SA to keep Overland running

 
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

What a joke, ICAC need to look at it pronto.
justapassenger
ICAC is a Commission with jurisdiction in NSW only.

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  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
I doubt how much the Overland rolling stock needs replacing. It has suitable vehicles for a thrice weekly overnight service and should do for both a cruise train and service connecting Wimmera and SA towns

If both state governments are willing to subsidise things, a suitably equipped V/locity train would  provide an excellent daily service. That should be a more attractive substitute for the daily bus.
Is there presently an overnight Bendigo-Adelaide bus ?
Vline subcontracts to Firefly the Bendigo Daylink to Adelaide. It stops at all the small towns along the Dukes/Princes Hwy so it actually provides a better service to the people along the route than the train - which only stops at Bordertown, Nhill, Horsham and Ararat as far as I recall.

Fares on the GSR Overland are going up next year to (at least) $118 each way Horsham-Adelaide, no concessions. The equivalent adult fare on the V/line bus is $42 so the train is nowhere near competitive. As an occasional user of that bus I think the money would be better spent on more frequent buses.
don_dunstan
It stops at Stawell as well. Also the V/Line website states that bus services are contracted by the DTPLI/PTV, not them.
  62430 Chief Train Controller

Location: Metro Adelaide
What a joke, ICAC need to look at it pronto.
ICAC is a Commission with jurisdiction in NSW only.
ParkesHub
NSW is  not the only state to have an ICAC.  An ICAC was established in SA several years ago.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
It stops at Stawell as well. Also the V/Line website states that bus services are contracted by the DTPLI/PTV, not them.
railblogger
Now that you mention it I noticed on the Hamilton bus they've been progressively changing the V/line stops to 'PTV delivered by V/line' and the new bus livery is actually 'PTV delivered by V/line Trotter's Coaches' (or something?), I guess that's the latest fad... wonder if we'll get 'PTV delivered by National Express' again one day.
  mejhammers1 Chief Commissioner

Ahhh....I understand.

You too along with Mr Dunstan are suggesting the service be axed in order to save it. Rolling Eyes
Or perhaps Mejhammers just wants his state government to fund a fast, clean, affordable service instead of the GSR one?
don_dunstan
Yep, exactly. If contributors like The Vinelander are getting excited about minimal funding to maintain an absolutely mediocre service, it is no wonder Australian Rail is in the state it is in. The Overland needs a complete overhaul, what is the point of throwing money no matter how little on a service that the SA Govt have no intention of improving? The Overland is dying a slow death.

Michael
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud

Michael
mejhammers1 The Overland is dying a slow death.
It's been dying since the late 1980's/early 1990's but there's no desire to fix what's wrong so (apparently) it's destined to keep limping on until the point is proven.

I remember the old days of flying in the early 90's when you had to book at least a month out to get the cheapest flights through a travel agent or on the phone - and if you got a flight for less than $100 each way (Adelaide-Melbourne or vice versa) you were in really ultra-cheap territory.

There's no need to be that prepared now with internet booking and fully deregulated airlines. A quick search for flights going Melb-Adel Tuesday week (8/9) returning the following Tuesday reveals several airfares on Tiger Air and Jetstar for under $100 each way including credit card fees and booked luggage. For a similar sort of price level, why would anyone want to muck around with the Overland? The train just couldn't compete with flying any longer and frankly it's just not an attractive alternative.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
It's been dying since the late 1980's/early 1990's but there's no desire to fix what's wrong so (apparently) it's destined to keep limping on until the point is proven.

I remember the old days of flying in the early 90's when you had to book at least a month out to get the cheapest flights through a travel agent or on the phone - and if you got a flight for less than $100 each way (Adelaide-Melbourne or vice versa) you were in really ultra-cheap territory.

There's no need to be that prepared now with internet booking and fully deregulated airlines. A quick search for flights going Melb-Adel Tuesday week (8/9) returning the following Tuesday reveals several airfares on Tiger Air and Jetstar for under $100 each way including credit card fees and booked luggage. For a similar sort of price level, why would anyone want to muck around with the Overland? The train just couldn't compete with flying any longer and frankly it's just not an attractive alternative.
don_dunstan
Don, you've just giving the very reason it is dying

Plain and simple, the Overland just isn't competitive anymore, and has been losing market share ever since the airlines were deregulated.
Years ago when train travel was king, the airline where only for the rich and famous, the average joe just couldn't afford air fares.
It's so different now.

Everyone can prattle on about near rolling stock or fast DMU's, but that's all a gunzel's dream.
Faster running time will only be achieved with new track and alignments and whats left of the remaining people who would catch a train will not pay the fares needed to provide that track.
Even with an eight hour train service, that will still never compete with a 60 minute flight.

The reality is any Government grants or subsidy is only akin to pumping more pain killers into a dying animal, it's only delaying the inevitable.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
What a joke, ICAC need to look at it pronto.
ICAC is a Commission with jurisdiction in NSW only.
NSW is  not the only state to have an ICAC.  An ICAC was established in SA several years ago.
62430
It's just that no one has ever heard of the SA one because the Commission hears, speaks and reports in secret. This of course poses the question of 'If a commission hears evidence in secret and keeps it in secret, does it actually hear any evidence?' The ALP in SA were quite smart to not allow their dirty laundry to be aired in public...
  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
The days of commuting by train have been gone a loooong time. Train travel is now for those who want to do the relaxed journey. Travel by long distance train in Australia is a leisure activity. Comparing the Overland with air travel is really a nonsense.

What the Overland should be looking to do is to become a journey in itself. A Dining car, lounge cars etc is what the market is looking for. A commuter train is just a waste.

Anyway, glad that it continues, though I believe in the current format it is a poor long term proposition.

My thoughts anyway....
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
....

Everyone can prattle on about near rolling stock or fast DMU's, but that's all a gunzel's dream.
Faster running time will only be achieved with new track and alignments and whats left of the remaining people who would catch a train will not pay the fares needed to provide that track.
Even with an eight hour train service, that will still never compete with a 60 minute flight.

....
Pressman
No - it won't. But I'm more optimistic about attracting new users with those sort of timings; it needs to be at least competitive with driving for people to think about it. It becomes more attractive to use particularly for the people who live along the route who may find the train use-able again. And it's not that difficult to imagine the possibilities for a semi-fast service - apart from the Adelaide Hills most of the alignment is flat and straight.

I'd also speculate that there needs to be two other changes to really improve numbers: The terminus at Adelaide should really be at North Terrace again (but perhaps set back west of the suburban platforms so as not to interfere with those operations) and I think viability would be greatly improved if Ballarat was on the route again.
  monday Chief Commissioner

The RISSB has a credo of 'Continuous improvement, not delayed perfection', which I think is particularly relevant and applicable in the context of the operation of this train.  Metaphorically, it is reflective of a modern Australia (particularly the rail industry) that has to do a lot more with a lot less.  In some regards, it is probably a bit lagged behind the private sector freight industry (post Government) but which similarly had to make do with clunky, old inefficient locos and wagons, but is now starting to find its feet with more modern equipment solutions some 15-20 years into 'privatisation'.

The Overland is still worth fighting for, and it fills the void for a number of regional people.  It is naive to assume that the only people that use it are travelling between MEL - ADL and ADL - MEL.

It worthy to also note that it solves a public transport solution for regional SA and for the PTV in Victoria in the Wimmera.  Politically, there are many aspects this thread simply ignores, which I dont need to go into.


Vline has been mandated politically to improve its service and fleet over the last ten years, and in the fullness of time, I expect that this will have some positive flow on effects for services like the Overland, which are still integrated into the PTV regional transport plans.

Im sure everyone would love for it to be a gold plated, super fast, modern train akin to a six car Vlocity - but this is the reality and compromise that has to be made in having a service continue.  Its not different really any different to equivalent community situations like regional hospitals and school that still have asbestos cement sheets in them, or kids having to travel on non airconditioned yellow school buses, communities having to endure crumbling speed restricted or non-tarred roads ... everything is a compromise, and its still better to have some functionality (even if its not optimal or everything you want it to be), than to not exist at all.  In the fullness of time, from an aspirational POV, everyone wants to get it better but in the short term you make do.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
or kids having to travel on non airconditioned yellow school buses...
monday
Where does that happen? I my part of rural Victoria the kids all travel on luxury air-conditioned coaches.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
or kids having to travel on non airconditioned yellow school buses...
Where does that happen? I my part of rural Victoria the kids all travel on luxury air-conditioned coaches.
TheBlacksmith
Never seen a yellow school bus In Victoria, most are white !

Yellow school buses are so North America.
  vinelander Junior Train Controller

Maybe GSR needs to satisfy a market niche too. For example with AFL footy finals about to start and an Adelaide team in, a consist leaving Adelaide to arrive in Melbourne before the game, then leaving just after so that patrons don't need to stay overnight. I know there are buses; and airline companies usually throw the discount flights out when the market is their oyster. I've after believed that such a market must exist even for home and away games for Adelaide and Port games in Melb and maybe Melb teams playing in Adelaide.
A few weeks ago I tried the Overland. 6 sitting cars were sold out. Adelaide was playing in Melb that weekend. I don't have proof that the sell out was due to football but it wasn't a long weekend and it wasn't school holidays.
Congrat to GSR. The trip was better than I expected. The cafeteria car was great. The fish and chips were excellent. We were 20 mins ahead of schedule on arrival at Newport then it was snail pace to SCS. Arrived on time.
It's pie in the sky believing that in the near future there will be a modern Overland. So what's needed is a creative way to attract the niche market.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
or kids having to travel on non airconditioned yellow school buses...
Where does that happen? I my part of rural Victoria the kids all travel on luxury air-conditioned coaches.
Never seen a yellow school bus In Victoria, most are white !

Yellow school buses are so North America.
Nightfire
The South Australian Education department had quite an extensive fleet of "yellow" school buses allocated to country area schools and were often driven by the teachers. These were 'cab over' style buses not the USA style hooded style.
http://www.tradetrucks.com.au/detail/buses/buses/hino/pmc/261501
In the last 10 years or so, this fleet has been gradually retired and the Education department has contracted school bus runs to local bus companies
  monday Chief Commissioner

On tangent about where are the yellow school buses, regional SA.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-30/school-bus-services-review-sa-but-no-more-funding/5558882

Interesting and rather random, the article provides the cues of information about my point of not enough funding for every thing you want (in this case, underfunded regional school bus transport)
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Maybe GSR needs to satisfy a market niche too. For example with AFL footy finals about to start and an Adelaide team in, a consist leaving Adelaide to arrive in Melbourne before the game, then leaving just after so that patrons don't need to stay overnight. I know there are buses; and airline companies usually throw the discount flights out when the market is their oyster. I've after believed that such a market must exist even for home and away games for Adelaide and Port games in Melb and maybe Melb teams playing in Adelaide.
A few weeks ago I tried the Overland. 6 sitting cars were sold out. Adelaide was playing in Melb that weekend. I don't have proof that the sell out was due to football but it wasn't a long weekend and it wasn't school holidays.
Congrat to GSR. The trip was better than I expected. The cafeteria car was great. The fish and chips were excellent. We were 20 mins ahead of schedule on arrival at Newport then it was snail pace to SCS. Arrived on time.
It's pie in the sky believing that in the near future there will be a modern Overland. So what's needed is a creative way to attract the niche market.
vinelander

Sort of agree, I think most if not all the pax regional/intestate rail operators in Oz have given up on the special events market.

Maybe only run two Overlands a week, but if there is an Adelaide game on in Mel or the GP etc, why not try and run a special for this. Run the train O/N each way and use a mix of the spare seaters and sleepers, stock up the bar and go.

Train arrives 2-3hr before the game and leaves 2-3hr after it, so about 30-32hr round trip.

EDIT: Put the respective Adelaide footy teams cheerleaders on the train in their sporting best outfits (with a few heavies to look after them) for added promotional and entertainment support.

EDIT1: Provide an all inclusive ticket option. ie pay once, train, train meals including a few drinks each way, game, local transport to/from the game (with guide, I'm sure one of the train cabin crew can help here)
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Personally The Overland should have been put out of it's misery years ago really, it has lived on borrowed time for years. Sad to see it go, but it has to one day, the two state governments cannot prop it up for ever. And what if there is a major derailment or something that totals most of the Overland cars. I cannot see spare cars being used in a hurry from either the IP or Ghan as these are GSR's flagship trains so if a car fails on one of these a replacement is required. The cars presently on the service are 70 year old cars that have had quite a few upgrades over the years however they are now well past their use by dates by a long way! Passengers deserve something better than what is really only a glorified bus service really!
  vinelander Junior Train Controller

RTT Rules I like your thoughts. However to make it better I was thinking along the lines of sitting cars and cafeteria cars to meet demand. If there is a Crows game Saturday night at MCG then arrive 90 mins before game. Then leave 90 mins after for o'night to Adelaide. A glorified bus is in anyone's language better than a normal bus!!
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
The story of the current Overland is this.  Both GSR, Victoria and South Australia saw no future in The Overland around mid 2004.   The train with its one way overnight and 1 way daylight operation was hugely expensive to run with a combination of sleepers, sitters and a cafe/dining car.   It required a large on board staff and was really only busy in the sleeper section at Easter, Christmas, footy finals etc.   Unlike the sleepers which sometimes ran with as few 15 passengers the sit up section had a much more consistent base loading.   Department of Transport Victoria in 2005 initiated discussions with GSR that basically stated that the train had to have a much stronger regional role if Victoria was to contunue to support it and that in association with South OZ Government they would jointly fund an extensive review of the entire service including market potential as well as costs, timetables train configuration etc.

The market analysis study comprised both on board as well as wider public and travel industry participants in addition to undertaking comparisons with other modes particularly air and road coach and car users.   Arising from that it was determined that a 3 day per week daylight service with the train configuration that is used today including motorail met the greatest number of criteria.

The train was refurbished in the configuration it has today on the basis that if the train grew patronnage over a period of 6 to 9 years then a decision would be made at such time to either terminate it, extend it for a further number of years or if it went well to consider new equipment at a time that would coincide with V/Line's replacement program for its N class InterCity fleet.   The altered service was to include adding 2 new Victorian stops Nhill and Stawell and upgrading Horsham which was in extremely poor condition.  In addition a V/Line code share arrangement for people travelling within Victoria to access the train at v/Line fares was introduced.

GSR intially genuinely promoted the train put together an onboard service package that reflected what came out of the Market Study.   The market assessment indicated a potential 80,000 passengers per year based on three round trips per week but added with a fouth round trip (1 way daylight-1 way overnight) for the peak of the peak

I have written elsewhere and been challenged the V/Line has not always done its part in making it known that there is an all rail option to the likes of Nhill etc available.   The former Government knocked back a low cost promotion of distributing timetables to households when Stawell was re-opened and then PN hiked its Hook and Pull rates drantatically which lead to the service being cutback from three to two services per week.

What has happened now in the timescale of things is that the powers that be a moving to take up option 2 continue the service and undertake a light refurbishment as there are no major rollingstock orders that can be piggybacked on to get a reasonable rate.

GSR are committing to some more promotion but what the ultimate fate for this service will depend on people being much more aggressive and eliminating competing services, good promotion and GSR really tapping into the tourist market!!!
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
....

GSR are committing to some more promotion but what the ultimate fate for this service will depend on people being much more aggressive and eliminating competing services, good promotion and GSR really tapping into the tourist market!!!
Trainplanner
Given their record so far I wouldn't be holding my breath - although the new management has certainly been making sweeping changes. I think they've tended go though the motions with the Overland and concentrate on the long haul services (that's probably where the real $$$ is for them anyway).

Eliminating competing services? How?
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
The Overland is still worth fighting for, and it fills the void for a number of regional people.  It is naive to assume that the only people that use it are travelling between MEL - ADL and ADL - MEL.

It worthy to also note that it solves a public transport solution for regional SA and for the PTV in Victoria in the Wimmera.  Politically, there are many aspects this thread simply ignores, which I dont need to go into.

Vline has been mandated politically to improve its service and fleet over the last ten years, and in the fullness of time, I expect that this will have some positive flow on effects for services like the Overland, which are still integrated into the PTV regional transport plans.

Im sure everyone would love for it to be a gold plated, super fast, modern train akin to a six car Vlocity - but this is the reality and compromise that has to be made in having a service continue.
monday
Ive said it somewhere else before, but the Overland discussion (and services to the Wimmera) would be very different if the line SC-Ballarat-Ararat was SG instead of BG.  Given the Murray Valley project, I don't know what the plan is in Vic but it seems like all the lines will eventually go SG (probably with a freight priority though).  Once that happens for SC-Ballarat-Ararat, it will be much easier for the Overland to be more viable.  We just have to wait until then...
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Those Pax are probably not going to worry about much then!

EDIT - no idea where the 'intestate' comment went but this was to attach to that!
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
If the Overland can't be viable day to day then less than 30 odd footy specials and a F1 GP special ARE NOT going to even look like funding the staff Christmas party. As for a 90 minute margin on a football start time, would you really trust it to be that close to time on a 100% basis? The negative publicity of the train arriving even only half way through the first quarter would see footy patronage on all additional specials for ever drop to precisely zero, with little prospect of numbers improving.
  patsstuffnow Junior Train Controller

The Overland as it stands now is a complete joke.

Being marketed as a nostalgic trip back in time for "mature" customers is in reality a prison camp train. You have to be at Keswick at 6.30 to be locked in to a train with no food or drink available till you depart. For seniors the food is crap. It is a fourteen hour day so many pensioners have stopped using it.
For any sort of sophisticated person the food and wine list is crap .
For a football fan it takes four days minimum to complete a footy excursion.


And for those advocating a train to leave several hours after a game then think again. a game finishing at 5 pm leave at 7 pm you arrive in Adelaide or the other end at 5 am having to take a taxi adds how many more dollars to the cost of the trip. Much better to leave at midnight and get in around 11 or so after a great night with either happy or unhappy comrades.   Depending on the times of the game. For a Saturday game leave Friday night and organise free time in Melbourne at the market or in Adelaide it takes an hour and a half to get to public transport to get to Adelaide Oval.
Then leave Sunday AM for a pleasant daylight trip home. Include a quality food experience using the dining cars available because of reduced services on the IP and Ghan. Put decent quality wines on board  The AFL season has twenty three rounds so in Adelaide there are 21 weeks with interstate teams playing in Adelaide. That means between 8 and 16 Melbourne teams are involved in fixtures in Adelaide.



Adelaide teams play a total of 20 interstate fixtures with a maximum 12 involving non Victorian teams and a minimum of four so there are opportunities to run about 30 "special trains" in 23 weeks plus unknown permutations for finals.
I have travelled on 26 carriage footy specials and had a great time. I have travelled on many Easter and Christmas trips over the years with very large consists. What about cricket and tennis events.  


Why did they decide that Friday, Saturday , Monday , Tuesday were the best days to run. ???? Would Saturday Sunday be a better combination so you could go one way by train and one way by air like they do with the Ghan?
Would a Saturday Sunday daylight train work well with a Friday , Sunday overnight train.
 I host many international tourists and nobody uses the Overland because the schedule does not fit. I hosted two Chinese teachers who planned to travel Mel Adl on the Thursday service when it ran, then catch the IP that evening to Perth. Simple enough but they were not allowed to do it.  So they caught a bus to Adelaide on Wednesday night , spent the day with me in the Barossa valley and we put them happily , slightly sloshed onto the train.  Bus 1 Train nil  I won a ticket to a concert on a Saturday in Melbourne. Ok I will take the train, but I had to leave at 7.40 am Friday and not get back to Tuesday, so four nights in a hotel in Melbourne. Air lines 1 train nil


That really says it all for me.

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