XPT Replacement Discussion

 
  a6et Minister for Railways

A single loco hauled consist + powercar will not happen and id hate to see what would happen if it did. I can't seeing the government buying some massive loco and seperate stainless passenger cars.

The advantage with push pull and dmu is you have backup traction and hotel supply's. If one engine packs it in you have a spare (as internal combustion engines are prone to do in any application.

I favour push and pull diesel-electric over dmu diesel-hydraulic as there is less noise and vibration, less components to break (blow a hydro line and it's no go and a good sized mess for someone to clean up). Electric traction motors are protected by circuit breakers, and nearly unbreakable. It's quieter over long distances which is the main point, just the odd bogie squeak, from inferior track conditions.

Remember also the XPT was designed with the unions hanging over the builders shoulder. (remember the 5 notch power controller over the 8 to prevent them hauling freight) and much to my disgust they will be hanging around the next time as well.
Westby3026

Where did you get the rubbish from re problems with the union over not 8 vses 5 notche power controller?  That is the first time I have every heard of that one, & having been an XPT driver & divisional councilor/branch secretary of the AFULE, the only aspects that were on going regarding the XPT which at the time the enginemen were flat out finding room in the cab owing to the polititions & other hanger onners being in there, in many cases they wanted the fireman out & to sit in the carriage during tests on them.

The 5 notch throttle was a standard type that incorporated dead man as did the brake valve a standard item I believe on the HST in England, & was part & parcel of the power cars, no debate was had over that.  Its the same as found on EMU trains, DEB sets & other DMU's that had combinations of between 3 & 5 notches to apply power to them.

Just because you favour push pull or some other set up does not make you the expert in this debate nor do you have the money buy any replacements, Thankfully as goodness knows what you would inflict the driver with in the cab.

It took years to get decent seats in deisels with those in power including one employee representative on the old PTC & SRA board who had the desire to remove back rests from the seats to stop the crew from dozing off, if they did they would fall to the floor, wonderful employee rep he was.

As for the overall staffing of the XPT, they were a straight replacement for the then loco hauled airconditioned trains with full buffet service including cooked meals & take away items, thus the full staff as per the old trains were applied. There was in those planning days no issue what so ever with having reduced manning on them, as they were Wrans Election toy, or Expensive Plastic/Political Train/Toy.

Once they got in & the single driver issue came up, the decision that was handed down by the Federal Industrial commission was that the XPT was based on, & affectivel was the same train as the British HSTtherefore the decsision handed down was the XPT was to operate under the same conditions including miles in the cab & based also on speed. Trains that were working up to 160Km/h were to have a single driver in the cab, if the train was to run at speeds over 160Km/h then it was to be manned by 2 fully qualified drivers with shared responsibilities.

Time you looked at things through clear understanding glasses & get the facts in areas where they are needed.

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  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Comparing NSW to Victoria is very misleading, as country rail routes in Vic are extremely short
compared to NSW.
Melb to Albury is the furthest any of Vlines trains travel, which equals Central to Canberra and no further.
Bendigo is the furthest the Vlociities run.
If NSW trains only served 300 km from Central destinations , it could all be done with the existing Xplorer fleet.
The other issue is whats the future for Interstate trains at all.
No requirement for NSW trains to run services to Brisbane or Melbourne.
MD


Agree. but how does these longer distances impact on the type of traction system employed?

As far as the average Joe public is concerned they couldn't care less if its a slug, loco hauled, spark, diesel, DMU, DH or even camel powered if the end result is the same. ie regardless of the mode of traction, they sit in the same seat on a train that internally looks the same and takes the same time so in reality the experience is the same for the bulk of the trip. I'm sure the option of ISE and perhaps the size of the hosties boob's are of more greater value to selling tickets than traction.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
So if Iwanted to do a replacement for the XPT I’d seriously revisit the XP power cars for another re-engine and structural rehabilitation on the basis that the level of development, performance and reliability of high horsepower, high speed diesel engines has undergone a huge transformation in the past 5-years. That would provide the opportunity toimprove the acceleration and braking rates of the XPT on the basis that for around the same weight a new generation diesel unit has an improved capability of around 25% to 30%. The trailer carsare certainly good for another refurbishment as they are a very superior vehicle.

I wouldinvest in 4 or 5 sets of 4 car Explorer configured “V’Locity” type vehicles (as a means of being able to piggyback on the current V’Line V’Locity contract) to release XPT’s off the Dubbo XPT and perhaps the next least patronized XPT service so that the XPT’s are confined to the longer more heavily patronized corridors to deliver improved, better timed trips and the additional X’Plorers to also improve frequency/timing on those corridors.

Yes that’s avery expensive package but wholsesale replacement of XPT sets with a new generation DMU is also going to be hugely expensive at around $6million per car based on V’Locity prices. Upgrading XPpower cars at say $3 million per unit and trailer cars at say $1m per unit plus 5x4 car sets of new Explorer referred to above buys a lot more in terms of upgraded and expanded fleet to deliver a much better service. Frequency is a key patronage driver and thesecond is timing of trips to meet customer needs.

(While yourat it review the current staffing levels on the XPT. Look at a current round trip from Sydney toMelbourne, do you really need 5 on board crew members to Albury, change crew to then work Albury to Melbourne and back to Albury and then pick up the first crew. 15 crew shifts plus penalties,away from home allowances etc).
Trainplanner

Not a bad idea overall.

Velocities or if Hunter's could be made to reduce fleet differences and displace more Endeavors into Explorers to permanently convert Dubbo to DMU.

As for the others, not sure there is a next least popular XPT, they all seem to run similar size. Releasing just the Dubbo XPT probably doesn't help that much as much of the time its single loco hauled. Perhaps Grafton would be converted to DMU and run as two sets. But the timetable is so interlinked that one you get into the detail it may not help, I may check later as time permits.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Not a bad idea overall.

Velocities or if Hunter's could be made to reduce fleet differences and displace more Endeavors into Explorers to permanently convert Dubbo to DMU.

As for the others, not sure there is a next least popular XPT, they all seem to run similar size. Releasing just the Dubbo XPT probably doesn't help that much as much of the time its single loco hauled. Perhaps Grafton would be converted to DMU and run as two sets. But the timetable is so interlinked that one you get into the detail it may not help, I may check later as time permits.
RTT_Rules

With the exception of the Dubbo set, the other ones are pretty well linked into a fleet wise diagram, that allows them to operate & get the required servicing needed.

The Dubbo service when only one motor is used more often than not likely means the 2nd unit is being used to replace one on the other sets owing to the normal one being under repair or overhaul.  That does allow for some degree of convenience for the Dubbo service.

Would agree though that likely the Dubbo service could well go to a DMU set, would much prefer it to be starting from Dubbo rather than from Sydney, its what the rural people want, get to Sydney on a daylight service rather than late at night.  Of course if 2 primary sets were available there could be a twice daily service operate. Its not just Dubbo either but reasonable sized places such as Wellington, then OGE & BX that can be exploited if its wanted to be.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

[Quote="donttellmywife"]So all you are really suggesting is:- Have one loco per train, instead of two, in which case the cost/benefit consideration needs to include the impact on flexibility and reliability that the current push-pull set-up offers.- Outsourcing the ownership (and operation, but that is separate a issue) of the locomotive fleet.  Given that the outsourced fleet is likely to be captive anyway; the distinct lack of driver only operation equipment and practice in existing fleets; and the relatively cheap cost of capital for state governments for social benefit assets, this certainly doesn't seem like an obvious winner.You could reduce ...lets use the word "expense"... by cutting service frequency.  But then you've cut service frequency, which is one of the major quality measures for a transport service.  The reason that there are three daily North Coast services today is not because you need three to handle the volume, it is because having three services at different times broadens the market for the services, and that broadened market increases the potential for revenue.  [/quote]

More or less yes.  I think the timetable, fleet capabilities and ir issues are somewhat interrelated.  A move to loco hauled wouldnt work withtout movement on the other fronts.
FOR THE far nforth coast, I don't know the three traizns a day ever dix provide a reasonable flexibility in terms of service.  On th e Up, only the Brisbane xpt has a reasonable schedule , so long as your not in  Brisbane.

The concept I have for the ncl is two primary large (500-650 seat) trains operating on the best schedule, which to my mind is
Down Syd 8.00 Gra 18.00 (optionally) Brs 22.00
up Brs 6.00 Gra 10.00 Syd 20.00

Keep in mind most users will have a 1 or 2 hr feeder bus connection as well, and this also takes into account avoiding peaks in Syd and Brs.

My modeling suggests that  these big trains offer better cost per seat km performance than busses, even with 2 at the pointy end.  But this is only makes sense when you get 350-450 bums on seats per trip.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

Agree. but how does these longer distances impact on the type of traction system employed?

As far as the average Joe public is concerned they couldn't care less if its a slug, loco hauled, spark, diesel, DMU, DH or even camel powered if the end result is the same. ie regardless of the mode of traction, they sit in the same seat on a train that internally looks the same and takes the same time so in reality the experience is the same for the bulk of the trip. I'm sure the option of ISE and perhaps the size of the hosties boob's are of more greater value to selling tickets than traction.
RTT_Rules

Probably correct for pensioners who get free tickets. As long as it is not a horseback and you give them free tickets they could not care less.

If you are talking about attracting a real customer you definitely need more comfort and services than what the current model offers (i.e. moto-rail, sleepers, compartments, real restaurant instead of junk food dispensers etc)
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Probably correct for pensioners who get free tickets. As long as it is not a horseback and you give them free tickets they could not care less.

If you are talking about attracting a real customer you definitely need more comfort and services than what the current model offers (i.e. moto-rail, sleepers, compartments, real restaurant instead of junk food dispensers etc)
boromisa

That will attract a certain type of customer, but I suspect still only in limited numbers and I very much doubt enough customers are actually willing to pay the increment that it costs to provide such services.  

Full service "holiday on wheels" trains have been attempted over the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor in recent times and they have failed (practically).

Lots of real customers (more than NSW Trains regional moves) every day pay lots of their money (more revenue per person than NSW Trains regional collects) to access shorter transit time and better schedule on a different competing mode (regional air).  On that different mode, unless they pay extravagant amounts, there are no sleepers, no compartments, uncomfortable chairs, no real restaurant, and no moto-rail.  This is pretty strong evidence that all the things you list are rather secondary in importance.  It is also why I think djf01's suggestion is in the wrong direction.

Consider also how many choose another competing mode (private car).  That offers the equivalent of motorail, and perhaps offers people a choice of food (though I don't know many that sit down for a full service restaurant meal in the 60 minute break they have when driving long distance for lunch) and you are in a compartment of sorts (hopefully not a sleeper), but one of the primary underlying reason that people choose that mode is schedule.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Probably correct for pensioners who get free tickets. As long as it is not a horseback and you give them free tickets they could not care less.

If you are talking about attracting a real customer you definitely need more comfort and services than what the current model offers (i.e. moto-rail, sleepers, compartments, real restaurant instead of junk food dispensers etc)
boromisa

You missed the comment where I said "the interior is the same regardless of mode of traction".

Real customers have voted with their feet along time ago. They may want all that above, but they won't pay for it, this is why we have the XPT in the first place. Had the XPT not come the discount airlines/airfares the followed the interstate XPTs a few years later would have killed off all these luxury services within a decade.

QR has kept pretty much all of what you mention above and on heavily subsidised ticket prices on routes far less exposed to the discount airfares or they came later and since I moved to Qld in 1998, their long distance loco hauled services have lost alot of train length. The once greet SOTO is a shadow of its former self for about 4-6mths of the year and not much better in tourist season. The Qlder Class train shrunk and now part of Sunlander and only 1-2 accommodation cars at that.

The RTT Business Class started out with all the promise, ie personal silver service, big seats etc. I caught RTT BC almost weekly on a Friday night in 2002 to 2003 (QR online ticketing knew me by name) and at times I was the one pax Bundy. From what I could tell many of the pax to Bundy were QR employees or discount ticket holders. Once they cut the silver service and the price and reduced ticket prices things improved somewhat as more FF ticket holders appear to pay a little more for a premium seat away from the great unwashed that now seem to dominate EC. I did the same from Canberra on XPL.

I used to like alot of people travel between Gladstone and Brisbane by train using landers over night for holidays going further afield, even if flying domestically or overseas and the EC cars were full of similar full fare tickets with the planes a few flights a day of something alot smaller than a Q400. Now the very frequent Q400 probably carries more than some trains.

Times have changed, I think if you offered all of your suggestions ie sleepers/First class seats, restaurant and bar lounge, Motor-rail etc and charged a similar amount as QR, you could probably run the train as a 2-3 car DMU including a space for motor-rail.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
More or less yes. I think the timetable, fleet capabilities and ir issues are somewhat interrelated. A move to loco hauled wouldnt work withtout movement on the other fronts.
FOR THE far nforth coast, I don't know the three traizns a day ever dix provide a reasonable flexibility in terms of service. On th e Up, only the Brisbane xpt has a reasonable schedule , so long as your not in Brisbane.

The concept I have for the ncl is two primary large (500-650 seat) trains operating on the best schedule, which to my mind is
Down Syd 8.00 Gra 18.00 (optionally) Brs 22.00
up Brs 6.00 Gra 10.00 Syd 20.00

Keep in mind most users will have a 1 or 2 hr feeder bus connection as well, and this also takes into account avoiding peaks in Syd and Brs.

My modeling suggests that these big trains offer better cost per seat km performance than busses, even with 2 at the pointy end. But this is only makes sense when you get 350-450 bums on seats per trip.
djf01


I think you will find the three trains a day on the nth coast does offer alot of flexibility. This really needs to be the minimum standard in any proposal. I also think 3 trains a day should also be considered for Wagga as it enables a early start, arrival before lunch and departure mid afternoon with arrival back in Wagga late in evening, but not excessively like the night XPT. Albury is too far on the current track speeds to offer the same.

Frequency does helps put more bums on seats collectively than a single train. I suspect if you decided to run say one train a day on the coast, not before long a 7-8 XPT could probably do the job compared to the 3 x 6/7 cars used now.

Regards
Shane
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

 
donttellmywife:

That will attract a certain type of customer, but I suspectstill only in limited numbers and I very much doubt enough customers are actually willing to pay the increment that it costs to provide such services.

Full service "holiday on wheels" trains have been attempted over the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor in recent times and they have failed (practically).

Lots of real customers (more than NSW Trains regional moves) every day pay lots of their money (more revenue per person than NSW Trains regional collects) to access shorter transit time and better schedule on a different competing mode (regional air). On that different mode, unless they pay extravagant amounts, there are no sleepers, no compartments, uncomfortable chairs, no real restaurant, and no moto-rail.



I only recall one hotel on wheels which was the Great SouthPacific Express which asked for the sort of excessive price similar to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. That is extraordinary luxury which is different to what I am proposing to. Just some decent service. Not being shuffled into uncomfortable seats for 12 hours.


Air has time advantage over rail. That’s clear. Rail isn't competitive on times (in absence of HSR) we may as well offer something different that will attract customer. It is also case that the time of low budget air fares is over. Even Sydney to Melbourne is around 130-150 mark one way unless you want to fly at 10pm or 05am and it Tiger.

The rail offers advantage of for example being able to go to bed at station A and wake up at station B and not lose whole day at airports and similar. Whether that is sustainable model is for economists to work out .

I once spoke to a passenger attendant in car A on day run to Melbourne as she was preparing linen for the overnight run back. She told me that the car is usually sold out. So let’s do something to attract more people like that.


Take my example. I am a smoker so I suffer heavily on any runs more than 5 hours. Unless I want to smoke illegally on the platform and provided the thing does not run late which is rare. I am also a tall guy so again after 5 hours it’s a night mare, even in the first class seat. But I don’t mind going to bed and waking up in morning at a new location. Not to mention how awful meals are in the buffet...


 
RTT_Rules:

Real customers have voted with their feet along time ago.They may want all that above, but they won't pay for it, this is why we have the XPT in the first place. Had the XPT not come the discount airlines/airfares the followed the interstate XPTs a few years later would have killed off all these luxury services within a decade.

QR has kept pretty much all of what you mention above and on heavily subsidised ticket prices on routes far less exposed to the discount airfares or they came later and since I moved to Qld in 1998, their long distance loco hauled services have lost alot of train length. The once greet SOTO is a shadow of its former self for about 4-6mths of the year and not much better in tourist season. The Qlder Class train shrunk and now part of Sunlander and only 1-2 accommodation cars at that.



That logic is applicable in Europe where you can pack more people on fast trains hence making a better profit margin out of each train. But the worst you can be stuck on a train in Europe is 6 hours which is how long ICE takes from Munchen HBF to Hamburg Altona. I don’t think that Tilt Trains or XPT has caused to save any share of passengers switching from rail to road or air. So I am saying let’s find if we can find a market share in long distance rail that’s willing to use it and see if it can be operated with modest subsidy from the government. Current arrangement is unsustainable where you have a large percentage of people who are using trains just because they are free. Government would be better of just subsidising their flight fares.

Of course there is another issue that NSW Train Link currently provides a combination of regional and long distance services and doing a bad job at both. What should happen in my opinion is that two should be separated. NSWTrainLink should run long distance trains and regions should decide whether they want any local/regional services. This works well in Germany where different provinces/lands tender out intra regional services as required.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I only recall one hotel on wheels which was the Great SouthPacific Express which asked for the sort of excessive price similar to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. That is extraordinary luxury which is different to what I am proposing to. Just some decent service. Not being shuffled into uncomfortable seats for 12 hours.
boromisa

The Southern Spirit is more recent than that.


Air has time advantage over rail. That’s clear. Rail isn't competitive on times (in absence of HSR) we may as well offer something different that will attract customer. It is also case that the time of low budget air fares is over. Even Sydney to Melbourne is around 130-150 mark one way unless you want to fly at 10pm or 05am and it Tiger.

Air generally does not have a transit time advantage over rail over shorter distances.  Air generally does not offer a schedule advantage over rail over shorter distances or lower air volume routes.  Air generally does not have a cost advantage over rail over shorter distances.

$150 dollars to get from Sydney to Melbourne wouldn't come close to the operating cost of providing the rail service for the current service level.  But it probably comes very close to covering the entire operating plus capital cost of the air service.

(Using fares to estimate service cost is tricky - because there are a range of air (and rail) fares for the one service and we don't know what the weighted average is.  But given there are certainly economy fares available for less than $150, it is probably a reasonable guess at the weighted average.  I think it is reasonable to assume that the the domestic airlines are covering their costs on that route.  We know that the gap between revenue and cost for NSW Trains long distance services is huge, and $155 for a sitter is their maximum fare.)


The rail offers advantage of for example being able to go to bed at station A and wake up at station B and not lose whole day at airports and similar. Whether that is sustainable model is for economists to work out .

I once spoke to a passenger attendant in car A on day run to Melbourne as she was preparing linen for the overnight run back. She told me that the car is usually sold out. So let’s do something to attract more people like that.


NSW Trains loses money hand over fist for a car like that.  If the car is sold out, what you need to do first is charge more for it.  If demand holds up and you can get the revenue from the car to cover the cost of running the car, then you can consider attracting more people and adding more cars.  

Otherwise you are trying to attract people to a service that you cannot sell anyway (the car is already sold out), or if you add additional capacity for those additional people, you are going to lose even more money.


Take my example. I am a smoker so I suffer heavily on any runs more than 5 hours. Unless I want to smoke illegally on the platform and provided the thing does not run late which is rare. I am also a tall guy so again after 5 hours it’s a night mare, even in the first class seat. But I don’t mind going to bed and waking up in morning at a new location. Not to mention how awful meals are in the buffet...


The days of smoking in confined public spaces, such as in the cabins of public transport vehicles, are gone (thankfully).

Nobody "minds" additional comfort, but are they prepared to pay for it?

I don't mind it (a mild understatement...) when I get an upgrade to first class or business class on a long haul flight. But until that lotto ticket comes in, you won't find me handing over my cash to buy such a seat outright.

There is zero social benefit argument for incurring more net cost (or perhaps any net cost) for making long distance train travel more comfortable beyond a basic standard.  If you want to go down this path then you need more revenue than it costs to provide the additional comfort.  I think there are opportunities here, but for the sort of things you are describing I think you haven't got a hope.  I suspect the cost of providing things like restaurants and cabins and sleepers for longer distance services requires fares and charges that are uncompetitive with business class air travel for the same trip.


Of course there is another issue that NSW Train Link currently provides a combination of regional and long distance services and doing a bad job at both. What should happen in my opinion is that two should be separated. NSWTrainLink should run long distance trains and regions should decide whether they want any local/regional services. This works well in Germany where different provinces/lands tender out intra regional services as required.

I don't have a problem with the people in a region (not just "the regions") strongly influencing where they want to spend their taxes (assuming some sort of inter-regional distribution of tax revenue that accommodates relative disadvantage etc - topics for another day).  But I think you'd find the long distance interstate services would be chopped long before the intra-regional or short regional services.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

The days of smoking in confined public spaces, such as in the cabins of public transport vehicles, are gone (thankfully).
donttellmywife


I was not going to argue for repeal of ban on smoking in cabs. I was merely pointing out that this is a factor that affects a decision making, amongst other things, when people with certain characteristics make regarding traveling mode they chose. Yes, smoking is banned on air as well you will say but 2 hours to Melbourne compared to 10 doesn't make sense. I have a friend with whom I go to Byron Bay Blues Fest pretty much every year and he's knocked back train few times now just because of this.

In some European countries the common sense prevails and smoking is allowed in parts of buffet/restaurant car which is a reasonable compromise. Tobacco is a legal product yet we are discriminated against at every opportunity. Especially unreasonable is complete ban on smoking on platforms which I don't see reasons for, provided that you don't affect anyone else.


Nobody "minds" additional comfort, but are they prepared to pay for it?


I don't know. Has anyone surveyed traveling public as what they would like and what would they want to pay for?? They just cancelled all the loco hauled trains and replaced them with XPTs because it looked sexy and some bureaucrat thought it is what people want.

Indian Pacific is not subsidized at all... yet they offer 179.00 fare to Broken Hill as the cheapest option. In my opinion much better value for money than first class fare on the Broken Hill Xploder. If you want a better service level you pay more. Simples.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
You cant compare GSRs IP or Ghan with NSW Trains , because GSR run extremely long trains very infrequently.
If the IP was only 5 cars long, the Broken Hill fare would be much higher.
Conversely, there may be a market for a luxury train between Sydney and Melbourne if it was 27 cars + long, and ran once a week.
Passenger trains are like freight trains.
The more people on the train, the less per seat the train costs to run.
In addition, GSR were able to enter the passenger rail market buy buying at a much reduced rate
the rollingstock that used to be ANs.
Countrylink doesnt have the luxury of being able to buy 2nd hand cheap rolling stock.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I don't know. Has anyone surveyed traveling public as what they would like and what would they want to pay for?? They just cancelled all the loco hauled trains and replaced them with XPTs because it looked sexy and some bureaucrat thought it is what people want.

Indian Pacific is not subsidized at all... yet they offer 179.00 fare to Broken Hill as the cheapest option. In my opinion much better value for money than first class fare on the Broken Hill Xploder. If you want a better service level you pay more. Simples.
boromisa

When they were withdrawn the locomotive trains were also losing money hand-over-fist.  As a concept, they were failing.  That implicitly says the public didn't want to pay for them.  That's probably the most conclusive evidence you'll ever get.

Today air is far more competitive now than it was in the 1980's and 1990's.  If the relevant long distance locomotive hauled trains couldn't survive in the era of the cosy airline duopoly and exorbitant air fares, they'd get massacred today.

The IP is useful as a benchmark for mostly commercial cost comparisons (I understand that it still gets a government handout for concession passengers - but lets put that aside for now).  However, I suspect that service is carried by the gold and platinum end of the train - I expect red service just covers the cost of having that service level on the train plus a bit - probably contributes only nominally to the fixed costs of operating the IP.  (Or to put it another way - it is worth having red service for the additional revenue, otherwise they wouldn't have it at all, but a train load of red service only might not be be worth running.)  

Again, what their weighted average fare is hard to know - but their "saver" fare is about double the NSW Trains economy fare, and their flexible fare is about double that of NSW Trains first sitter fare... so as thumbsuck that suggests to me that you need to double NSW Trains fares to start getting close to covering costs for a sitter, which wouldn't surprise me.  It may be worse.  Lets stick with double for now.

A fully sold economy class sitter, without concessions, running Sydney-Melbourne earns about $7500 in revenue, fully sold first class earns $8700.  Split the difference, call it $8000.  Double it based on our GSR fare observations - that means to haul and staff a sitter (plus a big of baggage and buffet room) Sydney to Melbourne probably costs about $16000.  Perhaps a bit less, because GSR and NSW Trains are both unlikely to fully sell a service - lets call it $12000 for fun (75% load factor).  

(As djf01 implicitly suggests, that would be less if your trains are longer, but if you make trains longer with lower frequency, then the market you appeal to declines, so there's a balance there.  But read on in the meantime...)

Hauling and staffing a sleeper is going to cost you about the same (perhaps you get away with less staff because you have less people, but then you have the "hotelling" costs such as linen).  Current sleeper configuration, has 18 in a car.  Assuming you could sell every berth always for the full length of the run, that means you need to charge about $670 to cover your costs Sydney to Melbourne.  Only get 75% load factor on average?  $890 per berth, thanks.

If you argue that long distance premium rail for the general punter deserves a subsidy - then based on our cost figures above, then someone travelling economy class full paid sitter gets matched dollar for dollar in subsidy - or about $110 given current economy fares.  Apply the same subsidy per head - $780 per berth thanks.

Unsubsidised business class airfare between Sydney and Melbourne - $800.  

Lets be generous and take a subsidised 100% loading case ($670-$110 = $580) forward.  What demand do you seriously think there is at that price point, even if you have the additional expense of a nice restaurant?  The current sleeper fare is only $250!

(And note, any subsidy for concession travellers is in addition to the above subsidy for rail, but there's no such concession subsidy for the plane.)
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Frequency does helps put more bums on seats collectively than a single train. I suspect if you decided to run say one train a day on the coast, not before long a 7-8 XPT could probably do the job compared to the 3 x 6/7 cars used now.
RTT_Rules


Grafton is 10 hrs from Sydney, with a bunch of other towns (often holiday towns) 1-2 hrs further on by feeder bus.

Most journeys are typically 12 hrs long (and most people need another hour in Sydney).  The window for a "sensible" schedule (ie one that does starts after 7:00 and stops before 23:00) is only 16 hours.  The way this has been handled in the past is with a red-eye (which means the bulk of the NC essentially only gets 2 usable services a "day"), an early train and a late train.  But spreading services far enough apart to offer "flexibility" means one of both day services either starts uncomfortably early for many, or end ends uncomfortably late.

So in the particular case of the NCL, I think it's a nonsense to talk about flexibility, because it's a euphemism for impracticality.

An 8 car all sitting XPT would have seating for about 420, vs the 540/700 "day" and 280/350 red-eye seats now.  I think this probably would be enough (not having seen any patronage figures) for the FNC.

From Mt Macquarie/Wauchope it's a bit different: it's only a 7 hr trip, and there is definitely an argument for a second service, same as there is for a second service from Wagga or Dubbo (which don't exist).

So for mine, a more user friendly timetable on the NCL is the one main far north coast train a day.  This may go on to Brisbane if Queensland wants to keep paying for it.  And it may be available for a seasonal return red-eye service if there is a demand for it (ie Fri & Sun Nights in school holidays, and all of December/January bar Christmas & New Years Eve).  That supported by an Up-Down service based at Wauchope/Pt Macquarie, with a red-eye feeder bus from the Far North Coast.

To go with RTT_Rule's suggestion of small (presumably ~200 seat) fleet of DMUs and a more frequent service.  

I think that could work to provide 4 trains a "day" but would need 5 sets and still only deliver 600 seats to the FNC with 200 of those on a red eye.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

You cant compare GSRs IP or Ghan with NSW Trains , because GSR run extremely long trains very infrequently.
If the IP was only 5 cars long, the Broken Hill fare would be much higher.
Conversely, there may be a market for a luxury train between Sydney and Melbourne if it was 27 cars + long, and ran once a week.
Passenger trains are like freight trains.
The more people on the train, the less per seat the train costs to run.
In addition, GSR were able to enter the passenger rail market buy buying at a much reduced rate
the rollingstock that used to be ANs.
Countrylink doesnt have the luxury of being able to buy 2nd hand cheap rolling stock.
MD

It is correct that you cannot compare GSR and NSW TrainLink. One is a profit making organisation and the other is government entity which should aim to break even ie. cover operating costs. Obviously it is subsidized by the government which decides that there is a good reason to prop up a public service i.e. to provide free pensioner shuffle. (NSWTrainLink also cannot make any decisions as to how their business is organised as they are essentially instructed by pollies what to do.They cannot be even bothered to do some advertising, let alone anything else)
If you consider IP fares they need to make profit not only to cover costs. Otherwise their shareholders/ investors would run away.

I would be happy with 3x overnight weekly services to and from Melbourne & Brisbane with some decent service rather than XPT. You might be able to attract different market (again there needs to be some marketing research done) with a decent and sustainable subsidy but that would also attract more paying passengers.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
It is correct that you cannot compare GSR and NSW TrainLink. One is a profit making organisation and the other is government entity which should aim to break even ie. cover operating costs. Obviously it is subsidized by the government which decides that there is a good reason to prop up a public service i.e. to provide free pensioner shuffle. (NSWTrainLink also cannot make any decisions as to how their business is organised as they are essentially instructed by pollies what to do.They cannot be even bothered to do some advertising, let alone anything else)
boromisa


I think you are underestimating the subsidy required for full fare paying passengers now.

Lets imagine for a second that all those that currently get a concession actually paid full fare, perhaps because some magic benefactor separate to the government and NSW TrainLink bought the ticket on the concession holders behalf. If NSW TrainLink regional, under that situation, covered its operating costs I think it is probable that we wouldn't have this thread... because the governments of the day wouldn't give much of a hoot about how much it cost to replace the XPT - they'd just write the cheque and do it when it made sense from the point of view of maintenance cost - the cost of the replacement would be easily justified by whatever social benefit or regional connectivity argument you could come up with that minute.

But we are nowhere near that situation - even with that magical benefactor - it probable costs something like twice as much to operate NSW TrainLink than you get in fares and equivalent concession top-up income. Covering operating costs is a delusion at this stage.

I agree that NSW TrainLink has very little discretion in how it goes about its business because it is a political plaything. There's a very obvious solution to that, one which I think should be pursued, subject to a few undertakings about its sibling organisation being told to play nice in future.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Theres no possibility of overnight style trains from Countrylink, as its too expensive to run
and theres too much dead time , of car sets sitting around doing nothing.
The current XPT style operation achieves a very hi degree of utilization from a small number
of carriages / locos.
Running trains costs the Govt money, and the more trains that are run, the greater the loss they make.
Every State has been whittling down the number of country trains they run, and NSW will be doing the same.
You may get your wish of 3 services per week to Melb / brisbane , but it will be 3 XPT services.
As a contrast, the Overland between Melb and Adelaide used to run 7 services  a week, and now its down to
twice a week.
Thats the pattern everywhere for country trains.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Grafton is 10 hrs from Sydney, with a bunch of other towns (often holiday towns) 1-2 hrs further on by feeder bus.

Most journeys are typically 12 hrs long (and most people need another hour in Sydney). The window for a "sensible" schedule (ie one that does starts after 7:00 and stops before 23:00) is only 16 hours. The way this has been handled in the past is with a red-eye (which means the bulk of the NC essentially only gets 2 usable services a "day"), an early train and a late train. But spreading services far enough apart to offer "flexibility" means one of both day services either starts uncomfortably early for many, or end ends uncomfortably late.

So in the particular case of the NCL, I think it's a nonsense to talk about flexibility, because it's a euphemism for impracticality.

An 8 car all sitting XPT would have seating for about 420, vs the 540/700 "day" and 280/350 red-eye seats now. I think this probably would be enough (not having seen any patronage figures) for the FNC.

From Mt Macquarie/Wauchope it's a bit different: it's only a 7 hr trip, and there is definitely an argument for a second service, same as there is for a second service from Wagga or Dubbo (which don't exist).

So for mine, a more user friendly timetable on the NCL is the one main far north coast train a day. This may go on to Brisbane if Queensland wants to keep paying for it. And it may be available for a seasonal return red-eye service if there is a demand for it (ie Fri & Sun Nights in school holidays, and all of December/January bar Christmas & New Years Eve). That supported by an Up-Down service based at Wauchope/Pt Macquarie, with a red-eye feeder bus from the Far North Coast.

To go with RTT_Rule's suggestion of small (presumably ~200 seat) fleet of DMUs and a more frequent service.

I think that could work to provide 4 trains a "day" but would need 5 sets and still only deliver 600 seats to the FNC with 200 of those on a red eye.
djf01


Thinking out loud a bit.

- Currently its departures from Syd at roughly 7AM, 12 and 3pm. thats not too bad for people heading nth
Arrival back 7am, 4pm and 8pm, agree this is a bit rough.

- While I know it will cost more rolling stock, I am also a supporter of getting long haul pax off the rails at night to make way for freights and running to Brisbane could be a purely extended day trip with overnight stop over in Brisbane, yes this chews up sets.

- I'm not sure how full the Casino service between Grafton and Casino? Would be interesting to know. The Grafton train I understand being a day service is popular due to its timing.

- I think Kempsey day return is pushing things, but Taree return at 5.5hr may work as it enables an earlier arrived in Sydney and later departure.

Something to consider, currently there are 3 x XPT services servicing the Nth coast, that are unlikely to be all fully uterlised towards the later 1/3 of the trip, so in effect this rolling stock is wasted. With XPT you cannot do muc, with DMU running like NW XPLR you can terminate part of the train earlier. For example.

Sydney - Casino - Sydney, basically a 24hr return service is a 3 + 4 car set. 3 car set maybe dropped off say Kempsy and return with a returning service from further nth. hence the 3 car set is on a 2 x 15hr return run and available for the next day return.

So maybe
- Brisbane (14hr) -  depart 7am Sydney, Oposing peak so should be ok, arrive Brisbane 9pm
Return, Depart Brisbane 6am (need to get out before facing peak), arrive Sydney 8pm (leaving after peak will mean Sydney arrival is very late).

- Grafton - mostly same as now, depart 12pm, arrive 11pm, return (differ) depart 3hr before Brisbane train runs through 6am arrive Sydney 4:30'ish

- Casino depart 9-10am arrive 9-10pm so 3hr gap between services heading north from 7am to 12pm.
return 10:30am, arrive Sydney 10pm. Same for evening, roughly evenly spaced gap between the 3 services.

Now the gaps still are, heading north after 12pm and heading to Sydney arriving before 12pm, using same set.
Depart Taree 6am (or Kempsey 4am), arrive Sydney 11:30AM and return after peak at 6pm arriving 11:30pm. Or leave by 3pm arrive 9pm.

Through Taree and (Kempsey) you'd have [approx time]
Nth bound to
Brisbane  12:30pm,   (2:30pm)
Casino  2:30pm, (4:30pm)
Grafton at 5:30pm,  (7:30pm)
Taree terminator 9pm

Sth bound ex
Taree starter 6am
Grafton 11am (9am)
Brisbane   2:30pm  (12:30pm)
Casino   4:30pm  (2:30pm)

So potentially if the train is regularly under uterlised by either Taree or Kempsey, you can drop off part of the train for use by return service thus improving the rolling stock uterlisation somewhat. The Brisbane Nth bound maybe the most practical as being first train in morning in maybe more used by mid nth coast users and cars could be dropped off at Kempsey for use by the returning Casino being the last train for the day (assuming the window at Kemspey could be improved over what i mentioned above.)
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
Has anyone surveyed traveling public as what they would like and what would they want to pay for?? They just cancelled all the loco hauled trains and replaced them with XPTs because it looked sexy and some bureaucrat thought it is what people want.

Indian Pacific is not subsidized at all... yet they offer 179.00 fare to Broken Hill as the cheapest option. In my opinion much better value for money than first class fare on the Broken Hill Xploder. If you want a better service level you pay more. Simples.
boromisa

The IP is a tourist train, the XPT is a commuter service.

Only a percentage of XPT travellers actually pay full fare, it is highly subsidized and the silence of maam Minister is they are trying to work out how not to replace the service.

I have worked with a number of public servants who get air travel for work from places such as Dubbo, Orange and Tamworth as the train service is too inefficient.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

The IP is a tourist train, the XPT is a commuter service.

Only a percentage of XPT travellers actually pay full fare, it is highly subsidized and the silence of maam Minister is they are trying to work out how not to replace the service.

I have worked with a number of public servants who get air travel for work from places such as Dubbo, Orange and Tamworth as the train service is too inefficient.
Jim K

XPT is not a commuter train. No one uses it to travel to work or for appointments etc.

The part of the problem with the NSW TrainLink is that they actually don't know what they are so they cannot possibly optimise their service for identified market.

Dubbo is clear cut case where you have a timetable which does not work for anyone except the organisation and yet they refuse to change it just because they would have to stable at Dubbo overnight.

They have failed miserably to attract any tourism (unlike GSR and Greyhounds). Occasionally I have seen an odd tourist on services but that's about it.

There is no doubt that a government service will always need a subsidy. However, I think the current model of aircraft imitation is a miserable failure and unless they can offer something different to attract paying punters (such as better, more comfortable service) it will die of a slow death. Libs love that.

That'll do me.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Dubbo is clear cut case where you have a timetable which does not work for anyone except the organisation and yet they refuse to change it just because they would have to stable at Dubbo overnight.
boromisa


The reason Dubbo is DOWN-UP is to allow the feeders busses to connect places like Bourke & Cobar.  Otherwise their busses would arrive and leave between midnight and 6am.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the sky to fall, the seas to rise... and seeing a train on the SSFL!
Two years into this fred and still no closer to a replacement.

The guvmnt seems content with the current arrangements and not in a hurry to order new trains.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I think governments will do what they generally do , be seen to provide an alternative to road at minimal cost .  I don't think the provider gives a rats how long the journey takes or if it runs at inconvenient times . Long distance rail travel was always going to be inconvenient to someone because its the nature of the beast .
Take it to the grave , Gladdy doesn't care if travellers don't get "the girlfriend" experience when riding long distance trains because the point was to get from A to B not instances of gratification from riding the rails .
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Im still waiting for someone to actually explain why the XPT needs to be replaced.
Not just supposition and railfan hearsay, but some actual facts.
Just commenting on the age of the XPT sets is pretty meaningless.
Vlines N classes and N sets are the same age as the XPTs , but theres no discussion
on the Victorian forums as to why they should be replaced.
GSR are still running carriages on the IP and Ghan which were built pre 1970.

I still think that re opening Hillston to Roto, or Matakana to Mt Hope would be far more important.
I have no idea why, but its a just as good idea as XPt replacement.

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