I'm inclined to think that the intercapital services that PClark
envisions would need to be combined expresses to be viable, rather than outright intercapital limited expresses, at least by the late eighties. I'm not at all sure about the idea of having separate day and night trains; surely one of the benefits of using the XPT concept is that you can run sets back and forth; ironing out some minor niggles here and there can allow reasonably efficient running - I demonstrated this in another armchair thread, which saw the double-daily Melbourne service only need two sets, rather than four; the triple-daily North Coast only needed three.
While cost is certainly an issue, we're doing this particular section as an exercise in romantic historical armchair operation (RHAO). I'm inclined to think this exercise is more about not bleeding passengers to air, rather than winning them back
. It's 1980, not even 1990. This is important.
I agree the implementation of the XPT "sleepers" was a half-baked exercise in committee camel design, but I dispute the notion that the concept of a premium day/night-er cabin is unworkable. One need only look to premium cabins on the world's leading airlines for a bit of inspiration about twenty years after it was actually required. Nevertheless, this is for now an exercise in historical
armchair, so we'll borrow something like the Singapore Airlines Suites class for a base seat/bed thing to shove into my hypothetical XAN sleeper.
Yes. I've decided that we're actually better off with an AN type sleeper - for those who don't know your ANs and AMs, it's the roomette-type sleeper - because for starters you don't stare at a wall, which is always a plus. I came up with a concept sleeper some time back, which basically involves ripping off the roomette concept, ripping off the idea of shoving a top bunk on top of it (where else would it go?) and then deciding that it'd be a lot fancier with some nice service wrapped in a baju kebaya
. Okay, maybe we'll skip the kebayas.
So basically, the idea goes like this. You have a suite, er, "box" in the form of a British trapezium with a right-angled side. Like basically any other roomette in Australia, really. You have a seat at each end, though, and at the wider end you have the random accessories like the wardrobe. At night, the two seats fold down to form the lower bunk, and the top bunk magically folds down from the wall. This surely can't be a new invention.
I did some calculations. I figured out that you could probably shove twenty suites into one car - less if you wanted toilets and showers in the same car. So I decided to go with eighteen. The trick here is that each suite has two bunks, so you could pack in thirty-six sleeping passengers! (For the record, this has to go with the long-running suggestion to sell suites as suites and not individual bunks, so nobody shares. It's really no different to booking a twin/double for one at a hotel.)
I'm inclined to think this a much more efficient arrangement. By day, you have two very comfortable facing armchairs, which can recline and whatnot. By night, you have up to two reasonably comfortable bunks. It's a suite which is sold as a unit, so nobody has to be forced to share. Showers and bathrooms at one end, and possibly a lounge area at the other.
That's the First product for long-haul; obviously day trains would use the obvious 2+1 seating product. Economy, or 'Standard', can be bog-standard 2+2. It should recline, but maybe not rotate. Not by the nineties. Catering should be centralised unless we upgrade to a three-class layout; assuming we're sticking to a two-class layout for now, we'll put the galley/buffet between the two classes.
Power - First Shower - First Lounge - Economy Buffet - Economy - Economy- Economy - Economy Hold - Power
Power - First Day - First Buffet - Economy - Economy - Economy Hold - Power
Now, if we import the day premium product and shove it into the day/night trains, things get interesting...