XPT Replacement Discussion

 
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Electric trains?  I thought HeadShunt was proposing a return to coal fired steam!  
donttellmywife

Here is my latest Headshunt inspired design:

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  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

Here is my latest Headshunt inspired design:


djf01
Love it! I think we've found our replacement!



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
Pensioner excursion airline tickets?
I'd rather see money thrown at more trains and, by extension, rail infrastructure that can be used to move things other than people between rural NSW and the cities. I can't imagine grain or coal hauling turboprops having much success, but by God each miniscule load would be delivered quickly!

The creation of a regional airline public transport network would be pissing resources up the wall; resources that could have been spent on more sustainable infrastructure, including rail that could carry goods on a large scale as well as people.

Whatever the next train is, assuming we get one, if it arrives in 2025 and lasts 40 years, it could well see out the industrial age.


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.
Jim K

My apologies, but the extent to which I went way off topic does depend on what assumptions you make about the future when considering an XPT replacement, and it is clear that certain assumptions are being made, some of which could be way off. They could also be near enough to correct, but it still doesn't hurt to bear some fundamentals in mind.

As you were.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
NSW would not be a pioneer in running government air services to replace land based public transport.

There is at least one government that has abandoned land transport altogether. Apart from a single car ferry service, all public transport is by air.

The curiously named FIGAS provides government subsidised public transport to 27 destinations as well as charter flights to others provided by a government owned fleet of aircraft of varying sizes.

http://www.falklandislands.com/product.php/19/24/air_service__figas_

  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
Does anyone know if Countrylink charged the ticket price for every passenger so that the XPT covers it own cost, then how much would a ticket be?

(The 2010/11 Railcorp Annual report does not brake down the costs enough)
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
...Whatever the next train is, if we got it in say 2025 and it lasted 40 years, it could well see out the industrial age.

...

My apologies, but the extent to which I went way off topic does depend on what assumptions you make about the future when considering an XPT replacement, and it is clear that certain assumptions are being made, some of which could be way off. They could also be near enough to correct, but it still doesn't hurt to bear some fundamentals in mind.
HeadShunt
Let us be very clear:

If there was any reasonable probability that the end of the "industrial age" was approaching (in a negative sense, as opposed to some sort of evolution to the "information age" or whatever), then planning on any sort of XPT replacement, or really, planning anything other than a chaotic descent into a poverty-stricken agrarian economy, is completely insane.  In that sort of apocalyptic scenario, regional passenger transport of any shape or form will be so far down the list of priorities it wouldn't register.  Instead, things like "try and stop large sections of the population from starving" will be rather more pertinent and pressing.

You see this line of thinking come up occasionally on this forum - the prospect of relatively sudden shortages of liquid fuels being used to justify construction of high speed rail, or subsidised interstate passenger services, or electrification of regional lines, or whatever, right-now-today.  But if you actually think through the implications of the sudden shortage (i.e. quick enough that you cannot reasonably respond to it - something that crops up in under a decade or two) it becomes apparent that the scenario as a whole doesn't justify what's being proposed at all - in fact the proposal looks like a ludicrous response.

On the other hand, if you want to talk about a progressive increase in the real cost of liquid fuel over the next couple of decades, perhaps to levels several times the current price, then you can have a far more sensible discussion.  This is the sort of scenario that I think has some reasonable possibility, even if its not a probable outcome.  Sadly, I suspect a strategic response to such a significant shift would also barely consider regional passenger rail a priority - I could imagine situations where regional services were suppressed (perhaps through competition) in the face of such cost increases to free up paths for freight and suburban passenger services - services which would probably save more fuel per path.  At best, I suspect you could adopt a wait-and-see approach - after all - once it becomes apparent that fuel prices are consistently driving much increased demand, you are probably only looking at two years or so before you could have something like double the fleet running around.  Not-shared-with-freight line infrastructure in the metropolitan region might take a bit longer - but there's no way you are going to spend multiple billions today, on a service that is currently so marginal in its benefit, on the basis of an ephemeral fear; clear and sustained demand for more line capacity will need to emerge first.

Enough of that nonsense, back to criticizing djf01 for his absurd fetish for shared bogey arrangements.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Does anyone know if Countrylink charged the ticket price for every passenger so that the XPT covers it own cost, then how much would a ticket be?

(The 2010/11 Railcorp Annual report does not brake down the costs enough)
Jim K
It depends.

Considering CountryLink as a whole, the Parry Final Report (which is now ten years old) had a break down of revenue and costs, with some important riders.  There was a separation between actual fares (cold hard cash handed over by a passenger) and concession revenue (where the government topped up that passengers cash to cover the difference between a concession fare and the nominal fare).  Both categories represented about 20% of total operating costs (we're not buying the trains with this money) - though overhead cost allocation to CountryLink vs Cityrail was challenged and there was a mind boggling chunk of cost associated with sales and reservations, which any toe-cutter worth his salt would be going after with a double edged sword.

If we assume the government concession contribution is capped at that 20% figure, that means that you need to multiple your actual cold-hard cash receipt by four.

But obviously, if you quadruple the fares, then your demand for services is likely to suffer a bit.  I suspect "zero" would probably be a reasonable approximation for the resulting demand.  Zero demand doesn't require you to run anywhere near the level of current service - in fact "zero" services would probably be appropriate.  Even in NSW, that would likely result in lower operating costs (though of course some of CountryLink's cost is access fees for lines that would continue to be maintained - so the funding for that maintenance would still need to come from somewhere - PN & Aurizon being likely...).

There are then curves that relate demand to fares, and capacity (to service demand) to cost.  Whether those curves cross (such that you can operate a stand-alone profitable service) seems unlikely to me - but I suspect the remnant demand under a driver to decrease subsidy would be in the near metropolitan region.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

Let us be very clear:

If there was any reasonable probability that the end of the "industrial age" was approaching (in a negative sense, as opposed to some sort of evolution to the "information age" or whatever), then planning on any sort of XPT replacement, or really, planning anything other than a chaotic descent into a poverty-stricken agrarian economy, is completely insane.  In that sort of apocalyptic scenario, regional passenger transport of any shape or form will be so far down the list of priorities it wouldn't register.  Instead, things like "try and stop large sections of the population from starving" will be rather more pertinent and pressing.


donttellmywife
No politician is going to win votes by planning around limits to growth or suggesting that the future might be smaller than the present, so there might not be any forward planning for "major economic shifts" at all, and I understand it is difficult to plan for such a shift anyway, because we don't know if or when it could happen.

On the subject of apocalyptic collapse, I have no vested interest in pushing a Doomsday scenario, but there probably will be certain changes over the coming decades with implications for the sustainability of certain aspects of our lifestyle and potential for a huge impact on transport and our share of the pie in general. The process has already started - the amount of fossil fuel energy and other resources available per capita is shrinking - we just don't know where it will end. These factors are linked to arguments about the reasonable probability of the end of the industrial age.

Some people, probably most, think we are going to enjoy continual growth, that technology and the free market will, aside from the odd hiccup, ensure that things generally keep getting better and better, allowing constant expansion of rail and continual replacement of older trains including some of the projects discussed on this forum. The possibility of a smaller, energy constrained future that upsets the established growth models and asset replacement cycles is unthinkable and met with hostility because it does not square with their limitless growth based beliefs and culture.

The reality of incentives for investment are understood well enough to predict that little more than SFA is going to be done in advance of possible unfortunate economic shifts, and while in some senses I suppose that is fair enough, it's problematic, at least it will be seen as such in the rear view mirror.

I think we need a wait and see approach now in relation to planning replacements for the XPT. What will be viable in 10-15 years will become clearer towards the end of this decade.

Since the present path is unsustainable and the future uncertain, "there will be no replacement for the XPT" is a possibility, probably more likely than a wide scale return to steam or long distance electrification. This would be preceded by Railpage style wishlist proposals that never get the go-ahead, deferral, maybe a small DMU order to replace some of the first batch of XPTs, and the running into the ground of the existing fleet, maybe stretching its life beyond 2030 using semi clapped-out 70 mph freight locos if the Paxmans die, as suggested in an earlier post. Timing, i.e. the economic situation when it is accepted that the XPT really does need replacement, will be a key factor.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Does anyone know if Countrylink charged the ticket price for every passenger so that the XPT covers it own cost, then how much would a ticket be?

(The 2010/11 Railcorp Annual report does not brake down the costs enough)
Jim K

My inflation-indexed/bastardised accounts from the Parry Report: (here)



The "booking and advertising" expense is clearly where a lot of the "Travel Centres" (railway ticket offices to you and me) or station staffing costs are buried, and is still with us, even with the website.

This analysis doesn't include CountryLink's share of the CRN costs ($180mil a year), nor CL's share of the $500mil the feds annually pump into ARTC to keep it's non-coal NSW routes running.  Most of that "other" in the income is the subsidy provided by the QLD and VIC governments for operating CL across the state borders.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
My inflation-indexed/bastardised accounts from the Parry Report: (here)



The "booking and advertising" expense is clearly where a lot of the "Travel Centres" (railway ticket offices to you and me) or station staffing costs are buried, and is still with us, even with the website.

This analysis doesn't include CountryLink's share of the CRN costs ($180mil a year), nor CL's share of the $500mil the feds annually pump into ARTC to keep it's non-coal NSW routes running.  Most of that "other" in the income is the subsidy provided by the QLD and VIC governments for operating CL across the state borders.
djf01
I just noticed depreciation in the Parry list, which is not something I'd include in an "operating cost".  That's also inconsistent with his cost breakdown for other services in the same report.  If that really is an allowance for depreciation of capital items (I guess it could be?), then the cost recovery of CountryLink does take into account capital recovery - i.e. we are buying the trains.

The selling/advertising category in the Parry report is a complete and utter WTF (bearing in mind that $10 million of station costs were called out separately).  It is incomprehensible to me how that category could be that excessive.  I wonder whether it was being used as an indirect way of subsidising regional tourism awards, etc.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I just noticed depreciation in the Parry list, which is not something I'd include in an "operating cost".  That's also inconsistent with his cost breakdown for other services in the same report.  If that really is an allowance for depreciation of capital items (I guess it could be?), then the cost recovery of CountryLink does take into account capital recovery - i.e. we are buying the trains.

The selling/advertising category in the Parry report is a complete and utter WTF (bearing in mind that $10 million of station costs were called out separately).  It is incomprehensible to me how that category could be that excessive.  I wonder whether it was being used as an indirect way of subsidising regional tourism awards, etc.
donttellmywife

Direct from page 45, in 2003 dollars:

Travel centre/booking offices 9.4
Sales 1.4
External commission 2.3
CityRail commission 0.5
Advertising 1.9
Reservation costs 14.4
Total Selling/Advertising 29.9

The only number that looks a bit odd to me are the reservation costs, but if they were using a legacy IT system back then it would make sense.

Much of the Parry Report was by necessity educated guesswork on how to allocate costs from the SRA money pit.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Direct from page 45, in 2003 dollars:

Travel centre/booking offices 9.4
Sales 1.4
External commission 2.3
CityRail commission 0.5
Advertising 1.9
Reservation costs 14.4
Total Selling/Advertising 29.9

The only number that looks a bit odd to me are the reservation costs, but if they were using a legacy IT system back then it would make sense.

Much of the Parry Report was by necessity educated guesswork on how to allocate costs from the SRA money pit.
djf01
That's the stand-out number for me too.  14 million dollars a year for a reservation system (?) for a system that runs a dozen or so services a day?  What sort of legacy system are we talking?  ENIAC?  It can't be that sort of cost - but jiggered if I can work out what it plausibly could be.

There were changes after Parry, plus it has been a decade, so it would be good for another updated picture of CountryLink's real financial position to be made public.  I've not been able to locate anything that gives any detail though.

(p.s. Catering revenue 6.9 million.  Catering costs $6.0 million.  While that [probably] doesn't include labour or floor space cost, part of the labour is realistically sunk cost anyway, and there would be a fare revenue bonus associated with the increased amenity due to on-board catering.)
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
The Parry Report is a decade old and was completed during the State Rail Authority era. I'm definitely inclined to think that many things have shifted since. I will ask, however, one question regarding the WTF figure for the booking systems: how many Travel Centres have closed since 2003?

I may not agree with all of djf01's proposed cuts, but a move away from travel centres to a centralised call centre and online booking system (with full customer app!) is likely to be an effective way forward.

On top of this, I find it interesting how catering was actually profitable, with a 13.0% profit margin!
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

The Parry Report is a decade old and was completed during the State Rail Authority era. I'm definitely inclined to think that many things have shifted since. I will ask, however, one question regarding the WTF figure for the booking systems: how many Travel Centres have closed since 2003?

I may not agree with all of djf01's proposed cuts, but a move away from travel centres to a centralised call centre and online booking system (with full customer app!) is likely to be an effective way forward.

On top of this, I find it interesting how catering was actually profitable, with a 13.0% profit margin!
Watson374
I think you'll find catering was only truly profitable if you didn't pay the staff that served the customers.  Add in the wages of 2 TA's per train and it won't look so rosy!  CL's meals still are very reasonably priced, meaning they have a modest markup on their products compared with similar commercial vendors.  But their labour costs and overheads must be huge by comparison.  It must be said though, just imagine how much a dining car would cost to operate!  A small (too small to be really viable) restaurant with full kitchen staff, serving staff (all unionised and on penalty rates for the whole trip) vs some spotty teenager getting $12.50/hr at Macca's.

Re the booking systems, I used to work in IT in the late 80s and through the 90s, and if the booking system software was anything more than 7 or 8 years old in 2003 then I think the stated costs of operating the IT side of it would be about right.  People forget that PC based POS systems were very rare because up until 1998 the Operating Systems weren't stable enough, and it wasn't till 2004 that Microsoft stop selling flaky versions of CPM.  And up until ~1996 IIRC the internet was really only available to academia in Australia.  Delivering a terminal screen in real time top multiple rural locations was a big deal even as recently as that.  If nothing else that probably contains a whack of "Y2K Readiness Project" amortised costs Smile.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
I think you'll find catering was only truly profitable if you didn't pay the staff that served the customers.  Add in the wages of 2 TA's per train and it won't look so rosy!  CL's meals still are very reasonably priced, meaning they have a modest markup on their products compared with similar commercial vendors.  But their labour costs and overheads must be huge by comparison.  It must be said though, just imagine how much a dining car would cost to operate!  A small (too small to be really viable) restaurant with full kitchen staff, serving staff (all unionised and on penalty rates for the whole trip) vs some spotty teenager getting $12.50/hr at Macca's.
"djf01"
That's true, but then again the buffet staff need to be on the train anyway.

Re the booking systems, I used to work in IT in the late 80s and through the 90s, and if the booking system software was anything more than 7 or 8 years old in 2003 then I think the stated costs of operating the IT side of it would be about right.  People forget that PC based POS systems were very rare because up until 1998 the Operating Systems weren't stable enough, and it wasn't till 2004 that Microsoft stop selling flaky versions of CPM.  And up until ~1996 IIRC the internet was really only available to academia in Australia.  Delivering a terminal screen in real time top multiple rural locations was a big deal even as recently as that.  If nothing else that probably contains a whack of "Y2K Readiness Project" amortised costs Smile.
"djf01"
Agreed, but now such systems are viable and are the way forward.

I find the CountryLink booking system quite infuriating at times, as I'm used to the systems applied by airlines, which have more complex functionality. For example, I can't look up fares to Tamworth by typing in 'TMW'... Mr. Green
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I'm going to take a different tack and drag this thread way way off topic and tie in all my other pet peeves of NSW Railways.  And this *does* have a bearing on the XPT replacement which I hope to tie into it at the end (if I don't fall asleep first).

As part of the XPT Replacement Program ...

1) The Feds should fund upgrades to the North Shore Suburban Line, and insist on full integration with the NWRL in DD format.

WTF?

Well, ATM the feds are co-funding upgrades to the main north in the hope of opening up some more freight slots and take baby steps towards a fully independent NSFL.  An NSFL is most definitely a worthwhile project IMHO and as the part of the interstate network connecting Queensland with the rest of the nation worthy of federal government support.  But ... is the existing main north the best place to be pumping fed funds, especially when the incompatible NWRL metro is likely to drive more NSW/Sydney commuter traffic down the main north using that extra federally funded capacity?

The alternative I'm suggesting is a joint NSW/Fed NSFL project to:
- Deliver full ETACS Level 3 ATO to all of sector 3 and throught the H set and A set fleet, including re-boarding/upgrading max allowable EMU speeds after eliminating signal visibility issues, and allow ultra tight 2min headways on the North Shore through to Strathfield and Parramattam and ... just a touch controversially ... allow (maximum) single person suburban train crewing.
- Extend the Down Refuge of the Eastwood bank south past Meadowbank Station, including a new high speed facing crossover north of Rhodes station and one just south of Meadowbank and the new Up refuge junction.
- Tripple (on the Down side probably) Hornsby to just past Mt Kuringai.
- A small platform on the (upgraded) UP siding at Brisbane Water
- A bypass road on the DOWN side at Woy Woy, and two crossovers (trailing south, facing north) of Woy Woy station
- [Optionally] any of 6 straighter/faster/steeper electrified deviation on the Cowan Bank or along Mullet Creek to create a section of (at least 2000m) of triple track, with the entire legacy alignment being handed to ARTC.
- BiDi visual signalling of the main north UP between Hornsby and Epping.
- Gosford to Berowra (and Springwood to Penrith) put back into the Sydney Trains zone.
- A new facing crossover from the road into platforms 2&3 west of Nth Sydney, and upgrading those tunnel roads to at least 60ppk operation.
- [Optionally] tripling a segment of upper NSL to allow peak hour overtaking.
- [Optionally] Complete the Chatswood to St Leonards Quad and install the Woolstoncraft/Waiverton busway and the crossovers to create a DOWN facing turnback at North Sydney for Central Coast in trains.

The UP road/refuge from Strathfield to Gosford is then handed to ARTC (except across the Meadowbank bridge during peak hours), as is the entire short north between Gosford and Broadmeadow.

This creates a complete (bar the Rhodes bridge during peak hours) isolated NSFL.

RailCorp/Sydney Trains operates all Central Coast trains via the North Shore, with the option of turning all/some/none of them at Nth Sydney.

In return, RailCorp/Sydney Trains relinquishes the upper main north UP road and operates the main north between Epping and Hornsby single track (suburban services only) using the UP refuge through Thornleigh as a crossing loop.  RailCorp also operates Berowra - Gosford single track (presumably with OSCARS) 6tph in the peak direction and 1 tph off peak/contra flow (enabled by ETACS signalling) with crossing loops at Brisbane Water and Woy Woy.  ARTC gets crossing loops wherever the new deviations are installed - so ideally on the Cowan Bank, at Eastwood and at Gosford (where they get double track operations anyway).

Importantly for RailCorp/Sydney Trains, they get ~300km of perway maintenance taken off their hands (cost shifted from NSW to the Feds).  The above rail freight operators don't have to deal with RailCorp/NSW Government anymore.

So what's that got to do with the XPT replacement?  Well NSW trains won't have anywhere near the peak commuter load issue.  The upper mountains could then be operated by the 3 DK series V set shuttles (with half a set spare).  It will only need 6 small trains to provide regional connecting services between Gosford and Newcastle, 3 for the hunter, 3 for Mossy and 6 for the South Coast.  Believe it or not that can be done with the existing DMU fleet (allowing a sizable chunk of the Sydney aircon silver sets to be retired).  The only real commuter load NSW Trains us left with are the south coast services which can be done with legacy V sets and .. once they clap out - the surviving XPT trailer fleet.

That means NSW trains fleet procurement requirements will effectively be reduced to a small but grunty DMU.  So for that I propose a V'Locity style DMU with 3 basic form factors:
Motorised Cab unit, Cabless Trailer (exactly like the V'Locities so far) and a Driving Trailer (trailer in a motor cab format, but possibly with walk through capability).  DMs would have a disabled toilet, trailers the *option* of a multi-use area for galley/oversized luggage plus additional PAX luggage space.  

A typical main line distance config would be DM-T-T-DM (250 seats 2+2, 300 2+3), DM-T-DM for shorter runs, DM-DT for regional short haul routes.  The Northern Tablelands train could be run DM-DT+DT-DM, though one of the DTs on such a train would need a custom fitout with the multi-use area.  And the fleet would only need to be very small, not reaching 40 vehicles until the Endorers approach retirement age.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Well all that may sound good in cyber space but in reality I doubt Sydney Trains or any NSW State Govt would be interested . They may not be that "smart" but they know only too well what happens when you reduce double to single lines and the voting commuters don't care about cost savings .
Its a large assumption that ARTC would want to take over parts of the north and even have the finances to maintain them . They are begging ATM to maintain what they have in the eastern states and the Feds could have no intention of coughing up any more dough .
Sydneys population continues to grow and highrise living stacks more people in the same floor area and puts more pressure on public transport . The Government knows this just like it knows the population on the Central Coast is growing quickly - again more pressure on commuter services . I don't think it'll be too long before theres more suburbs and railway stations on the Central Coast and any line capacity will be absorbed very quickly . The freight operators also know this and know the situation in that area will get worse not better for them .
The North Shore line doesn't have endless capacity and I wouldn't know about its end of the Epping Chatswood line but the other end has become a huge blockage for north/south traffic on the main . I have a feeling that the NWRL will probably be the same so through traffic on the Main north doesn't have anything positive to look forward to .
Also what happens to City Circle traffic with more services going over the bridge ? How do these services access Sydney Yard ? How do people in those underground stations cope with exhaust fumes if DMUs and Xs run that way ?
There are answers out there but the people planning the schemes need to cater to all forms of traffic and going everywhere . ATM the NSW Govt/Sydney Trains cares only about public transport and everything else is someone elses problem . I think the only hope is to ask the Feds to look at the planning and hopefully come up with ideas suitable for ALL rail operators and traffics . BUT then they have to consider that road is not a viable alternative to commuters where it is for land freight . This is why it continues to be a miracle for rail freight operators to get any sugar in the Sydney Metropolitan area - at all .
The proposed Inland Rail Route is also pretty useless to rail freight into/out of Sydney , there is no easy access to it from Sydney and the customers would truck freight to Parkes or wherever before they'd rail it there to go to Melbourne or Brisbane . Bottom line is if you make rail freight too hard here in Sydney whats left on rail will follow the bulk of it which is now on road .
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Well all that may sound good in cyber space but in reality I doubt Sydney Trains or any NSW State Govt would be interested . They may not be that "smart" but they know only too well what happens when you reduce double to single lines and the voting commuters don't care about cost savings .
BDA


They seem to cope on the South Coast OK.  And they could sell it by saying "no more freight trains clogging up your tracks".


Its a large assumption that ARTC would want to take over parts of the north and even have the finances to maintain them . They are begging ATM to maintain what they have in the eastern states and the Feds could have no intention of coughing up any more dough .
BDA

I think ARTC could make a compelling case.  Because the Short North has been maintained to higher standards it's unlikely to suffer from the issues he other NSW lease routes have, it should be low maintenance for some time, and indeed possibly even profitable.

ARTC would almost certainly have support of the above rail freight operators.  

Even though Abbott has made his "Feds not to fund urban rail" pledge, and the Feds in general don't like it, this is more than a fig leaf of an excuse to pump conspicuous money into Sydney rail upgrades while producing real benefits for it's interstate "customers".

The North Shore line doesn't have endless capacity and I wouldn't know about its end of the Epping Chatswood line but the other end has become a huge blockage for north/south traffic on the main.
BDA

Of course it doesn't.  That's why the Feds are funding an upgrade.  In return, they get (almost) enough RailCorp perway to make dedicated NSFL.


Also what happens to City Circle traffic with more services going over the bridge ?
BDA

Largely unchanged.


How do these services access Sydney Yard ? How do people in those underground stations cope with exhaust fumes if DMUs and Xs run that way ?
BDA

Well, (way) less services would use ST.  Potentially just CL (or whatever it will be called).  CL would only get access to ST out of peak (or from Sector 1), much like Meaks Rd.   CL might also become an all ARTC customer. using their "new" Flemington terminal Smile.


The proposed Inland Rail Route is also pretty useless to rail freight into/out of Sydney , there is no easy access to it from Sydney and the customers would truck freight to Parkes or wherever before they'd rail it there to go to Melbourne or Brisbane . Bottom line is if you make rail freight too hard here in Sydney whats left on rail will follow the bulk of it which is now on road .
BDA

The proposed inland rail route is a boondoggle.  The reason ARTC's NSW's leases are losing so much is because they lack the traffic volumes to fund getting the perway up to snuff (which is how the perway got snuffed up in the first place).  IMHO what is needed is two fold:
  1. Get RailCorp and the dysfunctional NSW government out of the equation
  2. ARTC instigate pricing and infrastructure development policies to better encourage increased rail tonnage rather than please the above rail operators.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The proposed inland rail route is a boondoggle.  The reason ARTC's NSW's leases are losing so much is because they lack the traffic volumes to fund getting the perway up to snuff (which is how the perway got snuffed up in the first place).  IMHO what is needed is two fold:
  1. Get RailCorp and the dysfunctional NSW government out of the equation
  2. ARTC instigate pricing and infrastructure development policies to better encourage increased rail tonnage rather than please the above rail operators.
djf01
I think I agree with your first sentence.

I definitely agree with your first point.  Adjectives aside, I think there's reasonable evidence that various parts of the Federal bureaucracy agree too - otherwise they'd leave capacity issues to the immediate north and south of Sydney as a Railcorp problem perhaps with some federal money in the Christmas stocking to help things along.  But they aren't leaving it to Railcorp - they have and are actively spending money, in a way that gives them either absolute (SSFL) or partial control (NSFL).  Imagine if when funding the Hunter Valley Expressway the feds told the NSW government/RMS "when this is finished we'll look after things, thank you very much, no need for you to be involved".

I think your emphasis on the second point is wrong.  I don't see how the current pricing regime really discourages rail tonnage.  You could always reduce access charges across the board to encourage more traffic, but I doubt that would lead to an increase in cash available for perway improvements.  Indicative train lengths and section times for a line are set taking into account things such as effective use of line capability (passing loop lengths and spacing) and current operator capability and requirements - force things away from that in the short term and you just impose extra costs or inefficiency on the system.  These things can evolve with time, but the asset manager typically has to jump first with capital spend (you put the loops in, then you can run the longer trains).

One area that could be looked at, that is relevant to CountryLink, is whether the access fees charged to CountryLink for a particular service reflect the capacity and other costs that the high priority paths impose on the system.  I suspect they don't - if a freight operator took too many happy pills one day and then in a fit of delirium proposed running a light-fast parcel service that had the same priority as the CountryLink services for the same access fees, I suspect the other operators would have some choice words to say that would make BDA blush.  But charging more could also just be a path to inter-governmental silliness - it could be regarded as shifting money between governments for no real benefit (i.e. NSW via CountryLink pays more to ARTC, ARTC imposes less cost on the feds, the feds have more money available to give to NSW, if the feds don't hand it over then NSW goes feral on the metropolitan and CRN freight users..., etc.).
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Mixed opinions about point 1 , NSW does own it though managing it with a State pass operator isn't going to build a level playing field .
Point 2 , discounting does jack if the lines very simply don't have a) the capacity and b) acceptable paths for timely transit .

For an operator to stump up with a short light high hp/tonne ratio train they would have to have a cast iron guarantee that it would get the priority paid for . Never mind the sorry folks our bendy bus is down a traction engine so we're going to hold you and run you behind it back to Moss Vale as a contingency plan . It goes on and happened to me once on SM5 . See the problem is that the pass operator runs everything to suit themselves and will use any resource they can to run their operation the  best they can , they simply don't care what happens to any/all other operators trains . If I had my way any train presenting on time should be allowed to run its paid for path including Sydney/NSWs Trains . If they fail to present for any reason they run where they can be shoe horned in and the customers take it up with their service provider . Freight customers are customers too so why should the many be disadvantaged to serve the few - a few political faces - which is their priority not the good of the poeple . Make it rigidly fair and equal - that way operators are forced to lift their on time game , all of them . The high revenue earning freight has to be available and it has to be possible to run fast times .
Simply put it's impossible because even running right on the speedboards isn't good enough , you are going up the Southern highlands sitting on 70/75 Km/h with lightly loaded trucks doing 85/90 on a straighter more direct route . They are running on exhaust brakes down the long grades doing 100 while short light Sprinter freighter is winding down the Cullerin ranges doing 65 . I could go on but ...
Look at it this way  , go for a drive over the old sections of the Hume ie Bredalbin to Gunning and think what it would be like to offer the road freigh industry lower rego etc charges to put more trucks on a twisty hilly mostly single lane each way road . Naturally they would think you are on drugs and treat that suggestion with the contempt is deserves . For them it would be slower and cost them more in fuel brakes tyres etc , they know they can't be competitive on roads like that and wouldn't even try it .
ALL trains are running on effectively this kind of infrastructure ALL the time so is effectively hopeless . Can't run more trains because the capacity isn't there . Can't run faster high revenue freight trains because there is no such thing as a fast path . Like I said years ago in the Marchant ARTC era , physically impossible to run go to woa Sydney to Melbourne in 12 hours let alone the 10 hrs 40 / 11hsrs 20 he suggested for 15 and 1800m freighters .
ARTC won't get lots more revenue from train operators because there is a limit to how many trains the current infrustructure supports . Examples because people obviously dont have a clue . Take the old road up through the southern highlands ie via Hill Top and make it a toll road . Run semis and B Doubles amongst cars until you get a slow procession and compare that to the "parallel" Hume highway . How well would the truck operators go and do you think throwing in more trucks would raise the dough to build a better road ? Now tell one truck co to put up a very lightly loaded truck with high priority freight and tell them , well you should get it through ok if you try hard ? Oh damn , that was bad luck wasn't it - but try again and again and again . Lost all your high paying customers have ya ? Damn thats a bad run of luck you're having ...
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
If every country line was duplicated, BiDi'ed, passing lanes infinitum, all the realignments and all the deviations built (all the kings horses Wink )

NSW will then build an XPT replacement Laughing
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
If every country line was duplicated, BiDi'ed, passing lanes infinitum, all the realignments and all the deviations built (all the kings horses Wink )

NSW will then build an XPT replacement Laughing
cootanee
On the issue of hi speed freight trains , remember the Cargo Sprinter.
The Cargo Sprinter was originally bought as a hi speed lightweight freight train designed to carry premium freight traffic between
the Capitals.
The train was toured all over Australia and even went to Perth.
It was a total flop simply because no one would pay the premium rates to use it.
The economics of hi speed freight trains simply arnt there and dont stack up.
AN also trialled hi speed 140 kmh freight trains across the TAR using the ELs which were specifically
ordered for that purpose.
Thats why the Els have NG traction motors and an axle load of just 19T , the same as the XPT.
Although the trials  were a success, the hi speed trains didnt continue, again for the same reasons as the Cargo Sprinter flopped.

Can freight trains operators buy XPT trains paths for slow freight trains?

How will track access charges work after NSW trains and Sydney trains are created?
Will Sydney Trains charge NSW trains for track access?
If pass trains dont have to pay track access charges , but freight trains do , then its hardly a level playing field.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
If every country line was duplicated, BiDi'ed, passing lanes infinitum, all the realignments and all the deviations built (all the kings horses Wink )

NSW will then build an XPT replacement Laughing
cootanee
Of course this isn't likely...
I suspect what we have seen to date is as good as it gets for a few years.

ARTC will plug away at fixing foundation/ballast/drainage issues - maybe get the odd $100m from federal budgets but that's it. How will JHR fair from TfNSW - who knows.

One reason why (almost 10 years ago) ARTC's decision to challenge the concrete sleeper market to be cost competitive with timber was inspired. It was successful in this and selling that proposal to government. I think there have been five or more fed funded procurements since - each palatable to whoever held the purse strings. A strategic move for long term sustainability and surely better that the odd steel sleeper and white painted rails.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

... (Ger NSW Gvt out of the Equation) I think there's reasonable evidence that various parts of the Federal bureaucracy agree too - otherwise they'd leave capacity issues to the immediate north and south of Sydney as a Railcorp problem perhaps with some federal money in the Christmas stocking to help things along.  But they aren't leaving it to Railcorp - they have and are actively spending money, in a way that gives them either absolute (SSFL) or partial control (NSFL).  Imagine if when funding the Hunter Valley Expressway the feds told the NSW government/RMS "when this is finished we'll look after things, thank you very much, no need for you to be involved".
donttellmywife

The problem I have with the NSFL so far is it's largely an upgrade to the RailCorp network which is assiting the NSW DoT pursue their Metro agenda.  I think a corrollory of the NWRL format decision will most likely be more Central Coast Commuter and local suburban trains on the main north using up all that new capacity the "integrated" NSFL upgrades funded by the feds.  ARTC customers are unlikely to realise any benefits, regardless of how many slots RailCorp agree (for now) to relinquish.

IMHO upgrades to the NSL provide not only much greater benefits to Sydney Trains, but potentially far better outcomes for ARTC as well, provided NSW relinquishes some of it's Main North trackage permanently of course).
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
The problem I have with the NSFL so far is it's largely an upgrade to the RailCorp network which is assiting the NSW DoT pursue their Metro agenda.  I think a corrollory of the NWRL format decision will most likely be more Central Coast Commuter and local suburban trains on the main north using up all that new capacity the "integrated" NSFL upgrades funded by the feds.  ARTC customers are unlikely to realise any benefits, regardless of how many slots RailCorp agree (for now) to relinquish.

IMHO upgrades to the NSL provide not only much greater benefits to Sydney Trains, but potentially far better outcomes for ARTC as well, provided NSW relinquishes some of it's Main North trackage permanently of course).
djf01

Just a small correction for those who may not know about this....

There is no NSFL (unlike the SSFL - Southern Sydney Freight Line).

There are four projects within what is known as the NSFC (Northern Sydney Freight Corridor), 3 TfNSW and 1 ARTC.

http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/Projects-Northern-Sydney-Freight-Corridor-Program
  djf01 Chief Commissioner


ARTC instigate pricing and infrastructure development policies to better encourage increased rail tonnage rather than please the above rail operators.

I think your emphasis on the second point is wrong.  I don't see how the current pricing regime really discourages rail tonnage.  You could always reduce access charges across the board to encourage more traffic, but I doubt that would lead to an increase in cash available for perway improvements.  Indicative train lengths and section times for a line are set taking into account things such as effective use of line capability (passing loop lengths and spacing) and current operator capability and requirements - force things away from that in the short term and you just impose extra costs or inefficiency on the system.  These things can evolve with time, but the asset manager typically has to jump first with capital spend (you put the loops in, then you can run the longer trains).

One area that could be looked at, that is relevant to CountryLink, is whether the access fees charged to CountryLink for a particular service reflect the capacity and other costs that the high priority paths impose on the system.  I suspect they don't - if a freight operator took too many happy pills one day and then in a fit of delirium proposed running a light-fast parcel service that had the same priority as the CountryLink services for the same access fees, I suspect the other operators would have some choice words to say that would make BDA blush.  But charging more could also just be a path to inter-governmental silliness - it could be regarded as shifting money between governments for no real benefit (i.e. NSW via CountryLink pays more to ARTC, ARTC imposes less cost on the feds, the feds have more money available to give to NSW, if the feds don't hand it over then NSW goes feral on the metropolitan and CRN freight users..., etc.).
donttellmywife

My contention is the ARTC structural separation and base pricing structure - which (AFAIK) is designed to be train length agnostic - is the primary reason rail has such a low market share on the east coast of Australia compared with the USA.  

The fixed costs are all with publicly operated ARTC, the variable costs with the above rail operators.  With a lot of fixed costs profitability is maximised by maximising total tonnage.  With lots of variable costs profitability is maximised by maximising margins.  

Put another way, if rail operators were to halve their margins to double their tonnage, all the financial benefit would go to ARTC (who charge a flat rate by the tonne), and none to the above rail operators.  So why would they do it?  It just increases their risk without improving their profits.

One approach that *might* address this issue (I suspect it's not enough) is for ARTC to be a bit more hard nosed in it's dealings with the above rail operators in terms of pricing, with higher flagfall charges, and tonnage fees on a sliding scale per train.  Give the rail operators a financial reason to stump up some of the capital for deviations to reduce grades: the prospect of long term access fee reductions *if* they make use of the lower gradient profiles and increase their tonnages.  The problem (among many really) with this is the issue for above rail operators could be just as easily be addressed by effectively lobbying the politicians holding ARTC's purse strings as any meaningful reform.

As for charging for CountryLink, I think the requirement of ARTC to give passenger trains priority is problematic.  I think while ARTC is no-where near at capacity *and* outfits like CountryLink are operating a CSO service, I think it's perfectly reasonable for CL to only have pay an access fee that reflects the marginal cost of the perway, not "their share" of the total.  

So by this I think 2 to 4 slots a day on the Main South and NCL reserved for CSO passenger trains with (very) concessional flagfall access fees, and there after CL (or whatever they are called) should have to pay the higher flagfall charge - or be required to relinquish the slot if a full paying freight operators wants/buys it.

On the double tracked sections think another pricing approach is appropriate.  RailCorp should have to pay an appropriate retainer - roughly half the *base* cost of maintaining that stretch of perway but in return get unlimited access up to but not exceeding the capacity of the single track sections of the route.  ATM ARTC charges are a substantial impediment to higher frequencies on the ACT and Southern Highlands runs (assuming RailCorp pay the published base fares of course - they probably don't).  Servicing the ACT branch with 3 x 2 Car DMUs with a crew of 2 vs 2 x 3 Car DMUs with a crew of 4 should be *cheaper* for RailCorp *and* provide a 5 train per day frequency vs 3 now ... but ... ARTC charges change that equation.

Where CL/Railcorp should probably be paying more is on the Hunter coal network, where capacity is already constrained and each slot used by a DMU is costing real money.

In short I think ARTC needs - at very least -  to be given a slightly different charter: to either more aggressively go about recovering it's own costs - or perhaps a charter more focused on maximising ultilisation rather than just providing a level playing field.

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