Ghan fire

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 05 Apr 2015 20:40
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
For those that are interested the DINING car in question is DF 927.
It remains at APT in the storage roads.
Reported as needing a refurbishment of the Kitchen area only.

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  trainlover Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide.
DF927 Left Keswick and shunted into Islington workshops today.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
I have an interest in this story as I will be travelling on The Ghan departing Adelaide next Sunday. Hopefully we will not be fed boxed food for the duration of the trip due to the kitchen car being out of action!
DirtyBallast

I was wondering if DirtyBallast would care to share his thoughts on his trip on the Ghan.
  8077 Chief Train Controller

Location: Crossing the Rubicon
Has this car been repaired and returned to service?
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: I was here first. You're only visiting.
I was wondering if DirtyBallast would care to share his thoughts on his trip on the Ghan.
Pressman
Ok then…

My wife and I arrived at the Parklands Terminal in plenty of time to go through the check-in procedure. We were met in the queue by a hostess who checked our names off, and while depositing our luggage at one of the airline-type counters we were given our carriage/compartment number and instructions to board from platform 2 at the appropriate time (platform 1 is obviously not long enough to accept the entire train, which in our case consisted of more than 30 carriages, so shunting is required prior to the journey). We then had more than an hour to waste. The terminal resembles that of a small but busy airport and the departure lounge was quite full. Overall we found it quite boring; apart from a café and a souvenir shop there is little to do apart from walking along the platform to inspect the train.

We remained in our compartment once the train began its journey to be met by a hostess who explained the setup for lunch. This initial meal had a pre-allocated time for us (1pm) and we made our way to the lounge car before then for a refreshment. Good to see that they had Peroni. During this time we gave our time preference for dinner, which had three optional sittings – 6pm, 7:15pm and 8pm. We chose the latter. It was also made known that the train would be stopping early in the morning at Marla for those wishing to get off the train to take sunrise pics. This was spruiked as a ‘new feature ‘of the journey, but I noted in the literature in our compartment that a two hour stop at Kulgera was built into the timetable anyway, which probably aligned itself to later sunrises further into the middle of the year.


All dining booths in the ornate dining car feature seating for four and all the meals we had were with a different couple, which was enjoyable, and resulted in interesting conversations. The menu provided for a choice of two dishes for each course and the food was delicious. The wine selection was good enough but not outstanding, which is a pity because it detracted from the overall dining experience. I formed the opinion that most of the clientele (the vast majority were retirees probably on their trip-of-a-lifetime) would have been happy with Cardboard Cab Sav anyway.Wink

Under overcast skies we continued past uninteresting scenery towards Port Augusta. The train stopped there, presumably lining up the Red Service seating cars at the rear of the train with the platform, for those passengers disembarking there. After leaving the station we paused in the freight yards for quite some time until a freight train was allowed to go ahead of us. This reminds me, we had stopped in crossing loops at least twice between Adelaide and Port Augusta to let freight trains pass the other way, and at least once we cruised past a stationary freight train waiting in a crossing loop. Rail freight seems alive and well on our transcontinental railways.

With the aid of an app I measured our speed at various times, and although the reading was sometimes erratic due to being in the confines of a metal capsule, we did attain 115km/h for extensive periods throughout the afternoon. The speed certainly felt very similar to that experienced on a V-Line N Set. There were however many times that slower speeds were experienced, the track seemed rougher the further north we went.

It became obvious while waiting for dinner in the lounge car how the dining arrangements are organised. Regarding Gold Class the train is divided up into subsets consisting of four sleeping cars of nine compartments each (18 passengers per car, 72 people), one lounge car and one dining/kitchen car. The dining car caters for 48 people, or 24 per sitting. So the first sitting only takes up half of the dining car, the second sitting is brought in 45 minutes later, and theoretically, the first sitting is clear of the dining car 45 minutes after that to allow for the third sitting.

After our dinner there were not many people opting to hang around the lounge car; we stayed a while but were back in our compartment two scotches later. The compartment itself was adequate. Initially it appeared tiny but it was functional and comfortable, except for sleeping. It felt like the exact moment I climbed into the top bunk, just after the train had negotiated the junction at Tarcoola, the track became extremely rough – as if the track was corrugated between sleepers - and for all intents and purposes it felt like experiencing a continuous small earthquake. Realistically though, this was probably normal and the jiggly feeling was no doubt exacerbated by laying just under the roof. Sleep did not come easy at all, but was eventual. We stopped somewhere in the middle of the night (possibly at the siding that services Coober Pedy?) and I was jolted awake by what felt and sounded like shunting, for what purpose I am not sure. Sleep was again difficult once we continued on. I again awoke at around 4:30am noticing that we had stopped, presumably at Marla, and form there I fell into a deep sleep, only to be woken by the alarm an hour later so that we could detrain for sunrise photos! This event was well organised, with tea/coffee and egg & bacon sliders available off train. Back on the train shortly after 7am we went to breakfast immediately, to then learn that despite our arrival time at Alice Springs being 1:45pm there was no lunch sitting on the train that day. If we wanted to we could return for a second breakfast but we declined. A muffin with coffee mid-morning was just adequate. This revealed an issue with the overall food arrangements – there wasn’t really any snack food on offer, apart from small bowls of peanuts on the tables in the lounge car.

Through the morning we experienced at least 2 hours of continuous 40 km/h running but I can’t remember if this was north or south of the SA/NT border. We never attained 100 km/h at any time after Marla. Finally arriving at Alice Springs slightly late at 2pm, everyone detrained and those continuing their journey to Darwin (the vast majority) were given four hours to do what they wanted while the train was being cleaned and replenished. Pre-arranged town tours seemed popular. For us, we collected our luggage, transferred to our accommodation and continued our holiday as planned.

Would I ever travel on The Ghan again? Maybe I might consider the second leg one day as part of a round trip to Darwin, but 26 hours was a bit long for me this time. I would go nuts on the Indian Pacific! Maybe I’m too young. It is interesting to note that in 1998, the running time was just 18 hours from Adelaide to Alice Springs. I realise that The Ghan is just a tourist novelty and not a commuter express, but if such a timetable was reintroduced, one less meal would be had on the train, meaning tickets should be cheaper (we paid $1029 each including early-bird discount) making the trip it more attainable for more people. For those who just want to experience fine dining on rails, the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant would be an adequate substitute…but overall, the total experience was worthwhile.

6/10.

  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
Dirty Ballast,

Thank you for an interesting summary of the Adelaide-Alice leg of the Ghan.

May I be so bold to ask what age group you might be in?

Cheers,

Dan
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Thanks Dirty Ballast.

26 hours; my wife said she wouldn't want to get off. We have enjoyed a number of cross USA and Canada trips of lengths up to 50 hours. My wife says she would happily stay on a train up to 100hours ( I got a keeper, maybe it was worth missing 526's last run to marry her. good investment!)

Pity about the ride.

In the USA the ride is generally very good more like a "Yank tank" so I suppose it is not a tiring.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Thanks Dirty Ballast.

26 hours; my wife said she wouldn't want to get off. We have enjoyed a number of cross USA and Canada trips of lengths up to 50 hours. My wife says she would happily stay on a train up to 100hours ( I got a keeper, maybe it was worth missing 526's last run to marry her. good investment!)

Pity about the ride.

In the USA the ride is generally very good more like a "Yank tank" so I suppose it is not a tiring.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Overall we found it quite boring; apart from a café and a souvenir shop there is little to do apart from walking along the platform to inspect the train.
DirtyBallast
Ever flown to Canberra? There's not even a train to view at that airport.

I realise that The Ghan is just a tourist novelty and not a commuter express, but if such a timetable was reintroduced, one less meal would be had on the train, meaning tickets should be cheaper (we paid $1029 each including early-bird discount) making the trip it more attainable for more people.
DirtyBallast
If the trip was one meal shorter the ticket price would remain the same... That is a lot more expensive than I expected it would be though!
  thadocta Chief Commissioner

Location: Katoomba
Would I ever travel on The Ghan again? Maybe I might consider the second leg one day as part of a round trip to Darwin, but 26 hours was a bit long for me this time. I would go nuts on the Indian Pacific! Maybe I’m too young. It is interesting to note that in 1998, the running time was just 18 hours from Adelaide to Alice Springs. I realise that The Ghan is just a tourist novelty and not a commuter express, but if such a timetable was reintroduced, one less meal would be had on the train, meaning tickets should be cheaper (we paid $1029 each including early-bird discount) making the trip it more attainable for more people. For those who just want to experience fine dining on rails, the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant would be an adequate substitute…but overall, the total experience was worthwhile.

6/10.

DirtyBallast
One thing to remember though, if you compare it to flying, you need to consider the additional costs. ADL-DRW will be a much higher airfare than my favourite run (SYD-PER) so it particularly appropriate.

Consider the cost of an ADL-DRW airfare, never cheap. Then factor in the costs of two nights accommodation. Then factor in the costs of the meals you would have to pay for in DRW once you arrived.

Then compare the total cost to what you pay for Gold Class on The Ghan, where you have two nights in a sleeper, and meals and drinks supplied as well.

Compare the difference with the value you ascribe to the experience.

Also, happy to be proven wrong, but I don't believe it EVER would have been 18 hours ADL-ASP.

Dave
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: I was here first. You're only visiting.
Dirty Ballast,

Thank you for an interesting summary of the Adelaide-Alice leg of the Ghan.

May I be so bold to ask what age group you might be in?

Cheers,

Dan
SA_trains
We're in our early 50's.

We fully realised that our presence would have the effect of lowering the average age of those on board, but we actually saw a young family on board, as well as a few others younger than us. Generally speaking though the vast majority of passengers were 70-ish or older.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
One thing to remember though, if you compare it to flying, you need to consider the additional costs. ADL-DRW will be a much higher airfare than my favourite run (SYD-PER) so it particularly appropriate.

Consider the cost of an ADL-DRW airfare, never cheap. Then factor in the costs of two nights accommodation. Then factor in the costs of the meals you would have to pay for in DRW once you arrived.

Then compare the total cost to what you pay for Gold Class on The Ghan, where you have two nights in a sleeper, and meals and drinks supplied as well.

Compare the difference with the value you ascribe to the experience.

Also, happy to be proven wrong, but I don't believe it EVER would have been 18 hours ADL-ASP.

Dave
thadocta
There's a few faults in your economics, you're not alone, well meaning over supporters of rail travel often make them. Firstly, and most obviously, 26 hours seldom equates to two nights, secondly, if I am travelling to Darwin to stay in Darwin, the nights on the train are of no concern to cost because it's Darwin I am going to. Just to keep everything apples and apples, thirdly, if I am going from Adelaide to Darwin by plane then surely you need to consider the addition costs of the Ghan - Alice to Darwin?
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: I was here first. You're only visiting.
One thing to remember though, if you compare it to flying, you need to consider the additional costs. ADL-DRW will be a much higher airfare than my favourite run (SYD-PER) so it particularly appropriate.

Consider the cost of an ADL-DRW airfare, never cheap. Then factor in the costs of two nights accommodation. Then factor in the costs of the meals you would have to pay for in DRW once you arrived.

Then compare the total cost to what you pay for Gold Class on The Ghan, where you have two nights in a sleeper, and meals and drinks supplied as well.

Compare the difference with the value you ascribe to the experience.

Also, happy to be proven wrong, but I don't believe it EVER would have been 18 hours ADL-ASP.

Dave
thadocta
The total Ghan experience is marketed as a holiday in its own right, with the stopovers at Marla, Alice Springs, Katherine and a full day at Coober Pedy on some services, appealing to the average (elderly) client who does not want a long camping holiday to Uluru included in the itinerary. For us, The Ghan was not the holiday but an alternative means of transport to arrive at our eventual destination (we spent 4 nights in ASP before a 5-day fully inclusive tour to Uluru, before flying home direct), with a bit of pampering thrown in along the way. I am planning a Top End holiday next year and the main reason I am considering flying into Alice Springs and completing the journey to Darwin aboard The Ghan a couple of days later is that we missed out on seeing some stuff around Alice Springs this time around due to the time constraint between when The Ghan arrived and the tour departed, but I cannot justify a full-blown holiday to the Red Centre again, and, for us, it would complete the missing link and round out the journey. The Alice Springs to Darwin leg results in four hours less on the train compared to Adelaide - Alice Springs once the Katherine stopover is considered too.

I still wouldn't consider travelling the full journey on The Ghan or Indian Pacific in one go - ever.


The 18 hour running time from Adelaide to Alice Springs does seem far-fetched, but I read it at the Old Ghan museum near Alice Springs. The info on display compared the 1998 running time with the Old Ghan timetable and noted a departure time from Adelaide of 3pm, arriving at Alice Springs at 9am the next morning. I wish I’d taken a photo!
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
The 18 hour running time from Adelaide to Alice Springs does seem far-fetched, but I read it at the Old Ghan museum near Alice Springs. The info on display compared the 1998 running time with the Old Ghan timetable and noted a departure time from Adelaide of 3pm, arriving at Alice Springs at 9am the next morning. I wish I’d taken a photo!
DirtyBallast
I wonder how many times it ran on time?
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
One thing to note is that when constructed Australian National used a fair lump of reused 41kg/m rail for the northern section of the standard gauge line into The Alice. Quite a bit of that still remains and due to its age, the axle load of locos and wagons having increased since 1980, those sections are subject to hefty speed restrictions. When I first travelled on the new line in early 1981 it was indeed a very fast continuous run from Alice to Adelaide certainly quicker than today and the train ran on time to the minute.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
I wonder how many times it ran on time?
Aaron


I seem to remember that the AN run Alice Ghan (AL/LA) was at one stage working to a 22 or 24 hour turn around (that is the return service departed Alice Springs 22 or 24 hours after it departed Adelaide)
When my nephew worked for GSR as a chef he would be gone for 48 hours at a time when he worked the Ghan


And thanks for you comments Dirty Ballast.
As for the "no on-board" lunch at Alice, when I did my Darwin Adelaide trip Lunch at Alice Springs was had on the bus tour.
We also had some very slow running north of Alice, and we actually stopped of 30 mins (which just happened to occur at breakfast time!)
  thadocta Chief Commissioner

Location: Katoomba
I was never commenting on the service being an RPT option, my comments about the cost of accommodation and meals saved (since these occurred on the train) were always directed at the holiday/experience market, hence I stand by them.

In fact, the train can be even more useful, in that, if you fly ADL-DRW and then do a tour to Katherine, this can be incorporated en-route if you are on The Ghan.

As I said though, my comments were not directed at those who wanted to get from ADL to DRW, or even SYD to PER, but those who wanted a holiday experience involving both, and the train was a way of providing something different.

Dave
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
DF927 Left Keswick and shunted into Islington workshops today.
trainlover
Has this car been repaired and returned to service?
"8077"


DF927 was in todays (13/09/2015) 1AD8 Ghan consist as the Premium class dining car

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