Service Cuts to Overland - GSR Press Announcement

 
  Seldom_21 Junior Train Controller

Location: South Australia
Don, I really think pensioners are the target audience - when I traveled from Melbourne to Adelaide in early Jan of this year, I traveled 1st class, in which I would say 80% if of people were eligible for the pension. Thus, cutting pension discounts could kill it off even more, it is rare that people travel from ADL to MEL (vice versa) to go to a meeting/work commitments and come home; that's not the fault of the train, rather the tyranny of distance makes it easier, and ultimately, cheaper to fly. Therefore, you are going to attract those with time of their hands, re. pensioners.

Cheers,

Seldom

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  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
An update on The Overland schedule from a person in the know...

I was told yesterday by a very reliable source that the Overland reduced its service to twice weekly due to PN increasing the track access charge to GSR by 30%.

GSR are apparently quite happy with the patronage of the train and if it wasn't for the steep increase, they would have retained the thrice weekly service.

Mike.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
PN dont levy track access charges.
Thats what ARTC do.
Id suggest your source has no idea.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
I don't think that could be correct. PN don't sell track access, that's ARTC's department.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

There could be a possibility of there being some truth in the source's befuddled utterings - if The Vinelander's source had heard from a friend whose secretary's sister had overheard a rumour that PN had raised their charges for operating the "hook and pull" service, or passed on increased track access fees originally charged to them by ARTC (last I checked PN wasn't a charity).

But that level of Chinese whispers would indicate that, while it's possible that there is some truth in it, such a source is not a reliable source.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Track access charges for the Melbourne to Adelaide part of the ARTC network for various categories of rail traffic are publicly available from the ARTC website.  

The increase in rates effective July 1 2013 was only 2.5% more than those applicable for the previous twelve month period (i.e. no change in real terms) for passenger services.

Unless that service previously receiving some sort of discount that has now come to an end, it doesn't seem that track access charges could be responsible for the asserted cost increase.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Track access charges for the Melbourne to Adelaide part of the ARTC network for various categories of rail traffic are publicly available from the ARTC website.  

The increase in rates effective July 1 2013 was only 2.5% more than those applicable for the previous twelve month period (i.e. no change in real terms) for passenger services.

Unless that service previously receiving some sort of discount that has now come to an end, it doesn't seem that track access charges could be responsible for the asserted cost increase.
"donttellmywife"


And GSR's Hook and Pull agreement is contracted, so it's cost would not suddenly rise without notice!  
GSR's press release, dated May 2013, about the reduction also stated that capacity (passenger and motorail) would be increased on the remaining two services to cater for the reduction caused by axing the third.
https://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/site/news/change_of_schedule_the_overland.jsp
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
I stand corrected that its ARTC that levied the 30% increase on PN who in turn passed on the increase to GSR...
  sas85 Chief Commissioner

Location: V1
But Mike, as said above, the increase in track access fees was 2.5%.
Also, my understanding is that 'hook and pull' is just that. All GSR pay PN for is a locomotive and crew, nothing more. GSR is an accredited operator in its own right, hence showing up in ARTC master train plans as the operator of their services. GSR request, and pay ARTC for the paths over the system. PN cannot charge the cost of pathing.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
If you were to drop the number of services from three to two per week, at the same time as increasing the length of each train to accommodate any resulting increased demand for the remaining services, it would reasonable to expect a 30% decrease in costs such as track access or perhaps even hook and pull.  If I was a commercial train operator that sort of cost decrease, in the face of otherwise marginal or declining revenue, would be something that I would actively seek.

Passenger rail is a political thing.  While ARTC is a corporate entity, it is still beholden to political masters.  Consequently, if the viability of passenger rail services was actually threatened by such an increase in track access charges I would expect to see the link between viability and access cost increase being explicitly made in press releases, news commentary and the like, in order to deflect blame (GSR), stir up interest (media), create political discomfort (opposition) and bring some pressure to bear through the political system for the cost increase decision to be changed (people that want to see the previous frequency retained).

That hasn't happened.  At all.

Even if there was a material change in the hook and pull component of the costs for the service (less political because it is a commercial service provider), I would expect that to get an indirect mention in the press release, simply to make GSR not seem like the bad guys.  Instead, the only hints of explanation are:

Great Southern Rail continues to work with the Victorian and South Australian Governments to ensure The Overland continues to serve as an important transport link between the two states.


We remain committed to proactively doing all we can to provide affordable, reliable transportation for our guests, just as they have always expected and received from The Overland.


Reading between the lines (always subject to error and interpretation bias)... "working with government" => trying to get more funding.  "affordable ... transportation" => ticket revenue isn't sufficient.  Absence of any explicit explanation for the change (plus lots of words about accommodating affected passengers) => it was our decision, made for our benefit in some way.

Indicative track access charges are publicly available.  The pricing regime for interstate track access is approved by, regulated by and published on the ACCC website.  Supporting evidence for rumour from a "reliable source" does not appear to me to have the same level of accessibility or transparency.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I stand corrected that its ARTC that levied the 30% increase on PN who in turn passed on the increase to GSR...
The Vinelander

Mike are you saying this was for the Overland only or for all PN track access?

Regards
Brian
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Mike are you saying this was for the Overland only or for all PN track access?

Regards
Brian
bevans
Brian, please read the thread.

It has already been stated that Pacific National DO NOT pay the access fees for the Overland. GSR Is the accredited operator and has the access agreement with ARTC.

ARTC access fees are publicly available.

Vinelander in this case has already demonstrated that his reliable source is in fact incapable of getting even the most basic facts right.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Does anyone know what PN charge GSR for hauling the Overland and the IP and Ghan?
Ive often wondered why GSR chose the hook and pull option , rather than leasing their own locomotives.
Leasing must be a cost effective option otherwise companies like CFCLA would not have any business.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
Does anyone know what PN charge GSR for hauling the Overland and the IP and Ghan?
Ive often wondered why GSR chose the hook and pull option , rather than leasing their own locomotives.
Leasing must be a cost effective option otherwise companies like CFCLA would not have any business.
MD
Hook and Pull would eliminate directly:

  • cost of crew training
  • leave and worker's comp insurance
  • crew availability
  • crew management


Just the one price per train (or however it is quoted) and, from GSR's perspective, it's in the SEP field (someone else's problem).
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Why won't all those costs be simply passed on to GSRS in the Hook and Pull charge.
No other rail operators in Australia use hook and pull.
It's either owned locos or leased locos.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Why won't all those costs be simply passed on to GSRS in the Hook and Pull charge.
No other rail operators in Australia use hook and pull.
It's either owned locos or leased locos.
MD
GSR wouldn't have economy of scale, particularly given the low frequency and geographic extent of their services, for all the crewing and other activities that are required with dry leasing of locomotive power.
  Typhon Assistant Commissioner

Location: I'm that freight train tearing through the sky in the clouds.
Does anyone know what PN charge GSR for hauling the Overland and the IP and Ghan?
Ive often wondered why GSR chose the hook and pull option , rather than leasing their own locomotives.
Leasing must be a cost effective option otherwise companies like CFCLA would not have any business.
MD

I dont know what they charge but I gather PN dont make very much money off the contract, it's really just a good will thing.

As for the second part which has largely been covered above, PN have the resources, crews and locos to service the contract.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Would there be any merit in GSR adding an optional stop at Blackwood or Belair to improve the interchange with suburban trains in a cost effective way?
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

No.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
No.
"justapassenger"
I like your succinctness.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

To the point also!

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