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).