Call for Albury-Melbourne rail line to get VLocity trains

 

News article: Call for Albury-Melbourne rail line to get VLocity trains

[size=3][font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][b]The Victorian Government is being urged to upgrade trains on the Albury to Melbourne rail line.

  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I would like to understand more about why this is the case? A national passenger service between state capitals for example Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
bevans

Because it costs more per passenger to run a train than it does a plane.  And the plane goes much, much faster.

There is no reasonable argument to generally subsidise inter-capital passenger transport, whether by train, car, plane or boat.  None. What. So. Ever.

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  woodford Chief Commissioner

If Vlocities are indeed designed for short haul services, then why is it that the transmissions in them are on their way out already. They're designed to run at 160km/h for long distances, not stop/start S.A.S. services. Which is why I'm told drivers are reluctant to stop V/Locities for a running pax after moving off, compared to loco/Sprinters
g00r


What do you mean "on there way out", both the VLocity's and the Sprinters use Voith transmissions, The Sprinter uses a T211, the VLocity a T312. The difference between them is the later is larger will take higher power (800 as compared to 500 BHP) and has 3 speeds , the T211 having 2 speeds. Both have been used for many years with little problem. Note also the maximum speed for the T312 is 200 kph, the Vlocity's are electronically limiited to 160kph.
The gear speeds as used in Victoria for the transmissions are T211, 85 and 130 kph, T312, 85, 130 and 200kph.

woodford
  ab123 Chief Train Controller

Which is why I'm told drivers are reluctant to stop V/Locities for a running pax after moving off, compared to loco/Sprinters
g00r


Don't know who told you this. If anything it would have more to do with the slow process of stopping, releasing the doors, waiting for the doors to close and then waiting for the engines revs to get going again.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Because it costs more per passenger to run a train than it does a plane. And the plane goes much, much faster.

There is no reasonable argument to generally subsidise inter-capital passenger transport, whether by train, car, plane or boat. None. What. So. Ever.
donttellmywife


Are you sure all airlines pay there way?

With airport costs and air servcies costs, aircraft costs and other costs are you sure this is really the case?  Sounds plausible but I would really like to understand more about the cost base for rail passenger services.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
why not consider tilt train style services? at least the member is making noises about improving the service.
JimYarin

Why Question

Tilt trains are useful on winding tracks so they can increase point to point times. The NE is a very straight track except for a few curves around Heathcote Jn where the track traverses the Great Dividing range.

The new Independent MP for Indi was largely elected on improving the rail service on the NE, however the rail service, notwithstanding the track 'repairs' by ARTC is a state matter.

Mike.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Are you sure all airlines pay there way?

With airport costs and air servcies costs, aircraft costs and other costs are you sure this is really the case? Sounds plausible but I would really like to understand more about the cost base for rail passenger services.
bevans

To a very good approximation - yes - commercial passenger and freight airlines in this country pay 100% of their way in terms of financial costs.  This includes the "direct costs" of operating the flight (buying and maintaining the plane, paying the pilots and ground staff, buying the fuel), costs associated with air traffic control and costs associated with building and maintaining the airports.  At times, and depending on the company involved, companies even have enough money left over to give airline shareholders a return for their trouble.

Exceptions exist in some states (notably Queensland, maybe others) where some subsidy is provided for remote area services.

Also, some smaller airports might be run at a loss because there's insufficient traffic, but the local government or whatever that owns the airport keeps it running as a community service.  But most airports with a regular passenger jet service are probably doing ok.

A thumbsuck comparison number for inter-urban and regional "transport" passenger rail (excluding hotel on wheels type trains such as the Ghan and Indian Pacific) is that they cover about 25% of their cost.  It varies, but as a guide, take your typical rail fare and multiply it by three to four to see what you really should be paying.
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
You'll probably find that airlines tend to subsidise themselves across their route network which is something that railways can't really do. As an example, figures quoted some time ago explained why Qantas was so keen to keep Singapore Airlines out of the Aust / USA market which at the time was only flown by Qantas and United. At the time Qantas operated something like 3000 flights per week of which only 30 were between Aust and USA. But 80% of their profit came from those 30 flights.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
To some extent - but the logic will be that while a particular route might not make [much] money, it will have a "network" effect (allows aircraft positioning, passengers transfer through to other routes that do make money, having an extensive network appeals to higher yielding business customers, etc).  Routes and flights that don't pay their way ultimately get dropped.  Plenty of examples of that.

One of the big differences between aviation and Australian passenger rail is that it is much easier to chop and change your route structure in order to manage demand.  In the short to medium term - if you aren't getting enough money in air fares from a particular flight, then you can pretty easily pull the aircraft off that flight and send it somewhere else that might make more money or substitute a smaller aircraft that might cost less to run.  In the longer term - it is easy enough to buy/sell or lease/"unlease" aircraft to keep your fleet appropriate - bar a lick of paint and an interior refit its pretty easy to move even regional aircraft from one side of the planet to the other in a week or so.

Much harder to achieve the same sort of flexibility with a rail fleet, particularly if your forebears couldn't agree to use the same gap between the rails.

Want to add a brand new, never-been-flown-to-before  destination?  Build an airport - maybe a million bucks for a small airport able to take regional planes and then you can fly there from anywhere else that has an airport in aircraft range.  A million bucks buys you maybe a kilometre of railway line, if you are lucky, and it goes from where you start it to where it finishes.

Aviation operators also have a lot more flexibility in their ability to set fares.  First flight of the day is always pretty full?  Charge a motza.  Overnight maintenance positioning flight has lots of empty seats?  Time for the $50 special.  

And most importantly of all - no-one expects a plane trip to be cheap, but for historical reasons they pretty much expect train travel to be all but free.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line


There are of course majorissues around grade separation of crossings, enhanced safety management systems for higher speed trains once you start to rise above 160km/hr and especially beyond 200km/hr.   So for the Albury Line whatwe have emerging is ARTC’s Advanced Train Management System under test that would provide the added safety element and control in a way that TPWS in Victoria and ATP in WA and Queensland do.

Level crossings areprobably the most immediate concerning issue but in Victoria on the RFR corridors there has not been a major collision involving a passenger train operating at 160km/hr at a fully protected crossing.   Does this suggest similar to the work beingdone in the mid west of the USA that in a conventional rail environment with the back up of ATMS and fully equipped level crossings you could consider a speed of 176km/hr (110 MPH) which Amtrak has developed.  Clearly 176km/hr operation wouldn’t beuniversal throughout the corridor but there are significant sections of the corridor suited to speeds well above current limits even if not at the 176km/hr limit.

There is also theconsideration of providing differential speed boards on curves as is done in NSW for XPT and Explorers to enable some curves to be negotiated at a higher speed.

So given the life of around30 years for any new rollingstock what would be the ultimate service running time target be for a vastly improved service intended to significantly grow patronage.  Current journey time forexisting V/Line services varies but is around 3 hrs 50 min to 4 hrs 20 with a maximum permitted speed of 115km/hr.
Putting aside current punctuality issues caused by track work and thenon-commissioning of Passing Lane 1 (soon to be commissioned), even a slightly improved and more reliable running time is not competitive to road and would not grow patronage.


If you set a target basedon 2 hrs 30 minutes for a limited express service it would need to average 122 km/hr including stops but having the ability to operate at up to 176km/hr.   (Limited express would call at Broadmeadows,Seymour, Benalla, Wangarratta and Wodonga.
For an all stops service similar to today’s operation approximately 20minutes would need to be added to include Avenel, Euroa, Violet Town and Chiltern.   (Springhurst abolished).


Both the limited stop andall stops service at 2 hr 30 and 2hr 50 would be roundly 48 to 28 minutes faster than road (3hrs 18 mins).

Service frequency.  6 services each way per day with 3 in eachdirection being limited stop and 3 being all stop would enable services to be customized to meet key arrival and departure times to stimulate business/commuter travel, special purpose travel and the broad leisure/visiting family and friends markets.   We know already that peopleare commuting to Albury from north of Benalla daily and in 2012 a survey indicated roundly 200 people per day commute from Benalla to Melbourne.   Therefore as an example having a 6.00am downfrom Melbourne arriving Albury at 0830 and a similar service arriving Melbourne at 0830 would be highly attractive.  6trips per day provides a spread across the day for people only wanting to be at destinations for a few hours rather than whole days is also possible.

Infrastructure

Terminals

With the opening ofSouthern Cross Platforms 15 and 16 availability of platforms 1 and 2 increases throughout the day enabling more flexibility.
Even in the peak period it is highly likely that there would be anymorethan 2 north east standard gauge trains running into or out of Southern Cross as there is now.


Capacity

The single greatest issueis the capacity of the single track from Tottenham to Seymour.  Because of the non-commissioning of passinglane 1 it has been difficult to ascertain how much better the current performance would be if this were in place.  
V/Line journey times were extended by around 20 minutes to enablecrossings further north because of the non availability of Passing Lane 1.


Overall the corridor isway underutilized except for early morning freight arrivals into Melbourne and a similar fleeting of freight services northbound in the evening.   It is unlikely though that the additional servicesproposed would crowd those two windows further.

ARTC had originallyforecast duplication of the Seymour to Tottenham section for around 2013-2016 but current freight volumes do not justify it now.   Even so it is fair to say that duplicationor extension of current passing lanes or linking passing lanes together to make longer sections of double track is an inevitability and well within the life span of new equipment that would be introduced.
Accordingly service growth in terms of trip numbers maybe dependent on thetiming of capacity improvements south of Seymour.


Even so the cost ofextending loops into passing lanes as was done by ARTC is not cost prohibitive.  For example extending thepassing lane at Donnybrook all the way to the Wallan Loop is straightforward as is extending the soon to be commissioned Passing Lane 1 to have double track from effectively Jacana to the Albion Curve is not a large exercise and delivers benefits for freight probably higher than benefit for passenger trains.

Using ARTC’s ATMS systemto enable true bi directional running on the double track north of Seymour rather than restricted Bi-di running at present is also an option, as is another two or so intermediate crossovers one south of Benalla and the other north of Wangarratta to enhance flexibility.
These are not mega million dollar enhancements.


In that sense the onlyreal infrastructure specifically needed for the new passenger service at the higher standard which is essential are more level crossing upgrades.

In the more immediateterm say within 5 years a new InterCity service without changing any parameters could at least achieve the same running time as the present XPT of 3 hours 22 minutes which is marginally slower than road but almost 1 hour faster than the current V/Line services.

I am quite sure there willbe holes in this lengthy post but at least it may stimulate healthy debate.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Oops lost half the post above. Will resubmit later. Sorry
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Terrific post very informative. Lots of really good ideas.

What is passing lane 1?
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Terrific post very informative. Lots of really good ideas.

What is passing lane 1?
freightgate

Its a 7 kilometer long loop on the Albion freight line starting just past Albion station. It has not been commisioned due to lack o funds. ARTC stated it would be in service late febuary.

woodford
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Sorry about yesterday's posting.  Hard working from an Ipad in a hotel;

Here is the fuull post.  It is long;

Whilst I know there hasbeen and always will be endless debate about the cost of operating regional passenger services relative to their benefits, the reality is that Victoria despite changes in successive Governments and through periods of severe austerity has to its credit retained its regional passenger train services and continues to invest in them.


From the research andreading I have done a regional passenger train service relative to other modes starts to deliver positive economic benefits when carrying 100 passengers or more which means in the case of the Albury Line even based on today’s very patchy on-time performance there is sufficient existing passenger traffic and population catchment to justify a regional passenger rail operation.   I recall patronage on Albury services beingaround 300,000 passengers per annum.
This will have been impacted by current performance issues but isnonetheless a very significant base.


If you cast an arc ofroughly 50km either side of the corridor which is equivalent to a 30 minute drive, there is a substantial passenger catchment in addition to the larger on-line centres of Seymour, Benalla, Wangarratta, Albury/Wodonga plus a range of other townships on the line such as Avenel, Euroa, Violet Town and Chiltern.

Whilst the issues aboutthe current track condition have been well amplified, the situation is that the track will improve and the opportunity to develop a much more attractive regional passenger service will be there and should be taken advantage of.

The North East Corridor iscomparatively speaking very well placed to develop a higher standard service.   The alignment overall is morethan highly competitive with road even taking account of the terrain with its curvature between Wallan and Tallarook and the route via Sunshine, noting that the road route from Melbourne to Donnybrook via the Tullamarine Freeway and then onto the Western Ring Road and then onto the Craigieburn By Pass is not exactly arrow straight from Melbourne.

The N sets are over 30years old so even allowing for say another 5 years or longer life in service someone has to be seriously thinking NOW about what that rail service should be and what type of equipment should be considered.

Whilst to the averageperson or politician in the street V’Locity train sets are the flavor of the month, that’s only because they represent in Victoria the only modern style of train that people are familiar with.

The vehicle “platform” ofa higher speed diesel multiple unit that the V’Locity is based on has been around for decades starting off with the Australind DMU’s in WA in 1987 and extending to NSW Explorer’s, Endeavours and of course the V’Locity train sets in use on corridor services that are well known.

This platform of Cumminsengine, Voith transmission has been used on Voyager and Super Voyager trains in the UK and is certainly good for 200km/hr.
As has been said the current V’Locities are speed limited so we actuallyhave a train “platform” already available in Victoria.


So if you accept that youcan take that proven “platform” and develop a train set for the Albury Line that is internally configured for longer distance trips in InterCity service with reclining seating, luggage storage, small refreshment facility, disabled access, wifi and even a Business Class section (not full of freeloaders on free passes) we can develop a train with largely no high developmental costs in engineering and design compared to the likes of Tilt trains or the current Prospector in WA.

The station infrastructureon the corridor is already configured for a 7 vehicle train set (loco and 6 cars) so developing a future 6 car InterCity set with 4 economy cars of 70 seats, a snack car/special needs car of 40 seats and a Business Class car of around 40 seats (sold at more commercial fare rates), gives you a train consist of 360 seats.

Unlike the current V’Locitysets used in frequent stop/start service all cars for this service would not need to be powered.  (V/Line tested a 4car V’Locity set with one car cut out to measure the impact on performance and the impact was virtually negligible).  
Accordingly on a 6 car set for InterCity operation the concept of 4powered cars and two non-powered cars is a potential option providing good power to weight ratio, built in redundancy for reliability but optimizing fuel and maintenance costs.  (The capacity canbe increased further by adding a 5
th powered 70 seat intermediatecar).


Of course there are othertrain configurations to be explored but I’m focusing on current available technology that is proven and has wide application.

Turning to infrastructurerequirements with the exception of the former Broad Gauge track (West Track) between Seymour and Wodonga which has concrete sleepers and 47kg/m rail the route is equipped with 60kg/m rail and concrete sleepers.   Advice from ARTC is that at some point thewest track will be relaid with 60kg/m rail as well.

The speed for passengertrains operating on similar standard track in Australia is 160km/hr.   In NSW prior to the concrete reseleepering theXPT was authorized for 160km/hr on timber sleepered track with 50/53 kg/m rail, between Albury and Junee.  Putting asidelevel crossing protection and other issues for a moment, there are numerous examples of passenger trains utilizing conventional type equipment running to 200km/hr and higher on a similar track standard. (Obviously it has to be maintained to a higher standard).

There are of course majorissues around grade separation of crossings, enhanced safety management systems for higher speed trains once you start to rise above 160km/hr and especially beyond 200km/hr.   So for the Albury Line whatwe have emerging is ARTC’s Advanced Train Management System under test that would provide the added safety element and control in a way that TPWS in Victoria and ATP in WA and Queensland do.

Level crossings areprobably the most immediate concerning issue but in Victoria on the RFR corridors there has not been a major collision involving a passenger train operating at 160km/hr at a fully protected crossing.   Does this suggest similar to the work beingdone in the mid west of the USA that in a conventional rail environment with the back up of ATMS and fully equipped level crossings you could consider a speed of 176km/hr (110 MPH) which Amtrak has developed.  Clearly 176km/hr operation wouldn’t beuniversal throughout the corridor but there are significant sections of the corridor suited to speeds well above current limits even if not at the 176km/hr limit.

There is also theconsideration of providing differential speed boards on curves as is done in NSW for XPT and Explorers to enable some curves to be negotiated at a higher speed.

So given the life of around30 years for any new rollingstock what would be the ultimate service running time target be for a vastly improved service intended to significantly grow patronage.  Current journey time forexisting V/Line services varies but is around 3 hrs 50 min to 4 hrs 20 with a maximum permitted speed of 115km/hr.
Putting aside current punctuality issues caused by track work and thenon-commissioning of Passing Lane 1 (soon to be commissioned), even a slightly improved and more reliable running time is not competitive to road and would not grow patronage.


If you set a target basedon 2 hrs 30 minutes for a limited express service it would need to average 122 km/hr including stops but having the ability to operate at up to 176km/hr.   (Limited express would call at Broadmeadows,Seymour, Benalla, Wangarratta and Wodonga.
For an all stops service similar to today’s operation approximately 20minutes would need to be added to include Avenel, Euroa, Violet Town and Chiltern.   (Springhurst abolished).


Both the limited stop andall stops service at 2 hr 30 and 2hr 50 would be roundly 48 to 28 minutes faster than road (3hrs 18 mins).

Service frequency.  6 services each way per day with 3 in eachdirection being limited stop and 3 being all stop would enable services to be customized to meet key arrival and departure times to stimulate business/commuter travel, special purpose travel and the broad leisure/visiting family and friends markets.   We know already that peopleare commuting to Albury from north of Benalla daily and in 2012 a survey indicated roundly 200 people per day commute from Benalla to Melbourne.   Therefore as an example having a 6.00am downfrom Melbourne arriving Albury at 0830 and a similar service arriving Melbourne at 0830 would be highly attractive.  6trips per day provides a spread across the day for people only wanting to be at destinations for a few hours rather than whole days is also possible.



Infrastructure

Terminals

With the opening ofSouthern Cross Platforms 15 and 16 availability of platforms 1 and 2 increases throughout the day enabling more flexibility.
Even in the peak period it is highly likely that there would be anymorethan 2 north east standard gauge trains running into or out of Southern Cross as there is now.




Capacity

The single greatest issueis the capacity of the single track from Tottenham to Seymour.  Because of the non-commissioning of passinglane 1 it has been difficult to ascertain how much better the current performance would be if this were in place.  
V/Line journey times were extended by around 20 minutes to enablecrossings further north because of the non availability of Passing Lane 1.




Overall the corridor isway underutilized except for early morning freight arrivals into Melbourne and a similar fleeting of freight services northbound in the evening.   It is unlikely though that the additional servicesproposed would crowd those two windows further.



ARTC had originallyforecast duplication of the Seymour to Tottenham section for around 2013-2016 but current freight volumes do not justify it now.   Even so it is fair to say that duplicationor extension of current passing lanes or linking passing lanes together to make longer sections of double track is an inevitability and well within the life span of new equipment that would be introduced.
Accordingly service growth in terms of trip numbers maybe dependent on thetiming of capacity improvements south of Seymour.




Even so the cost ofextending loops into passing lanes as was done by ARTC is not cost prohibitive.  For example extending thepassing lane at Donnybrook all the way to the Wallan Loop is straightforward as is extending the soon to be commissioned Passing Lane 1 to have double track from effectively Jacana to the Albion Curve is not a large exercise and delivers benefits for freight probably higher than benefit for passenger trains.



Using ARTC’s ATMS systemto enable true bi directional running on the double track north of Seymour rather than restricted Bi-di running at present is also an option, as is another two or so intermediate crossovers one south of Benalla and the other north of Wangarratta to enhance flexibility.
These are not mega million dollar enhancements.




In that sense the onlyreal infrastructure specifically needed for the new passenger service at the higher standard which is essential are more level crossing upgrades.



In the more immediateterm say within 5 years a new InterCity service without changing any parameters could at least achieve the same running time as the present XPT of 3 hours 22 minutes which is marginally slower than road but almost 1 hour faster than the current V/Line services.



I am quite sure there willbe holes in this lengthy post but at least it may stimulate healthy debate.

  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
You'll probably find that airlines tend to subsidise themselves across their route network which is something that railways can't really do. As an example, figures quoted some time ago explained why Qantas was so keen to keep Singapore Airlines out of the Aust / USA market which at the time was only flown by Qantas and United. At the time Qantas operated something like 3000 flights per week of which only 30 were between Aust and USA. But 80% of their profit came from those 30 flights.
Ballast_Plough

The way Qantas's balance sheet has been in recent years, they cannot sustain loss making services for long and we have seen Qantas's international network be culled back in recent years as a result. The European routes are shadow of what they once was.

Qantas and Virgin certainly have a few cash cows and I dare say its much higher than 30 flights as Syd-Mel route is one of those. Many of the regional flights are simply something to do with the plane and staff until PM peak, but they wouldn't be doing it unless there was money in it or for internal strategic reasons.

I would say much of the domestic network by jets is profitable or at least cash flow positive. Outside the hotel on wheels trains, how many pax rail services can claim the same? North Shore line in sydney at Peak maybe? Urban rail is funded as a cost off-set by the taxpayer. ie its better to spend $1B a year funding Cityrail than spend billions more on roads, medical services and other means of transport for the great unwashed, disabled, OAP, bus services and lower incomes. Of course the argument is always how much off-set to you fund and where is teh break even point?

regards
Shane
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Trainplanner. I love your thoughtful and intelligent submission, but just one minor quibble... please, no reclining seats... ever! Shocked

I appreciate there is more leg room on a train than in cattle class on an aeroplane, but everyone is familiar with the annoying children, geriatrics, ditzy teenage girls, who recline their seat the second the 'fasten seat belts' light goes off and keep their seat reclined as far as it will go for the remainder of the trip. Because this demographic has a much higher representation on trains than planes, any ability to recline seats will negate the advantage of extra leg room on a train.

*** RANT ENDS ***
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
From the research andreading I have done a regional passenger train service relative to other modes starts to deliver positive economic benefits when carrying 100 passengers or more...
Trainplanner

Got some links?
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Gee, It'll take me sometime but I'll try.  Thanks
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Bogong, I appreciate what you say so lets limit it to business Class then.  Thanks
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Got some links?
donttellmywife

Start with the fuel economy of a DMU, something like 1L/km/car has been quoted in past. so a 2 car unit, 100km is 200L. A typical 5 seat 2L class sedan (ie Petrol Camry) will do 100km using about 9L. So 9/5 people is 1.8L/ person. 200/1.8L = almost 100 people.

I used to watch the traffic on the dual track from Gladstone to Rocky, 1.5km coal trains waddling along at 80km/hr. 600m freighters at 100km/hr, ICE at 120km/hr, some services on time, some not. Coalies typically were in tidal mode due to single track heading west. The QR controllers had trains jumping back and forwards from one track to another to keep things moving nicely and rarely bought a train to a stop. The dual NE line opens up lots of options to have a faster service to the NE using what ever is available assuming the infrastructure is up to the task.

I suppose the big question is, assuming the NE line was up to scratch and allowing the N class to wander along at 115km/hr or what ever the speed board says. How much time would be saved if it was a Velocity?
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Hi RTT, I'm suggesting roughly a time saving of 28 to 48 minutes depending on stopping pattern compared to an N clas on todays current schedule.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

... its better to spend $1B a year funding Cityrail ...
RTT_Rules

Try $ 3 bil
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I would like to understand more about why this is the case?
bevans

I and some of the posters in this thread have written extensively about this in various NSW threads discussing more a NSW context.  But here is a little chart of the operational costs of various transport formats on a per seat basis:


If you accept - as I certainly do - that the government has an obligation to ensure the availability of some sort of public transport service is available to everybody, then in my view a strong economic case can be made that rail should be part of that mix.

The Albury V-Line form factor isn't here - but as a *very* rough guess N those trains probably cost ~$1000/hr to operate and have a capacity of 250 or so, so at 80kph is ~5c/km.

The V'Locity concept is one of Australia's most cost effective PT systems, and it is superior to CountryLink's equivalent because it has more seats per floor space (buffets and checked luggage space are killers) and is faster.

I don't really know if this is the case, but I'd suggest the main reason V-Line don't operate the NE SG lines with V'Locities is there is no SG access to the V'Locity maintenance/servicing facility, and the route just isn't big enough to justify a separate facility, the higher "foreign" maintenance costs or a dual gauge access.  Plus perway and traffic considerations mean the V'Locities would probably not retain their FRR speed advantage on the SG anyway.

The reason I mention the cross border agency is that in terms of delivering PT to southern NSW, then an SG V'Locity style service as far north as Wagga would provide not only a superior quality of service, it would be cheaper for gvt to provide than the current offering and (perhaps more importantly) cheaper to provide than the replacing the current offering with busses.

The Sydney to Canberra route has quite a lot of similarities with Albury to Melbourne (and some striking differences too it must be said), and the sorts of investment along the lines trainplanner is suggesting for the Albury-Melbourne would have similar benefits on this route.  Plus, there are clear advantages is having a larger common fleet pool of more appropriate vehicles.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The V'Locity concept is one of Australia's most cost effective PT systems, and it is superior to CountryLink's equivalent because it has more seats per floor space (buffets and checked luggage space are killers) and is faster.
...
djf01

Note that the average speed assumption here has very little to do with the operating platform, and pretty much everything to do with the track and its alignment (consequence of topography and capital spend).  After all, bar internal fitout, a small boost to traction power and the evolution of components, there's not that much different between a V'Locity and an Xplorer.  Perhaps your average speed might be a few k's less.

(Or, to illustrate the more extreme case, a TGV duplex's average speed between Melbourne and Albury would be zero, on account of the lack of overhead outside the suburban area, giving it infinite cost per passenger.  No wonder Europe has gone broke.)

And there's very little difference between an Xplorer and an Endeavour.  But an Endeavour style "platform" seats even more people, even without the benefit of the cab-less middle car.  The 3x2 seating is used in other V/Line services, and in NSW the terminus for Endeavours services is as far from Sydney (but not in a continuous sense) as Albury is from Melbourne.  So why aren't they in your table - they'd win hands down?  

Can I rip out the vestibules, luggage racks and toilets?  Actually, one of the sets that NSW trains uses for its runs out to a terminus that is a similar distance from Sydney as Albury is from Melbourne allows for a reasonable amount of standees when considering line capacity in peak times (that same platform has very similar power to weight as the velo's, so its pretty sprightly too).  Can I rip out the seats?

If you accept - as I certainly do - that the government has an obligation to ensure the availability of some sort of public transport service is available to everybody, then in my view a strong economic case can be made that rail should be part of that mix.


But what do you mean by "available"?  If no trains and no buses ran to Albury, it would still have public transport.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Note that the average speed assumption here has very little to do with the operating platform, and pretty much everything to do with the track and its alignment (consequence of topography and capital spend). After all, bar internal fitout, a small boost to traction power and the evolution of components, there's not that much different between a V'Locity and an Xplorer. Perhaps your average speed might be a few k's less.
donttellmywife

Absolutely.  But it's also on-board services and staffing ratios too.


But what do you mean by "available"? If no trains and no buses ran to Albury, it would still have public transport.
donttellmywife


The phrase I used was "available to everybody", which was intended to encompass the need for it to be "reasonably" priced, as well as reasonable short notice seat availability too.   Now we debate my use of the word "reasonable" Smile.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The phrase I used was "available to everybody", which was intended to encompass the need for it to be "reasonably" priced, as well as reasonable short notice seat availability too. Now we debate my use of the word "reasonable" Smile.
djf01

Ok - sure.  Along with service level, that's ultimately a matter for society to decide.  I suspect that my view of "reasonable" might involve the intending passenger handing over quite a few more dollars than you.  Personally I'd put more importance on programs with more direct social benefit than cheap transport.

But one thing on that... its all very well for the residents along the line or in the areas that benefit to decide that they collectively want allocate some of their resources to providing subsidised transport because they think it worthwhile, it is a very different thing for them to decide that someone else should pay.  Many of the recent proposals that have been in the news items on here in the last few weeks (months?  years?  decades?) have a very strong smell of the latter.

It would be nice if that table could be developed further (include capital considerations) and re-jigged for more specific circumstances.    I might have a crack at that later this year.

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