New Timetables For Regional Nsw

 
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
You will find that rail in this state was never designed to be efficient , it was constructed on a shoe string budget and it's been suffering under investment ever since . It matters not what rides the rails nor even the steel or sleepers used . The alignments are often useless and rail will continue to perform badly until they are improved . The alignments and the condition of the track bed are the major issues in NSW and all the flash trains and signalling systems achieve nothing because of it .

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  djf01 Chief Commissioner


Sydney to Armidale, one month in advance?  NSW TrainLink full fare economy - $80.35.  Greyhound restricted fare $79.  That's a whopping $1.35 worth of preference!!  If people really prefer the train, they should be willing to pay much more.  (QantasLink discount fare is well more than double that - at $210 - but they still get enough demand to sufficiently fill their planes to mostly cover their costs.)
donttellmywife

I for one am probably prepared to pay more for a rail service.  But everything is relative.  For the standard of service CountryLink TrainLink offer I think the pricing is about right.  Full fares are slightly more than an equivalent bus fare would be - if they were available.  One of the issues is a heavily subsidised TrainLink rail service prevents parallel private coach services being viable much less produce competitive pricing.

By and large, people are prepared to pay ~ 0.10 c/km for public transport services, rising up to 0.20 for a "premium" service of some description (ignoring "experience" travel like 1st class air or cruise ships etc).  The *marginal* cost of traveling in your own car (fuel only) is typically in the 10-20c/km range IIRC.  

The issue the TL is the cost of providing the service vs what it delivers.

An XPT set costing $1500/hr to run with 350 seats averaging 80kph is 5c/seat km.  (A 200 seat V'Locity costing $800/hr @120kph is 3c/km).  A 50% loading *should* be the break even point.  But it's not.  With all the additional overheads TL actually costs ~20c/seat km or ~40c/PAX km, hence the abysmal cost recovery - or absurdly high price if the service were charged for on a cost basis.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The issue the TL is the cost of providing the service vs what it delivers.

An XPT set costing $1500/hr to run with 350 seats averaging 80kph is 5c/seat km.  (A 200 seat V'Locity costing $800/hr @120kph is 3c/km).  A 50% loading *should* be the break even point.  But it's not.  With all the additional overheads TL actually costs ~20c/seat km or ~40c/PAX km, hence the abysmal cost recovery - or absurdly high price if the service were charged for on a cost basis.
djf01
How does a distributed power arrangement result in a 150% increase in average line speed?

Be careful about comparing like with like (or omitting the key qualifications for what you really are comparing).
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

How does a distributed power arrangement result in a 150% increase in average line speed?
donttellmywife
Never said it did.  Just agreeing with BDA's point that adverse alignments have an impact on productivity.
  GeorgePuss Station Staff

Location: nsw
Time for some lateral thinking on Brisbane Service

Can advantage be taken of ARTC investment in track upgrades?

Why does it need to be a SYDNEY Brisbane, are more passenger friendly timetables possible if it becomes a TAREE Brisbane service and the passenger friendly timetables were marketed.  This comment was prompted by  Qantas/Brindabella offering a $300 Coffs Brisbane fare.

Can timetables be recast to make North Coast return day trips like Coffs/ Port Macquarie viable? Could it be done without a new maintenance facility?

Yes the XPT fleet is aging and many existing passengers are on concession fares so lets look for other markets
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Why does it need to be a SYDNEY Brisbane, are more passenger friendly timetables possible if it becomes a TAREE Brisbane service and the passenger friendly timetables were marketed.
"GeorgePuss"
Yes and no. In theory, you could time it so that you connect XPT services, but in that case the appeal of simply canning the XPT past Casino becomes very tempting.

This comment was prompted by  Qantas/Brindabella offering a $300 Coffs Brisbane fare.
"GeorgePuss"
That's insane. Qantas is currently on a sale that has CFS-SYD going for $85 and SYD-BNE going for $79. For $164 you could fly the same route with a connection, and the schedules are actually tolerable - you could fly on the 0630 CFS-SYD, arriving at 0745 and connecting to the 0835 to BNE, arriving at 1005.

Can timetables be recast to make North Coast return day trips like Coffs/ Port Macquarie viable? Could it be done without a new maintenance facility?
"GeorgePuss"
Not Coffs Harbour, which is about nine hours out of Sydney; Port Macquarie (or rather, Wauchope) is pushing it but you could make a day return from Kempsey if it runs to Sydney and then back out.

Yes the XPT fleet is aging and many existing passengers are on concession fares so lets look for other markets
"GeorgePuss"
You're right, but the current product as a whole is considered unappealing, what with poor hard product and poor schedules, so it will need a proper revamp.
  bowralcommuter Chief Commissioner

Location: Asleep on a Manly Ferry
Yes and no. In theory, you could time it so that you connect XPT services, but in that case the appeal of simply canning the XPT past Casino becomes very tempting.

That's insane. Qantas is currently on a sale that has CFS-SYD going for $85 and SYD-BNE going for $79. For $164 you could fly the same route with a connection, and the schedules are actually tolerable - you could fly on the 0630 CFS-SYD, arriving at 0745 and connecting to the 0835 to BNE, arriving at 1005.

Not Coffs Harbour, which is about nine hours out of Sydney; Port Macquarie (or rather, Wauchope) is pushing it but you could make a day return from Kempsey if it runs to Sydney and then back out.

You're right, but the current product as a whole is considered unappealing, what with poor hard product and poor schedules, so it will need a proper revamp.
Watson374
Serious Revamp or serious "enhancement"? Wink
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Can advantage be taken of ARTC investment in track upgrades?

GeorgePuss
Basically no.  The NCL XPTs really do need to fit in with the freighter's timetables, more or less.  And making these more efficient is what the ARTC upgrades are about.  There will probably be some flow on effect for PAX services, probably in a more reliably available slot for them.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Serious Revamp or serious "enhancement"? Wink
"bowralcommuter"
Ooh, tempting...
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Yes the XPT fleet is aging and many existing passengers are on concession fares so lets look for other markets
GeorgePuss

I admire your enthusiasm George, but it is going to take more than a timetable rejig to achieve that.

And that doesn't go to the heart of the problem anyway: that the XPT loses money  not matter how many full paying customers it hauls.  The equation is simple: more services means more cost to tax payers.  Less services means less cost.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

I know the times would need adjusting, but what about this for the north coast XPTs
  • Sydney dep 07:00, Brisbane arr 20:30 / Brisbane dep 22:30 Sydney arr 12:05 next day
  • Sydney dep 11:25, Grafton arr 21:55 / Grafton dep 06:30, Sydney arr 16:40
  • Sydney dep 17:30 Casino arr approx 05:20 next day / Casino 07:30, Sydney arr 19:10
Brisbane XPT = daylight run for both directions
Overnight trains = DOWN Casino, UP Grafton XPTs

OR
  • DOWN: SYDNEY to Grafton, Casino & Brisbane = SAME AS ABOVE, but
  • UP : stabling an XPT overnight at Roma St: Brisbane dep 07:30 Sydney arr about 21:10
Overnight train = UP Brisbane XPT

and it's been suffering under investment ever since.
BDA
And with the Libs in power both federally and for NSW, may/will suffer further under investment. I think that the main work is just extending passing loops. That's only going to be of very limited help.

Abbott has already said he will not fund urban rail projects (that is expected from the Liberals - too cozy relationship with oil companies I suppose, example: Look at the NSW government and the big mining companies), and I doubt that he will want to give more money to federal rail.

Money should have been spent on upgrading the existing track years, sorry decades ago. The XPT should be capable of doing a 960 or so km trip in around 6 to 6½ hours or so. An XPT was meant to be designed for what it's initials stand for, no train designed for speed such as an XPT should have a sleeping car. The trouble is that the XPTs and Xplorers are the only country trains, instead of being complementing by other trains that stop at more stations.

And each town along the XPT/Xplorer routes want these trains to stop at their town. For example, at first, the Kempsey XPT only stopped Hornsby, then Broadmeadow, then only a few stations on the way to and from Kempsey, but then the other towns wanted the XPT to stop, so then these other stops kept getting added and added.

Should a true express XPT to/from Brisbane have only these stops, or similar stopping pattern?:
  • SYDNEY, Hornsby (u), Broadmeadow (u), Taree, Coff's Harbour, Grafton City, Casino, Kyogle (a) BRISBANE
  • (use d instead of u on return trip)
(Possibly adding Maitland with no local travel between Broadmeadow & Maitland restriction)

But doing that, they would need another train serving the other stations, and the government ain't going to do that - especially for country trains.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
If you'd all like me to draw up a regional network with both local and long-haul services, in an ideal world where the railways have more than 0.000001% passenger market share and where it takes 7h15m to Brisbane via Gold Coast, then I'll do it.

We can dream, because the railways have had something running rings around them for the last three decades:


Photo by Brett Williamson, on Flickr.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I know the times would need adjusting, but what about this for the north coast XPTs
    ...
  • Sydney dep 17:30 Casino arr approx 05:20 next day / Casino 07:30, Sydney arr 19:10
...

Money should have been spent on upgrading the existing track years, sorry decades ago. The XPT should be capable of doing a 960 or so km trip in around 6 to 6½ hours or so. An XPT was meant to be designed for what it's initials stand for, no train designed for speed such as an XPT should have a sleeping car. The trouble is that the XPTs and Xplorers are the only country trains, instead of being complementing by other trains that stop at more stations.

And each town along the XPT/Xplorer routes want these trains to stop at their town. For example, at first, the Kempsey XPT only stopped Hornsby, then Broadmeadow, then only a few stations on the way to and from Kempsey, but then the other towns wanted the XPT to stop, so then these other stops kept getting added and added.

Should a true express XPT to/from Brisbane have only these stops, or similar stopping pattern?:
  • SYDNEY, Hornsby (u), Broadmeadow (u), Taree, Coff's Harbour, Grafton City, Casino, Kyogle (a) BRISBANE
Newcastle Express
You are not going to get an outbound path out of Sydney in the middle of the evening peak.  Forget it.  The number of people that would likely be on a regional passenger service is inconsequential relative to those that you could cram onto a suburban or interurban service.

The trouble is that the total demand for train travel along the long distance route, in the face of competition from air and private car and against the basic cost of providing the train service, is insufficient to justify a train.  Having more trains won't fix that - it won't change the relative level of service offered by planes and cars but it will significantly increase your costs.

This isn't a political issue, it is a simple matter of technology.  The long distance train was competitive in an era when air travel was relatively (to incomes, and in real terms) very expensive, and when the road network was relatively poor.  As Watson374 says, that hasn't been the case for decades (perhaps two and a bit, rather than three - deregulation was 1990 if I understand correctly).  Practically the writing has been on the wall for much longer than that.

Once you get over about four hours travel time (thumbsuck), air is going to win the war for a market of any decent size.  Even if the alignment was a dead straight run at 160 km per hour (which would cost an exhorbitant amount of money to achieve, particularly when compared with the paltry contribution that passengers are prepared to make to the current capital and operating costs of the service) that still means you are not going to capture a significant chunk of the intercapital travel market.

The time spent at station stops is inconsequential in the scheme of things, with the current alignment and current path limitations.  Dropping lots of stops off (noting that most stops made by the current services are already quite well separated) will make only a small difference to travel time, but will further impact demand.

The reason the service is provided is not to connect Sydney to Brisbane - it is to connect Sydney to the regions (and to a lesser extent the northern regions to Brisbane).  If you are going to chop out most of the regional stops, then there is all but no point to the service.  It is questionable what the point of the service is today.
  bowralcommuter Chief Commissioner

Location: Asleep on a Manly Ferry
NSW/Australia Regional rail will never be competitive with Air. But I'll try and forget planes exist for a few minutes and come up with XPT trips that could speed up the journey a bit.

Brisbane:
Sydney
Horsnby
Broadmeadow/Maitland
Taree
Wauchope
Coffs Harbour
Grafton
Brisbane


Melbourne:
Sydney
Campbelltown
Cootamundra
Wagga Wagga
Albury
Melbourne


Dubbo:
Penrith
Lithgow
Bathurst
Orange
Dubbo
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

You are not going to get an outbound path out of Sydney in the middle of the evening peak.  Forget it.  The number of people that would likely be on a regional passenger service is inconsequential relative to those that you could cram onto a suburban or interurban service.
donttellmywife
I meant leaving it just outside the evening peak hour.

The reason the service is provided is not to connect Sydney to Brisbane - it is to connect Sydney to the regions (and to a lesser extent the northern regions to Brisbane).  If you are going to chop out most of the regional stops, then there is all but no point to the service.  It is questionable what the point of the service is today.
donttellmywife
I said with other trains stopping at other stations, but that's really starting to get off topic, about how a train will now have a very early arrival time at it's terminus station.

While they "claim" that Queensland government asked for this, we still believe that it has been designed to effectively reduce the number of passengers, so the Libs can eventually get rid of the service.

PS: Is the Armchair Lounge still opened to start and/or reply to threads?
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I meant leaving it just outside the evening peak hour.

I said with other trains stopping at other stations, but that's really starting to get off topic, about how a train will now have a very early arrival time at it's terminus station.

While they "claim" that Queensland government asked for this, we still believe that it has been designed to effectively reduce the number of passengers, so the Libs can eventually get rid of the service.
Newcastle Express
You don't have enough "real" demand for the current service.  Where's all this pent up demand for extra long run services?  You think that knocking say thirty minutes off the timing of the current service because of your missed stops is suddenly going to make long distance rail cost and time competitive against a Q400 or A320?

Who is "they"?  Who is "we"?  The Queensland government haven't exactly been backwards in asking for the retiming of the XPT out of the peak - I've seen several public documents (many of which were non-political, and if I recall correctly some of which pre-date the current Queensland administration) saying that it should happen.  Do you really think the NSW government was somehow conspiring with Brisbane based civil engineering consultancies several years ago (possibly even before the current NSW government was elected!) in order to manufacture the current outcome?  That would be remarkably politically ... adept ... of them.

If the NSW administration had some sort of pressing death wish for the northern interstate XPT, the perfect time to kill it would be ... right now!  You could just blame the whole sorry situation on the Queensland government and walk away.  If they do have some sort of pressing death wish, the fact that they haven't just siezed the day and killed it is remarkably politically ... incompetent ... of them.

Such a bizarre mix of political adeptness and incompetence, don't you think???

On the other hand, lets just imagine that what happened was that the Queensland government/QR said "Dear NSW government/NSW Trains, no outbound XPT in the peak please, our very numerous south-east-of-the-river commuters are far more important."  The NSW government/NSW trains then said "Oh well, if you insist - I wonder what we could do instead? Dear QR/ARTC/Sydney Trains, what are our practical options, given all the constraints and the lack of a magical money tree."  They all sat around a table, had a bit of a chat, a bit of a think, and finally decided that the best pick of a bad bunch was an early arrival and return into/from Brisbane.

I don't know what happened, not being a member of either government or working for either bureaucracy or any of the involved rail or track operators, but which scenario do you think is more likely?
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

If the NSW administration had some sort of pressing death wish for the northern interstate XPT, the perfect time to kill it would be ... right now!  You could just blame the whole sorry situation on the Queensland government and walk away.  If they do have some sort of pressing death wish, the fact that they haven't just siezed the day and killed it is remarkably politically ... incompetent ... of them.

Such a bizarre mix of political adeptness and incompetence, don't you think???

On the other hand, lets just imagine that what happened was that the Queensland government/QR said "Dear NSW government/NSW Trains, no outbound XPT in the peak please, our very numerous south-east-of-the-river commuters are far more important."  The NSW government/NSW trains then said "Oh well, if you insist - I wonder what we could do instead? Dear QR/ARTC/Sydney Trains, what are our practical options, given all the constraints and the lack of a magical money tree."  They all sat around a table, had a bit of a chat, a bit of a think, and finally decided that the best pick of a bad bunch was an early arrival and return into/from Brisbane.

I don't know what happened, not being a member of either government or working for either bureaucracy or any of the involved rail or track operators, but which scenario do you think is more likely?
donttellmywife

I doubt this is any great conspiracy, but I think it does betray a preference to kill the service.

I think the options available were:

- Bring the departure time foreward.  Con: adverse arrival and departure time in Queensland that if push came to shove could be blamed on the Queensland government (who after all, pay for the service)

- Push the departure time back.  Con: That would necessitate operating Meaks Road in the early AM to turn and service the late arrival of the Brisbane XPT and would have non trivial cost implications.  Queensland, are you prepared to pay for that?

- Rejig the entire North Coast and perhaps even southern timetable, including opening the requisite holes in the new SydneyTrains timetable.  Con: too hard basket, both politically and logistically.

- Cut the service altogether.  No-one wants to be the person blamed for that, even if it's preferred option for governments both sides of the border.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Changing timetables for the XPT is not just a matter of looking at what alternative times would work.
The changed timetable has to fit in with all the existing uses of the line , without causing any of their timetables to change.
The North Coast line is fairly busy given its a single line for most of its length.
It would take a good deal of analysis to actually find alternative slots for the XPT that would be acceptable to all the parties involved, and the most likely
outcome is that whats been determined as the alternative timetable is the best available.
As an exercise , see if you can come up with a better alternative timetable that fits with all the existing train paths.
This would need to show where the altered XPT crosses all the existing trains.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I doubt this is any great conspiracy, but I think it does betray a preference to kill the service.

djf01
Who knows.  Guessing motivations is always difficult in the absence of an explicit statement (and then taking that statement at face value).

I'd happily agree that both states don't attach a great deal of importance to the service.  This is explicit in a relative sense for the Queensland administration ("peak commuter services have higher priority over the XPT") and implicit in that the NSW government hasn't made a fuss/accepted an option that might compromise their own local services/even mentioned the changes (though that last aspect needs to consider that 170 reported passengers per day on the affected segment of the XPT pales into comparison with the million odd journeys per peak day on the greater Sydney network).

Given the XPT's market share and cost recovery, the general community don't attach a great deal of importance to it either.
  Daryl Junior Train Controller

Location: Carrum Downs
The OP question about the Melbourne XPT running via East Hills I think was related to trackwork and the freight line works. I don't know if this is still the the case now.

Regarding the Brisbane XPT (Queensland & NSW governments). My recollection with the Melbourne XPT was that Kennett didn't want to pay the $4M buy-in so as I understand it, Countrylink ran the whole thing themselves and they would enjoy all the revenue too.

Perhaps the $4M (mid-'90s) might have paid for an XPT carset.

At the time, I was amazed the concept got off the ground in spite of Kennett knocking it on the head, not spending a brass razoo.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

The OP question about the Melbourne XPT running via East Hills I think was related to trackwork and the freight line works. I don't know if this is still the the case now.

Regarding the Brisbane XPT (Queensland & NSW governments). My recollection with the Melbourne XPT was that Kennett didn't want to pay the $4M buy-in so as I understand it, Countrylink ran the whole thing themselves and they would enjoy all the revenue too.

Perhaps the $4M (mid-'90s) might have paid for an XPT carset.

At the time, I was amazed the concept got off the ground in spite of Kennett knocking it on the head, not spending a brass razoo.
Daryl
AFAIK (and that's from reading Railpage) the Vic government did indeed contribute to the cost of purchasing additional XPT power cars.

But the annual reports show that both the VIC and QLD governments contribute to the ongoing cost of operating NSWTrainLink.
  bowralcommuter Chief Commissioner

Location: Asleep on a Manly Ferry
My theory is there will be major cuts after the next election. They didn't do them with the Sydney trains timetable as we are more than halfway through a term and would hide the good things they have introduced with Sydney trains and intercity. Once they are re-elected with ease in 2015 then I think we might see some action.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

My theory is there will be major cuts after the next election. They didn't do them with the Sydney trains timetable as we are more than halfway through a term and would hide the good things they have introduced with Sydney trains and intercity. Once they are re-elected with ease in 2015 then I think we might see some action.
bowralcommuter

I guess it will depend on the margin of that win. Things are not too well in Macquarie St at the moment, various ministers accused of corruption and misleading the Parliament. Show is just starting.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Over time , QR will want more slots for their Gold Coast trains, as the region increases in population
so that means even less slots available for the XPT.
There is no simple fix .
Maybe terminating the XPT at Casino and abandoning running it to Brisbane altogether, or only running it thru to Brisbane
on weekends.
That would save both Govts money.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Over time , QR will want more slots for their Gold Coast trains, as the region increases in population
so that means even less slots available for the XPT.
There is no simple fix .
Maybe terminating the XPT at Casino and abandoning running it to Brisbane altogether, or only running it thru to Brisbane
on weekends.
That would save both Govts money.
"MD"
I expect the Brisbane sector to be cut altogether, leaving two Casino XPTs. I don't know if this will allow them to cull the Grafton base, but it makes the operation a bit easier. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this happens in concert with trimming the Grafton service to Kempsey.

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