Service Cuts to Overland - GSR Press Announcement

 
  GN4472 Deputy Commissioner


    (Why doesn't the Bunbury train continue into the town centre, the reservation is still there?) I measure this by the trip duration being 9potentially) much shorter than the total air time. Over these routes the journey time air/rail comparisons are much as for Europe.


SAR526

There is a shopping complex built over the old right of way just before the old Bunbury Station.

But, at least the bus fare into Bunbury is included in your train ticket, not like here in Adelaide.

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  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
Let's face it, the Overland has had the stick.  Two days a week is not a proper service - it's a token.  The rolling stock and the 11-hour trip are a relic from a post-war era before car and air travel made interstate rail travel redundant; even though the amount of money being spent by the SA and Vic governments is not large it could really be better put to use with something other than keeping a token interstate train service very few people actually use.
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

Let's face it, the Overland has had the stick.  Two days a week is not a proper service - it's a token.  The rolling stock and the 11-hour trip are a relic from a post-war era before car and air travel made interstate rail travel redundant; even though the amount of money being spent by the SA and Vic governments is not large it could really be better put to use with something other than keeping a token interstate train service very few people actually use.
don_dunstan
May as well stop Victorian regional trains as well.

With revenue at about 15% of operating costs, they are a basket case.

What is the difference with The Overland?

Basically, The Overland is operated by a private company who then gets a subsidy towards the operation.  When this is not enough to make a profit, they reduce the service, which will ultimately see it spiral away to nothing.
With the publicly operated V/Line service, we see markets like Maryborough and Echuca serviced with enthusiasm, despite small patronage.

The answer is to hand The Overland to V/Line.  To start with, Stawell and Horsham are bigger markets than Maryborough so ought to be serviced by at least one train each way each day to Melbourne.  Then its a matter of considering the value and cost of each kilometre extension of the service towards Adelaide.  The markets of Tailem Bend, Murray Bridge and Adelaide ought to be enough to get it over the line.

Having said all that, I have to commend GSR for doing the best they could with The Overland.  The refurbishment of the cars gave comfortable seats and space that far outdoes anything V/Line offers.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
There is some merit in this idea.  Vline have an impressive track record of late in patronage. I wonder what the Overland would look like if it were run by Vline?

Western Victoria needs to be better serviced and there could be some votes in this for the Victorian Government who undertakes this change.

Regards
Brian
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
In answer to DalyWaters, if the Overland patronage was increasing in the same way that (for example) Geelong-Melbourne is then we wouldn't be having this conversation.  It isn't.  It's shrinking and it's been shrinking for ages because the service isn't meeting the needs of the market.

I agree with you that the only way to save it is (probably) to hand it to V-Line but I'm not sure longer term if that will work either; apart from Horsham there are no real population centres west of Ararat to justify an expanded/renewed service and even then you have the hurdle of the bus to Ararat/broad gauge train to Melbourne being much quicker than the standard gauge link through Geelong.
  witsend Chief Commissioner

Location: Front RH Seat of a School Bus
As much as it pains me to say this, it's time to let the Overland go. It pains me, because it my favourite train journey since childhood. Like most people now, when I go to Melbourne, I fly and hire a car or use public transport. By the time I get to the airport, check-in, fly, get off, collect bag, and go to Spencer St/Southern Cross on a one-way airfare ($119 + $15 for the bus) vs GSR $149 Red Premium Seat one-way, I still come out better timewise than getting on the overland (3hrs vs 11hrs). I love the trip, but it isn't going to survive on it should run just because it should. I think GSR could have at least operated some of the weekend services could have run overnight. Ie Friday Night arrive Sat Morning, Sunday Night service arriving in Adelaide Monday Morning. I know that they would have to pay to put up the staff for a night in Melbourne which would cost a pretty penny.

Lets assume you can't get dirt cheap fares (Red E-Deals on Qantas, ReadyRail on GSR)
GSR Red Rail Saver - $87
GSR Red Everyday - $116
GSR Red Premium - $166
Qantas FlexiSaver - $249

Qantas I fly Saturday, return Sunday, 3hr travel time each way - $490
Accommodation 1 Night - $95
Total - $585

GSR Red Rail Saver, Train Friday, return Tuesday, 11hrs travel time each way - $174
Accommodation 5 Nights - $475
Total - $649

OK, that's great if I want a long weekend in Melbourne. If I want to go over, see the concert, and come back so I don't miss 3 days of work, well, the Maths speaks for itsself.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
As much as it pains me to say this, it's time to let the Overland go. It pains me, because it my favourite train journey since childhood. Like most people now, when I go to Melbourne, I fly and hire a car or use public transport. By the time I get to the airport, check-in, fly, get off, collect bag, and go to Spencer St/Southern Cross on a one-way airfare ($119 + $15 for the bus) vs GSR $149 Red Premium Seat one-way, I still come out better timewise than getting on the overland (3hrs vs 11hrs). I love the trip, but it isn't going to survive on it should run just because it should. I think GSR could have at least operated some of the weekend services could have run overnight. Ie Friday Night arrive Sat Morning, Sunday Night service arriving in Adelaide Monday Morning. I know that they would have to pay to put up the staff for a night in Melbourne which would cost a pretty penny.

Lets assume you can't get dirt cheap fares (Red E-Deals on Qantas, ReadyRail on GSR)
GSR Red Rail Saver - $87
GSR Red Everyday - $116
GSR Red Premium - $166
Qantas FlexiSaver - $249

Qantas I fly Saturday, return Sunday, 3hr travel time each way - $490
Accommodation 1 Night - $95
Total - $585

GSR Red Rail Saver, Train Friday, return Tuesday, 11hrs travel time each way - $174
Accommodation 5 Nights - $475
Total - $649

OK, that's great if I want a long weekend in Melbourne. If I want to go over, see the concert, and come back so I don't miss 3 days of work, well, the Maths speaks for itself.
witsend
You are comparing apples with oranges...different demographics. You are trying to mount an argument for retaining the Overland as an alternative to cheap, frequent, commuter flights. The Overland's demographic is tourists wanting to see part of the country while travelling in superior comfort to a bus or a plane, and the Overland does that well. Where you can fit the Overland into your travel plans you do, as I've done with the Landers in Queensland, but I'm in an almost insignificant minority.

The age of overnight sleepers, the Overland, Southern Aurora et al are over, IP & Ghan tourism market notwithstanding. Excluding XPT sleepers which are overly expensive, under-used, and more than likely you'll end up on a bus anyway.

So as the Sun, West and In 'Lander trains in Qld wrap up entirely by this time next year, there will be no more sleeping car trains in AU where their sole purpose is taking fare paying passengers from point A to point B.

Land cruise trains have a future as does the Overland.

Mike.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
You are comparing apples with oranges...different demographics. You are trying to mount an argument for retaining the Overland as an alternative to cheap, frequent, commuter flights. The Overland's demographic is tourists wanting to see part of the country while travelling in superior comfort to a bus or a plane, and the Overland does that well.
The Vinelander
But why is its patronage dropping, then?

Witsend is not so much arguing for the train's retention, rather for the service to be humanely killed rather than suffering a death by a thousand cuts.

Twice, or even 3 times a week isn't good enough for a commuter run, and potentially challenging for tourists on a tight schedule to include it as a segment of their holiday.

Overseas travel agents will offer air before ground options with the possible exception of the Adelaide - Kangaroo Island leg were Sealink will probably get the gong.

Rail misses out because it is not daily; while it is a comfortable way of travelling between Adelaide and Melbourne The Overland isn't a convenient tourist service.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
REGARDING turning the train into a V-Line service, the bypass of Ballarat is also a serious problem if you are trying to attract Horsham/Stawell people.

Many Horsham people go to Ballarat for the university, family, or because medical specialists practice there that would not be accessible in the Wimmera.  Ballarat has a close relationship with the Wimmera and many prefer to go there rather than Melbourne. The fact that the train doesn't go anywhere near Ballarat is an issue that would affect the viability of any V-Line service from the Wimmera/Mallee to Melbourne.  I believe Wimmera people are actually happy with the current arrangement because the Horsham bus/Ararat train is actually a reasonably fast option, comparable to driving.

Kipioneer and Witsend I think are on the money here - why not use the money for something else and let the train go rather than keep it running two days a week.  How many people on this board have actually used it and/or use it infrequently?  I'm guessing nobody and that's at the core of the issue.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
REGARDING turning the train into a V-Line service, the bypass of Ballarat is also a serious problem if you are trying to attract Horsham/Stawell people.

Many Horsham people go to Ballarat for the university, family, or because medical specialists practice there that would not be accessible in the Wimmera.  Ballarat has a close relationship with the Wimmera and many prefer to go there rather than Melbourne. The fact that the train doesn't go anywhere near Ballarat is an issue that would affect the viability of any V-Line service from the Wimmera/Mallee to Melbourne.  I believe Wimmera people are actually happy with the current arrangement because the Horsham bus/Ararat train is actually a reasonably fast option, comparable to driving.

Kipioneer and Witsend I think are on the money here - why not use the money for something else and let the train go rather than keep it running two days a week.  How many people on this board have actually used it and/or use it infrequently?  I'm guessing nobody and that's at the core of the issue.
don_dunstan
Twice since GSR bought it.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
Twice since GSR bought it.
kipioneer
I've used it maybe a dozen times in the last 10 years; the last time was in 2010 (as I think I mentioned earlier), just after refurbishment. On that occasion I was loaded down with fragile stuff I'd bought from an auction so I couldn't take the plane - it was a very ordinary experience and since then I've either caught the plane or the V-Line bus via Bendigo.

Getting to Keswick at 7am is a right royal pain.  I know that the Keswick terminal has been done to death in other threads but it's just so far away from everything you have to ask yourself if it was done deliberately to make catching the train less attractive...
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
The Overland's demographic is tourists wanting to see part of the country while travelling in superior comfort to a bus or a plane, and the Overland does that well.  
The Vinelander
Yeah, it does it so well it's slowly going bust, that is if there is still enough air in the Overland's balloon to be able to bust...
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
How many people on this board have actually used it and/or use it infrequently?  I'm guessing nobody and that's at the core of the issue.
don_dunstan
Obviously the number of posters in this forum bears no resemblance to the actual pax who travel on the Overland.

Having said that, last Melbourne Cup long weekend 3 of us and a car travelled to Adelaide on the Saturday morning, before that 5 of us travelled to Horsham for a weekend, bus return about 18 months ago...AND a group of us, at least 6 at this stage are planning to travel to Horsham on it this coming October.

The pleasure of travelling on the Overland contrasts with the bus travel back to Ararat for the return journey. Most of the pax in my groups are full fare pax, but travelling on the much cheaper V/Line fares.

Mike.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
Whilst Railpagers tend to cherry pick the highs such as this or that trip or I remember visiting nans in 1968, GSR has to look at operations overall in 2013.

As for guvmnt funding unfortunately the real world seems to get in the way http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/s3764465.htm
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Some cases of boats being missed here.

Ballarat - Ararat was reawakened from the dead.  Ballarat - Melbourne has been substantially rebuilt as part of the RFR project.  Both gave an opportunity to have DG or SG track laid or - at the least - gauge-convertible sleepers installed.  What we got was a one-for-one replacement of old with new.

If we had the option of converting the Ballarat route to SG then a more attractive service option is opened up.  We don't.  Perhaps because of short-sighted or poorly-informed decision making.  I can't see any justification for rebuilding the line again so soon.

On the other hand there does remain an option for a SG track into Geelong station which might at least offer a better service for that city; North Shore platform is uninviting and hardly a worthy gateway to Victoria's second city for rail users.  

A DMU service could readily run into Geelong and reverse there; the loco-hauled service can't and thanks to the need for the cab-end to lead a second loco would be required rather than a run-round.  Had the BL-class still been used at least they could have run round on a SG loop.

It remains my belief that a viable operation could be made out of the Overland but it will require investment first.  I don't have confidence in GSR as custodians of the service.  I do have a little experience of hopeful passengers arriving at Spencer Street / Southern Cross asking for "The next train to Adelaide" and being incredulous that it was not even the same day and sometimes three days away.  

V/line as operator with some revenue support from SA might be a way to take that forward.

More points against the train being an overnight operation are the very unsocial hour it would then call at intermediate locations and the fact of it conflicting with the morning peak commuter traffic into both Melbourne and Adelaide; even if not on the same gauge there are places where gauges meet or cross.
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

 How many people on this board have actually used it and/or use it infrequently?  I'm guessing nobody and that's at the core of the issue.
don_dunstan
i have a good excuse, yer honner, i live in the UK.  i thank the lord jesus every day for having let this particular cup pass from my lips , let me tell you ...  

i use rail (fast commute cambridge - london) daily. by far the best choice; if you're not using the train on that route, then you're camping out, as PJK would have said.

i am thinking of returning to oz for a trip late this year. i have come to hate planes, and keep putting off trips to the southern hemisphere. eurostar is too convenient.  so you see, a good train can be a life changer...

but having done my time on countrylink and cityrail's interminable long distance trains when i lived in surry hills in the 1990s - hey, i couldn't go to dance parties every weekend, could i ? ... i'm now loath to subject myself, or those near and dear, to the likes of the overland.  

that would be like where someone tries to tell you a minor variation of a joke you heard about fifteen years ago, which wasn't that funny anyway.

unlike the regional pax advocates we get on here, i don't see why anyone should feel guilty about not using a train that i'd only go on if i was tasered and manhandled onto.

also, i don't see any reason i or indeed you, should suffer because dimwitted regional governments in a faraway continent couldn't get their transport right 125 years ago and their successors have found repeating the stupidity to their taste.  

in my world, you don't charge people -even $87- to subject them to the results of your bad habits.  you either get it right, or you phuque orf.
  witsend Chief Commissioner

Location: Front RH Seat of a School Bus
Since 2005,

2 return trips to Melbourne
7 one way trips from Murray Bridge to Adelaide
1 one way trip from Bordertown to Adelaide
1 one way trip from Ararat to Adelaide (V/Lo from Melbourne to Ararat)

All trips Red Premium, not bad for a guy who live in Wallaroo.

I will use it when I can, and where it suits in preference to air or drive. But I don't often get the chance.

Oh, and I've also travelled on the Indian Pacific from Perth to Adelaide in 2007.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
Since 2005,

2 return trips to Melbourne
7 one way trips from Murray Bridge to Adelaide
1 one way trip from Bordertown to Adelaide
1 one way trip from Ararat to Adelaide (V/Lo from Melbourne to Ararat)

All trips Red Premium, not bad for a guy who live in Wallaroo.

I will use it when I can, and where it suits in preference to air or drive. But I don't often get the chance.

Oh, and I've also travelled on the Indian Pacific from Perth to Adelaide in 2007.
witsend

The Overland is the only actual country train left in SA.  As someone who obviously uses public transport in country SA, have you used Stateliner much?

I've got a friend in the Riverland I have visited a few times on extended trips to SA - I think Stateliner is not a bad substitute for the trains that used to criss-cross South Australia (although a bit pricey at more than $100 adult return Renmark-Adelaide).
  witsend Chief Commissioner

Location: Front RH Seat of a School Bus
I used Premier Stateliner for while before the run was sold to YP Coaches. At the time, return trips were $45 dollars from Adelaide to Wallaroo. Given I had no pets at the time, my car was running a $50 fuel bill each return trip. Also the bus dropped me fairly close to where I was living. In one case, dropped at the door.

My last price for a one way trip was in 2010 for $30 one way. The current price is $64 for a full fare return to the Copper Coast.

My last trip with Premiers was from Pt Augusta to Bute in 2011. The fare was $51 one way. These days, I travel with dogs, and I consume about $40 fuel for a round trip to Adelaide on premium unleaded.

I have put friends and family on various public transport, including catching the IP from Gladstone to Adelaide for $53, and Adelaide to Lochiel/Snowtown or Port Pirie for about $30 one way, and Bute to Adelaide for $27 one way.

Again, all fares quoted a full fare.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

The only times I've used the Overland since it became a day-only service (I used it for an overnight return from Melbourne once in 2002 when it went east during the day and west at night) have been in January of 2011 and 2012 - round trip to Ballarat where I volunteer as a marshal at the Australian Road National Championships each year, using Adelaide Metro to Goodwood (Keswick was useless for a cyclist), then cycling to APT for the Overland to Ararat, and finishing the trip on V/Line to Ballarat.

The main reason that this worked out to be the best option is that I was not able to fit my bike in the little hatchback I was driving at the time, the schedule fitted the days I wanted to travel, and the three hour time penalty each way wasn't so bad thanks to a couple of good books and movies on my laptop. It didn't win that battle of convenience in 2013 though, this year I went over with a mate who has a larger car - one thing the train has against it is that it cannot hope to compete on cost against multiple people travelling together.

Another issue that won't be helping the Overland's cause is that the first part of the journey from Melbourne on most Saturdays between now and next January will be on a coach to North Shore. You might as well go for a later coach departure to Ararat and join the train there if you would be starting from Melbourne. On the plus side, it won't affect the total journey time because the train is so slow through western Melbourne while the coach hits the freeway within a couple of kilometres.

The Overland is the only actual country train left in SA.  As someone who obviously uses public transport in country SA, have you used Stateliner much?
don_dunstan
It doesn't even do much of that, serving only two country stations at Murray Bridge (between there and Adelaide is better by bus) and Bordertown, and only if pre-booked so it's not possible to decide to use it on the day.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
..........

It doesn't even do much of that, serving only two country stations at Murray Bridge (between there and Adelaide is better by bus) and Bordertown, and only if pre-booked so it's not possible to decide to use it on the day.
justapassenger

Therein lies a big part of the problem; it's been discussed in the last few pages about how it could be made more relevant to the towns along the route.  If you were going to use it you would have to be available on one of the two days that it actually works and unlike the bus you can't just rock up - it has to be pre-booked.  Really for anyone living in those towns Stateliner, the V-Line Bendigo-Adelaide bus or Firefly would have to be the better option?
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
Some cases of boats being missed here.

Ballarat - Ararat was reawakened from the dead.  Ballarat - Melbourne has been substantially rebuilt as part of the RFR project.  Both gave an opportunity to have DG or SG track laid or - at the least - gauge-convertible sleepers installed.  What we got was a one-for-one replacement of old with new.

If we had the option of converting the Ballarat route to SG then a more attractive service option is opened up.  We don't.  Perhaps because of short-sighted or poorly-informed decision making.  I can't see any justification for rebuilding the line again so soon.

On the other hand there does remain an option for a SG track into Geelong station which might at least offer a better service for that city; North Shore platform is uninviting and hardly a worthy gateway to Victoria's second city for rail users.  

A DMU service could readily run into Geelong and reverse there; the loco-hauled service can't and thanks to the need for the cab-end to lead a second loco would be required rather than a run-round.  Had the BL-class still been used at least they could have run round on a SG loop.

It remains my belief that a viable operation could be made out of the Overland but it will require investment first.  I don't have confidence in GSR as custodians of the service.  I do have a little experience of hopeful passengers arriving at Spencer Street / Southern Cross asking for "The next train to Adelaide" and being incredulous that it was not even the same day and sometimes three days away.  

V/line as operator with some revenue support from SA might be a way to take that forward.

More points against the train being an overnight operation are the very unsocial hour it would then call at intermediate locations and the fact of it conflicting with the morning peak commuter traffic into both Melbourne and Adelaide; even if not on the same gauge there are places where gauges meet or cross.
Gwiwer


Assuming a SG line is built into the Geelong platform why would you need a DMU or even run around the train?   ViaRail back the Canadian into the Edmonton station which is at the apex of a wye, in both directions across Canada; AMTRAK back the Lake Shore Ltd into Chicago Union station (presumably to turn the train and certainly to ease release of the locomotive).

Your proposals all require a considerable capital expenditure, and this comes at the cost of the money involved, and in depreciation of the assets, not forgetting the direct running costs and indirect costs such as administration salaries, office rental, and so on.

This means that getting to the situation where there is a decent service is expensive, as is running that service, and all this for what might fail.

It reminds me of the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Outer Harbor: it was argued over for years then built just as the ships as transport business collapsed, the result being it sits underutilised behind razor wire, having never served one of the passenger ships it was built to service.   It does see use several times a year servicing cruise ships but for the other 350 days is unused.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

Is there really a need to give Geelong a 'better' service by reversing the Overland into Geelong station at the expense of delaying all the other passengers?

Standard gauge trains are a losing option for travel between there and Melbourne thanks to the slow route taken round and round the freight yards of western Melbourne, and the V/Line coach services towards Ballarat provide better connections to central-western Victoria.

Further to that Geelong is becoming an outer suburb of Melbourne, and the impending closure of the Ford plant (and all the associated component manufacturers) is only going to accelerate its demise as an independent town. Any spending on rail there would have to be focused on making it closer to Melbourne, not faffing around with theoretical links towards Adelaide that people will want even less than they would want a new Falcon or Territory.

The more I read, the more I'm convinced that any future of the Overland does not lie with GSR (doesn't fit their model) and does not lie with through trains running via the standard gauge freight route (not fit for purpose). For it to be done well would require proper funding from both states to set up a proper public transport service, but it's not going to be a vote-winner so without that there could still be a better result gained by the Overland (whether run by GSR or V/Line) terminating/starting at Ararat with a properly timed connection onto a VLocity for the remainder of the journey.



Therein lies a big part of the problem; it's been discussed in the last few pages about how it could be made more relevant to the towns along the route.  If you were going to use it you would have to be available on one of the two days that it actually works and unlike the bus you can't just rock up - it has to be pre-booked.  Really for anyone living in those towns Stateliner, the V-Line Bendigo-Adelaide bus or Firefly would have to be the better option?
don_dunstan
Don't forget the LinkSA services to Mount Barker for the largest of the SA towns on the rail corridor - Murray Bridge. The main reason that buses are better for those towns is the circuitous route that the train takes through the Adelaide Hills, so long as the trains use that alignment they will never be a competitive option for travel between Adelaide and Murray Bridge. For the less-than-handful of passengers who might use it from any town between there and Bordertown, buses are more fit for purpose than any rail service could hope for.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
I brought up the idea of backing into a station because it is done overseas, and as a "low cost" option saving on a run-around, rather than seriously proposing it.    Geelong North Shore could be immediately improved by building a shelter over the platform and a waiting room - there seems to be plenty of room, but I am open to correction.

I agree targeting Geelong to Melbourne is a waste of effort since the existing commuter service serves that purpose very well; Geelong can only serve stations further west.

If towns in western Victoria and south eastern South Australia had much larger populations - of the order of 10 times larger - then there might, just might, be a market to develop there.

VLine has the luxury of the large cities of Ballarat, Bendigo, and Geelong to serve.

Spending any significant amount of money developing the service could simply be a waste of money for, probably, a negative return.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
....

The more I read, the more I'm convinced that any future of the Overland does not lie with GSR (doesn't fit their model) and does not lie with through trains running via the standard gauge freight route (not fit for purpose). For it to be done well would require proper funding from both states to set up a proper public transport service, but it's not going to be a vote-winner so without that there could still be a better result gained by the Overland (whether run by GSR or V/Line) terminating/starting at Ararat with a properly timed connection onto a VLocity for the remainder of the journey.
justapassenger

Congrats! One of the smartest ideas I've ever read on this forum because it would cost nearly nothing to implement and they could always give it a 12-month trial and see if it works/attracts passengers.  You'd have to do it as a daily service to give it a proper trial though and I also think V-Line should run the service as it makes more sense trying to co-ordinate it all.

The only thing I would suggest would be a much longer canopy along Ararat station so that people don't get wet when they're changing trains but otherwise I feel you have a great idea there.  There's nothing wrong with Ararat being a 'break of gauge' transfer for as long as is necessary, if it proves popular with the public and develops the numbers then why not.

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