Rural rail subsidised by up to $4,000 a trip, prompting overhaul call

 
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Interesting how everyone is quick to criticise the cost of rural rail, but not the cost commuter rail. Sydney's City Trains passenger revenue makes up only 40% of its operating costs. The NSW government has to pay $8.80 to City Rail for each of the 281-million passengers it carries. Cost recovery of QR's commuter services is probably similar, but is harder to find in its financial reports since it makes a $220-million operating profit thanks to the track access fees it charges.
Sulla1

Go close Sydney trains down, than see how well the City functions ! The loss of productivity and liveability would be much greater than the on paper operating losses.


Take a train that carries a hand full of passengers out to and from wop wop, take It way and few people would notice !



Odd question Is there any possibility a passenger carriage could be tacked onto a freight train from the likes of Stuart to Mount Isa ? or would Insurance and Government red tape scuttle this.

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  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
The bus would hardly need to be any more than a mini van !


I once travelled from Dalby Qld to Grafton NSW with a group of people in a 12 seater Toyota Coaster bus. I think riding a pushbike would have been more comfortable!

I'd take a train over a bus any day if it was available. You can't begin to compare the comfort levels.

Why should the government put on a train just for you and a few other passengers. Whether or not the train is more comfortable is irrelevant if the cost per passenger is the same as a return trip to Europe by plane and a coach is a fraction of that cost.
simstrain
Nowhere have I said that the government should put on a train just for me and a few other passengers...
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE



Odd question Is there any possibility a passenger carriage could be tacked onto a freight train from the likes of Stuart to Mount Isa ? or would Insurance and Government red tape scuttle this.
Nightfire
QR has been there done that with more general type freight, generally short trains.

However in today's world I just don't think it stacks up financially to have to stop and start a 3000t train to off load a few people every 100km or so. Its done almost no where else so I'm sure there reason is purely economic.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
We should always be considering the costs of public services, exactly what those services are and if they are genuinely for the public benefit. Those that provide public benefit (ie not easily allocated to discrete individuals) should be funded publically.

Transport is one of those that is on the grey line given that metro systems reduce urban congestion etc, but I think you could make an argument for these long distance regional services that they are subsidising private travel and are not really for the public benefit.  Why not put them on Rex and kill two subsidies at once freeing up the capital for other things?
james.au

Err...Rex doesn't fly into Chinchilla, Mitchell, Morven or any of the other small communities along the (Westlander) line. I imagine it's worse for the Inlander line. Does Rex stop 'all towns' along the Mt Isa line Question

Mike.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The bus would hardly need to be any more than a mini van !


I once travelled from Dalby Qld to Grafton NSW with a group of people in a 12 seater Toyota Coaster bus. I think riding a pushbike would have been more comfortable!

I'd take a train over a bus any day if it was available. You can't begin to compare the comfort levels.

Why should the government put on a train just for you and a few other passengers. Whether or not the train is more comfortable is irrelevant if the cost per passenger is the same as a return trip to Europe by plane and a coach is a fraction of that cost.
Nowhere have I said that the government should put on a train just for me and a few other passengers...
Graham4405

Then why are you arguing? These trains are empty and costing $4000 per passenger to cover. Most passenger rail subsidies in the major cities of Australia are less then $10 but provide a significant social benefit in liveability and functionality to the city. Regional trains only carry the same amount of people in a day as 3 full DD sydney trains do and are a luxury service. Without them the regional areas would still operate without any issues.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland



Odd question Is there any possibility a passenger carriage could be tacked onto a freight train from the likes of Stuart to Mount Isa ? or would Insurance and Government red tape scuttle this.QR has been there done that with more general type freight, generally short trains.

However in today's world I just don't think it stacks up financially to have to stop and start a 3000t train to off load a few people every 100km or so. Its done almost no where else so I'm sure there reason is purely economic.
RTT_Rules
I was more thinking the train would only stop where It normally does for freight loading and not at the traditional stations, the only stops may be just a Stuart freight yard and Mount Isa yard (there would need to be a shuttle bus/van that meet the passenger carriage where ever It Is In the yard)

Probably just way to hard, when a road coach can travel along a modern highway and stop at each town out the front of the main post office/hotel/roadhouse.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Ill track down some figures in the morning RTT.  It is not, and the roads deficit is widening, putting pressure on general revenues.  With increased fuel efficiency, no indexation of the excise and other factors, the amount of funding raised from these indirect means is in decline.
Looking forward to it as the numbers shown to me show a positive cash flow.
RTT_Rules
Sorry for the delay - washing machine critical failures tend to disrupt a Saturday!!

I will have to backtrack on my earlier statement.  I don't have figures showing that it is in a deficit, in fact it is the opposite, that tax revenue collected exceeds costs.  Apologies for being misleading.

What I have conflated with the concept of a deficit is that the fuel excise is on decline and somewhere down the track it is going to go into deficit.  The IPA paper I linked to earlier is a good read on the issue, talking about the increases in fuel efficiency leading to lower tax revenue overall.  In addition, we also need to be aware of the rise of electric vehicles and the reduction in fuel tax they will lead to.  So with the current funding model, a deficit will come.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
We should always be considering the costs of public services, exactly what those services are and if they are genuinely for the public benefit. Those that provide public benefit (ie not easily allocated to discrete individuals) should be funded publically.

Transport is one of those that is on the grey line given that metro systems reduce urban congestion etc, but I think you could make an argument for these long distance regional services that they are subsidising private travel and are not really for the public benefit.  Why not put them on Rex and kill two subsidies at once freeing up the capital for other things?

Err...Rex doesn't fly into Chinchilla, Mitchell, Morven or any of the other small communities along the (Westlander) line. I imagine it's worse for the Inlander line. Does Rex stop 'all towns' along the Mt Isa line Question

Mike.
The Vinelander

No but it flies broadly along the route with stops that are probably accessible to people who are in these locations.

Back at you - how many people board at Chinchilla, Mitchell, Morven or any of the other small communities?  If there are no people boarding, then there is no need for a stop!
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Then why are you arguing?
simstrain
Id say it is more of a wistful desire to see trains, rather than an argument, that Graham4405 is putting forward!
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Ill track down some figures in the morning RTT.  It is not, and the roads deficit is widening, putting pressure on general revenues.  With increased fuel efficiency, no indexation of the excise and other factors, the amount of funding raised from these indirect means is in decline.
Looking forward to it as the numbers shown to me show a positive cash flow.
Sorry for the delay - washing machine critical failures tend to disrupt a Saturday!!

I will have to backtrack on my earlier statement.  I don't have figures showing that it is in a deficit, in fact it is the opposite, that tax revenue collected exceeds costs.  Apologies for being misleading.

What I have conflated with the concept of a deficit is that the fuel excise is on decline and somewhere down the track it is going to go into deficit.  The IPA paper I linked to earlier is a good read on the issue, talking about the increases in fuel efficiency leading to lower tax revenue overall.  In addition, we also need to be aware of the rise of electric vehicles and the reduction in fuel tax they will lead to.  So with the current funding model, a deficit will come.
james.au
Agree and this also applies to the domestic power and water infrastructure industries as well.

If I recall Australia's net oil consumption was only rising slowly and only doing this due to population growth. Some European countries with flat population growth are consuming less and less oil per annum. The big drive for oil consumption globally is India and China and other large developing countries.

Potentially very soon some peoples cars will be fuelled directly from the sun through domestic PV and wind thus avoiding any of the usual avenues for govt taxation.

Eventually the Feds and states will need to find an alt source of funding and this is likely in the form of congestion taxes, increases in rego and even potentially pay by the km car usage from the car's odometer. However this is a problem for decade or two away and does not justify the ongoing huge subsidy for these two trains.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
We should always be considering the costs of public services, exactly what those services are and if they are genuinely for the public benefit. Those that provide public benefit (ie not easily allocated to discrete individuals) should be funded publically.

Transport is one of those that is on the grey line given that metro systems reduce urban congestion etc, but I think you could make an argument for these long distance regional services that they are subsidising private travel and are not really for the public benefit.  Why not put them on Rex and kill two subsidies at once freeing up the capital for other things?

Err...Rex doesn't fly into Chinchilla, Mitchell, Morven or any of the other small communities along the (Westlander) line. I imagine it's worse for the Inlander line. Does Rex stop 'all towns' along the Mt Isa line Question

Mike.

No but it flies broadly along the route with stops that are probably accessible to people who are in these locations.

Back at you - how many people board at Chinchilla, Mitchell, Morven or any of the other small communities?  If there are no people boarding, then there is no need for a stop!
james.au

In the case of the Westlander..through multiple experiences of travelling on it usually on the DOWN to Charleville service...it doesn't stop at Chinchilla unless there are pax booked to travel to/from there. It stops at Roma, then Mitchell and Morven to lose accumulated time then 'express' to Charleville.

On the Inlander where I've travelled multiple times from Julia Creek to Townsville, the train only stops there despite it being a sizeable town in that region to pick up or set down pax and it's theoretically possible for the train to run express from Cloncurry to the next driver change which I think is at Hughenden, then it's theoretically possible for it to run 'express' from there to Charters Towers, thence Townsville.

I use the term 'express' in the loosest of terms of non-stop travel because I'm used to travelling 80Km of my 160Km daily train commute in as little as 43 mins.

Mike.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
Then why are you arguing?
Id say it is more of a wistful desire to see trains, rather than an argument, that Graham4405 is putting forward!
james.au
There is an element of that, however in the main I'm not arguing for the keeping of these trains (unless the services can be improved to the point that they attract more passengers, the current timetables and configuration are more likely to do the opposite). I have been trying to demonstrate that things others have posted are not necessarily factual.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
We should always be considering the costs of public services, exactly what those services are and if they are genuinely for the public benefit. Those that provide public benefit (ie not easily allocated to discrete individuals) should be funded publically.

Transport is one of those that is on the grey line given that metro systems reduce urban congestion etc, but I think you could make an argument for these long distance regional services that they are subsidising private travel and are not really for the public benefit.  Why not put them on Rex and kill two subsidies at once freeing up the capital for other things?

Err...Rex doesn't fly into Chinchilla, Mitchell, Morven or any of the other small communities along the (Westlander) line. I imagine it's worse for the Inlander line. Does Rex stop 'all towns' along the Mt Isa line Question

Mike.
The Vinelander
Neither do Rex fly into Dalby, the largest town on the Western Line west of Toowoomba. There are several bus companies servicing the same area however.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Then why are you arguing?
Id say it is more of a wistful desire to see trains, rather than an argument, that Graham4405 is putting forward!
There is an element of that, however in the main I'm not arguing for the keeping of these trains (unless the services can be improved to the point that they attract more passengers, the current timetables and configuration are more likely to do the opposite). I have been trying to demonstrate that things others have posted are not necessarily factual.
Graham4405
I've said many times in the past and I'll say it again now that I think prior to closing the govt should offer the subsidy and rollingstock to any operator on a 5 year contract to try other ideas with no restriction on time table and frequency other than it must be at least 2 x week from Brisbane to at least Toowoomba, for Inlander its more complicated.

Firstly I Charliville to me needs to be cut, its simply too far and makes the train an O/N service which it fails to do well.

Roma is 11hr west of Brisbane, leave at 7am, arrive at 6pm, likewise return. Its a reasonable 12hr shift for the cabin crew with 13hr rest before returning the next day. The train now runs by day, its a seater only train so more suited more visible to the community and more comfortable although slower than the Bus (7.5hr) and serves places the airlines don't.

Despite this I don't see much opportunity to get the Westlander above 100 per train (the numbers you need to justify a train) but I think above is better to try for a year before walking away from it completely.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Ill track down some figures in the morning RTT.  It is not, and the roads deficit is widening, putting pressure on general revenues.  With increased fuel efficiency, no indexation of the excise and other factors, the amount of funding raised from these indirect means is in decline.
Looking forward to it as the numbers shown to me show a positive cash flow.
Sorry for the delay - washing machine critical failures tend to disrupt a Saturday!!

I will have to backtrack on my earlier statement.  I don't have figures showing that it is in a deficit, in fact it is the opposite, that tax revenue collected exceeds costs.  Apologies for being misleading.

What I have conflated with the concept of a deficit is that the fuel excise is on decline and somewhere down the track it is going to go into deficit.  The IPA paper I linked to earlier is a good read on the issue, talking about the increases in fuel efficiency leading to lower tax revenue overall.  In addition, we also need to be aware of the rise of electric vehicles and the reduction in fuel tax they will lead to.  So with the current funding model, a deficit will come.
james.au

So road charging will just be a new way to slug the road user when governments can no longer get money from fuel excise.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Just remembered the tender docs for the air services routes had some passenger numbers as well (2013 calendar year numbers).

http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/~/media/Travelandtransport/Qconnect/Air%20and%20long%20distance%20bus/AviationServicesIndustryBriefing.pdf

For Northern 2 - Townsville-Hughenden-Richmond-Julia Creek-Mt Isa (similar to the Inlander), there were approx 402 pax per month (or 4824 per year).

The Inlander is estimated to have carried 3677 pax in comparison.  In my view, clearly if you put all these passengers on flights (and possibly let the flight routings be more flexible), you're probably going to help the air service become a lot more viable (and perhaps do away with its subsidy)?  If people want land services perhaps the bus (refer below)?

For Central 1 - Brisbane-Roma-Charleville (similar to the Westlander), there were approx 18,920 pax per month (or 227,040 per year)

Also, for completeness, for Western 2 - Brisbane-Toowoomba-Charleville-Quilpie-Windorah-Birdsville Bedourie-Boulia-Mount Isa (containing the Westlander and more), there were approx 517 pax per month (6,204 per year).

Given that in NSW, a route is generally deregulated once it reaches 50,000 annual passengers, it surprises me that Central 1 is still regulated. Id think a bit of competition in that route would lower the price more and more than cater for the community, meaning the Westlander can be discontinued.  

What rolling stock currently does these services can someone tell me?  Would it be able to start and maintain a Toowoomba daily or twice daily commuter service (notwithstanding capacity issues on the line, ignore them for now).


Its worth noting that both of these routes also have bus services along their length that are also subsidised.  Refer map at the link at the bottom of this page:

http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Travel-and-transport/Long-distance-air-services/Review-of-long-distance-passenger-services  

Goes to show you how politics really makes a mess of reviews.  I bet both of these routes were suggested to be cut, behind closed doors, but politics came along and kept them alive (i.e. the Qld LNP).
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Then why are you arguing?
Id say it is more of a wistful desire to see trains, rather than an argument, that Graham4405 is putting forward!
james.au

That is my thinking as well. A wish for trains to run everywhere, even though there is no viability to do so. Trains are only viable when they can move hundreds of thousands or millions of people a day or the same numbers in tonnage of freight.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Ill track down some figures in the morning RTT.  It is not, and the roads deficit is widening, putting pressure on general revenues.  With increased fuel efficiency, no indexation of the excise and other factors, the amount of funding raised from these indirect means is in decline.
Looking forward to it as the numbers shown to me show a positive cash flow.
Sorry for the delay - washing machine critical failures tend to disrupt a Saturday!!

I will have to backtrack on my earlier statement.  I don't have figures showing that it is in a deficit, in fact it is the opposite, that tax revenue collected exceeds costs.  Apologies for being misleading.

What I have conflated with the concept of a deficit is that the fuel excise is on decline and somewhere down the track it is going to go into deficit.  The IPA paper I linked to earlier is a good read on the issue, talking about the increases in fuel efficiency leading to lower tax revenue overall.  In addition, we also need to be aware of the rise of electric vehicles and the reduction in fuel tax they will lead to.  So with the current funding model, a deficit will come.

So road charging will just be a new way to slug the road user when governments can no longer get money from fuel excise.
simstrain

It will be the way of making the user of the service pay for it.  Some road users will actually come out paying less than they do now.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
A wish for trains to run everywhere, even though there is no viability to do so.
simstrain
Im not sure this is the case - i see it as simply a preference for a train vs road, if a train exists...
  simstrain Chief Commissioner


It will be the way of making the user of the service pay for it.  Some road users will actually come out paying less than they do now.
james.au

The user already pays for it in the form of fuel (petrol, hydrogen or electricity), registration, insurance (CTP and regular), tolls and vehicle maintainence. So don't tell me that road users don't pay enough to use the roads because they do.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
The user already pays for it in the form of fuel (petrol, hydrogen or electricity), registration, insurance (CTP and regular), tolls and vehicle maintainence. So don't tell me that road users don't pay enough to use the roads because they do.
simstrain
Im not at all saying that.  Road users, as a population, pay for the roads.  But within that group, some users pay more than they should and some pay less than they should, based on the consumption of the road (i.e. damage) and congestion they incur when using the road.  This impacts the decisions users make.  By taking off the fuel tax, excess registration fees, tolls etc, and replacing it with a per km charge per vehicle, the use of the road will be better connected to the price people pay for it.

Though i feel I'm going round in circles by restating this.
  Exqr Locomotive Driver

Location: Gympie Q.



Odd question Is there any possibility a passenger carriage could be tacked onto a freight train from the likes of Stuart to Mount Isa ? or would Insurance and Government red tape scuttle this.QR has been there done that with more general type freight, generally short trains.

However in today's world I just don't think it stacks up financially to have to stop and start a 3000t train to off load a few people every 100km or so. Its done almost no where else so I'm sure there reason is purely economic.
RTT_Rules
I think attaching a carriage to a Mt. Isa freight train was tried years ago, but it didn't last long. Even in those days the train consisted mainly of automatic coupling fitted  wagons, resulting in quite considerable surging both at start off and during travel, due to rise and fall of terrain. Passengers were getting injured by falls in the carriage.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
We should always be considering the costs of public services, exactly what those services are and if they are genuinely for the public benefit. Those that provide public benefit (ie not easily allocated to discrete individuals) should be funded publically.

Transport is one of those that is on the grey line given that metro systems reduce urban congestion etc, but I think you could make an argument for these long distance regional services that they are subsidising private travel and are not really for the public benefit.  Why not put them on Rex and kill two subsidies at once freeing up the capital for other things?

Err...Rex doesn't fly into Chinchilla, Mitchell, Morven or any of the other small communities along the (Westlander) line. I imagine it's worse for the Inlander line. Does Rex stop 'all towns' along the Mt Isa line Question

Mike.
Neither do Rex fly into Dalby, the largest town on the Western Line west of Toowoomba. There are several bus companies servicing the same area however.
Graham4405

Which is precisely the reason I didn't use Dalby in my above post.. Wink

However now you've mentioned Dalby, last time I checked and please correct me if I'm wrong, the only bus services serving Dalby are the Greyhounds from Charleville or Mt Isa or maybe the Queensland Transport bus from Cunnamulla via St George.

Mike.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The user already pays for it in the form of fuel (petrol, hydrogen or electricity), registration, insurance (CTP and regular), tolls and vehicle maintainence. So don't tell me that road users don't pay enough to use the roads because they do.
Im not at all saying that.  Road users, as a population, pay for the roads.  But within that group, some users pay more than they should and some pay less than they should, based on the consumption of the road (i.e. damage) and congestion they incur when using the road.  This impacts the decisions users make.  By taking off the fuel tax, excess registration fees, tolls etc, and replacing it with a per km charge per vehicle, the use of the road will be better connected to the price people pay for it.

Though i feel I'm going round in circles by restating this.
james.au

I would like to know what users are paying more then they should and who aren't paying enough. The more you use the road, the more you have to pay in fuel, insurance and registration. Trucks pay a higher toll price then cars and if you don't use the car that much then the question should be why do you have a car. The solution is to make freight rail more competitive by building new straighter rail lines to make freight rail movement faster between the capitals and also regional areas.

Getting more freight on rail in regional areas is more important then getting passengers onto trains in regional areas.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
However now you've mentioned Dalby, last time I checked and please correct me if I'm wrong, the only bus services serving Dalby are the Greyhounds from Charleville or Mt Isa or maybe the Queensland Transport bus from Cunnamulla via St George.

Mike.
The Vinelander

Mike,

Not sure what you mean by "the Queensland Transport bus from Cunnamulla via St George".

Bus Queensland run services from Brisbane to Charleville and Mt Isa, Toowoomba to Rockhampton via Miles and Toowoomba to Cunnamulla via Dalby. (Bus Queensland is part of the Pulitano Group)

Murrays run services from Brisbane to Miles.

Greyhound run services Brisbane to Roma.

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