Warning, Right Honourable Members, as I reply to PDCL's extremely long post (as his ideas are spread around it).
Lounges I'd suggest be a first class lounge then a business/frequent traveller lounge and would only be in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. As for what they have, I think standard airline lounge type set up, food and beverage available at your whim, complimentary newspapers, etc. First Class lounge would of course have a higher standard of fair. IF there starts to be substantial traffic coming from a particular intermediate stop, then a lounge can be considered for that location. Would probably need to discourage the taking of drinks from the lounge to the train, starts making ordinance a little messy and difficult to keep track of.
Wait - so there's a First lounge and a Business/Club lounge, but only at the major termini? Sounds good. Some of the bigger intermediate locations might justify a limited Business/Club lounge - we'll see.
Plenty of squashy armchairs, unlimited consumables, etc. We could even also supply landside showers.
As for restrictions on when you board a sleeper, not certain this is necessary if the cabins are well insulated. On top of that I don't anticipate enormous demand outside of the full inter-capital run, so this should be too much of an issue.
Fair enough. Considering we're selling twinettes as twinettes and not individual bunks (a great idea), it makes plenty of sense. Factoring in my rough design where each twinette has its own bathroom, insulation should solve everything.
A problem arises when the First beds convert back into a daysitter, as these appear less comfortable than a flatbed in Business. Would First be a night-only offering?
Food service I think it should be on-board, with dinner being available up to a point and breakfast served an hour before arrival. For First and Business I think this should be to the seat/cabin, while the dining car would provide a round the clock food and beverage service. The sleepers could have a mini-bar to generate a little extra revenue, while taking Freddo's
idea, if the dining car gets half turned into a lounge for first/business there can be complimentary nibbles (thinking nuts etc), water and juice as well as a range of more substantial food and beverage items available for sale.
I'm not entirely sure that First and Business should be made to eat in their cabins; somehow, it seems like a worker eating at his desk. I would suggest using the club half of the dining car for meals, but I suppose eating in privacy could work too.
For Economy, perhaps a croissant and cuppa on the seat-back tray-table. (Megabus in the UK has breakfast on their London-Glasgow sleeper service - interesting read.)
As for your attempts to fit seats in the business class cabin, you could try doing a Cathay Pacific type approach with a 1+1 angled seating arrangement, see if that gives you a better result. Might mean we need to take a creative approach to the windows.
I tried that too. Didn't work very well, either. I calculated that we could actually carry more passengers by using twinettes without attached bathroom than by 2+1 flatbeds (26 vs 21). If we paired twinettes into compartments, it could actually provide a reasonable experience.
Then again, being a premium offering, does capacity really matter? If not, we'll go with the individual flatbeds.
Ideally one would arrive at the destination between 7:30 and 8am, a 12hr journey time suits this overnight trip, but you're still squeezing in the meals at each end.
Exactly. The journey has to be around 10-12 hours, to neatly fit in supper, a good night's sleep, and breakfast. Oh, and a shower (or two). Day trains could be scheduled to run faster, of course.
Assuming 11 hours to Melbourne, I'm thinking two trains a day each way - a morning train, leaving around 9:30am and arriving 8:30pm, and a night train, leaving 9:30pm and arriving 8:30am, or some slightly shifted variation thereof. Because there's an hour turnaround at each end, in theory it should be possible to run it using two sets per route, running back and forth, rotating sets in and out for maintenance.
Brisbane takes longer, though, doesn't it?
The point of what I'm proposing here is mostly to focus on three core inter-capital runs which I think have to potential to turn a profit from the perspective of buying, running and maintaining the trains only (ie not considering infrastructure construction and maintenance costs).
Since the tracks are run by the feds, they ought to bear the infra costs - bit like a federal road, really. If CountryLink just ran inter-capital trains as a business, they could do a lot better (how they do with other country services is a different story).The 2+1 is going off other systems around the world (which use similar width rolling stock) and once you put in a full sized business class chair, having 4 of them limits the aisle space somewhat. Remember this is a premium offering, so wasting a bit of space isn't so much of an issue. If we were talking about economy then I would definitely agree with you, but this is a different type of service.
Quite so. I briefly considered the 1+1+1 layout, but the aisles would be too narrow. Because this is a premium offering, aisle access is crucial, hence my serious consideration of the BA forwards-backwards design.
As for Economy, the current train width is good enough for reasonably generous 2+2 seating; in any case, current seat width is greater than most el cheapo airlines anyway...
As for specifically replacing the XPT's, I've mentioned my D-EMU concept, I may talk more about things below...but this is getting very long so maybe in another post and maybe not tonight.
From the technical aspect, it's not a bad idea, but we're talking service here, not the engineering aspects of it...
I am prepared for infrastructure changes to be made if necessary, such as extending platforms, I mean I intend having a lounge at either end so modifications are a necessity. There will also need to be some sort of facility I presume to restock the showers etc in Melbourne, which I imagine may need to happen somewhere other than Spencer Street (...I mean Southern Cross). Agree that entertainment is essential, but given that we are currently suggesting free wifi and a power point for every seat, might look at hiring out tablets or similar on request in economy, while the business and first would have and entertainment set-up included.
Hmm - infrastructure changes will have to be made at the ends, that's for sure. I too was hoping that WiFi and power would suffice, but perhaps the dining car could rent portable gaming devices.
I also agree we should have day trains, which I think is clear from my earlier posts. A lounge car is an idea, but the train is starting to turn into the Eurostar here, that or the needs to be a balance between paid and complimentary spaces in the train (ie replacing a passenger car for a lounge). Some sort of double deck arrangement could perhaps solve this space issue, although I'd be amenable to the other half of the dining car being a Business/First Class lounge.
A DD inter-capital train is definitely possible so long as it actually can fit, but going DD may preclude tilting (tilting upstairs must be great fun...). Sure, at our current speeds, tilting is fairly useless, and building the train to be of V set dimensions could be done.
I think half the dining car being a premium mobile lounge is viable, particularly on day trains. However, we do want to keep the number of car types as low as possible, so it'll be present on night trains as well.