Service Cuts to Overland - GSR Press Announcement

 
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Just to clarify I wasn't suggesting that the Overland be aimed at the Melbourne - Geelong market though any fares taken would surely be welcomed just as it's possible to book Melbourne - North Shore today.  The thinking was more to provide a service into the heart of a major city - which will remain a major city in its own right whether cars are made there or not - for anyone wishing to travel in either direction rather than the present extremely crude arrangements.

The SG route into Melbourne through the yards is slow now but the RRL may create faster possibilities.  

If two trains were to be used with a change at a break of gauge (at Ararat as things stand) then we can utilise the present V/Line operation with probably an extra unit attached to the connecting train and might be able to offset that with a reduction in the near-parallel road coach service depending upon the needs of those non rail-served communities which may be most affected if that were reduced or abandoned.

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  Southern Aurora Locomotive Driver

Let's place an order for a SG Vlocity set to be built with 1st class and refreshment provision; or at a cheaper cost give Countrylink the Overland set for it's Canberra service and V/L can have it's XPT from the Melbourne-Sydney service to operate a day return service at 160kph: Melbourne dep.0800; Adelaide arr.1330; dep.1430; Melbourne arr.2000! Track can be upgraded and passengers could even be attracted from airlines back to rail if our fast trains were used the way they were initially built to be used! Laughing
  Black Hoppers Chief Train Controller

Location: Banned
Let's place an order for a SG Vlocity set to be built with 1st class and refreshment provision; or at a cheaper cost give Countrylink the Overland set for it's Canberra service and V/L can have it's XPT from the Melbourne-Sydney service to operate a day return service at 160kph Melbourne dep.0800; Adelaide arr.1330; dep.1430; Melbourne arr.2000! Track can be upgraded and passengers could even be attracted from airlines back to rail if our fast trains were used the way they were initially built to be used! lol
"Southern Aurora"


So basicly you want to replace clapped out life expired rollingstock with other clapped out life expired rollingstock, yeah sure that will fix the problems of a dying service.
Got me amazed that GSR dont just give it a quick trip to the vets and have the old girl put down in a humane way.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Melbourne dep.0800; Adelaide arr.1330; dep.1430; Melbourne arr.2000!
"Southern Aurora"


So thats 5.5 hours each way, at an average of 160kph!!  so your 2nd XPT had can reach speeds of 200kph to make up for the slow sections?
  witsend Chief Commissioner

Location: Front RH Seat of a School Bus
Therein lies a big part of the problem; it's been discussed in the last few pages about how it could be made more relevant to the towns along the route.  If you were going to use it you would have to be available on one of the two days that it actually works and unlike the bus you can't just rock up - it has to be pre-booked.  Really for anyone living in those towns Stateliner, the V-Line Bendigo-Adelaide bus or Firefly would have to be the better option?
don_dunstan
For reference, the former Passenger Transport Board, now known as (insert actual name here) actually has stipulations protecting regional area contracts, part of it is in return for providing concession fares.

Between Adelaide and Mount Barker, services are provided by AdelaideMetro.
Between Mount Barker and Tailem Bend, services are provided by LinkSA.
Between Tailem Bend and Bordertown, services are provideed by Premier Stateliner.
VLine & Firefly are permitted to operate through, but may not set down leaving Adelaide, or pickup Adelaide bound. Premier Stateliner is bound by the same rules in LinkSA territory, and LinkSA is bound by the same rules in AdelaideMetro territory.

It is permissible for a passenger travelling to Bordertown from Murray Bridge to board a Premier Stateliner service in LinkSA territory. I do not have to travel via a LinkSA coach on its rare service to Tailem Bend then change.

A similar thing applies between Adelaide and Coober Pedy, and I may be a little off, but I'll do my best.
Between Adelaide and Virginia, services are provided AdelaideMetro
Between Virginia and Balaklava, Port Wakefield & Kulpara & into the Yorke Peninsula, services are provided by YP Coaches.
Between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta, via Highway 1 & via Bute & Pt Broughton, services are provided by Premier Stateliner
Between Port Augusta and Coober Pedy, services are via Greyhound on their Alice Springs service.

For reference, Virginia is a little unique in that you can actually travel on the YP Coaches bus to Adelaide, as well as use AdelaideMetro, but you pay YP Coaches rates, not AdMet rates.

For example, if I am travelling from Virginia to Port Augusta, I do not have to travel with YP Coaches to Port Wakefield and change buses.

If you want to see it visually, you can download the map here: http://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/bussa/pdf/bigmap.pdf

PS. If you don't prebook, the bus typically will not stop for you. In the major towns, you can just turn up before departure and get a ticket, but if you are at locality on the route, say Dublin, you must book or the bus will bypass you. If they don't have to detour, they won't. Also if you pre-book, you are normally guaranteed a seat on the bus.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I got on the Adelaide-bound V-Line bus once at Horsham when it was being subcontracted to Firefly, I think maybe 2005.  The booking office at Horsham for some reason (can't recall why) told me I would have to buy a ticket from the Firefly driver but when the bus got there a really annoyed driver refused to sell me a ticket, muttering something about the bus station people having no idea.  He told me to get on and buy a ticket in Adelaide but when we actually got to the old Franklin Street bus station he waved me off and said 'seeya later' - free trip!  I guess because they were subcontractors they didn't give a damn about numbers/tickets.

EDIT: I'm not endorsing fare evasion on country buses BTW but it was just one of those situations where nobody could be bothered taking my money for some reason.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

For reference, the former Passenger Transport Board, now known as (insert actual name here) actually has stipulations protecting regional area contracts, part of it is in return for providing concession fares.
witsend
That would be the Public Transport Services Division, a division of the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.

The main point of the 2009-2010 restructuring was to streamline the back office by bringing all the administrative work in to the Department itself instead of TransAdelaide and the PTB handling all their own administrative functions.

EDIT: I'm not endorsing fare evasion on country buses BTW but it was just one of those situations where nobody could be bothered taking my money for some reason.
don_dunstan

It's not evasion if you were authorised to do it!
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
Congrats! One of the smartest ideas I've ever read on this forum because it would cost nearly nothing to implement and they could always give it a 12-month trial and see if it works/attracts passengers.  You'd have to do it as a daily service to give it a proper trial though and I also think V-Line should run the service as it makes more sense trying to co-ordinate it all.

The only thing I would suggest would be a much longer canopy along Ararat station so that people don't get wet when they're changing trains but otherwise I feel you have a great idea there.  There's nothing wrong with Ararat being a 'break of gauge' transfer for as long as is necessary, if it proves popular with the public and develops the numbers then why not.
don_dunstan
Having travelled from Ballarat via V-Line to Ararat, waited for an hour in a very comfortable waiting room and travelled the rest of the way by the Overland as recently as the first run of a passenger train over the standard gauge since it was moved back onto its (almost) original alignment at Goodwood, travelled many times by necessity by Firefly for overnight runs to Melbourne, and by choice via Bendigo on V-line train and bus, I concur. The V-line/Overland trip from Ballarat was pleasant and not overlong. The only pain was towing my luggage from the GSR terminal to the bus, not funny for an 84 year old.

The patronage on the buses has always been near capacity, and as the considerable deviation involved in travel via Bendigo would be eliminated, I am certain that a daily all V-line trip right into Adelaide station would be very well patronized.  As said before by me and others, a gauge convertible set could do the trip if the bean counters realized that trains have more than an economic goal to fill. There is such a thing as social good in case you don't know about it – the option for very many who prefer to travel on the ground in safety and reasonable comfort, the lessening of road congestion and the social cost of accidents in insurance premiums, police and other rescue work, hospital costs, the permanent loss of lives or earning capacity with families being forced onto the public purse as just some examples.

Those who lectured me about my statement that governments don't have to bear eternal debt and interest need to read a little history (HINT: King O'Malley and the foundation of the Commonwealth Bank) instead of spouting what they 'learned' in lectures in Economics 1, one of the subjects taught in universities in non science/mathematical/practical disciplines that have no basis in reality, and degrees are gained by regurgitating the arrant nonsense of theorists who have managed to con people that they know it all. If it were a real science, Economics could do more than 'explain' events after they have happened, make forecasts that are more than guesswork, and repeatedly landing the world in the monumental messes where the public purse pays the costs while the crooks and gamblers continue to live in mansions, stay in five star hotels and eat in very expensive restaurants instead of languishing in gaol as they should. In case I may be thought to be anti-intellectual, I would respectfully suggest that my general education, reading and theoretical and on the ground knowledge of a large part of the world (including Spain and Eastern Europe where trains that can change gauge on the fly are daily realities), and my long career as an educator who has lived through what most of you have only read about, if at all, may just possibly make my opinion as valid as yours.

As it is highly unlikely that we will ever get the railway standards that have been taken for granted for years in enlightened countries, the idea of connecting a comfortable dailyOverland with V-line at Ararat is very attractive.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
Those who lectured me about my statement that governments don't have to bear eternal debt and interest need to read a little history (HINT: King O'Malley and the foundation of the Commonwealth Bank) instead of spouting what they 'learned' in lectures in Economics 1, one of the subjects taught in universities in non science/mathematical/practical disciplines that have no basis in reality, and degrees are gained by regurgitating the arrant nonsense of theorists who have managed to con people that they know it all. If it were a real science, Economics could do more than 'explain' events after they have happened, make forecasts that are more than guesswork, and repeatedly landing the world in the monumental messes where the public purse pays the costs while the crooks and gamblers continue to live in mansions, stay in five star hotels and eat in very expensive restaurants instead of languishing in gaol as they should. In case I may be thought to be anti-intellectual, I would respectfully suggest that my general education, reading and theoretical and on the ground knowledge of a large part of the world (including Spain and Eastern Europe where trains that can change gauge on the fly are daily realities), and my long career as an educator who has lived through what most of you have only read about, if at all, may just possibly make my opinion as valid as yours.  
SAR526
I made my comments from a position of knowing how government financing works:  there are only 2 ways governments can raise funds to cover their expenditures: taxes (including fees and charges for services), and by borrowing usually in the form of bonds.

Governments have been borrowing for ever.   Bonds are effectively interest only loans to government: the bond holder receives a periodical interest payment and, at the end of the term of the bond, repayment of capital.   If the bond holder so desires the bond can be rolled over effectively deferring the repayment of the debt to the new end of term.

It was back in Paul Keating's days as Treasurer that the capital and recurrent accounts were merged, and, surprise, doing this blew out the deficit.    Since then politicians have fixated on the debt level.

Before that infrastructure spending was clearly identified as that and was paid for by loans; recurrent expenditure from taxes, fees and charges.    Well practically, and the deficit, if any on the recurrent account was backed by more Government Bonds sometimes referred to as the government printing money.

Provided that the government had a good credit rating, and the Australian Government presently does, then this could be continued almost indefinitely.

But rolling the capital account into the recurrent account muddied the waters: all debt became bad, rather than just the debt on the recurrent account.

As I have previously said I have no problem with debt, the less so if it is for capital, infrastructure, projects.

Rail investment has been underfunded for some time: as steam4ian says in another thread, 600 metres of double track is hardly the major political announcement it was, but none-the-less it was welcome.

If you cast your mind back to 1968 when a great many regional rail services in the mid-north ceased there was the situation where the rolling stock being used was 40 years old and needed replacing, and the ongoing cost of doing that was never going to be anywhere near being met by the income through the fare box - the more so when trains were running carrying fresh air.

Such logic must be applied to The Overland.    There is a social value in running the service and we can only assume the present Government subsidies are a reflection on that.

But if the available passengers has fallen to the extent that GSR need to more match costs with revenue by reducing the service and apparently saving a crew, then they have no other choice.

The service can continue in its present form until the vehicles need replacing then, I'm afraid, that is it.

If patronage were to increase then who knows?
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
Governments have been borrowing for ever.   Bonds are effectively interest only loans to government: the bond holder receives a periodical interest payment and, at the end of the term of the bond, repayment of capital.   If the bond holder so desires the bond can be rolled over effectively deferring the repayment of the debt to the new end of term.

**I don't disagree with most of what you have written. The point is that the Reserve Bank could create interest free loans for capital works to the extent that is prudent in relation to the GDP – printing money in effect – with the expectation that any increase in such expenditure must occur only as the capital is paid back by taxation and revenue. Private banks are creating new money every day (with huge interest loadings) when they make loans that are not covered by their capital bases, and it is the huge burden of debt plus interest that has made my very hard earned $26,000 house 'worth' about $400,000 thirty years later, costing me dearly in rates and taxes based on capital value, and why, with such subsidies to the wealthy as negative gearing, young people are struggling to pay for their houses even though interest rates are way below the rates I had to pay. The United States have been printing money for years. They could never pay back what they will perpetually owe, yet life goes on, and they keep printing more. I don't suggest that for a moment.

If you cast your mind back to 1968 when a great many regional rail services in the mid-north ceased there was the situation where the rolling stock being used was 40 years old and needed replacing, and the ongoing cost of doing that was never going to be anywhere near being met by the income through the fare box - the more so when trains were running carrying fresh air.

**If loans such as I suggest had been applied when our extensive tram system needed renewal, we'd have been much better off today. With regard to the trains, if it were not for wrong decisons by the High Court about the freedom of road transport to compete with the rail network on parallel roads, some of our country rail system would still exist. Decisions to close lines servicing silos, for instance, would have been disallowed. The consequence has been that truck transport has destroyed and/or dictated the costly repair of country roads, to say nothing of perpetuating the extreme danger of trying to overtake truck-trains on two lane roads. Of course the private car has become much more convenient than catching trains, and only the major routes such as that to the Iron Triangle would be any where near viable today, but those without cars are being left in the lurch in the process. I suspect that we may agree on a great deal of what could have been. Western society has been defined as a system of private wealth and public penury. I'd just like to see a little more emphasis on the public good.

As for GSR, It is a private company using publicly paid for assets and tracks. It has to make money or cut its 'services'. Only the wealthy can afford its full fares. Even the sitting up options are very expensive, so people endure cross continental journeys by bus. Having sat up in trains to Perth, Sydney and Darwin by train, when even in third world countries there are basic six to a compartment sleepers, I can attest that this is not a comfortable option. Still less so when the long distance traveller is confined to a bus seat. I've also been first class to Alice Springs and had economy sleepers to Darwin and Sydney. They are indeed different stories, but are too expensive for many. GSR should cease to be anything other than a boutique operation. Its commuter roles should be the responsibility of governments in this sparsely populated country with large urban areas separated by extensive almost empty countryside. It's a matter of what they can afford and the priorities that they have. Maybe a little less intervention in un-winnable wars against fanatical idealogues who will never admit defeat could be one way of achieving this.

I still want daily V-Line trains between Adelaide and Melbourne.
kipioneer
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
But if the Treasury issues interest free bonds who will take them up?    There is no incentive.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Unfortunately you can't wind back the clock a hundred years, the private banking system would never let another (original) Commonwealth Bank print money for the sake of an infrastructure project like the Trans-Australian railways.  Merchant banks are running our governments now days, make no mistake - they simply wouldn't allow governments to build big projects unless there's a chance for the private sector to make a disproportionate profit through management fees, consulting and complicated financial instruments.  There's also a firm belief that any sort of borrowing to fund nation-building is somehow bad, something that appears to have sunk into the national consciousness since Howard & Co, leaving us with a huge list of much-needed projects but little or no political will to even try.  In the meantime we have some of the most stupidly expensive residential housing in the world thanks to a crazy gambling addiction funded directly from our private banks and low rates of capital gains tax - national priorities are completely the wrong way round.  It's all about the quick quid for everyone.

Until we get politicians brave enough to tackle this imbalance I'm afraid we're in for a slow decline into crumbling Soviet style lives...
  GN4472 Deputy Commissioner

I'd be surprised if I made it to Goodwood (departing Keswick).
Aaron

Well said Aaron - At least Goodwood has a suburban train connection, unlike the Keswick Rail Terminal
  GN4472 Deputy Commissioner

I posted the same on RailSA:

Better on-board entertainment would be good. Add an Entertainment Car similar to what was on The Ghan back in the 1980s.

Last time my wife and I were on The Overland, passengers were being charged for movie hire.

On a plane, you get free movies, on some you get choices and you can watch a movie on a TV on the back of the seat in front of you! QANTAS A330's have this.

Would be nice to be treated like you were on board an International Fight - It can be done with a bit of imagination!
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
I posted the same on RailSA:

Better on-board entertainment would be good. Add an Entertainment Car similar to what was on The Ghan back in the 1980s.

Last time my wife and I were on The Overland, passengers were being charged for movie hire.

On a plane, you get free movies, on some you get choices and you can watch a movie on a TV on the back of the seat in front of you! QANTAS A330's have this.

Would be nice to be treated like you were on board an International Fight - It can be done with a bit of imagination!
GN4472
In Australia only Qantas is a full service airline providing everything in the ticket price; the others charge for extras.
  benscaro Chief Commissioner



d on the ground knowledge of a large part of the world (including Spain and Eastern Europe where trains that can change gauge on the fly are daily realities), and my long career as an educator who has lived through what most of you have only read about, if at all, may just possibly make my opinion as valid as yours.
SAR526

whether or not you feel you are being lectured is neither here nor there.  gauge changing does not happen 'on the fly' as you put it, in spain and eastern europe, and to refer to it in this way is misleading.  it is a complicated process. the train must slow down to crawl through the gauge changer and in some systems, have a change of locomotive when it comes through. i cannot see such a system being implemented for one train; the efficiencies would be non existent.  

cost of a single gauge change bogie in the polish system ? $US42,000.  

too many people in these types of discussions wave an ill-disciplined hand toward europe and say 'that's the way we should be doing things in australia'. however none of you considers the changes you need to have in your societies and in the way you live before investing in such technologies would stand a gnat's asre of a chance.  

rail investment in europe is worthwhile because we have high population densities and shorter travel corridors. are the folk proposing these ideas for australia prepared to trade in their 1/4 acre blocks to live in high density urban areas, in a chain of cities huddled no more than two or three hours apart, and can they convince millions of their fellow countrymen to do the same?  

no, i didn't think so either.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

whether or not you feel you are being lectured is neither here nor there.  gauge changing does not happen 'on the fly' as you put it in spain and eastern europe, and to refer to it in this way is misleading.  it is a complicated process. the train must slow down to crawl through the gauge changer and in some systems, have a change of locomotive when it comes through. i cannot see such a system being implemented for one train. the efficiencies would be non existent.  a single gauge change bogie in the polish system costs $US42,000.  

too many people in these types of discussions wave an ill-disciplined hand toward europe and say 'that's the way we should be doing things in australia'. however none of you considers the changes you need to have in your societies and in the way you live before such technologies and investments would even be considered.  

rail investment in europe is worthwhile because we have high population densities and shorter travel corridors.  are the folk proposing these ideas prepared to trade in their 1/4 acre blocks to live in high density urban areas in a chain of cities huddled no more than two or three hours apart, and can they convince millions of their fellow countrymen to do the same?  

no, i didn't think so either.
benscaro

Ben

Regarding Europe I totally agree.

Most people in Australia left Europe (and now other countries) for what they saw as a better standard of living.

The Demographic and social conditions in Australia do not favour economically viable passenger rail. On the other hand we do rail  freight much better than UK and Europe. Surprisingly in the USA I observed they do rail freight even better.
Apart from the east coast and parts of the Pacific coast travel conditions in the USA do not favour rail. In both instances there are compact and populous cities spaced at a distance where rail can compete with air.
In the USA consider NY to Chicago, an overnight trip. It only works because it is heavily subsidised even though these two cities are significantly larger than Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide. The distance is such that even an VHST would take 3 times longer than the gross* air travel time. (*gross time includes travel to air port, queuing, security and all the crap that goes with air travel).

Ian
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

I posted the same on RailSA:

Better on-board entertainment would be good. Add an Entertainment Car similar to what was on The Ghan back in the 1980s.

Last time my wife and I were on The Overland, passengers were being charged for movie hire.

On a plane, you get free movies, on some you get choices and you can watch a movie on a TV on the back of the seat in front of you! QANTAS A330's have this.

Would be nice to be treated like you were on board an International Fight - It can be done with a bit of imagination!
GN4472
Not possible. Remember that the Overland is operated by Serco (under their GSR subsidiary) which is a trans-national corporation built entirely on the premise of making cuts to reduce costs. The concept of adding value without charging people extra for it is anathema, and completely opposite to the freewheeling generosity of AN during the 1980s.

Raising the base-level ticket prices to bundle in extras would be a bad move for GSR considering the kind of people who do patronise their Red Service carriages - people who are careful with their cash who just want a decent journey without paying extra for Foxtel-style unwanted bundled extras. Bundling a few more extras into the ticket price for Red Premium to create a more tangible point of difference could be worth considering though, so it's closer to a business-class offering instead of a minor improvement on Red Service limited to just increased seat pitch, a glass of orange juice and an extra luggage item.

In any case, the "entertainment" extra that people would appreciate most on a regional or interstate train journey in Australia is WiFi access, as is common on regional/intercity/international trains in Europe. A good basis for providing it would be to charge for it in Red Service, bundle 1-2 hours of complementary usage in Red Premium, and bundle it in for Gold/Platinum tickets on their other trains.

Well said Aaron - At least Goodwood has a suburban train connection, unlike the Keswick Rail Terminal
GN4472
You missed the point of that post completely - Aaron was just saying that if he got booked with a seat next to a cheap laminate panel instead of a window he would go nuts by the time the train reached Goodwood after leaving APT.

We've been over the APT connection issue before, doing anything other than leaving it where it is would be more expensive than subsidising free minibus shuttles from APT to wherever. After being imprisoned in one of their carriages for nearly 11 hours I would actually welcome the walk to the bus stop on Richmond Road or the new Waywick station as a chance to wake up my legs a little!
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
....

We've been over the APT connection issue before, doing anything other than leaving it where it is would be more expensive than subsidising free minibus shuttles from APT to wherever. After being imprisoned in one of their carriages for nearly 11 hours I would actually welcome the walk to the bus stop on Richmond Road or the new Waywick station as a chance to wake up my legs a little!
justapassenger
It's a long way if you are loaded down with stuff you've bought during your stay or if you are old with dodgy knees.

But yeah, it's probably the least of the Overland's problems.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

It's a long way if you are loaded down with stuff you've bought during your stay or if you are old with dodgy knees.
don_dunstan
Even if there was a shorter transfer, how many people would seriously consider using Adelaide Metro between APT and home if they couldn't handle the short walk between there and the bus stop on Richmond Road with whatever luggage they had? It's less than 400 metres from the terminal building, and I would wager that the number of people living within a 400 metre walk of their nearest public transport access in Adelaide is well under 50%.

It should also be pointed out that GSR's ridiculous fine print stating "guests must be at the terminal at least one hour before train departs" makes timing the worst part of attempting to use public transport to get to APT for a departing Overland. Whether they are physically able to do it with their luggage or not, most people would feel unsafe trekking around the streets well before dawn in order to get a bus or train early enough to get them there by 6:45am, and the frequency of service in the early hours leaves a lot to be desired.

I would also like to suggest an alternative - connect a broad gauge link into APT just north of Sir Donald Bradman Drive, so that a DMU could make use of all the currently redundant dual gauge track inside the terminal to run a shuttle between the equally redundant third platform at APT and Adelaide Railway Station.

Shifting the Overland's departure time from Adelaide to be an hour later for a shorter connection time with the VLocity at Ararat (current connection time if running to schedule is 83 minutes) would also make it more practical for getting to APT in the morning, either on public transport or getting a friend/relative to drop you off on the way to work. Shifting the Overland back 30 minutes and the VLocity forward 30 minutes could also work, depending on pathing of course.

But yeah, it's probably the least of the Overland's problems.
don_dunstan

In the end, yes. If you can afford to drop a triple figure sum on a trip to/from Melbourne, you can afford a taxi to/from APT. If that taxi would put you in financial hardship, you probably shouldn't have bought the train ticket.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
On the occasions I've used the Overland I often caught a train to Keswick and walked over; I used to stay frequently at a friend's house in Clarence Park/Edwardstown so it wasn't hard to actually catch the train - the issue was at the other end.  As I mentioned, the last time that I did this in 2010 I had arm-loads of crap so it probably wasn't the best idea (I should have had the sense to catch a taxi on that occasion).  As you point out, justapassenger, the stupid condition that you have to be there an hour beforehand even though you already have a ticket means you usually have to catch one of the first suburban trains of the day. All so you can be there in time for seat allocation on your day-long ordeal.

It's not a plane, for God's sake, they don't have to do security screening or weigh your baggage for even distribution in the cargo hold.  All you have to do is get your seat allocation (which could probably be done before the day of travel anyway) and book luggage in if you have any to book; the insistence that you should be there for their convenience an hour beforehand is another silly, unreasonable impost.

So much about the Overland seems to suggest complete indifference towards the passengers who might actually be inclined to use it.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

On the occasions I've used the Overland I often caught a train to Keswick and walked over; I used to stay frequently at a friend's house in Clarence Park/Edwardstown so it wasn't hard to actually catch the train - the issue was at the other end.  As I mentioned, the last time that I did this in 2010 I had arm-loads of crap so it probably wasn't the best idea (I should have had the sense to catch a taxi on that occasion).  As you point out, justapassenger, the stupid condition that you have to be there an hour beforehand even though you already have a ticket means you usually have to catch one of the first suburban trains of the day. All so you can be there in time for seat allocation on your day-long ordeal.
don_dunstan
I did it on the Belair line once and the Noarlunga line once when heading to Ballarat with my bike and a big backpack. They advised me beforehand that I would need to detach the handlebars for storing the bike in a more narrow space (but at least they weren't charging me extra for it being over 180 linear centimetres) so I did need to be there in good time to do that. Added to the inconvenience of this was having to get off at Goodwood to cycle along the Marino Rocks Greenway route behind the Showgrounds to APT, being a far better way of doing that than attempting to use the inappropriately steep stairs at Keswick.

Of course, as soon as I get a 7.4 kg carbon fibre bike that I can carry up stairs they decided to demolish Keswick and build a station I could use with my heavy old hybrid! If I'm still living here and I use the Overland for that annual trip next January, I will probably just cycle all the way in with my backpack on as the 9.7 km downhill/flat ride would be much faster than getting to the station (2.5 km ride uphill) in good time to wait and use the train.


It's not a plane, for God's sake, they don't have to do security screening or weigh your baggage for even distribution in the cargo hold.  All you have to do is get your seat allocation (which could probably be done before the day of travel anyway) and book luggage in if you have any to book; the insistence that you should be there for their convenience an hour beforehand is another silly, unreasonable impost.

So much about the Overland seems to suggest complete indifference towards the passengers who might actually be inclined to use it.
don_dunstan
Totally agree. Seat allocations should be streamlined (should be a good word for convincing Serco) by sending them as a text message or email the night before, and allowing that very small percentage without access to either form to get their allocations in person like they do currently. Even the nastiest of the low-cost airlines can manage this!

There's no reason that their booking engine which chucks the cheapest fares into seats without windows (and threatens the potential passenger with that as an incentive to pay more for the same service) shouldn't be able to be linked with the communication details you give them in the booking process.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I did it on the Belair line once and the Noarlunga line once when heading to Ballarat with my bike and a big backpack. They advised me beforehand that I would need to detach the handlebars for storing the bike in a more narrow space (but at least they weren't charging me extra for it being over 180 linear centimetres) so I did need to be there in good time to do that. Added to the inconvenience of this was having to get off at Goodwood to cycle along the Marino Rocks Greenway route behind the Showgrounds to APT, being a far better way of doing that than attempting to use the inappropriately steep stairs at Keswick.

Of course, as soon as I get a 7.4 kg carbon fibre bike that I can carry up stairs they decided to demolish Keswick and build a station I could use with my heavy old hybrid! If I'm still living here and I use the Overland for that annual trip next January, I will probably just cycle all the way in with my backpack on as the 9.7 km downhill/flat ride would be much faster than getting to the station (2.5 km ride uphill) in good time to wait and use the train.


Totally agree. Seat allocations should be streamlined (should be a good word for convincing Serco) by sending them as a text message or email the night before, and allowing that very small percentage without access to either form to get their allocations in person like they do currently. Even the nastiest of the low-cost airlines can manage this!

There's no reason that their booking engine which chucks the cheapest fares into seats without windows (and threatens the potential passenger with that as an incentive to pay more for the same service) shouldn't be able to be linked with the communication details you give them in the booking process.
justapassenger

Did they charge you extra to bring the bike without handlebars or did they do that for free?  I was contemplating taking my bike over with me once after they built the Mt Lofty trail but the listed $50 charge put me off.

I think the solution (with regards to booking seats) is a cultural one.  V-Line is much more flexible on long haul services - hell, they'll even sell you a ticket on the train if you get on at an un-staffed station.  Serco have never really made an effort to try and capture the market that just wants to use it as a transport service - not a 'land cruise'; the scenery isn't that exciting and it's just way too slow for most people.  After the refurbishment it still felt cheap and tacky and frankly if I was a tourist I would be disappointed with the poor level of catering and the silly old-fashioned layout of the train (bulkhead seat anyone?).  

As has already observed over the last few pages, the best solution might be to hand the whole thing over to V-Line to run, sharing with GSR at Adelaide Parklands Terminal.  I'm not sure what V-Line would do with the current set-up and rolling stock; maybe tell the government they need a different kind of train for a start (like the standard gauge Albury N-sets).
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
whether or not you feel you are being lectured is neither here nor there.  gauge changing does not happen 'on the fly' as you put it, in spain and eastern europe, and to refer to it in this way is misleading.  it is a complicated process. the train must slow down to crawl through the gauge changer and in some systems, have a change of locomotive when it comes through. i cannot see such a system being implemented for one train; the efficiencies would be non existent.  

Thanks for sharing your undoubted expertise. Spain has contracts out for the building of 250kph trains which change their gauges without stopping (='on the fly') at about 15 kph, taking a relatively few minutes of the overall journey time. There are many different break-of-gauge points within Spain where this occurs, including the express trains across the French border. MANY European countries use them, including Switzerland. Have you travelled by train in Spain? I have. They even have long lines of wind generators on the hills busy making power, to drive trains among other things, while we dig up brown coal or gasify black, ruining farmland and ground water and having inflammable gas belching from the tap over the sink, to do the same.

cost of a single gauge change bogie in the polish system ? $US42,000.

That's all of a half million for a six car train. We can spend oodles of money on road works, but nothing for trains. If you take an hour or two to read 'The Age' news pages thoroughly every day as I do, you'd know that there isn't a single day where difficulties and service failures in carrying the huge suburban rail loads are not being encountered. This is indicative of a government mind-set such as you appear to have. 'It'll cost money – so we shouldn't do it'. it's apparently better to give handouts for very well paid business and professional people to keep them in the luxury to which they have, by Government largesse, become accustomed.

too many people in these types of discussions wave an ill-disciplined hand toward europe and say 'that's the way we should be doing things in australia'. however none of you considers the changes you need to have in your societies and in the way you live before investing in such technologies would stand a gnat's asre of a chance.

From distant Europe, you will also have observed that many people are voting with their feet on the over-crowding of Melbourne and shifting to places like Ballarat and Bendigo, or even returning to live in backward Adelaide (recently dubbed one the 10 most liveable cities in the world, among other similar awards over a couple of decades) because reasonably fast and frequent rail transport makes the two first named as convenient for workers in Melbourne as the outer suburbs. As I have said before, the NBN (assuming that it is not sabotaged by the traditional enemies of progress) and decent ground transport links will generate the conditions for the intermediate towns and cities to grow, and perhaps slow the decline of the once pleasant Melbourne (my home for nearly 30 years) into the ugly and thoroughly inconvenient and unpleasant environment that it is rapidly becoming. In Ballarat, I stay with a friend who has moved from Springvale and who commutes on several days a week to Melbourne to work. He wouldn't return to live in the metropolitan congestion for anything.

rail investment in europe is worthwhile because we have high population densities and shorter travel corridors. are the folk proposing these ideas for australia prepared to trade in their 1/4 acre blocks to live in high density urban areas, in a chain of cities huddled no more than two or three hours apart, and can they convince millions of their fellow countrymen to do the same?

It takes about 20 minutes to get out of Adelaide and half an hour from Melbourne by train. What have our quarter acre blocks got to do with the provision and possible speeds of railways in the countryside between them? In case you haven't noticed, there is also a very great deal of infill going on – at least fifteen in my own immediate area.

Do you think, or dream of what might and should be? Or are you one of the many whose whole vision is limited to the dollar sign? Are you content to be one of those who continually write to this group to make flip one line 'clever' comments and who seem to delight in finding reasons why we can't do anything to bring our railways into some sort of parity with the rest of the civilized world? The money is there if priorities were put right. Taxing the obscene transfers of money that the parasites who contribute NOTHING (least of all legitimate and necessary investment in wealth and goods producing industries) to society in their electronic transfers of fictitious money, the tax haven minimization of real profits gained by exploiting the common property, have caused the inflation which has made homes unaffordable to our young people and have caused the misery of the global financial crises that have impacted on everyone but themselves, would ensure the funds to do all that we need to make this wonderful country of ours even better.

no, i didn't think so either.


Over my lifetime the price of many staple food items has increased a hundred fold. In the days when there was only hard labour instead of sophisticated machinery to build anything, previous generations constructed beautiful cities, large railway and road systems, and visionary irrigation schemes. Some of them lived in camps in the middle of the outback deserts to achieve this, but the molley-coddled bean counters of today can only find excuses as to why nothing worthwhile can be done.

Please fly around in your cattle-class seats, seeing nothing of your own land, but let those of us who try to foster progress enjoy what we regarded as a right in our youth – daily world leading trains (yes I'm talking of the Overland) between two large cities in a country which aspires to be part of the first world.

Finally. It'd help if you knew when to use capitals, or if some others knew the difference between the spelling, meaning and pronunciation of you're and your, to say nothing of those who descend upon us from their ivory towers who seem not to know that the ONLY meaning of it's is it is. Now I'm joining the nit-picking club, so I will point you to my signature quotation below. It comes from a greater mind than yours or mine, but it has relevance to some of you.
benscaro
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Did they charge you extra to bring the bike without handlebars or did they do that for free?  I was contemplating taking my bike over with me once after they built the Mt Lofty trail but the listed $50 charge put me off.
don_dunstan
They do bikes free of charge during January to try and attract a little promotion from the Tour Down Under, but I have never had a problem with me doing it the wrong way around for the Road Nationals at Ballarat the weekend before the TDU starts. It takes just two tools and a few minutes to detach the handlebars (kept strapped to the frame using two octopus straps to avoid detaching cables) and pedals, which is a lot easier than dismantling it to fit into a bike bag/box. As I said above, I'm yet to do that with my newer carbon fibre road bike so I don't know how it would go.

I can't see anything on the GSR website about a $50 charge for a bike though, I've only ever done it during January when it's free.

Out of curiosity as a fellow cyclist, which trail at Mt Lofty are you referring to? The Eagle MTB Park or the old Mount Barker Road track which was replaced by the current freeway? If you're interested in going to Mt Lofty, the best time of the year is probably in March when BikeSA organises a mass ride featuring closed roads from the city to Glen Osmond, the up the freeway itself with motor traffic diverted on Mt Barker Road, on Summit Road over Mt Lofty and from there to Ashton, Montacute and Rostrevor on the descent.

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