefits, such as no fee for itinerary changes, complimentary checked luggage, etc.)

Having multiple physical classes of travel does give you more options in terms of yield management.

Whether having separate hard product classes is worth while is purely a question of relative demand.  As others have said, per cabin, a CountryLink FC configured cabin will deliver the same revenue at very similar cost to a EC configured cabin even if it has 15% lower load factor - sell every seat in EC and only sell 90% of the seats in FC - and the FC cabin still has lower net cost ("more profit") to CountryLink.  That difference is significant, despite the all but imperceptible difference in physical installation.  Note that we're not fundamentally changing the social service provided - you are still connecting regions with the capital, you are still providing an opportunity for low cost travel to those not willing to pay more, but if you can achieve the relative loadings required, you are doing so at lower net cost to the taxpayer.  Same service, lower cost to the taxpayer?  That is a good thing in my book.

I think there is considerable potential there for further differentiation in product, further increases in fares and and further reductions in net cost, that outweigh the complexity issue associated with multiple classes.  I clearly don't have hard data to support that - but similar commercial travel markets operate with differentiated products, presumably for good reason.

And without a manifest or allocated seating, you don't need a cabin manager!"
djf01

For the foreseeable future, you are always going to have someone on the train that acts as some sort of passenger attendant for longer distance services - I think practical alternatives to that come with higher cost.  Given the open access to CountryLink stations it makes sense for that attendant to be checking tickets as part of their general duties in the various cabins.  Checking seat assignment (which is really just a sanity check - most of us will [be able to successfully] follow the instructions on the ticket) and/or class of ticket is an inconsequential increase in work load - as I stated, seat allocation ahead of time would more than likely result in a reduction in workload.

I think Jetstar's abandonment of free seating, even though access to the aircraft is very controlled, is somewhat telling (though admittedly there are differences in the style of operation that may make that decision less relevant).
  Duncs Chief Commissioner

As and when the XPT finally gets replaced on the main south line from Sydney to Melbourne, I imagine a tilt train will be the logical replacement. I am using the Brisbane to Cairns diesel tilit train as an example for this thread. It can run 6 - 8 cars (average weight of around 45 tons each) and each power car weighs 64 tons and produces 3600hp, so 7200hp for the entire set.
So I am wondering what time saving can be achieved? I assume a maximum speed of 160kph in southern NSW, as the XPT already does today. The current timetable is for an 11 hour trip at best.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Or a faster cheaper bus . Yep bendy bus to Orange and road bus to Dubbo . Only one change for those west of Orange and a bit less paperwork than shooting people ...
BDA
Not a bad idea, at least with shooting potential customers the paper work will also be dead.

Anyway if I read correct, there will likely be no need to replace the Overnight XPT to Brisbane if the new TT ends up coming as planned. 1430 or something ex Sydney, & 0400 into Brisbane, then of course the daylight saving adjustments will certainly encourage a lot of customers.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Or a faster cheaper bus . Yep bendy bus to Orange and road bus to Dubbo . Only one change for those west of Orange and a bit less paperwork than shooting people ...
BDA
Faster buses...on smoother roads, with less traffic.  Stop it...you're killing me Laughing

Brings to mind those new car ads when the only car on the road is the new car being advertised, and the roads are as smooth as silk  Rolling Eyes
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Sorry no killing , it's against CL policy .

Facts :

1) The unrealistic want 160 km/h trains on mostly 60-120 km/h capable lines .
2) Fast trains are cheaper than fast lines , pointy trains look fast and Joe average idiot who can't see the country lines thinks fast travel is done deal . Nevs wool over the eyes trick still fools some people - how many years down the track ?
2) No political will , read bux , to improve stone aged alignments and line condition . You are a moron if you think the money is available to buy wanky spanky 200 km/h trains and straight flat lines to TGV standards - and still have 22% cost recovery
3) Class warfare , or was that welfare , so pay 40% more for 1% better concrete block to sit on .
4) There are a couple of ways you can look at 22% cost recovery , (a) it costs too much to provide the service or (b) da komrad ve provide service to all plebs and shoot any who complain about taxes .
5) I DO think voting citizen taxpayers have a right to be concerned how their taxes are spent or squandered , and NO the sitting government does not have the right to go off on its own agenda holding a gun to OUR heads Julia style .
It's getting to be almost a foregone conclusion that the current government in Can'tbra will change and if people were smart they'd be leaning on the other mob to reveal what sort of transport policies they have in mind .
6) Blindly stating with any government "they've go to do it , going to do it , they will do it , it'll have to be " with anything is brain dead lunacy . If everyone everywhere rode governments to provide rail transport infrastructure there's a very good chance it would happen . The trouble is that the vast majority in society don't give a rats asterisk about long distance trains and have no reason to concern themselves with them . Governments very obviously know this and have little to no interest in spending on things that can quickly absorb huge amounts of capital .
  PClark Chief Commissioner

The introduction of the XPT was a stuff-up caused by pollies making hasty, half-baked decisions without thinking beyond the date of the next election.

Neville Wran was elected in May 1976 and, in January ’77, the Granville disaster, whilst hardly the fault of his eight month old government, made improvements to the State’s railways a matter of political urgency.

What better way to convince a gullible electorate that this was being done than to arrange a photo opportunity of Premier Wran taking delivery of a sexy new, state-of-the-art train about one month before the 1981 election?

Unfortunately, there was no “big plan” behind the initial XPT order.  It was not clear just what services would be provided, what would be the fate of existing trains not replaced by XPTs or what on-board accommodation and services would be provided.

The initial order was delivered with a mixture of 2+1 first and 2+2 economy seating very similar to that on the British Rail HSTs but, when the trains went into service, all seats were sold at first class fares plus a fairly substantial supplement.  The spin-doctors explained the difference between the two types of seating as an “experiment to determine public preference”.

It soon became apparent that the public didn’t like either type very much because they didn’t rotate or recline and about half the passengers had to travel sitting backwards.  After a while they were replaced by 2+2 reclining and rotating seats as customary on longer-distance Australian trains and they trains went back to being two class.  However, the difference between first and economy was negligible and hardly justified the 40% surcharge for first class.

When it was decided to replace the loco-hauled overnight trains between Sydney and Brisbane and Murwillumbah with XPTs it was originally intended that there would be no sleeping cars, the excuse being that it would be possible for passengers to choose day travel on routes that had previously required an overnight journey

When “public outcry” forced a reversal of this policy the result was a small number of mongrel “day-nighter” cars that provided neither single compartments nor even basic washing facilities within cabins.      The “day” configuration seats three passengers abreast on fixed seats, staring at a wall with half of them sitting backwards.

If ever the adage that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee” applied it would be to these cars.

Of course, the need for these hybrid cars arose from the concept that the number of sets required could be minimised by running trains to Brisbane and Melbourne and having them return to Sydney after only about an hour’s layover.

While this reduced the need for capital investment it unfortunately has been proved not to work as regards train performance and passenger satisfaction.  Late running in one direction cascades into a late return journey or even partial bustitution as happens so often on the Melbourne service.

Trying to run too many services with too few trains means that schedules are determined by equipment availability rather than passenger convenience - the northbound Brisbane service being the prime example.  Also, overnight and day trains are very different animals, needing different types of accommodation and services if they are to compete for “real” passengers in a highly competitive market.

As for the catering; the less said the better.

If the XPT programme had been carefully thought out with cooperation between the involved governments, railway management and the unions then long-distance rail travel, faced with increasing competition from a deregulated airline industry, might have been able to stage a strategic retreat to a position of strength - smaller, faster, better fitted-out trains with decent catering running to convenient schedules with good cross-platform connections at Central.

Instead the result was a rout to the extent that many potential customers do not even know that there is still a rail service between our capitals.

But all this would need to have been done thirty years ago when rail still had a measurable market share.  I doubt whether it can be done today.

It is one thing to nurse a sick patient back to health but quite another to resurrect a corpse!




  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Yes it was a typical NSW GR football kicked off by a State Premier . It was never going to achieve what the political liars wanted a gullible public to believe .
The bottom line is that Joe average does not have a clue about how pathetically poor our rail corridors are because they never get to see them . Thirty years ago jumping in the family wagon and going on a 3-600+ Km jaunt was a major event whereas today its a nothing special event . When the X was new the Hume and Pacific highways were semi suicidal goat tracks but today its a case of set the cruise on 100/110 and aim towards the horizon . The clueless probably think interstate rail links are much the same only somewhere out of sight . Do you think the public would put up with 60/65/70 km/h bends for much of the drive from Sydney to Bethungra on the way to Melbourne ? I reckon the old Pacific would have been worse over a greater distance .
Same old garbage . Build a sharp looking train that can go fast and the plebs think you're on a winner . Aim it at lots of tight bends in territory out of sight and mind and most of the public remain oblivious . Doing speed trials to 193 km/h between Wagga and Albury sucks whats left of Homers brain out his earhole but he believes we have a very fast train in NSW . How would he know that the Xpensive Plastic Toy is snaking down the Cullerin Ranges doing substantially less than half of 193 km/h and he could legally beat it in the Kingswood from Sydney to the border .

Governments have for a long time been ignoring the REAL issue which is fixing steam age rail alignments . It's the only way to make rail transport effective and they KNOW its a VERY expensive task . It doesn't MATTER how powerfull you make the trains , any trains , because they will not go fast safely around tight radius bends and taking super elevation and tilting cars to the limits won't get pass trains fast around these twisty sections .
The Hume and Pacific work because they are far more direct than their "parallel" rail corridors and aligned to be fast virtually everywhere .
If the powers that be won't do anything about interstate rail alignments then its useless persisting with an expensive specialised train that can't use its own potential . I think a conventional railway is better utilised by conventional trains because the equipment required is plentiful and cheaper overall .
Every time the X can't make its turn arounds from distant Capital cities its a conceptual failure in my book , this happens too often so really the writing is on the wall . The "specialised" expense surrounding these XPTs is a waste IMO and with twenty something percent cost recovery a financial nowhere .  
The worst failing of Wrans xpensive wet dream it that it doesn't deliver customer service , forget not being fast or timely its a ship cart to ride around in and offers only plastic "food" on the run . I cannot think of one paying repeat customer that went all the way anywhere on the worm , all came away scarred vowing never ever again . If you were looking for the real rail experience you'd have a better chance of getting it in a real passenger train with real facilities . The XPT was a wowser attempt to save money over conventional trains of the day and even in that it failed dismally . Most of you will never know what an utterly failure prone and mega mega expensive train those XPTs were for many years after they arrived here . I know because I had a few stints on the tools at Meeks Road in the middle 1980's and the ridiculous and hugely expensive component failures those mongrel things had again and again and again were only survived by throwing cubic dollars at them . Your tax dollars if you were working at the time . Pathetic poorly developed unreliable Pommy garbage , the sort of crap EMD ALCO and GE could never have gotten away with . I worked on most classes of the then Freight Rails fleet at Delec , on the tools , and nothing was as failure prone as the XPT "power cars" .
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Most interesting reading PClark (Peter) and BDA.

Peter your history and consequently your reporting is so tainted by the good days of your regular travel on the then often union ban, read ETU affected Southern Aurora, that anyone, even a non-railfan would soon realise the standard of service offered between the 'Aurora and the XPT were as different as chalk and cheese.

As much as I hate to admit it, the unions so contributed to the demise of interstate rail travel through bans, strikes and walk-offs even while the train was docked at Platform 1, Spencer St that IMO it's the primary reason today's interstate rail service is a mere shadow of its glory days of the 60's to the early 80's.

The only way that can ever change is generationally, as the Regional (less)Fast Rail has done for Victoria through the inevitable VHST Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne which will come after we are the proverbial 'corpses' as well.

Completely off topic...are you doing one last trip on the diesel hauled Sunlander (Queenslander class) of course, before its total and much lamented to be demise in July 2014 Question

Mike.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
...
The worst failing of Wrans xpensive wet dream it that it doesn't deliver customer service , forget not being fast or timely its a ship cart to ride around in and offers only plastic "food" on the run . I cannot think of one paying repeat customer that went all the way anywhere on the worm , all came away scarred vowing never ever again . If you were looking for the real rail experience you'd have a better chance of getting it in a real passenger train with real facilities . The XPT was a wowser attempt to save money over conventional trains of the day and even in that it failed dismally . Most of you will never know what an utterly failure prone and mega mega expensive train those XPTs were for many years after they arrived here . I know because I had a few stints on the tools at Meeks Road in the middle 1980's and the ridiculous and hugely expensive component failures those mongrel things had again and again and again were only survived by throwing cubic dollars at them . Your tax dollars if you were working at the time . Pathetic poorly developed unreliable Pommy garbage , the sort of crap EMD ALCO and GE could never have gotten away with . I worked on most classes of the then Freight Rails fleet at Delec , on the tools , and nothing was as failure prone as the XPT "power cars" .
BDA
Of course the other lot (yeah I know they're not your mob WinkSmile) ran things down to the extent that the public were demanding investment in rail (post-Granville). The XPT has lasted a long time and is still provides relatively 'modern' passenger facilities.

Yes Fahey did share his own wet dream (Tilt train) but that was a flash in the sheets Laughing

Perhaps if they broke the power of rail unions, cut wages/outsourced back in the 70's there would have been more money going back into track. Twisted Evil
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
The XPT has lasted because huge sums of money were thrown at them and there was little read no alternative for rail passengers .
If you want to talk about strikes and bans which side of politics does the labour movement prop up ? And like I keep telling you the WB strikes were about removing the fireman/trainee driver from the loco cab , not the gard and brake van from the other end . Aside from fireman/trainee drivers doing any shunting or fixing problems on the train , "WB work" , it was business as usual without a brake van . The guard was very cheap and easy to replace with a flashing red light and a reflector .
Don't know if you are old enough to remember but the chief issue was the 50 50 split of work as second persons in loco cabs . Now because there were more fireman/trainee drivers than there was guards the 50% split of work was never going to fit . In dollars and cents guards cost more than fireman and when you consider that they were displacing someone trying to gain experience to be a driver it was a lose lose situation for everyone taxpayer included . Most guards had no intention of training to be drivers and if they did they wouldn't have been guards to start with would they ? Most fireman took longer to train because guards were taking 50% of the mainline work without being 50% of the second person workforce . They got to pick and choose their work and the trainees got the scraps . If you were a guard would you take the comfy do SFA in the cab of a locomotive mainline job or the in and out of a cab all night wheat shunter ? They took the mainline jobs because they didn't have to do much - like learning roads or fault finding the horse . Of course they knew that mainline was where the mileage and tonnage money was too but again they did SFA to get it because someone else was doing all the work . Equal split pigs smeg .

Anyway a lot has changed since the early to mid 1980s , including governments , and stuff all has been done to the interstate rail alignments . Train crew productivity is higher now than it ever was because we do more and run further . Major depots crewing and service wise cease to exist and the number or people needed to get each train from one capital to the next is vastly reduced .
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
The XPT has lasted because huge sums of money were thrown at them and there was little read no alternative for rail passengers .
If you want to talk about strikes and bans which side of politics does the labour movement prop up ? And like I keep telling you the WB strikes were about removing the fireman/trainee driver from the loco cab , not the gard and brake van from the other end . Aside from fireman/trainee drivers doing any shunting or fixing problems on the train , "WB work" , it was business as usual without a brake van . The guard was very cheap and easy to replace with a flashing red light and a reflector .
Don't know if you are old enough to remember but the chief issue was the 50 50 split of work as second persons in loco cabs . Now because there were more fireman/trainee drivers than there was guards the 50% split of work was never going to fit . In dollars and cents guards cost more than fireman and when you consider that they were displacing someone trying to gain experience to be a driver it was a lose lose situation for everyone taxpayer included . Most guards had no intention of training to be drivers and if they did they wouldn't have been guards to start with would they ? Most fireman took longer to train because guards were taking 50% of the mainline work without being 50% of the second person workforce . They got to pick and choose their work and the trainees got the scraps . If you were a guard would you take the comfy do SFA in the cab of a locomotive mainline job or the in and out of a cab all night wheat shunter ? They took the mainline jobs because they didn't have to do much - like learning roads or fault finding the horse . Of course they knew that mainline was where the mileage and tonnage money was too but again they did SFA to get it because someone else was doing all the work . Equal split pigs smeg .

Anyway a lot has changed since the early to mid 1980s , including governments , and stuff all has been done to the interstate rail alignments . Train crew productivity is higher now than it ever was because we do more and run further . Major depots crewing and service wise cease to exist and the number or people needed to get each train from one capital to the next is vastly reduced .
BDA
The internal fighting between guard and driver is what caused the problems. If they just all accepted that a guy riding in a 30t wagon 1000m behind the driver on modern trains is out of date and developed a new role for the No.2 position with what ever the skills list is required and ignored the guard vs driver, guards picking the cream BS, things would have been different. I've seen similar done elsewhere. Certainly our friends in the air managed after the "Engineer" role was phased out and the two pilots were left with the job.

The state/railway did what needed to be done, made trains 2 man operation despite the internal protests. The unions let everyone know their view point by making us walk/bus it for a few weeks. Other railways in Australia seemed to have managed the change without such action and have even gone one step further to DOO again peacefully.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
It wasn't a BS thing and no the guards were not put in the drivers stream at that stage . You can't train to be a main line driver without going on the main line and when someone replaces you who is not not a trainee driver what are you supposed to do ? I had four years of this at Enfield fool so don't tell me it's BS . Many many times I was in the shed or on yard shunters whilst guard second persons rolled past on the mainline .
I will make it my business to find out what happened in other states and I'm pretty sure the guard either got axed with the van or was made a trainee engineperson . The powers that be in NSW couldn't do this because a greater force in the then NSW railways , Traffic Branch , would have shut the state down .
NSW had more fireman than drivers which proves that it was the Guards position that became redundant when the brake van got the flick . The strike was over keeping the trainee driver in the cab where he could learn his job AND do the gards job - not just the guards job . Since he cost less than the Guard and was more specifically multi skilled it would have made for a better cost benefit ratio wouldn't it brilliance ? Its called greater productivity and wasn't that and cost savings the whole point of the exercise ?
Mainline DOO in WA and SA , they don't have any of the protections required by NSW . No deadman no ATP no nothing except a slightly shorter vic cycle . These days locomotives with electronic brake racks have a thing called a dump valve which vents the brake pipe to zero when the vig goes off . The brakes won't stay on forever and eventually leak off . If noone can get to the train to wind handbrakes on before they do on a grade the train is a run away because single shoe per wheel loco brakes can only hold so much . Train brake holding tests only allow for someone present on the train to walk back winding on mechanical park brakes , not someone to drive by road for an hour and then start cranking them on . Ask me next time about the coal train that failed on Como Bank many years ago that started to creep backwards because the two man crew were struggling to get enough mechanical brakes on in time and that was with 31 hoppers not 45 . All the brake pipe maintaining features in the world are useless when your compressors aren't running .
  a6et Minister for Railways

It wasn't a BS thing and no the guards were not put in the drivers stream at that stage . You can't train to be a main line driver without going on the main line and when someone replaces you who is not not a trainee driver what are you supposed to do ? I had four years of this at Enfield fool so don't tell me it's BS . Many many times I was in the shed or on yard shunters whilst guard second persons rolled past on the mainline .
I will make it my business to find out what happened in other states and I'm pretty sure the guard either got axed with the van or was made a trainee engineperson . The powers that be in NSW couldn't do this because a greater force in the then NSW railways , Traffic Branch , would have shut the state down .
NSW had more fireman than drivers which proves that it was the Guards position that became redundant when the brake van got the flick . The strike was over keeping the trainee driver in the cab where he could learn his job AND do the gards job - not just the guards job . Since he cost less than the Guard and was more specifically multi skilled it would have made for a better cost benefit ratio wouldn't it brilliance ? Its called greater productivity and wasn't that and cost savings the whole point of the exercise ?
Mainline DOO in WA and SA , they don't have any of the protections required by NSW . No deadman no ATP no nothing except a slightly shorter vic cycle . These days locomotives with electronic brake racks have a thing called a dump valve which vents the brake pipe to zero when the vig goes off . The brakes won't stay on forever and eventually leak off . If noone can get to the train to wind handbrakes on before they do on a grade the train is a run away because single shoe per wheel loco brakes can only hold so much . Train brake holding tests only allow for someone present on the train to walk back winding on mechanical park brakes , not someone to drive by road for an hour and then start cranking them on . Ask me next time about the coal train that failed on Como Bank many years ago that started to creep backwards because the two man crew were struggling to get enough mechanical brakes on in time and that was with 31 hoppers not 45 . All the brake pipe maintaining features in the world are useless when your compressors aren't running .
BDA
The aspect that is not to be forgotten is that the ARU or guards union at the time was in complete agreement with the removal of the vans, they had no issues with it. What is not known or more to the point is conveniently forgotten is that the agreement with the ARU had actually been in place for some time prior to the issue coming to a head.  It began with a reorganisation of the branches, & the taking over of the enginemens positions from the Mechanical Branch, those in actual control of the much of the railway administration at the time were primarily from the Traffic branch & were very much interested in ensuring their side were assured of their positions.

The agreement reached with the ARU & this was before any approach was made to the AFULE & all the membership which included trainee enginemen through to drivers. The big sticking point for the railways was getting the right time to do it, & that meant with the least impact on customers, the perfect opportunity arose when the drought late in 82 commenced which was the catalyst for it to take place as there was hardly any wheat movements also most of the work needed to be done especially for shunting in most of the locations around the state was not in place, had it been then it would have revealed something was going on.

When the event was decided on the railways advised the AFULE that they intended to remove the vans progressively from coal trains in the Hunter Valley, commencing with those areas where balloon loop working was to take place.  No negotiations were initiated only the proposed timing was dropped into the lap of the AFULE. The railways were not concerned with the manning issue at that point as there were more than enough trains still vans & there was always shortages of vans & guards anyway, but when asked about the crewing arrangements that were to take place following the HV removals, that is when the fullness of the proposals were revealed.

The railways were not going to initiate any tests, regarding safety or other known problems at many locations around the state, but once in place the working will then be introduced on all through freight services around the state, displaced guards would be moved to the locomotives & replace the observers position. Observers would be redeployed until such times as a vacancy occurred.  However, what also was then thrown in was that the railways would treat the time on the job or seniority of the guards at a higher ranking than that of enginemen, but no guard would be permitted to progress to driver, for the length of their remaining service.

These were the initial issues that caused the problems, & while its easy to say ""THE UNION"" was the cause of the problem, it was not. As the information went out regarding what was to take place, it was the enginemen themselves that revolted & said no.  More so the fact that the driving grades led the revolt.

The whole issue was brought about purely through the way the rail heads with approval from the government went about things.  During the early stages the ARU demanded that guards be entitled to work all positions on the loco, & that included yard shunters, & trip trains, also the position in the cab on passenger trains where an observer was employed, however, any train that had a guard employed was sacrosanct & not for the observer, in other words it would be ok to have a guard on a trip train in both the van, & on the engine, but you could not have an observer on the engine & in the van.

Remember also, that the position of observer, which replaced the role of the fireman after steam finished was put aside for graded ranks of enginemen that gave incremental rises from the trainee position (cleaner, non acting) through to driver, thus it was a promotional system to be a driver, & as BDA points out it was on job training under the direction of the driver throughout the career. The ARU wanted no part of that, nor the elimination of the Guards position as it protected their union, & the ARU officials wanted no part in any agreement that meant the elimination of the position of guard.  They also argued that the position of fireman/observer was eliminated when steam finished. Yet they refused to accept that the guards position was redundant with their rear end home was removed, no van = no guards position.

The AFULE, countered by saying it was ok for the guard to come on the engine if they transferred into the enginemens ranks & began the promotion grading behind those enginemen who were already in the system. It was the ARU & the railways who rejected that, & said the guards would be on the engine full stop.  There's a heck of lot more that I could say, except that no engineman wanted the obnoxious & degrading job title that was given to the trainee driver & that is 2nd person.  What other industry would propose such a demeaning job description to a person training, (well that's how it is now anyway) for a highly responsible position.

It also did not stop with guards being up on the engine either, as a heck of a lot of other positions that were eliminated also have ended up on the engine & now drivers, but at least they were prepared to accept that aspect of their positions going, but it happened after the ARU was declared dead & buried.
  PClark Chief Commissioner

What has all this endless stuff about guards and drivers got to do with the XPT or it's replacement?

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