Great Southern Railways Sold and what does it mean now?

 
  AdelaideRail75 Station Staff

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
I was interested in reading that an equity company who owns Custom Coaches actually brought out GSR and has said the Overland is a Value Added commuter service and the other two the Ghan and IP are both aimed at the tourist market and they claim overseas tourists make up 25% of the patronage.

They say that with the low Australian Dollar its worth capitalising on the overseas tourist market.

However, one thing I know its been discussed time and time again what GSR can do to increase its patronage and loyalty amongst its travelling public.  I give you my suggestions:

1. Provide sleeper fares that are somewhat cheaper but offer either a 2 for 1 deal, or 1 travels in a sleeper the other travels for free.  Also possibly introducing a backpacker style of fare for sleepers which means that you get the bed but you don't get your meals included but you can purchase them in the dining car at a price- this is what the Coast Starlight (Amtrak) does.

2. Offering an overnight service possibly twice a week between Adelaide and Melbourne and vice versa and changing the timetable to suit AFL matches or better still actually being able to somehow make a point that the Overland does connect with the XPT to Sydney and also negotiating with NSW Trains to make the overnight from Sydney XPT arrive in Melbourne to connect with the Overland.  This can be done and was done when Serco first started and then it disappeared any so called mention of a connection.

3. The IP and Ghan yes should be marketed to tourists but somehow encourage Australians (yes locals they do exist GSR) to catch these trains but at a much lower price.  For example you pay well over $2,000 (one way) to go from Adelaide to Darwin for that price Australians can actually fly to Europe and catch the Eurostar over from London to Paris.  That proves why rail is expensive.

4.  Start following other airlines and offer all classes of travel cheaper depended on how early you book.  Yes it can be done and for example seat fares could easily compete with airlines.  You could for example offer a $99 or $89 return fare from Adelaide to Melbourne or Sydney but for Alice Springs it could be $129, Darwin $200, Perth $219.  In fact if this was done you would possibly increase patronage.

5. Work with Rail Australia or even other rail operators interstate to introduce a Frequent Railer Card similar to what Frequent Flyer cards are like but this would encourage possibly more people use rail.

6.  Promote Rail as a difference to rail that the rail actually arrives in a capital city (apart from Adelaide of course) and that you can walk around, stretch your legs.  Something tells me that is missing in many elements.  Or you could promote those above fares but show the comparison between the fares for airlines and which would show the taxi fares and you would see that possibly rail works out cheaper.

7.  Stop endlessly targeting overseas tourists and baby boomers because once the baby boomer generation have gone Generation X and Y won't be interested in rail they want it cheaper and faster which means possibly also accelerating some timetables.  Some stops along the IP and Ghan route could be easily deleted without any problems.  As for the Overland work out a way that the stops that are stopped are for pick up or set down only.  Otherwise it would be faster.  A target should be in the long term to get the train to and from Melbourne within 8 hours to compete with cars.  Maybe if standardisation does happen then re-route the train back via Ballarat because apparently it would be somewhat quicker than going through North Geelong etc.

8. Encourage families to travel by rail and target the pricing accordingly why not have two adults pay a full fare and the children under the age of 15 years old travel free in sleeper and seats?

9. For those who want to have packages make packages affordable for everyone and have packages that incorporate the Overland.

10.  Replace all seats with Railbeds instead to encourage more people to use rail or better still keep the seats and have a separate Railbeds carriage- trial it on the IP to Sydney first and see how patronage increases and revenue increases.  This could mean also attaching also the sleeper carriage but it would make a cheaper alternative to those who can't afford travelling in sleeper.

10.  Lastly, don't make the Overland so run down you cannot run it anymore work in partnership with both State Governments of South Australia and Victoria and ask them to possibly fund some improvements to the services such as making it possible for faster speeds in Victoria and South Australia (that is a ARTC responsibility but you never know).

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  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Could this mean that the Overland will be targeted at tourists?
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
Having been to Darwin and back and, on the first night, sat in some discomfort on one of the seats then provided until the very friendly staff (un-asked) up-graded my companion and me free of charge to a comfortable Red Class sleeper with excellent cheap choices in the adjacent buffet car which varied for each meal, I append a quotation from my posting below "Great Southern Rail Red Class Seats'.

'The seats in the trains shown, as they ran at about double the speed of our fastest trains, all had ample spacing in the width and pitch of the lay-back seats, as well as head-rest wings on both sides. Their longest journeys are small fractions of those in Australia in both distance and time.

GSR seating is very much better than it was a very few years ago when the seats on the 'Ghan' were uncomfortable in the extreme, but they lack the headrests which would make the two nights of one of the world's longest train journeys so much more comfortable. I know that the fares are cheap compared with Gold and Platinum classes, but they are VERY expensive when judged against those of alternative means of transport.

If the sitting up fares were cheaper, and the seats more suited to the needs of sleeping passengers, perhaps patronage would increase so much that more frequent trains on this and the 'Indian Pacific', as well as overnight daily trains between Adelaide and Melbourne on a speeded up 'Overland', would be viable.

Planes are now by-words for discomfort and multiple inconveniences on the ground at both ends of the journey, and buses, (despite their excellent drivers and safety precautions) are only as safe as the drug using/alcoholic/sleepy/mobile watching/or otherwise distracted idiot driving in the opposite direction.'

I am sure that the provision of winged backs to the existing very comfortable seats and Red Class sleepers with no bedding or meals (such as are common in other countries) would bring back the nightly use of rail between Adelaide and Melbourne, and would also greatly increase the patronage of the Darwin, Perth and Sydney services as well.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Hopefully this firm is intending to own it well and not just make swingeing cuts to get it showing a paper profit so they can sell it off again for a higher price.

I agree that the schedule needs to change for the Overland to return to being useful for more people. At the moment the only reason you would possibly consider it is if you're a pensioner (with fares subsidised up the wazoo) and you need something to fill a couple of days of time. It needs to become more useful for people attending events in Melbourne (i.e. travel east on Friday or over Friday night, return over Sunday night) where the market used to be there and the schedule used to work for it as recently as the middle of the last decade.

Any investment in the Overland rolling stock (please get a pie warmer to replace the microwave!) will depend on what the two state governments decide to spend on it though.
  NSWGR8022 Chief Train Controller

Location: From the lands of Journalism and Free Speech
Could this mean that the Overland will be targeted at tourists?
railblogger

The Overland should always be a mixture of both as Vline rely on this service for areas west of Ararat. Let's hope the plans for the new owners include developing new markets and maybe just maybe more services?
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Reported elsewhere - 250 pax on today's westbound Overland with two big tour groups.
  Southern Aurora Locomotive Driver

I'm not sure that any new owner could cut the trains back any further than the previous owner:

OVERLAND CUTS UNDER SERCO

Since privatisation, The Overland has endured significant rationalisation.


1998 - cut back to 5 nights per week in both directions.


2000 - reduced to just one train set running just 4 days per week in daylight hours between Adelaide and Melbourne, then returning overnight from Melbourne to Adelaide.

Also 9 stations which the train had served for 113 years had been eliminated from the timetable. Those were: Tailem Bend, Coonalpyn, Tintinara, Keith, Wolseley, Kaniva, Nhill, Murtoa and Stawell (Nhill and Stawell reintroduced years later).


Early 2000s – The [color=windowtext][size=2][font=Arial","sans-serif]motorail[/font][/size][/color] service was withdrawn when the dock at the Melbourne end was removed as part of the Southern Cross Station redevelopment (later reintroduced although apparently at a hefty coast to customers).


Mid 2000s – More cuts were to take place with the new “all daylight” service in both directions introduced. The Overland then operated 3 days in both directions; Sleeping cars removed.


2007 - A major refurbishment took place, when some of the carriages received an internal refurbishment, and a new blue, purple and green livery was applied. The train was re-launched on 7 May 2007, with new accommodation: "Red Premium Service" (1 and 2 seating in airline-style seats) and "Red Service" (2 and 2 seating). A licensed cafe car caters for all passengers. A new [color=windowtext][size=2][font=Arial","sans-serif]emu[/font][/size][/color] logo was also unveiled. The refurbishment resulted in the train being cut back to just 6 Passenger cars as opposed to the enormous trains which were once operated by the former South Australian and Victorian Government Railways.


2013 – The Overland was cut back even further to twice a week as opposed to the former nightly overnight service throughout Government ownership.

The Ghan and Indian Pacific also only run twice a week and that's only for a few months per year; and when I last caught the Ghan in March 2009 i was disappointed to learn that seated passengers had no access to any club/ lounge car due to "GSR reducing operating costs".
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
New rollingstock is badly needed on all services though as you can only do so much with cars that are well over 50 years of age in some cases, the Overland cars for one and also most if not all the IP and Ghan cars!

Upgrading cars is not the answer to most travellers prayers though but new rollingstock would be, though where it will be built is a good question though! Most rollingstock manufacturers in Australia that could build passenger car replacements have long left the scene now! So that leaves sourcing them from overseas really but what type of cars to use as replacements though!
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Hi all,
This thread looks to be a lot about the Overlander, so might be useful asking it here.
WHat about this.  The Overlander is only runing a couple of times a week, would it be such a bad thing if it was let die a graceful death?  But replace the sector with the Ghan, ie run the Ghan MEL-DRW?  Being more of a tourist train, connecting to one of the major tourist cities may help create more Ghan traffic no?  Then, perhaps run some sort of lower cost V/Line service on a more regular basis on some or all of the track?  Living in the world of hypotheticals, could an XPT do the run MEL-ADL better than V/Line or the current Overlander stock?
Cheers
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Hi all,
This thread looks to be a lot about the Overlander, so might be useful asking it here.
WHat about this.  The Overlander is only runing a couple of times a week, would it be such a bad thing if it was let die a graceful death?  But replace the sector with the Ghan, ie run the Ghan MEL-DRW?  Being more of a tourist train, connecting to one of the major tourist cities may help create more Ghan traffic no?  Then, perhaps run some sort of lower cost V/Line service on a more regular basis on some or all of the track?  Living in the world of hypotheticals, could an XPT do the run MEL-ADL better than V/Line or the current Overlander stock?
Cheers
jamesbushell.au
For the 750th time..... The Overlander was a New Zealand Passenger train which ran between Auckland and Wellington!

The Overland is the train between Adelaide and Melbourne.

Years ago AN tried extending the Ghan service to Melbourne, so it was a Melbourne to Alice Springs service (at that time there was no line north of Alice Springs to Darwin)
It was a dismal failure, both in costs and passenger numbers. It ran for about six months if I recall correctly, and was heavily advertised.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Apologies for the Overlander/Overland error - noted.

If it is now seen as a tourist train, would it perhaps now be different?  ie a split of the tourist and commuter traffic might be more profitable?
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
If it is now seen as a tourist train, would it perhaps now be different?  ie a split of the tourist and commuter traffic might be more profitable?
jamesbushell.au
It needs to be a seven day overnight commuter train as it was for well over a century. I'd be quite happy if V-Line ran it with standard gauge all-seating (light refreshment trolley only) cars with modern comfortable lay back seats and leg room plus city centre terminals that cattle-class flyers would soon come to prefer.

Adelaide Parklands is, with suitably scheduled suburban low-floor buses re-routed to pass through between Anzac Highway and Grote Street, just as convenient for CBD passengers as is Adelaide Station and in many cases more so. For those, who like me, would continue their journey by suburban train, Adelaide Showgrounds with its frequent services isn't so very far away, particularly if the pedestrian access were to be straightened by a short link from the centre of the curved overbridge to an Anzac Highway underpass.

Most Adelaide-Melbourne travellers wish to have the maximum time in the destination city and save on hotel costs. Football and theatre crowds in addition to business and holiday travellers would make for viable patronage.

As I suggested in a related thread in the Victorian forum about the standardisation of western lines in that state, converting the line from Geelong to Ararat via Ballarat by reinstating the former double track reservation between Geringhap  and Warrenheip as parallel broad and standard tracks would enable a service between substantial population areas en route, including Werribee, as well as the end destinations. A change at Ballarat to trains via Bacchus Marsh and Melton could service many more.

In what I would hope would be a short term interim, broad gauge V-line trains connecting at Ararat could prove to be an acceptable substitute to provide services to every population centre to the West of the Melbourne CBD.

Passenger rail may not pay in strictly financial terms, but that wasn't a consideration in former much less affluent times. It  is a government responsibility for which we pay taxes, over lines provided by taxpayers. On safety grounds alone, road transport, however efficient it may be, is not an option. I have used rail, bus and car transport between Adelaide and Melbourne for 65 years, and I would almost always go by rail.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
If we snap back to reality, it's going to take a massive collapse of the domestic airline industry together with massive rises in fuel costs to swing the commuter market back into a position where there will be the demand for a daily rail 'commuter' service between Adelaide and Melbourne.

Current lowest airfare from Jetcost website is $49.00
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Yet the XPT still runs SYD-MEL, one of the busiest air routes in the world.  I dont think we are talking about economically feasable proposals when we talk rail (as the recomendation would probably be to cease all of them).  These are government services provided for other reasons.  But perhaps this one can be done for less cost by decoupling tourist and commuter traffic and offering different products.  Maybe it can be done with a 2 car VLocity type train?  Then with the Ghan coming down to MEL, the Overland carriages can be retired/used elsewhere in the GSR routes etc etc.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Yet the XPT still runs SYD-MEL, one of the busiest air routes in the world.  I dont think we are talking about economically feasable proposals when we talk rail (as the recomendation would probably be to cease all of them).  These are government services provided for other reasons.  But perhaps this one can be done for less cost by decoupling tourist and commuter traffic and offering different products.  Maybe it can be done with a 2 car VLocity type train?  Then with the Ghan coming down to MEL, the Overland carriages can be retired/used elsewhere in the GSR routes etc etc.
jamesbushell.au

When the Ghan ran to Melbourne, while it did have a commuter component, it was predominantly a tourist train.

One thing GSR have done well is modify there operations over the years to ensure survival. If there was money in extending the Ghan to Mebourne it would have been done some time ago. With new owners they may even revisit that scenario, but they are unlikely to do it because of something they read on Railpage.

As for the Overland, how much of your taxes are you willing to pay for it to continue?
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I totally agree, Railpage is not where strategy is formed, I post on another transport related page and all I see them as are places to put my ideas out there for hypothetical discussion and to have fun on the way!

Re the tax dollars, im not a fan of seeing tax dollars wasted, for sure, but i have lived in places where there is not enough tax taken, so am ok ok to pay a little more here and get the services that I do, even though i know some of them are loss making and subsidising others.
  normangerman Junior Train Controller

You will find that most XPT users travel between the cities, not all the way from Melbourne to Sydney. I know because I have been catching that train regularly for the last two years between Albury and Sydney or Melbourne.
  Top Cat Assistant Commissioner

Location: Under Hilton Bridge
Being a regular - (4 time per year min) between Wagga and Melbourne and between Sydney and Wagga over the past 10 years, I have always been amazed (but not in hindsight) with the number of people who get on/off this service...isn't that a good thing? But remember there are locations with huge populations between Melb and Sydney serviced by this train,.,,,,
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
Being a regular - (4 time per year min) between Wagga and Melbourne and between Sydney and Wagga over the past 10 years, I have always been amazed (but not in hindsight) with the number of people who get on/off this service...isn't that a good thing? But remember there are locations with huge populations between Melb and Sydney serviced by this train,.,,,,
Top Cat
A very good point. The same situation applies between Adelaide and Melbourne. Ballarat and Geelong were both big enough to have electric trams and they are a good deal bigger now – in the latter case with a well populated hinterland extending to Queenscliff on Port Phillip Bay and the surf coast to the West.

My proposal is not just about end to end travel. It is for the connection of every significant town en route and the ability of people without cars to travel between them.

As for the "it isn't financially viable" Cassandras on this allegedly pro-rail transport discussion group, I again ask why we could afford rail transport during the Great Depression, which I all too vividly remember, and not today.

My answer: Because we massively subsidize road competition and the use of the inherently wasteful private car at the expense of the accessibility and convenience in travel that is the right of every citizen. This is evident in clogged city and suburban roads and up to six cars parked in the formerly carefully tended and beautiful front garden of one house (like that opposite mine, just three blocks from a frequent electric train service and multiple bus routes) and those of hundreds of other Adelaideans whose once pleasant treed suburbs are rapidly becoming multiple car parks,

Freight train profits accruing to the real owners of the tracks (us), toll roads and taxes on the dangerous trucks and B-triples clogging our roads would subsidize the losses on passenger transport and give us services which begin to approach what Europeans take for granted. It's a political, not an economic issue.

I'll be dead before all this happens, but I have had the advantage of having frequently used services which were vastly superior to those we have today, of which almost all of you have no experience, such as overnight sleepers to Mount Gambier and Broken Hill, daily trains to every country town of significance and hundreds that were even smaller. We had few cars, but we got around nevertheless.

I've flown around the world twice and made multiple visits to Europe and the USA, but somehow I think that cattle class can't give us that, and there are big costs, like bus transport or parking, with airports in most cases well out of CBDs plus excess baggage costs, when comfortable fast trains can take us safely right into the centre of town.

That's why I, a third generation South Australian with three grandparents born here in 1858 and the other having come from Wales by sailing ship in 1880, have long said that Australia isn't a first world country when it comes to our sadly neglected and underfunded railways, and in quite a few other ways besides.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
As for the "it isn't financially viable" Cassandras on this allegedly pro-rail transport discussion group, I again ask why we could afford rail transport during the Great Depression, which I all too vividly remember, and not today.

My answer: Because we massively subsidize road competition and the use of the inherently wasteful private car at the expense of the accessibility and convenience in travel that is the right of every citizen.
SAR526
Here's my answer, want to drive to Melbourne in a 1930s vehicle? Be my guest. Let us know IF you get there. Why did they use more trains in the 1930s? Well aircraft (or more accurately, timber reinforced, flying canvas bags) were seldom able to carry more than about 10 pax AND likely had to stop in those same towns you mention the train stopping in to refuel.

Say what you want about subsidised roads and cars, today, driving your massively subsidised road competition to Melbourne is not even anything like as cost effective as air. The private car didn't kill the Overland, the aircraft did, and with good reason too.

Care to elaborate on how private cars are not accessible and convenient? The mere fact that you so bemoan the number of vehicles suggests they must be fairly accessible, we can debate convenience, but PT seldom leaves and arrives at convenient times, nor does it always take you where you want to go.

taxes on the dangerous trucks
SAR526
You'd make a whole bunch more money if you taxed the undangerous trucks too.

overnight sleepers to Mount Gambier
SAR526
My folks drove to the Mount just last week, leisurely trip for them, 5 hours max. Conveniently, unlike convenient rail, they still had their car with them, so they could drive to Millicent, Kangaroo Inn, Naracoorte, Portland, the Grampians, Bendigo and where ever else they decided to go.

comfortable fast trains can take us safely right into the centre of town.
SAR526
Like Amtrak? Air travel still beats rail for safety and it's not even close, the safety of air travel is two orders of magnitude better than rail.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
As for the "it isn't financially viable" Cassandras on this allegedly pro-rail transport discussion group, I again ask why we could afford rail transport during the Great Depression, which I all too vividly remember, and not today.
SAR526
In addition to the simple "there was no effective competition - you had no choice" issue raised by others, I think your use of "afford" is questionable.  I haven't gone back to great depression times (I don't have the data), but I think if you actually looked at the affordability of rail as it is usually measured (fares as a fraction of someone's weekly income, or similar) I think you might find that it is more affordable today than it was back then.

For example, I found a timetable and fares booklet from 1971 (so only half as far back as the great depression, but I think it might illustrate the trend) that quotes $11.60 for an adult economy fare Adelaide to Melbourne.  In 1972 (closest year I have wage data) the RBA reckons average weekly earnings were $85.50 - so you had to work for about 13.5% of a week to buy a single ticket.  In 2015 GSR will generally sell you a rail saver fare for $119 (sometimes you can pay less, sometimes more).  Average weekly earnings in 2013 were $1128.70, so today you only have to work 10.5% of the week to buy a ticket.  At that level of analysis (really I should probably be looking at disposable income, but I can't easily do that), things have become more affordable.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
I h ave discussed in other threads over the years the possibility of the Overland being actually run to suit passenger needs rather than operational (in)convenience however many of us will know that sort of thinking just doesn't exist in Australian passenger rail.  It does exist in European passenger rail where low-cost airlines are the major carrier just as they are here but there is still a buoyant rail market.

What is this market?

It is the reasonably substantial number of those who live along the way and who wish to travel to their nearest major or state capital city, and those likewise in the cities who might wish to travel to the regions.  End-to-end traffic is almost a bonus but the potential for plenty of that also exists largely among the backpacker and senior citizen markets.

So what pattern could a respectable and useable Overland service take?

Two sets would be required for any sort of daily service and ideally three as a maintenance spare is always a prudent option even if it's an extra cost on the books.

One set would work an early morning Tailem Bend - Adelaide in time for business and day-out activities returning mid-morning to Melbourne.  The second set would work a morning Melbourne - Adelaide picking up the evening Adelaide - Tailem Bend duty.  With the present V/line service to Ararat there probably isn't much need for a morning trip into Victoria from the west and any such demand that there is can be covered by a road coach (from perhaps Hall's Gap and Horsham) connecting into the morning train at Ararat.

Stop at most or all of the towns along the way even if only on request and promote the service at sensible fares including walk-on options to buy a ticket on board rather than the tedious book-in-advance-only offering we have had for years now.  Not every one knows they have a need to travel several days in advance nor do they have an internet connection to book online.  Phone bookings can be made but if you have to get the car out to drive into town and book a ticket you are likely to drive through to your destination instead.

Connectivity between Overland and XPT in Melbourne might be a nice-to-have luxury but how many would really use it?  Most connecting journeys could be made via the V/line Ararat and Albury services.  Sydney - Adelaide is already serviced by the Indian Pacific.  With only two platforms available for SG at Southern Cross (at least for now) I really don't see a pressing need for such connections.  It's worth noting that on my projected timetable however that the arrival from Adelaide would give a couple of hours before the overnight Sydney departed and the overnight arrival from Sydney might be able to offer the same interval before the Adelaide trip departed.
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
Here's my answer, want to drive to Melbourne in a 1930s vehicle? Be my guest,

I did. The road was one smooth bitumen lane each way in SA and one rough bitumen lane in the middle of a dirt road in Victoria.

Say what you want about subsidised roads and cars, today, driving your massively subsidised road competition to Melbourne is not even anything like as cost effective as air. The private car didn't kill the Overland, the aircraft did, and with good reason too.

Also subsidized in the construction of airfields and fuel taxes, and handed over to buddy-boy private entities so that they can make the profits to which they are most undoubtedly entitled.

Care to elaborate on how private cars are not accessible and convenient?


Of course they are convenient. That's why a lone driver (by far the majority) can hog the same road space as 12 or more passengers in a bus and residents are increasingly finding the parking space in front of their homes occupied by other peoples' vehicles (mine by a resident of a flat two doors down a nearby street) and a recently beautiful and carefully tended front garden like the one now occupied by five cars plus one in  the street directly opposite my front gate. There are many similar scenarios to be found in my immediate neighbourhood, blessed with nearby train and bus stops and Westfield Marion within walking distance. Convenient – but not sustainable, and very definitely antisocial.


The mere fact that you so bemoan the number of vehicles suggests they must be fairly accessible, we can debate convenience, but PT seldom leaves and arrives at convenient times, nor does it always take you where you want to go.

No, but I found it no great effort to walk from the Adelaide station to University and climb a very steep unpaved and unlit uphill kilometre at night on returning home, and later to race the trams on my bike. I didn't have park and ride facilities like you do, or air-conditioned electric trains like you do, but (like everyone else) I still managed to be where I needed to be when I needed to be.

You'd make a whole bunch more money if you taxed the undangerous trucks too.

They are all dangerous when coming at you at 100 kmh with a sleepy, inattentive or drug/drink affected driver.

My folks drove to the Mount just last week, leisurely trip for them, 5 hours max. Conveniently, unlike convenient rail, they still had their car with them, so they could drive to Millicent, Kangaroo Inn, Naracoorte, Portland, the Grampians, Bendigo and where ever else they decided to go.

That's what family cars were bought for and used by my folks too, but I still used public transport more than my car when going to work in suburbs up to 40 kilometres away.

Like Amtrak? Air travel still beats rail for safety and it's not even close, the safety of air travel is two orders of magnitude better than rail.

True, but like a lot of other people, I prefer to use the safest surface mode and actually see what I'm passing through, thus (horror of horrors) adding to the university trained store of knowledge about my country which for several decades I tried to share with others. I'm not content with the mere tertiary trade qualification which is almost the sum total of the 'education' of very many graduates today. I'm selfish and vainglorious too, but my idiosyncrasies don't cost the community very much.
Aaron
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Is there any merit is the governments sitting down with GSR's new owners and discussing what passenger business is on the table from Governments?

For example, is there scope for a competitive service on the Sydney to Melbourne route to infill the XPT and Vline schedules?
  SAR526 Chief Train Controller

Location: Adelaide, South Australia.
In addition to the simple "there was no effective competition - you had no choice" issue raised by others, I think your use of "afford" is questionable.  I haven't gone back to great depression times (I don't have the data), but I think if you actually looked at the affordability of rail as it is usually measured (fares as a fraction of someone's weekly income, or similar) I think you might find that it is more affordable today than it was back then.
donttellmywife
There was a poster on almost every station platform with a thirty degree wedge cut out of a pictured penny, with the slogan 'Less than a Penny a Mile'. It was cheap.

Daily and sometimes twice daily trains ran to and from almost every sizeable town in the state. That included Quorn and Hawker, and Wilmington.

Please tell me, now that I haven't a car, how I can easily visit Quorn to take a ride on the Pichi Richi. I can use my pension card to get to Port Augusta, but how do I reach Quorn from there? The only direct connection from Adelaide runs to Copley once a week on Wednesdays, returning on Thursday.

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