XPT Replacement Discussion

 
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia


Passengers to pay $20 each way if using free vouchers for the air runs.
RatholeTunnel
$20 for an airline ticket that would cost an average of $200-$300? And the taxpayer makes the difference?
No thanks. About time social beggers start paying their way in this country!

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  PClark Chief Commissioner

Jim K wrote:-


“$20 for an airline ticket that would cost an average of $200-$300? And the taxpayer makes the difference?”


It would probably cost the taxpayer less to provide concession travel on aircraft than it does to provide a network of dinosaur trains that are really running for no other purpose.


At any rate, as government would presumably be providing this new benefit by pre-purchasing blocs of seats on mainly off-peak flights I think that it is likely that the airlines would be willing to do a “deal” whereby they would charge considerably less than full-fare.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
People there is something else to think about and it does involve speed , the Hume and the air route have something in common that the rail doesn't . The rail is not a real direct route and that is what lets it down big time . Basically if you wants direct the choices you have are road or air ATM because there is no drive to make a direct rail route . It is possible and naturally costly but nothing else is ever going to solve the problem for rail . In short if quicker and cheaper way can be found to move people around pass trains will die a quick death because on the never going to change in the forseeable future rail route CANNOT and WILL NOT ever be fast or cheap . Fix stone aged alignments or find another mode , thats the bottom line .
  bowralcommuter Chief Commissioner

Location: Asleep on a Manly Ferry
People there is something else to think about and it does involve speed , the Hume and the air route have something in common that the rail doesn't . The rail is not a real direct route and that is what lets it down big time . Basically if you wants direct the choices you have are road or air ATM because there is no drive to make a direct rail route . It is possible and naturally costly but nothing else is ever going to solve the problem for rail . In short if quicker and cheaper way can be found to move people around pass trains will die a quick death because on the never going to change in the forseeable future rail route CANNOT and WILL NOT ever be fast or cheap . Fix stone aged alignments or find another mode , thats the bottom line .
"BDA"


Well I can't see the state budget using all their funding to fix rail alignments, so eventual death may be the eventual reality, for country anyway.
  RatholeTunnel Locomotive Driver

Location: Sydney Area
One option is putting people on established flights for those going on that route. Then CLK Air as I call it can cater for others - eg WGA-CBR direct, ABX-CBR, etc.

It would cost less as we wouldn't have to plough hundreds of millions into tracks, rolling stock etc.
  johnboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Up the road from Gulgong
It may work If you remove Countrylink services to major regional and have more airlines to provide at least some competition, then the fares 'may' fall.

Mind you, we lost our air service to Mudgee with Rex a few years ago until smaller operator Aeropelican picked it up. Only one flight per day for about $300 each way to Sydney, and it is normally sold out well in advance.

They still claim they struggle.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

It may work If you remove Countrylink services to major regional and have more airlines to provide at least some competition, then the fares 'may' fall.

Mind you, we lost our air service to Mudgee with Rex a few years ago until smaller operator Aeropelican picked it up. Only one flight per day for about $300 each way to Sydney, and it is normally sold out well in advance.

They still claim they struggle.
johnboy

The big problem with fully deregulated commerical aviation as the primary provider of PT to NSW regionals is a commercial operator is going cherry pick the most lucrative routes, leaving some places completely unserved or partially served with a premium fare service only.

For Air to work as a mode in a PT format I think there would need to be enough some regional air hubs and a comprehensive feeder bus network.  If the state is going to provide a subsidised feeder bus network the I think it's necessary for there to be some regulation of the air mode to ensure the feeder network is subsidised for the benefit of the passsenegers, not the commercial aviation industry.  The issue with leaving the air mode entirely to the commercial sector is they will (understandably) cherry pick routes.  Some centres will be underserved, and others partially served with premium fare offering only.  And a publicly provided feeder bus network would end up just being a subsidy for regional air lines and do little to ensure a ubiquitous reasonably priced PT service.

So a model I think might work is CL provide a feeder bus network to several regional centres (off hand I'd suggest Ballina, Pt Macquarie, Tamworth, Dubbo, Wagga and Bateman's Bay - Canberra left to the commercial sector or the ACT government).  And then tender out the provision of a minimum number of air seats and minimum frequencies offered at a maximum price.  The private operator is then free to offer more seats at whatever price the market can bare should they desire.

The risks of offering such a service is it's probably be very popular, but also would completely kill any prospect of commercial competition of the air mode against the official CL tender winner.  I think we'd see services tightly rationed, with a lengthy book ahead period for an "official" CL fare, and there would be substantial financial pressure from the tenderers for the air mode to limit the subsidised seats.  Sort of a Medicare model: free/cheap services - you just have to wait your turn - which rather defeats the goal of providing an accessible PT service.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

OK, lets get back to the trains but also let me take a step back and outline a bit more of the reasoning for what I think CL/NSW Trains needs in terms of fleet procurement.

NSW Trains total fleet requirements are (roughly):

Distance: ~3500 seats
Regional (200 seats @60min frequency): ~25-30 units, 10 or so DMU => 5000 seats.  (This is for shuttles to the Sydney Trains boundary, not for services provided into Sydney)
Commuter: 16000 seats (per peak).  - Roughly 1000 of which need to be in DMUs

About 2/3rds of the regional network is sparked, but this may well drop as low as 50% depending on various things.

NSW Train's fleet is (roughly):
Distance: 3000 XPT seats & 1500 DMU seats
Regional: 22 (20 available) DMUs (8 needed for commuter runs and another for the Bathurst train)
Commuter: 24000 OSCAR Seats 12000 OSCAR standing places, ~12000 V Set seats.

The commuter capability greatly exceeds the actual requirement because it's used to provide regional services as well, usually in 450/900 seat units when the most heavily used non-Sydney based service is the AM peak ex Central Coast into Newcastle of ~300 IIRC.  In addition, the commuter fleet delivers a good 10000 suburban journeys per peak as well.

So I think NSW Trains' fleet requirements are - and in this priority order:
1) A small 200-250 seat EMU for regional services (Effectively to cope with the retirement of most of the V sets and the K sets)
2) A DMU version of the above (to replace the Endeavours as they retire, to allow fleet consistency *and* to cope with the possible retirement of sections of OH or changes to route allocations)
3) Something to replace the XPT capability (economically it's time to do that now, but clearly there is some leeway here in terms of when it's needed for service continuity)
4) Something more appropriate (ie more seats less standing/vehicle & cheaper to run) for the interurban commuter load.  This is only priority 4 because of the youth of the OSCAR fleet, but it would make sense to do this in conjunction with retirement of the C set fleet.

The priority is the small EMU with DMU option/capability essential.  The ability to support longer distance CL routes (at least Canberra/Wagga/Bathurst, but preferably the whole shebang) very strongly desirable to allow continuation of those services beyond the life of the current fleet, but without completely committing to them either.  A high capacity/large loading gauge variant also strongly desirable.  In terms of allowing this fleet to be deployed on CL routes I think it's important the price differential between the DMU and EMU versions be as low as possible.

Given NSW Trains will have a large fleet of expensive suburban trains it doesn't really need (and aren't that appropriate anyway). I think a sensible procurement strategy for the next 10-15 years is to purchase an appropriate (read smaller) train  for NSW Train's needs and redeploy the H set fleet for Sydney suburban use.  Potentially each  new 2/3 car MU can deliver at least one (but often 2) custom design 4 car DD EMU set back to Sydney Trains.  If the design can cover all of NSW Train's needs sufficiently then hopefully the order can be large enough to generate some economies of scale and get the unit price.  The NSW Trains fleet order would need to be between 30 and 50 units (90-150 vehicles) over the next 10-15 years, but that would be enough for all of NSW Railways during that time.  If done properly with any luck it *might* ensure the ongoing survival of CL in a rail format.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The big problem with fully deregulated commerical aviation as the primary provider of PT to NSW regionals is a commercial operator is going cherry pick the most lucrative routes, leaving some places completely unserved or partially served with a premium fare service only.

For Air to work as a mode in a PT format I think there would need to be enough some regional air hubs and a comprehensive feeder bus network.  If the state is going to provide a subsidised feeder bus network the I think it's necessary for there to be some regulation of the air mode to ensure the feeder network is subsidised for the benefit of the passsenegers, not the commercial aviation industry.  The issue with leaving the air mode entirely to the commercial sector is they will (understandably) cherry pick routes.  Some centres will be underserved, and others partially served with premium fare offering only.  And a publicly provided feeder bus network would end up just being a subsidy for regional air lines and do little to ensure a ubiquitous reasonably priced PT service.

So a model I think might work is CL provide a feeder bus network to several regional centres (off hand I'd suggest Ballina, Pt Macquarie, Tamworth, Dubbo, Wagga and Bateman's Bay - Canberra left to the commercial sector or the ACT government).  And then tender out the provision of a minimum number of air seats and minimum frequencies offered at a maximum price.  The private operator is then free to offer more seats at whatever price the market can bare should they desire.

The risks of offering such a service is it's probably be very popular, but also would completely kill any prospect of commercial competition of the air mode against the official CL tender winner.  I think we'd see services tightly rationed, with a lengthy book ahead period for an "official" CL fare, and there would be substantial financial pressure from the tenderers for the air mode to limit the subsidised seats.  Sort of a Medicare model: free/cheap services - you just have to wait your turn - which rather defeats the goal of providing an accessible PT service.
djf01
ahh thee of short Mexcian thinking. Qld govt provides a subsidy for Qantas link to service just about every service west of the coastal strip outside major mining areas.

please cast thee eyes nth of the border and look at the Qantaslink flight schedule and route and also costs. Note these fares are already subsidised to places like Winton, Roma, Charlieville etc. So it isn't cheap! Also note just about every bus route west of the coastal strip is also subsidised.

However unlike Qld, NSW already has a ressonable commerically funded air service to much of NSW, including the Nth coast and where air doesn't go, I don't think there are many trains to within 150km of the nearest RPT airport anyway, with a few very minor exceptions.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

ahh thee of short Mexcian thinking. Qld govt provides a subsidy for Qantas link to service just about every service west of the coastal strip outside major mining areas.
RTT_Rules
That's me!  I just can't see past those dinky little G scale trains.
  phower Chief Commissioner

Location: Over on Kangaroo Island Sth Aust
Arnt we talking about the XPT replacement ... or new planes ..... why not get a helicopter .... better still come back to the real  topic  ???
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
Arnt we talking about the XPT replacement ... or new planes ..... why not get a helicopter .... better still come back to the real  topic  ???
phower
The replacement of the XPT maybe a plane!
Up until the 1960's the majority of passengers went by ship to/from Europe, not for the fun of it, but that was transport of the day.

Trains (non HSR) is old and appears to be inefficient. Maybe it's time to move to planes to major regional centres and no need for an XPT replacement.

That is the real topic.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

The replacement of the XPT maybe a plane!
Jim K
LOL well I suppose that has already happened between the capital cities. But smaller halts? Nah... probably won't expand that much more, although the hefty fares might drop if it did. And I certainly hope the government wouldn't subsidise private airlines to form a public transport flight/bus feeder network in preference to rail, but my hopes don't mean the ideas are implausible.
Air travel between the capitals probably won't last forever, either, but it's not fashionable to discuss that in these parts.
  Freddo Chief Commissioner

Location: Junee NSW
hate to bust ya bubble, but it's not getting replaced for another 10 years.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Arnt we talking about the XPT replacement ... or new planes ..... why not get a helicopter .... better still come back to the real  topic  ???
"phower"
...this is a foaming thread!

Air travel between the capitals probably won't last forever, either, but it's not fashionable to discuss that in these parts.
"HeadShunt"
As long as it viable, it will be the order of the day.
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
...this is a foaming thread!

Watson374
This ^^ Is precisely why Railpage is a shell of its past successes. God forbid people use proper netiquette and actually stay on topic. No, lets all act like we are 12 year olds hyped up on sugar.

This just typifies what the forums have become.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHkKJfcBXcw
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
This ^^ Is precisely why Railpage is a shell of its past successes. God forbid people use proper netiquette and actually stay on topic. No, lets all act like we are 12 year olds hyped up on sugar.
"seb2351"
I created this thread last year for the express purpose of exploring XPT replacement with no real limits on it. As Jim K has opined, rail might be replaced by air, and in that event turboprops become XPT replacements.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
DifO1,
Potential issue with your extended nose at the end of your proposed DMU.

I believe there would be a limit on how long you can make the drivers cab past the end bogies in that too much laterial swing moving through points would see the couplers break apart. Just a thought?
  Silver S Set Junior Train Controller

Countrylink are going to get bankrupt sooner or later (unfortunately).
Railways in NSW have shrunk so much and I personally think that the XPT replacements are cars or planes. No-one wants to ride in XPT's or Xplorers with the price where air is cheaper and quicker.
I definitely would ride an XPT but the cost.....
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
Countrylink are going to get bankrupt sooner or later (unfortunately).
Silver S Set
Bankrupt?   They have never made a profit in the first place.
Like Cityrail, they are a government 'service'
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

No-one wants to ride in XPT's ... with the price where air is cheaper and quicker.
Silver S Set
Which is why it has earnt certain nicknames from the types of people who frequently use them, not to mention CountryLink, which has "smeg of a Link"...

Assuming the XPT does have at least ten years left, which it should - maybe even more, who knows what the situation is going to be in 2023-30? I still think our speculations now could turn out to be totally useless if certain economic changes begin to take place over that time.

At this point I should disclose that I have a soft spot for the XPT and will be sorry to see her go, despite her incompatibility with the 60 km/h colonial network she spends most of her time running on.


Trains (non HSR) is old and appears to be inefficient.
Jim K
That depends how you look at it because efficiency can be measured in a number of ways, e.g. time, money (who owns it, who pays/subsidises), energy/resource consumption (per trip and overall incl. manufacturing, delivery, infrastructure), safety issues (e.g. passengers killed or seriously injured per million journey miles) and other externalities (e.g. waste products, air pollution, noise pollution, environmental damage, congestion) etc, even from a philosophical perspective, and trains normally do pretty well by some of those measures. When looking at efficiency, many analyses have a narrow financial focus and deliberately ignore other aspects of the overall picture (some of which are difficult to measure) in order to support a particular outcome or agenda.

Thousands of cars, especially with only the driver aboard, are energy inefficient and they are not exactly cheap to buy or keep on the road. Cars and trucks are quick, convenient and private but the motor/road transport industry as a whole uses a shedload of energy per car/bus/truck manufactured and per passenger/ton-mile and cars are not very safe (although buses are). Also, the motoring industry depends on energy dense petroleum fuels that are becoming more expensive and huge amounts of taxpayer funds are thrown at the infrastructure and associated bureaucracies, highway patrol/parking nazis, speed cameras, manufacturers through subsidies/grants in some cases etc. People can buy more efficient cars but they cost thousands of dollars and a lot of energy to make, so they are spending money in the hope of saving money. More fuel efficient cars also means more distance travelled or more cars on the road and therefore higher overall fuel consumption which puts even more upward pressure on fuel prices. Then there's maintenance. I spend at least $2000 on my car every year. Add to that registration, insurance etc and it's pretty clear that the convenience (time efficiency, ignoring daily gridlock) of cars comes at a price (money, energy, safety, pollution, waste).

Aircraft also depend on energy dense liquid fuel and can be inefficient (loss-making) if not filled with fare paying passengers, but they are very quick, and since they move through the air they don't need much expensive ground based infrastructure like trains need the permanent way. Airliners are generally very safe, except when run by dodgy operators, their loads slide to the back on take off, hit by extreme weather, terrorist attacks or other misfortune. Modern aircraft are much more fuel efficient than the first jetliners, but that is just as well, because fuel ain't getting any cheaper (in terms of money and energy required for extracting and refining). Without drastic changes (slowing down to about Mach 0.75, in-flight refuelling, flying in formation, laminar wing, blended wing-body designs) the drive to continued fuel efficiency gains is now clearly subject to the law of diminishing returns. Light aircraft? I think I'll get a slow train...

Unlike the road transport and airline industries, railways are not dependent on petroleum fuel. They ran on coal before the more energy dense oil became the bloodlife of the economy, and most electric trains are still powered indirectly by coal (not that we could convert back to steam overnight, but maybe it could be done to some extent if it had to, and no, I'm not saying steam is more efficient than diesel or electric). Rail vehicles have a useful life of 40 years or more, so they tend to last much longer than cars (10-20 yrs) and aircraft (20-30 yrs) meaning better amortisation characteristics. At a stretch they can be pushed to well over half a century, and this has been done in many places where money is short. Trains are very safe. Rail infrastructure tends to be hideously expensive and politically less sexy than roads, but it can last even longer than the trains. Because railways are so bloody expensive, they also tend to be government owned or subsidised, but that means they generally don't just stop dead if profits dry up - not so much an efficiency matter but still worthy of consideration in terms of the fragility of a system (when the USSR collapsed, the power stations and most public transport kept running even though no-one had any money - it's hard to imagine that happening with private motor cars and for-profit institutions).


As long as it viable, it will be the order of the day.
Watson374
Yeah... I find it interesting that we are speculating about a train that won't need replacement for another decade and many other possible future projects, yet few people (anywhere - I don't really mean Railpage) want to talk about the future viability of rail's main competitors for short and long distance travel (air/road), which could have a major impact on the future of rail, maybe in favour of or against it. Not that I wanted to go off topic or hijack the thread; it's just a general observation.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Yeah... I find it interesting that we are speculating about a train that won't need replacement for another decade and many other possible future projects, yet few people (anywhere - I don't really mean Railpage) want to talk about the future viability of rail's main competitors for short and long distance travel (air/road), which could have a major impact on the future of rail, maybe in favour of or against it. Not that I wanted to go off topic or hijack the thread; it's just a general observation.
"HeadShunt"
No, you're right.

Here's the thing. Air travel is the order of the day for interstate travel, simply because it's much faster than rail and road, and often not very expensive at all - at least intercapital. Considering that the XPT fare is comparable to a flight on VA or QF, the train is currently extremely uncompetitive. On top of this, the airlines can walk away with a profit.

But things can change. What if air travel is crippled by fuel costs? Could the cost of building roads skyrocket? Maybe oil will run out. Perhaps great leaps will be made in aviation technology, and the turboprop really does become an XPT replacement. Or the freight interests might group together and drastically improve the permanent way, making conventional rail viable once more. It is possible that road transport will be destroyed by an international plague of giant purple tyre-eating mutant locusts.

A well-known Buddhist monk based in Perth often tells a certain story, the moral of which is that one thing is certain: the future is uncertain.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
... they are a government 'service'
Jim K

And we all know where that continues to head Wink

I've yet to see any commitment from guvmnt towards country rail in the medium term. Focus seems to be NWRL - for the next few years at least.
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
Unlike the road transport and airline industries, railways are not dependent on petroleum fuel. They ran on coal before the more energy dense oil became the bloodlife of the economy, and most electric trains are still powered indirectly by coal (not that we could convert back to steam overnight, but it could be done if it had to). Rail vehicles have a useful life of 40 years or more, so they tend to last much longer than cars (10-20 yrs) and aircraft (20-30 yrs) meaning better amortisation characteristics. .....(post going way off track....)
HeadShunt
Please don't take quotes out of context.... I thought this thread is about the replacement of the XPT.....no wonder post go off track.

The XPT is not going to be replaced by electric trains.

The point as per the thread is that a XPT train maybe seen as inefficient for the service it is providing, primarily to major regional centres and cities, which can be done by air.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Please don't take quotes out of context.... I thought this thread is about the replacement of the XPT.....no wonder post go off track.

The XPT is not going to be replaced by electric trains.

The point as per the thread is that a XPT train maybe seen as inefficient for the service it is providing, primarily to major regional centres and cities, which can be done by air.
Jim K
Electric trains?  I thought HeadShunt was proposing a return to coal fired steam!  I then have to bow to the superior flexibility offered by djf01 modular design - I didn't foresee this third variety of motive power coming back into play in such a strong way in the next few decades.  Mind you, his use of shared bogey's [and plastic couplers - thanks for the link - my araldite skills are proving deficient and the in-house employee counselling program is yet to correct the operator's behaviour...] will be further challenged by the increased power plant weight associated with the lower power per weight rating of typical coal fired steam plant.

For longer journeys it's clearly the case that air beats rail in terms of the margin between revenue and cost, and even cost alone, but there are major regional centres and cities, that are say within three to four hours rail time of Sydney, where air would not be competitive (particularly if you are going to try and fit a heap more pissant sized flights into the existing Sydney airport).  Similarly for intra-regional journeys of about the same length, though levels of demand and competition with buses might be killers there.

When you all appoint me Benevolent Dictator Of The State Of NSW, this "short regional" market will be what NSW Trains will be directed to chase.

Sydney's topography [well, the topography of the east coast of Australia in general] makes that more pessimistic in terms of area competitively serviced than it otherwise might be, but that's life.  If the collective demand for rail freight and regional passenger rail looks healthy enough, it might be worthwhile for me (as benevolent dictator) to sort that out with some alignment improvements and capacity increases.  But only if BDA's freight mob and the regional passenger mob are willing to eventually pay for it.  [I promise I'll make it easier for them to agree to it, by engaging in a bit of road user charging reform.]

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