Twenty (20) years...plus a few months since the demise of the Vinelander

 
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Meanwhile in Mildura, despite being served by three airlines every day at often outrageous fares
The Vinelander

But generally not.  It's $85 at most times, hardly an outrageous fare compared with other parts of the world.


So that really only leaves a 12 hour overnight service, that's schedule has plenty of flexibility to account for delays by other trains, major speed restrictions, etc.
Nightfire

I'd give a sleeper bus a greater likelihood of occuring - ie. miniscule.

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  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
But generally not. It's $85 at most times, hardly an outrageous fare compared with other parts of the world.

I'd give a sleeper bus a greater likelihood of occuring - ie. miniscule.
ZH836301

Err...welcome back ZH...I think.. Razz You've certainly been away for a long time...

The fare (one-way) from Melbourne to Mildura may well be as low as $85.00 (the same as the economy return rail/bus fare) if you travel when the respective airline says which is usually very early in the morning.
However, add to the air fare transport to/from Tullamarine & Mildura airports, at least $50.00 each journey, or parking at the airports which costs probably even more and the cost comparison becomes far more stark.

Moreover, try travelling to Mildura for a long weekend or the upcoming Easter break and the return fare may exceed $600.00.

Mike.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
If you don't like the plane, catch the bus.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Are you going to welcome me back Mike? Grin

What is a sleeper bus?

If the mildura train was to return would it be a daylight or overnight service?

If overnight would it be a sleeper ?
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Sleeper buses are common in places that aren't Australia, usually servicing trips of 6-14 hours, typically between locations where trains or flights do not exist or are overly expensive.  They generally consist of traditional reclining seats, or bunks with flat, or semi-flat beds, either in 2x2, 1x3, or 1x2 arrangement.

Vietnam:


Japan:


UK:
  alstom_888m Chief Commissioner

Location:
  raudteejaam Junior Train Controller

I've only ever seen one "sleeper bus" kicking around Australia, and it's not on any kind of route service; rather it's operated by a German tour company, and almost always is filled with middle aged Germans. Holds about 20 people. Looks positively bizarre.

I took a sleeper bus in China once. Suffice to say, it wasn't designed for someone of my proportions, especially height. It was not comfortable.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
If you don't like the plane, catch the bus.
ZH836301

There is a normally train that goes as far as Swan Hill, which connects to the bus and yes I do use it.

The example of sleeper buses shown couldn't possibly work due to the rough and undulating roads in the Mallee. Interesting that the overnight bus from Mildura to Melbourne has the lowest loadings of any of the current 6 a day V/Line services to Mildura.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Interesting that the overnight bus from Mildura to Melbourne has the lowest loadings of any of the current 6 a day V/Line services to Mildura.
The Vinelander

 . . . which makes one wonder how much a train would achieve.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
. . . which makes one wonder how much a train would achieve.
Valvegear


Mike would probably be able to shed some light on this also but I don't believe the Mildura train service when it ran was inadequately favoured. My understanding from people who have used the train stated to me it was quite popular (with very few seats in economy at least vacant) The motorail was also quite popular.

The issue was (I have heard this from various people associated with the service over a time but not recently) many of the tickets sold were less than full fare which in itself should not have been a problem. The train was a public transport service and did not and should not have need to make any money for the Government. Sadly, this was not the few taken by the Kennett Government at the time.

The service was a vital link between Melbourne and Mildura for the purposes of providing transport for workers to and from the food bowl of Victoria.

I have spoken to people who used it regularly with the only issue being over time a slightly faster speed between Mildura and Melbourne would have been nice.

Regards
Brian
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

The subsidy per pax carried on the old VINELANDER was the highest in the State, and the average patronage was 59 per trip over all classes.

The best option to provide an upgraded passenger service to Mildura would be as follows :

-  Upgrade Bendigo - Swan Hill to Class 2 track allowing 130kmh for DMU.
-  Introduce Intercity V/Locity sets with on train catering .
-  Would reduce travel time to Swan Hill by 30 minutes on existing loco hauled.
-  Put long coaches with 2 - 1 seating and extra legroom on the Swan Hill - Mildura leg .
- Increase the Swan Hill train service to three return trips daily with express coach connections to/from Mildura .

Forget the route via Donald, the track is substandard and very difficult to maintain to a standard suitable for pax trains owing to the country traversed north of Maryborough.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Mike would probably be able to shed some light on this also but I don't believe the Mildura train service when it ran was inadequately favoured. My understanding from people who have used the train stated to me it was quite popular (with very few seats in economy at least vacant) The motorail was also quite popular.

The issue was (I have heard this from various people associated with the service over a time but not recently) many of the tickets sold were less than full fare which in itself should not have been a problem. The train was a public transport service and did not and should not have need to make any money for the Government. Sadly, this was not the few taken by the Kennett Government at the time.

The service was a vital link between Melbourne and Mildura for the purposes of providing transport for workers to and from the food bowl of Victoria.

I have spoken to people who used it regularly with the only issue being over time a slightly faster speed between Mildura and Melbourne would have been nice.

Regards
Brian
bevans

The Vinelander MotoRail was particularly popular for the new car dealerships in Mildura which often booked a slot to ship new cars from Melbourne.

The Victorian rail culture has changed significantly in the past 20 years and since the advent of the RFR even more so. IMO the reintroduction of a passenger train to Mildura is an inevitability, however as Kuldalai says above the country north of Maryborough, but particularly from St Arnaud to around Woomelang is of a type that makes track maintenance difficult but not impossible as the same soils are traversed by the Adelaide SG around Murtoa.

Since the demise of the Vinelander, the airlines have increased their presence on the Mildura route to three providing around 9 services each day, and as I wrote earlier V/Line operate up to 6 services a day as well.

Assuming the track upgrade occurs at some point in time, the reintroduction of a train service right through to Mildura would bleed some patronage from the buses and in all likelihood from the airlines as well. Whether that train service were to be overnight, perhaps with Qld style sleeper beds or day travel or both...well who knows. It's going to be a CSO (Community Service Obligation) service anyway, but then all V/Line Inter-city services are.

An interesting parallel is the Night Riviera train which offers a seating/sleeping car service from Penzance to London, operates every night and travels 325 miles arriving London around 5am, however you can stay in your sleeping cabin until 7am. This is a similar distance as Mildura to Melbourne. The fares though are around 250% higher than the fares we charge in Victoria so that train and for that matter all regional trains in England make a higher return for the outlay of providing the service. Penzance is a bit smaller than Mildura and doesn't have much of an air service. When I travelled on the Night Riviera a few months ago the train had 4 sleeping cars, 3 sitters and a diner/lounge car.

Having said all that, I agree with Kuldalai's comments above that the upgrading of the track north of Bendigo and the introduction of V/Locity cars to Swan Hill with on-board refreshments and a better standard of bus for the 2.5 hour trip from Swan Hill to Mildura with an ongoing review of patronage to move to a different type of service and exploring options of a rail to Mildura is a sensible, much lower cost interim option.

For any of our Rail pagers who read this thread with interest, I suggest you take a trip to Mildura so you can judge for yourself and add your suggestions/comments having experienced the service for yourselves.

Mike.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
A very informative and well structured post Mike. The return of the train will happen and probably needs to however a change of management at vline will need to happen first. A large broom is required.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
The example of sleeper buses shown couldn't possibly work due to the rough and undulating roads in the Mallee.
The Vinelander

I'm not actually advocating sleeper buses (the patronage is too low and clientele too cheap), but you haven't seen rough and undulating until you've been to Cambodia or Laos, where buses like these are still used.

It's going to be a CSO (Community Service Obligation) service
The Vinelander

Such a thing does not exist, and if it did, it is provided by train to Swan Hill, bus to Mildura.

The fares though are around 250% higher than the fares we charge in Victoria so that train and for that matter all regional trains in England make a higher return for the outlay of providing the service.
The Vinelander

You write that as if trains in Victoria actually make a return.

Penzance is a bit smaller than Mildura and doesn't have much of an air service.
The Vinelander

It doesn't just go to Penzance.  Cornwall's population is ten times Mildura's.
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
I would be interested to compare The Vinelander to the Overland though. Mike recalls they heyday of the Mildura train but it's difficult to extrapolate that to today when the train doesn't run. Nearest comparison would be the Overland which back at the same time could be 12 cars nightly. Now dwindling to a handful of cars 3 and then 2 days per week. If the Vinelander was averaging 59 passengers back then, what would it be now if it followed the same pattern as The Overland?

Mike keeps talking about a country rail renaissance but I think most people accept the surge in numbers is partially due to RFR and especially slashing the fares to an unsustainable level. This renaissance doesn't extend to the Melb - Adelaide corridor and I suspect would be the same to Mildura.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
I would be interested to compare The Vinelander to the Overland though. Mike recalls they heyday of the Mildura train but it's difficult to extrapolate that to today when the train doesn't run. Nearest comparison would be the Overland which back at the same time could be 12 cars nightly. Now dwindling to a handful of cars 3 and then 2 days per week. If the Vinelander was averaging 59 passengers back then, what would it be now if it followed the same pattern as The Overland?

Mike keeps talking about a country rail renaissance but I think most people accept the surge in numbers is partially due to RFR and especially slashing the fares to an unsustainable level. This renaissance doesn't extend to the Melb - Adelaide corridor and I suspect would be the same to Mildura.
Ballast_Plough

The overnight Overland used to run a maximum of 19 cars. During the mid 1980's to mid 1990's it normally operated as 9 to 12 cars, and 19 cars on black Thursday (the Thursday preceding Easter). As the railway goes past my house I used to see the Overland most days.

Fares charged are at a level that the government of the day is happy to accept the community service obligation of operating the service. Fares in Victoria are largely on par with fares on government operated services in other states. Are all states government run railways charging unsustainable fares Question


Mildura residents frequently lament the loss of the train all those years ago. The subject is constantly in the local media as the very strong community support for the trains' return hasn't abated since the community meetings were held over 4 years ago.

Below links to the Sunraysia Daily in the past two weeks alone pertaining to the support of a reintroduced train speaks volumes for the community's support.

http://www.sunraysiadaily.com.au/story/2028272/support-for-rail/?cs=1385

http://www.sunraysiadaily.com.au/story/2032216/attitudes-changing-on-train-return/?cs=1385

http://www.sunraysiadaily.com.au/story/2049044/dont-dismiss-passenger-train-return/?cs=1385

http://www.sunraysiadaily.com.au/story/2051741/rail-would-bring-clear-economic-benefit/?cs=1385

Mike.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Four letters in two weeks, amazing.

I can't take seriously the opinion of someone who considers the Calder a 'deathtrap'.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Four letters in two weeks, amazing.

I can't take seriously the opinion of someone who considers the Calder a 'deathtrap'.
ZH836301

Nevertheless, it matters not a jot what the writer or reporter is expressing their concerns about or the angle they come from to form the opinion for their reporting. The fact that in a two week time period there was four separate instances where a train service that ended before many posters who read these pages were even born speaks volumes about the local support for the reintroduction of the passenger train service. Where else could you find such strong support anywhere else in Australia, or further afield where this is the case.

I haven't driven the Calder for around 8 years, preferring V/Line, however if one had no choice but to use the Calder due to the inadequacies, perceived or otherwise of the PT services to/from Mildura and disinclination to fly for whatever reason and one falls asleep at the wheel due to a pre-existing condition; or a truck, of which there are many drifts across the white line of the mostly 2 lane highway which local reports suggest needs a lot of repair works in certain areas due to the heavy truck traffic then it's a fair call from some peoples perspective to suggest the Calder Hwy a death-trap.

I'm not advocating for an immediate up to $1 Billion investment in the rail line to Mildura, as per the 2010 report however I am calling on the government through local MP Crisp to take heed of the populace of the north west and to realistically acknowledge their request to improve the existing service with an ongoing intent of reinvigorating the former rail line. This could entail as Kuldalai has written by way of more comfortable 2+1 seating buses for the existing service and an incremental upgrade of the rail track north of Bendigo for faster and more frequent DMU operation of the already reasonably popular Swan Hill service.

Mike.
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
I think the problem though is separating the "I want a railway line" with "I'll use the railway line". This was the problem with Leongatha - everyone wanted it but hardly anyone was using it. I'm more than happy to sign a petition to get the train back to Mildura - just can't see myself ever using it though!

And as I said (and you pointed out with past consists of The Overland) - if the patronage on that has dwindled considerably, what proof is there that the same won't have happened with The Vinelander?
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
Just reading some of the letters; I think someone needs to get in their ear first:

Mildura Rural City Council should be lobbying for the return of the passenger train and in my view it is doing so, because in so many ways freight and passenger rail are one and the same.
By lobbying for one, you are lobbying for both, because (with the exception of rolling stock) both services share the same infrastructure. [Great if you want an 80 kmh service - and tell ARTC that freight and passenger is the same thing when it comes to pathing!]

We have been without a passenger service to our capital city for 20 years now. [Capital city?? Someone should have their Premier ask what all those buses and planes have been doing over the past 20 years].

We’re not asking for special treatment, [Just a few billion dollars...]

...by stating that the MRCC’s priorities are freight rail and road issues, when every one knows that the upgrading of the rail for freight is essential to the return of the passenger service. [As long as you're happy with 80 kmh and no platforms].

Claims that it will not be profitable hold no water as an excuse as every rail passenger service in Victoria is subsidised by the taxpayer, i.e. you and me. [There's a small difference of being subsidised by government and leaking like a sieve].

As the antiquated N-sets are being retired, adapted Vlocity DMUs that are speed-limited to 160kph would be the likely haulage type. [Well, yes. After you rebuilt the entire line].

Based on growth in similar regional rail services in Victoria and throughout the world, a Mildura train would enjoy the same growth. [The growth in RFR services is primarily driven by tree-changers who can commute daily from Castlemaine, Warragul, etc. to the city. Not entirely sure we'll have a 3 car V/Lo full of locals from Woomelang and Ouyen turn up at Southern Cross every morning for their office job].
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Where else could you find such strong support anywhere else in Australia, or further afield where this is the case.
The Vinelander

So we should build the East West Link then, since there's more support than that.

...then it's a fair call from some peoples perspective to suggest the Calder Hwy a death-trap.
The Vinelander

There's nothing wrong with the Calder.  If there was, it would have been dropped to 100km/h from Wycheproof long ago.

I think some people are a little melodramatic about leaving their bubble.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
The campaign heats up!  I get the feeling there will be some serious lobbying around Victoria for transport services this coming election.

  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
2 lane highway which local reports suggest needs a lot of repair works in certain areas due to the heavy truck traffic then it's a fair call from some peoples perspective to suggest the Calder Hwy a death-trap.
The Vinelander

A bit off-topic, but last time I went down the Calder it was perfectly fine. Do you have a source for these reports? When were they dated?
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
A bit off-topic, but last time I went down the Calder it was perfectly fine. Do you have a source for these reports? When were they dated?
railblogger

I suggest you read the links I provided...
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
I think the problem though is separating the "I want a railway line" with "I'll use the railway line". This was the problem with Leongatha - everyone wanted it but hardly anyone was using it. I'm more than happy to sign a petition to get the train back to Mildura - just can't see myself ever using it though!

And as I said (and you pointed out with past consists of The Overland) - if the patronage on that has dwindled considerably, what proof is there that the same won't have happened with The Vinelander?
Ballast_Plough

The petition stage for the re-introduction of a train service to Mildura occurred with the community consultation process in 2010.

Actually very few south Gippsland locals wanted the return of the passenger train when it was explained to them back in 1997 and again in 2002 the service frequency would increase and the timetable accelerated if the line closed and buses were implemented.
With this news and as a result of a comprehensive survey conducted in 2002 the local suggestion of reinstating the south Gippsland rail service was dropped like a hot potato...

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