XPT Replacement Discussion

 
  jdennis Junior Train Controller

The realities are no matter how much anyone tries to juggle around with timetables, in order to get more mileage out of whatever trainset they propose, its no more than eating fairy floss on a hot day while trying to work out cryptic crossword puzzles.

To think or consider in ones wildest dreams that people having traveled several hours in a train then have to get off to another service to finish their journey is kidding themselves. Likewise the concept that they will travel further on a bus for their rail connection, especially when they have lost their rail service is again kidding themselves.

The Train from Moree & Armidale, is doing ok its not doing wonders but the patronage is not that bad, the time to Sydney is also not too bad, it leaves the two locations at sensible daylight times, which suits the rural customer & is what they are calling out for, especially out Dubbo way.  Passengers from Tenterfield get up early enough to catch a bus to Armidale, likewise those from Inverell, who have to do the bone shaking trip via Barraba to Tamworth, then to expect them to change at Hamilton or BMD for another service will empty the services full stop.

There has been a call to have the Musswelbrook/Scone service continue to Tamworth & return the next morning, but in the end how many would use it anyway?.

The only additional service that could be made would be to somehow introduce a Friday night service from Armidale - Sydney to try & capture the student market & those in the area wanting a W/E in Sydney, perhaps for football or other events, then return on a night service on Sunday.

That would mean providing another service to Armidale ex Sydney on Friday afternoon or night & Sundays to have the set available for the next morning.

At the end of the day, trying to work timetables for maximum utilisation as is being done here will not work as there is too many issues that will harm users by unecessary changes to other services & timetabling issues.  People who want to & do travel by rail generally are after a single service from their Point A to their destination Point B, at the most convenient time possible, they will accept some inconveniences as shown on the Northerm services to/from Tenterfield & Inverel, but to have the B destionations turned into a C, with B a change to another service, is a killer, especially with the already change.
a6et
I agree in relation to connections. If you are going to provide a regional train service don't terminate it at Broadmeadow or similar. As you said many have already had to change services to even get to the train in the first place.

It would be possible to add that extra Armidale service on a weekend if you moved the Griffith train to say Wednesday and Thursday. Not sure how that would impact on maintenance schedules though.

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  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The same one @jdennis wants to serve with his 05:00 starter from Morree Smile.

djf01


I don't have a problem with that start time.  The passenger loading pattern for a Moree to Sydney service will progressively increase as you approach the major destination.  It might be a rude start for those initiating their journey at the far end of the line, but when you get to Gunnedah it is about two hours later - 07:00 is hardly unreasonable - and so on down the line.

A 20:00 arrival into Sydney applies to the biggest single destination, in terms of potential demand, for that service.  If that arrival time is unattractive to most of the potential passengers to that destination, then you've just killed your biggest single source of demand.

The market isn't homogeneous - aspects such as fares, transit time and departure/arrival timing will influence different people in different ways, but I think only a small group would find 20:00 into Sydney useful.  Personally, my inbound journeys with the entity formerly known as CountryLink all started around 04:00, I chose that because that got me into Sydney when I needed to be there, so I don't really see a problem with inconvenient starts.

Which is essentially the Dubbo timetable, and AFAIK something like the timetable they had prior to the new England Nationals kicking up the stink that saw the creation of the Xplorers in the first place Smile.
I have no idea of the political history, and often political words are cheap, but that suggests to me that there was a preference from a significant number of potential users for different timing.  Whatever - examine things on their merits in today's environment.

The trade-off between service appeal and service cost is critical.  Given the current cost recovery of the regional services I'd happily accept that trade-off should place a great deal of emphasis on cost - beggars can't be choosers - but there's no point providing a service if it isn't used.  

It is important to note that from the point of view of government it is the net cost (cost - revenue) required that to achieve their social benefit goals that is the important metric.  It may be more expensive to provide services that have broader appeal to the market, but if broader appeal translates into additional revenue, and that additional revenue exceeds the additional expense required, and the original social benefit goals are not materially compromised, then it is worth that additional expense.

But note the "if" above.  This is the big question.  In general people who can pay need to be prepared to pay for the cost of the service.  

If people are not willing to pay, then I think they need to pretty much have to put up with whatever form of basic service they get that is cheapest to provide.  The arguments for general heavy subsidy of regional transport are pretty weak - arguments that it is some sort of essential service are completely defeated when you see complaints like "I have to change trains or travel at inconvenient times I'll choose a different mode" - it isn't essential if you have that choice!
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Personally, my inbound journeys with the entity formerly known as CountryLink all started around 04:00, I chose that because that got me into Sydney when I needed to be there, so I don't really see a problem with inconvenient starts.
donttellmywife

Hands up who'd prefer an 04:00 start to a 20:00 finish?

I think I rest my case Smile.

Taking this a bit more seriously, I think people need to remember that almost half of CL trips already contain a change, from feeder bus to train.  So long as the arrivals and departures from Sydney aren't too egregious, that is the best place to have the most extreme time because at the other end you have to allow for the coach connection as well.  In any case you can't really have a moderate start/end out of Sydney because of the peak hour(s) curfew.  

To maintain connections in the timetable, it can really only be done with red-eye trains, and I'm with @RTT_Rules on that one: they are overly expensive and provide a particularly unenjoyable experience.

I must say though, I'm not a big fan of splitting trains.  Combining rail-motors doesn't really reduce costs all that much.  It's a driver plus the ARTC flagfall on access charges (which is funny money anyway, outside the slot congested Liverpool Ranges corridor).  While I accept @RTT_Rules argument about loadings, I think there is scope in the NW to have a 2 services a day frequency for little extra cost - and there may even be a valid business case for it if DTMW's argument about revenues holds water.


If people are not willing to pay, then I think they need to pretty much have to put up with whatever form of basic service they get that is cheapest to provide.  The arguments for general heavy subsidy of regional transport are pretty weak - arguments that it is some sort of essential service are completely defeated when you see complaints like "I have to change trains or travel at inconvenient times I'll choose a different mode" - it isn't essential if you have that choice!
donttellmywife

Not surprisingly I fully agree with this.  But I'll take it a step further and say I don't think many people here quite appreciate who the primary customer is.  It's not the people riding the trains, it's the government footing the bill.

I know everyone howls me down when I suggest this, but self stowed luggage & OPAL as the payments collection system removes a huge chunk of the costs associated with running CL.  A 250 seat train with a crew of 2 gets mighty close to the operating cost of busses, and would better it by some margin with more favourable track alignments.

How this translates to my spec for the new CL trains is as follows:

Seats: ~250   100-150 2+3, 100-150 2+2
2+3 is purely to allow overflow patronage.  I'm no fan of allocated seating, but we must, then 2+2 is first and allocated, 2+3 is first come best dressed economy.  Non-allocated seating works best on the UP direction, longest haul PAX get the best seats.  But even in the DOWN direction no long haul passenger needs to sit in the 2+3 for the entire journey.  In any case, I think 2+3 is only uncomfortable once you get the 5th passenger in the row, and in many ways is preferable if there are 3PAX per row IMHO.

There needs to be extended luggage space, and a place for the surf boards,bikes, prams & wheelchairs.  There needs to be some sort of meal service given the transit times on CL's routes, though I maintain this could be off-boarded.  An on-board shop needs a large market to really pay it's way IMHO and a small (compared to an XPT) train isn't it.  

I also think an ability to meet NSWTrain's other needs beyond it's CountryLink routes needs to be considered as well.  ATM NSWTrains has 6 platforms (5 if you consider Xplorer & Endeavour the same) and it really should have at most 2.

BTW I'll be AWOL from these forums for a wheekor two while I ride the Old Ghan.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
I've finished my latest timetable change. I'm going to put them out here for public scrutiny; I will let you guys attack my changes, but because I'm tired from a particularly brutal day at work, I'll do the defending bit after you tear me to shreds.

But the summary is that 1) I've pared back reach to better serve the core customer base (not the primary stakeholder, which DJF rightly points out is the government), 2) I've aimed to maximise the ability for regional customers to take Sydney daytrips while not eroding coach connection possibilities too badly, and 3) this is entirely possible with the current fleet.

Those of us who have been party to this monstrous thread for nearly three years — looking at @djf01, @RTT_Rules, @donttellmywife, @a6et — will know my usual justifications, so I won't rehash them until after I'm rested.

















Good night — I shall be back with the light.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Hands up who'd prefer an 04:00 start to a 20:00 finish?

I think I rest my case Smile.

djf01
What potential passengers prefer very depends on their specific requirements.  When are you available to leave your origin, when do you need to be in your destination.  If you don't live in Sydney but need to be in Sydney for some unfortunate reason, then a 20:00 arrival means you are up for a night's accommodation (the cost of which, in Sydney, makes the rail fare almost inconsequential).  If you do live in Sydney, then the scheduling of that service means that it has passed through most major regional origins well before the end of the school or working day.  Are you expecting people to hang around a day longer?



Taking this a bit more seriously, I think people need to remember that almost half of CL trips already contain a change, from feeder bus to train.  So long as the arrivals and departures from Sydney aren't too egregious, that is the best place to have the most extreme time because at the other end you have to allow for the coach connection as well.  In any case you can't really have a moderate start/end out of Sydney because of the peak hour(s) curfew.  

To maintain connections in the timetable, it can really only be done with red-eye trains, and I'm with @RTT_Rules on that one: they are overly expensive and provide a particularly unenjoyable experience.


There is likely to be some sort of change in Sydney as well.  Not many people have Sydney Terminal as their ultimate destination.

RTT_Rules aversion to red-eyes appeared to be more an attempt to avoid freighter crosses (and again, I think that it not the issue it is made out to be by some, and some of the alternative timings for passenger trains may actually be worse for freight transit time and capacity).  In terms of cost impact I think there are counter arguments.  On-board labour cost will certainly be higher than a day shift only operation (but perhaps not that different from afternoon shift costs), but your off-board labour costs associated with regular maintenance will be lower.  As I mentioned before, there will be a distinct capital cost penalty if the lack overnight running adversely affects set utilisation (RTT_Rules - `s` or `z` I don't care, but otherwise note the spelling!).

It may well be that overnight running attracts insufficient patronage that you are better off parking your sets up, but I wouldn't necessarily count on it.  Ever been to Perth Airport at 23:00?

I must say though, I'm not a big fan of splitting trains.  Combining rail-motors doesn't really reduce costs all that much.  It's a driver plus the ARTC flagfall on access charges (which is funny money anyway, outside the slot congested Liverpool Ranges corridor).


The point of slot congestion moves around as works to relieve congestion are completed (for example - if the third rail projects hadn't been completed recently, the point of congestion would be much further south), hence it is appropriate that some component of the access charge reflects the path capacity consumed.  The ARTC component is only about $500 per service, if their published charges are accurate.  I wouldn't discount another significant factor being path considerations in the Sydney Trains area.

I know everyone howls me down when I suggest this, but self stowed luggage & OPAL as the payments collection system removes a huge chunk of the costs associated with running CL.  A 250 seat train with a crew of 2 gets mighty close to the operating cost of busses, and would better it by some margin with more favourable track alignments.
That's presumably cost per available seat.

Again, it is net cost to government that is the driver, not cost per available seat.  Where your minimum quality rail solution is particularly exposed, is that the smaller vehicle size available with a coach operation allows them to better match available seats with demand, both in an overall available seat per day sense and, where you have enough demand for multiple buses per day, in terms of service timing.  

That making available 250 trains seats a day to Tamworth by train is about the same cost as a bus is irrelevant, if there is only demand for 125 seats.  People might prefer to catch trains in their current form, all other things being equal, but if you compromise their current form too much and then you can provide a batter match with a service to when they want to travel with a bus service, then their preference may very well be the other way around.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I'll concede almost any other idea expect 5 across seating for train trips in the CL banner. Completely impractical. Think about it, they introduced the Sydney sparks to Gosford in the late 80's, low backs, no arm rest, shoulder to crammed shoulder (and we were all skinnier then) and it was the most backward slap in the face change to Central Coast rail commuters ever. I remember the first ones turning up and we all thought you have got to be kidding. 25 years later Gladis announced common sense and said they will be withdrawn in due course for obvious reasons and replaced with other.

Look at the cheapest of the cheap airlines, 5 across seating is proposing to have people more confined seating than the squashed up plane trips that are usually far less in distance.

V-set standard is the minimum we should be looking for in the CL services.

I used to ride the old U-boats for 1->1.5hr each way and V sets. The U boat had very comfortable seats and yes I cans see people thinking on a non DD set you could jam another seat in there, especially if you shorten the car length, but not for long haul its not enough!

I do concede that there should be a car on the East coast SG interstate services that perhaps is designed to allow for cheap non booked seating over short distances. ie the backbacker wanting to go from Port Macquarie to Coffs, for example and perhaps this is suitable then. But I question the market size?



The difference in width between a V-set and a H-set is 100mm achieved by making the car length ~3m shorter. S-sets are a further 50mm wider. Is it even possible to go wider? Its unlikely you will cut the length enough to justify going to articulated trains and my understanding is longer car bodies are more stable at speed.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
What potential passengers prefer very depends on their specific requirements.  When are you available to leave your origin, when do you need to be in your destination.  If you don't live in Sydney but need to be in Sydney for some unfortunate reason, then a 20:00 arrival means you are up for a night's accommodation (the cost of which, in Sydney, makes the rail fare almost inconsequential).  If you do live in Sydney, then the scheduling of that service means that it has passed through most major regional origins well before the end of the school or working day.  Are you expecting people to hang around a day longer?



There is likely to be some sort of change in Sydney as well.  Not many people have Sydney Terminal as their ultimate destination.

RTT_Rules aversion to red-eyes appeared to be more an attempt to avoid freighter crosses (and again, I think that it not the issue it is made out to be by some, and some of the alternative timings for passenger trains may actually be worse for freight transit time and capacity).  In terms of cost impact I think there are counter arguments.  On-board labour cost will certainly be higher than a day shift only operation (but perhaps not that different from afternoon shift costs), but your off-board labour costs associated with regular maintenance will be lower.  As I mentioned before, there will be a distinct capital cost penalty if the lack overnight running adversely affects set utilisation (RTT_Rules - `s` or `z` I don't care, but otherwise note the spelling!).

It may well be that overnight running attracts insufficient patronage that you are better off parking your sets up, but I wouldn't necessarily count on it.  Ever been to Perth Airport at 23:00?



The point of slot congestion moves around as works to relieve congestion are completed (for example - if the third rail projects hadn't been completed recently, the point of congestion would be much further south), hence it is appropriate that some component of the access charge reflects the path capacity consumed.  The ARTC component is only about $500 per service, if their published charges are accurate.  I wouldn't discount another significant factor being path considerations in the Sydney Trains area.

That's presumably cost per available seat.

Again, it is net cost to government that is the driver, not cost per available seat.  Where your minimum quality rail solution is particularly exposed, is that the smaller vehicle size available with a coach operation allows them to better match available seats with demand, both in an overall available seat per day sense and, where you have enough demand for multiple buses per day, in terms of service timing.  

That making available 250 trains seats a day to Tamworth by train is about the same cost as a bus is irrelevant, if there is only demand for 125 seats.  People might prefer to catch trains in their current form, all other things being equal, but if you compromise their current form too much and then you can provide a batter match with a service to when they want to travel with a bus service, then their preference may very well be the other way around.
donttellmywife

Re: spelling. My work computer is set up on American spelling and date format. Yes it pisses me off no end, but some things you just have to grin and bare after 4 years as I get sick of changing. No I cannot change because some ICT @#@! probably from the sub-cont or did his degree in USA doesn't know any different.

Yes subversion for night running is two fold. The figures mentioned by someone else shows the night trains are less popular (but maybe popular to some) but to avoid the freighters which some drivers have often posted get slowed by the slug.

Checked baggage can have a cost saving as well. It takes up less physical space but also you charge for it, I would say make it free. Removal of the 2nd door on each car leaves room for self stowed baggage as does over head racks (which you cannot have on DD).
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Sitting on the bus to pt Augusta as I write this.  2+3 doesn't have to be as uncomfortable as an Oscar.  Vline use it.  You could fit three and a half of these bus seats across a train.

Seat pitch in domestic eccobomy on the flight over here was a rude shock.  Couldn't be >0.75mq

The point is one of the t a's  main role is to check everyone us sitting in the right seat.  Station staff have 2main jobs: allocate the seats and check the luggage
  jdennis Junior Train Controller

Sitting on the bus to pt Augusta as I write this.  2+3 doesn't have to be as uncomfortable as an Oscar.  Vline use it.  You could fit three and a half of these bus seats across a train.

Seat pitch in domestic eccobomy on the flight over here was a rude shock.  Couldn't be >0.75mq

The point is one of the t a's  main role is to check everyone us sitting in the right seat.  Station staff have 2main jobs: allocate the seats and check the luggage
djf01
Do VLine use it on SG or just BG?
I honestly don't think 2+3 seating is necessary in NSW. Most of the time the load factor on the trains is not high enough to justify higher density seating anyway.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Typical seat width on a A330 (routes comparable to NW type services in time) /A380 (routes comparable to Mel/Brisbane type services in time) is 17-18 inchs respectively.

17 inch width (assume not including arm rest)  42.5cm or 45cm for 18 inch.

45 x 5 = 2.25m + train wall thickness and aisle.

If I am going to be as uncomfortable as a plane, I'll use the plane.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Do VLine use it on SG or just BG?
jdennis
Both. The 3+2 coaches are used on the Albury SG as well as the other BG services.

I honestly don't think 2+3 seating is necessary in NSW. Most of the time the load factor on the trains is not high enough to justify higher density seating anyway.
jdennis
Yes and no. It can come in useful, but on the whole I don't really see the point. In any case, the current setup is already at a comfort level very similar to a narrowbody aircraft, i.e. not great.

Are you expecting people to hang around a day longer?
donttellmywife
On top of this, it's worth remembering that not only do most regional trains currently arrive in the evening, they also mostly leave Sydney in the morning. This means that if you want to actually get something done in Sydney during business hours, you need a stay of not one but two nights.

It is for this reason that my timetable change has seen a reversal of this, so that trains leave Sydney in the afternoon and arrive back in Sydney in the morning, in order for passengers to get most of a business day in Sydney.

Ever been to Perth Airport at 23:00?
donttellmywife
I've been in many an airport at hilariously awful times of day. PER only has the stack of redeyes to the East Coast at that hour; try SIN, where that's peak hour.

Speaking of ex-PER redeyes, those flights are awful. You cross a time difference of two to three hours on a flight time of less than five hours, so good luck functioning the next day. The only Australian flights that are worse are the ex-DRW redeyes.
  jdennis Junior Train Controller

I've finished my latest timetable change. I'm going to put them out here for public scrutiny; I will let you guys attack my changes, but because I'm tired from a particularly brutal day at work, I'll do the defending bit after you tear me to shreds.

But the summary is that 1) I've pared back reach to better serve the core customer base (not the primary stakeholder, which DJF rightly points out is the government), 2) I've aimed to maximise the ability for regional customers to take Sydney daytrips while not eroding coach connection possibilities too badly, and 3) this is entirely possible with the current fleet.

Those of us who have been party to this monstrous thread for nearly three years — looking at @djf01, @RTT_Rules, @donttellmywife, @a6et — will know my usual justifications, so I won't rehash them until after I'm rested.

















Good night — I shall be back with the light.
Watson374
I'm not sure what your justifications are for a number of things in those timetables. You say you aim to better serve the core customer base, but I'm not sure the people that make up that "core" are really going to be willing to travel from say, Armidale to Sydney in the dead of night. That particular service, along with the Moree section that obviously combines with it, is going to be empty.

Similarly the Dubbo and Broken Hill trains run at times that will discourage the majority of passengers from actually using the service.

I note there are no Brisbane trains, which means those on the NSW North Coast that would rather travel to Brisbane than Sydney will not be interested in using CL services.

Am I right in reading that the Melbourne services require a change at Albury? I hesitate to say... welcome back to 1962???

My point is, I would be VERY interested to see what the justifications are for some of those services.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
I'm not sure what your justifications are for a number of things in those timetables.
jdennis
A change in strategy, to "bring people from the regions to the cities".

You say you aim to better serve the core customer base, but I'm not sure the people that make up that "core" are really going to be willing to travel from say, Armidale to Sydney in the dead of night. That particular service, along with the Moree section that obviously combines with it, is going to be empty.
jdennis
I disagree (obviously, hence why my timetable runs like this).

Rightly or wrongly, I have identified the "core" customer base to be people who need or want to be in Sydney during daytime hours to actually do things, such as students, jobseekers, regional businesspeople, budget travellers and pensioners. I also wished to eliminate the problem identified earlier that the current morning-out/evening-back schedule creates, which is the need for two expensive hotel nights in Sydney to get any part of the business day in.

I therefore came to the conclusion that it was necessary to arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon. This creates a stack of redeyes into Sydney, but that's a small price to pay; if it makes the train too much to handle, then the service isn't really essential after all and can be cut.

Let me be clear: I am not creating a network of sightseeing choo-choos for gunzels.

Similarly the Dubbo and Broken Hill trains run at times that will discourage the majority of passengers from actually using the service.
jdennis
The Dubbo train is actually where this whole experiment began.

There was some professor from some university in some newspaper who said that some people at some time said they wanted some train to take them from some place in the Central West (Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst) to Sydney to get things done in the daytime, as mentioned above. Again, this is where our ideas of "core" differ; I can't speak for you, but my own view is that we should be serving those who need to do things.

In order to get them into Sydney just after 09:00, the train leaves Dubbo at OMG o'clock, but the logic here is that 02:30 actually perfect because the young'uns would stay up all night then pass out on the train; the old'uns would just sleep at sunset and wake up their adult children to take them to the station at 01:30.

The Orange up departure is exactly what would happen anyway if the Bullet was extended to Orange; the Bathurst up departure is only 20 minutes before the existing Bullet.

The Broken Hill train is another beast entirely. Here, the goal has been to create a service that is useful for doing things in the daytime in Sydney as well as Broken Hill. The idea here is to abandon the Sydney-centric view and accept that maybe these guys out west might be better off going to Broken Hill to do things, so maybe we should get them into Broken Hill in the morning and take them away in the evening.

That said, the Broken Hill train could do with a bit of work; in particular, I'm considering introducing hour-long stops in Parkes so the train can arrive in Broken Hill an hour later and leave an hour earlier, making it an even better proposition for those going to Broken Hill.

Comfort isn't really a consideration when we're talking about a bum-numbing Xplorer seat on the Sydney to Broken Hill run that takes as long as a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles.

I note there are no Brisbane trains, which means those on the NSW North Coast that would rather travel to Brisbane than Sydney will not be interested in using CL services.
jdennis
Correct, and this is for good reason.

Key centres in the Northern Rivers such as Lismore and Byron Bay were severed from the rail service back in 2004 when the Murwillumbah line was closed by then-Transport Minister Michael Costa. These customers are already on road coaches when heading into Queensland, and in any case my view is that these customers are better-served by local services connecting to the Gold Coast commuter train service at Varsity Lakes, so interest and investment should be directed at getting them across the border.

Secondly, the Brisbane train on its current timetable is useless; from the set utilisation perspective it is better off dead as I've managed to claw back enough running hours to strengthen the part of the North Coast line that is actually more dependent on Sydney and Newcastle than the Gold Coast.

Am I right in reading that the Melbourne services require a change at Albury?
jdennis
Correct. Why should we duplicate V/Line's triple-daily two-class train service complete with buffet? The connections take place at fairly reasonable hours.

Have you never taken a connecting flight?

My point is, I would be VERY interested to see what the justifications are for some of those services.
jdennis
Well, there you have it.

Over to you.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I've had a rethink on seating arrangements with all this talk of red eye trains:  we need unallocated 4+1
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Must have damn good wifi on the old ghan.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
It doesnt matter what time of day or night you table a train to depart or arrive, it wont suit everyone so you have to pick the most acceptable.
Then you have to weave the Timetable to suit other services be they Goods or Passenger, local, or long distance, and whether they need to connect with other services or not.
Then you throw in sectional running time, crew changes, servicing if any like watering the dining car on the Indian/Ghan.
On single line sections, crossings for each way must be considered in the mix as well as the manipulation of any signaling equipment at the crossing place.
As stated earlier, People wanted Trains like the Bathurst Bullet to arrive in Sydney by 9am so to achieve that it MUST leave the commencement point at a suitable time no matter what ungodly hour of the night it is.

And there is one last item to consider and that is PATRONAGE !!

The Bathurst Bullet is NOT a 'new' service but a similar train ran back in the 80's and it started off well but over a period, patronage dropped off until there were some days it ran near empty East bound and back that night, it was empty, at least west of Lithgow.
One thing I will say regarding that earlier service was the train they provided was made up of old, unheated and uncomfortable carriages that had long passed their use by date.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
As stated earlier, People wanted Trains like the Bathurst Bullet to arrive in Sydney by 9am so to achieve that it MUST leave the commencement point at a suitable time no matter what ungodly hour of the night it is.
gordon_s1942
Exactly!
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

In the interests of historical accuracy, the Old Ghan is running a few days late.  I should set off tomorrow.
  jdennis Junior Train Controller

Firstly, thank you for explaining your proposal in such detail, it does make it clearer what you are trying to achieve.

My point is that IF the powers that be decide to run a train to a particular location, once that decision has been made, you are better off running the train at a reasonable hour so that you pick up a proportion of the market that doesn't need the service but may choose to use it if the running times are attractive. From that perspective, it doesn't make a lot of sense to run a train overnight simply because those that need it will use it regardless of the times. Put simply, if it can be run during the day, why not do that?

[QUOTE=Watson374]Rightly or wrongly, I have identified the "core" customer base to be people who need or want to be in Sydney during daytime hours to actually do things, such as students, jobseekers, regional businesspeople, budget travellers and pensioners. I also wished to eliminate the problem identified earlier that the current morning-out/evening-back schedule creates, which is the need for two expensive hotel nights in Sydney to get any part of the business day in.

I therefore came to the conclusion that it was necessary to arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon. This creates a stack of redeyes into Sydney, but that's a small price to pay; if it makes the train too much to handle, then the service isn't really essential after all and can be cut.[/QUOTE]
I don't think it is a "small price to pay" because I suspect it will mean most of your potential passengers will either find another way to travel, at increased cost, or reconsider their need to travel at all. Much of your "core customer base" would not necessarily benefit from an AM arrival and PM departure at the cost of an ungodly arrival or departure at the other end anyway - pensioners, travellers or students, for example, are probably not going to care that much if the train arrives at 8am rather than 1pm if it means that they don't need to get up at 1am or something ridiculous to get on the train in their home towns. Regional businesspeople are not going to use the train over flying if it means they get to a meeting in Sydney having had three hours' sleep the night before. A lunchtime arrival or departure is sufficient for most anyway, as it allows half a business day to attend a meeting, appointment or other commitment for those that need to be in a particular place during business hours - which I suspect a large proportion of the current passenger market do not anyway.

If you run overnight/redeye trains, sure you will still get those pax that need to use the service, but why not make it more attractive for those who have a choice? Remember also that staff wages are lower during the day, meaning increased passenger revenue and lower operating costs.

[QUOTE=Watson374]Let me be clear: I am not creating a network of sightseeing choo-choos for gunzels.[/QUOTE]I don't think I or anyone else ever suggested you were.

[QUOTE=Watson374]The Broken Hill train is another beast entirely. Here, the goal has been to create a service that is useful for doing things in the daytime in Sydney as well as Broken Hill. The idea here is to abandon the Sydney-centric view and accept that maybe these guys out west might be better off going to Broken Hill to do things, so maybe we should get them into Broken Hill in the morning and take them away in the evening.[/QUOTE]
As UpperQuad alluded to, a train that runs as far as Broken Hill is almost certainly not doing so for the purpose of people travelling all the way from one terminus to the other - local connections are far more important, and having these occur in the middle of the night will wipe out huge chunks of your potential market.

[QUOTE=Watson374]Secondly, the Brisbane train on its current timetable is useless[/QUOTE]
I would say that the current Brisbane timetable is rather close to what you're proposing to do with a number of other trains on the network. If it didn't work in Brisbane, why is it going to work anywhere else?

[QUOTE=Watson374]Correct. Why should we duplicate V/Line's triple-daily two-class train service complete with buffet? The connections take place at fairly reasonable hours.
Have you never taken a connecting flight?[/QUOTE]
Perhaps we shouldn't. But I wouldn't call it a Melbourne train if it terminates in Albury. Of course I have taken a connecting flight. Almost always though, connections happen in a major city like Sydney, not Albury. A more accurate analogy would be to suggest that for me to fly from Armidale, where I live, to Sydney, I need to change planes in Tamworth. Or to use your SYD-LAX example from before, that I should change planes in Hawaii.

EDIT: I don't know what's going on with the strange quoting at the end of my post, I can't fix it because it looks perfectly fine when I edit the actual post text...
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
The current Broken Hill service is primarily a tourist train
UpperQuad
Wonderful. That is why we have the IP. If the entire purpose of the Broken Hill Xplorer is to serve tourists, why is the state government pouring money into it?

If it's just a tourist train, axe it.

This is not a train for connecting the folk of Broken Hill with Sydney
UpperQuad
I am trying to achieve this.

If it's just a tourist train, axe it.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Put simply, if it can be run during the day, why not do that?
jdennis
Because, as I've explained already, people apparently want to be in Sydney for most of a business day; the current timetable runs during the day so that people arrive in Sydney at 9pm and leave at 7am, requiring two hotel nights.

pensioners, travellers or students, for example, are probably not going to care that much if the train arrives at 8am rather than 1pm
jdennis
The point stands that arriving at 8pm is not terribly useful.

A lunchtime arrival or departure is sufficient for most anyway, as it allows half a business day to attend a meeting, appointment or other commitment for those that need to be in a particular place during business hours - which I suspect a large proportion of the current passenger market do not anyway.
jdennis
A lunchtime arrival still needs a very early departure.

If you run overnight/redeye trains, sure you will still get those pax that need to use the service, but why not make it more attractive for those who have a choice?
jdennis
Can I just remind you that I have very pleasant, passenger-friendly daytime operating hours on my morning Tamworth and Dubbo trains?

Remember also that staff wages are lower during the day, meaning increased passenger revenue and lower operating costs.
jdennis
On the flip side, maintenance is cheaper during the day. This will be a perpetually flipping coin.

As UpperQuad alluded to, a train that runs as far as Broken Hill is almost certainly not doing so for the purpose of people travelling all the way from one terminus to the other - local connections are far more important, and having these occur in the middle of the night will wipe out huge chunks of your potential market.
jdennis
Hence why I floated the long stop in Parkes, simply to allow it to operate in and out of Broken Hill at more pleasant times, allowing it to serve the towns west of Parkes as a service connecting them toBroken Hill (not Sydney).

I would say that the current Brisbane timetable is rather close to what you're proposing to do with a number of other trains on the network.
jdennis
There is a significant difference, actually. That one arrives at an ungodly hour, which sucks. Leaving at an ungodly hour isn't so bad.

Perhaps we shouldn't. But I wouldn't call it a Melbourne train if it terminates in Albury.
jdennis
That hasn't stopped us calling it a Bomaderry/Nowra train when you need to change at Kiama, or a Gold Coast train when it terminates at Murwillumbah.

Of course I have taken a connecting flight. Almost always though, connections happen in a major city like Sydney, not Albury. A more accurate analogy would be to suggest that for me to fly from Armidale, where I live, to Sydney, I need to change planes in Tamworth. Or to use your SYD-LAX example from before, that I should change planes in Hawaii.
jdennis
Are you aware that Rex has a flight to Merimbula via Moruya?
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
State Governments in general, and NSW TrainLink in particular, promote tourism, in case you hadn’t noticed. It’s part of their charter.
UpperQuad
Is it part of their charter to pour millions every year into money-losing choo-choos?

“Primarily” and “entirely” are quite different things. Axe the tourist train, and you also lose the local service.
UpperQuad
Yes, it's a local service. That is precisely why I'm trying to structure it so it's useful for bringing people to Broken Hill in the morning and back in the evening.

My next version is going to have the slots adjusted so the Broken Hill train sits in Parkes for an hour each way, giving better times west of it.

The IP provides a very limited tourist service within NSW, and that is NOT why we have it. The IP also provides a most inadequate service on the Broken Hill line - at night.
UpperQuad
Did you know that tourist trains can operate overnight? You know, like the IP and FNQ trains that take long runs?
  jdennis Junior Train Controller

[QUOTE=Watson374]The point stands that arriving at 8pm is not terribly useful.[/QUOTE]No it isn't, but arriving at 1pm is perfectly fine for most, and is around four hours later than when most of your services arrive - meaning rather than a 1am or 2am departure in many cases, the trains leave their country origins at 5 or 6 in the morning, which is quite reasonable.

[QUOTE=Watson374]Can I just remind you that I have very pleasant, passenger-friendly daytime operating hours on my morning Tamworth and Dubbo trains?[/QUOTE]Aside from the fact that these "passenger-friendly" services only run 3 or 4 days per week, why bother operating the other service (which if not "pleasant" and "passenger-friendly" is evidently going to face trouble attracting passengers)? There is not the demand to operate two services in most cases.

[QUOTE=Watson374]On the flip side, maintenance is cheaper during the day. This will be a perpetually flipping coin.[/QUOTE]Good point, I didn't think of that.

[QUOTE=Watson374]Are you aware that Rex has a flight to Merimbula via Moruya?[/QUOTE]Yes... and? That is a service that stops at two destinations, not a change of planes. Just like flights to LHR from SYD stop at DXB or SIN.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
No it isn't, but arriving at 1pm is perfectly fine for most, and is around four hours later than when most of your services arrive - meaning rather than a 1am or 2am departure in many cases, the trains leave their country origins at 5 or 6 in the morning, which is quite reasonable.
jdennis
Yes and no. You can get away with it for some, such as Dubbo, but not others, such as Moree.

Aside from the fact that these "passenger-friendly" services only run 3 or 4 days per week, why bother operating the other service (which if not "pleasant" and "passenger-friendly" is evidently going to face trouble attracting passengers)? There is not the demand to operate two services in most cases.
jdennis
I may introduce another shakeup where the roles are reversed. Watch this space.

Yes... and? That is a service that stops at two destinations, not a change of planes. Just like flights to LHR from SYD stop at DXB or SIN.
jdennis
Doesn't change the fact that for most stops, you need to deplane and reboard. Actually, SYD-SIN-LHR is a better example because everybody gets kicked off for two hours.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
No it isn't, but arriving at 1pm is perfectly fine for most, and is around four hours later than when most of your services arrive - meaning rather than a 1am or 2am departure in many cases, the trains leave their country origins at 5 or 6 in the morning, which is quite reasonable.
jdennis
Have a look at the timing of the long distance coaches on some of the routes - perhaps the Greyhound Sydney to Brisbane running through Armidale if that is familiar territory for you.  These coaches have to pay their own way - and their timing is set such that the operator thinks that they will maximise the difference between revenue (number of passengers and the fares they are willing to pay) and the cost associated with the service.  While these services don't operate in a vacuum (they need to compete with other modes, including at the southern end the daylight rail services) I think it is pretty telling that they have chosen overnight timings, both ways, for that run.  

I think that overnight decision reflects that for many people, the preferred time of travel is strongly influenced by when you need to be at your destination, or when you are available to leave your origin.  If I am travelling after finishing a hard commitment such as work or school or whatever, the timing of the service that I want is one that leaves as soon as practical after I finish work or school or whatever.  If I am travelling before a hard commitment, such as work or school or whatever, the timing of the service that I want is one that arrives as soon as practical before that hard commitment.

What "soon as practical" means will depend on a number of things, including service reliability and the nature of the commitment (for example I would not plan to arrive in Sydney from the regions five minutes before a long haul international flight), and also on the preferences of the individual.

Some travellers may only have weak time commitments and will then prefer to travel when it is most comfortable for them.  But if you've got weak time commitments then you are probably not working... which means they are probably travelling on a concession of some sort or are very fare sensitive.  In terms of potential revenue, this group just fill seats - they are not your primary market.

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