GSR - The Overland Thread

 
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
A friend of mine is visiting from Adelaide and insisted on taking the train home on Tuesday - partly because I told him about the rumours on Railpage that the train was going to be closed at some stage soon.

Unfortunately the booking process on-line was surprisingly complicated and there was a fee attached to making an 'assisted' booking (it used to be called phone-booking!). I also noticed that there's surprisingly very few places where you can actually go and buy a ticket in person - we rang GSR to find out if we could actually buy a ticket at Southern Cross station but they weren't sure themselves exactly who sold the tickets or when they were open.

We got through the internet booking eventually - he got the upgrade to 'Red Premium' so it will be interesting to hear how the trip goes...
don_dunstan
Looking forward to feedback.

I wouldn't hold any value, nor comment or spread rumors of the train closing. There have been rumors in Qld of the Westlander and Inlander closing for the 15years I have lived there and they are still running.

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  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The rumour is that the South Australian government is going to take away the money they put up to run it every year - I believe it was Pressman who first mentioned that he had heard this in another thread about GSR last month. The service won't survive without money from the SA and Victorian governments.

Frankly GSR under its new owners will probably be relieved if someone else made the decision for them.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
I wouldn't hold any value, nor comment or spread rumors of the train closing. There have been rumors in Qld of the Westlander and Inlander closing for the 15years I have lived there and they are still running.
RTT_Rules
The rumour is that the South Australian government is going to take away the money they put up to run it every year - I believe it was Pressman who first mentioned that he had heard this in another thread about GSR last month. The service won't survive without money from the SA and Victorian governments.
"don_dunstan"


Besides the fact that the SA Government has withdrawn their funding of the Overland from 1/1/2016
Go take a look at GSR's website. Fares and timetables for all their services have always been listed from April to March however the Overland has now been listed as April to 31st December 2015 (whereas the IP and Ghan are still listed as April to March)

Also try an online booking for the Overland after 31st December 2015 and you can't!
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Besides the fact that the SA Government has withdrawn their funding of the Overland from 1/1/2016
Go take a look at GSR's website. Fares and timetables for all their services have always been listed from April to March however the Overland has now been listed as April to 31st December 2015 (whereas the IP and Ghan are still listed as April to March)

Also try an online booking for the Overland after 31st December 2015 and you can't!
Pressman
Ok thanks fair enough.

The Vic $1.5mpa doesn't sound much but its basically $1025 each way per trip. Don't know how much SA pays.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Ok thanks fair enough.

The Vic $1.5mpa doesn't sound much but its basically $1025 each way per trip. Don't know how much SA pays.
RTT_Rules
As far as I am aware, the Vic and SA gov's contributions are/were equal.

The upgrades to rolling stock a few years ago was also paid for by both governments.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Ok thanks fair enough.

The Vic $1.5mpa doesn't sound much but its basically $1025 each way per trip. Don't know how much SA pays.
RTT_Rules
There's two return trips a week; so about 104 a year. That actually works out to about $29,000 per return service or $14,500 each way.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
There's two return trips a week; so about 104 a year. That actually works out to about $29,000 per return service or $14,500 each way.
don_dunstan
Good point, I was way away with the fairy's on that one.

Not sure how many use it but assume 290 people, $50 a head. If SA govt is matching that's $100/head. Not far off the airfare!
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Yeah you start to realise the difficulty of keeping the thing viable when you realise that the SA/Vic governments could probably actually give all those passengers airline tickets instead and still have change... no wonder the SA government is about to call 'time'.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
Yeah you start to realise the difficulty of keeping the thing viable when you realise that the SA/Vic governments could probably actually give all those passengers airline tickets instead and still have change... no wonder the SA government is about to call 'time'.
don_dunstan
What about those who can't/won't fly for health or other reasons? Stuff them all in a bus? No thanks...
  rwatts Junior Train Controller

Location: Adelaide SA
Yeah you start to realise the difficulty of keeping the thing viable when you realise that the SA/Vic governments could probably actually give all those passengers airline tickets instead and still have change... no wonder the SA government is about to call 'time'.
don_dunstan
Trouble is once the train is gone a lot of people might claim their free airline ticket because they "really wanted to travel by train" Smile (A little like farmers in some countries receiving subsidies for not growing crops - the more crops they "don't grow" the more money they receive)

What about those who can't/won't fly for health or other reasons? Stuff them all in a bus? No thanks...
Graham4405
With all the money we've saved sending those that can by air, those that have a valid medical condition (including psychological) could be sent by limousine or even ambulance.

Personally I would like to see the The Overland continue and preferably improved in both frequency and speed but realistically that ain't going to happen.  Hopefully I'll get one more trip in before it ends.

Richard.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
What about those who can't/won't fly for health or other reasons? Stuff them all in a bus? No thanks...
Graham4405
I agree, I have a similar aversion to buses - especially when they're crowded - but we have to face the reality that even with a very large subsidy this train can't seem to attract any reasonable numbers so ultimately it will probably end up being all V/line-Firefly buses. It's better than nothing.

Personally I think it's a shame but it's just a reality that the present format of the Overland is not working in this day and age.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
I agree, I have a similar aversion to buses - especially when they're crowded - but we have to face the reality that even with a very large subsidy this train can't seem to attract any reasonable numbers so ultimately it will probably end up being all V/line-Firefly buses. It's better than nothing.

Personally I think it's a shame but it's just a reality that the present format of the Overland is not working in this day and age.
don_dunstan
Tend to agree and I hate bus travel also, but you cannot keep the train going like this and people's fear of flying is not the govts issue. Medical conditions are handled in other ways if flying cannot be used as they are for people in Tasmania, WA, NT and many other regional areas seeking treatment not available in their home state.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Tend to agree and I hate bus travel also, but you cannot keep the train going like this and people's fear of flying is not the govts issue. Medical conditions are handled in other ways if flying cannot be used as they are for people in Tasmania, WA, NT and many other regional areas seeking treatment not available in their home state.
RTT_Rules
If this was the central issue with keeping the Overland going (ie to prove an alternative to flying) then perhaps they should have two return buses a day meeting the Ararat train, maybe extending a few of the Dimboola/Nhill buses. That way they can increase the viability of the V/line western service in addition to providing that link - I'm sure the total cost of doing that would be much less than $3 million p.a.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
To follow-up on an earlier comment, my friend who took the Overland earlier this week said it 'okay' but a bit slow. He was really unimpressed by the need to show up nearly an hour before departure (like an aeroplane); he said that the train wasn't even shunted into position until five minutes before departure. Obviously it's not like the old days of 'show up and go'.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
To follow-up on an earlier comment, my friend who took the Overland earlier this week said it 'okay' but a bit slow. He was really unimpressed by the need to show up nearly an hour before departure (like an aeroplane); he said that the train wasn't even shunted into position until five minutes before departure. Obviously it's not like the old days of 'show up and go'.
don_dunstan
I remember exactly the same happened at Keswick Terminal ten years ago.  You had to check in at least an hour before departure yet the train wasn't docked until five minutes before departure.  By the time everyone was on and the luggage loaded it left ten minutes late!

I later heard others on the train berating the on-board staff because their friend had fronted 45 minutes before departure yet was refused boarding because he or she wasn't "in time".  The friend was at the terminal almost a full hour before the train pulled out, was booked on yet was refused travel.

This is asinine thinking.  It is the perfect way to kill a service which you are only running under duress anyway.  There is no need to check in more than 15 minutes prior to departure and there should be no need for anyone to check in at all unless they wish to check in their baggage in which case 20 to 30 minutes before departure is perfectly reasonable.

Keswick Terminal isn't busy.  It's not as if platform occupancy is at a premium.  The Overland is the only train all day to use the platform when it runs.  It could and should be docked well before departure.  The snack bar wasn't even open at the early hour we were required to check in - another matter complained of by some passengers - and neither was it permitted to walk beyond the leading carriage to take photos of the locomotive even though there was perhaps 100 metres of platform to spare.  I wasn't even able to confirm its number until we arrived in Melbourne!

When the history of this train is written GSR will stand accused of every sin and error in the book and of perpetuating the worst form of customer service in a blatant attempt (though they would no doubt deny it) to make the train as unattractive and unremunerative as possible in their sustained efforts to be rid of it from their operations altogether.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
When the history of this train is written GSR will stand accused of every sin and error in the book and of perpetuating the worst form of customer service in a blatant attempt (though they would no doubt deny it) to make the train as unattractive and unremunerative as possible in their sustained efforts to be rid of it from their operations altogether.
Gwiwer
I don't think it's deliberate but the business philosophy about how to operate it is stuck with those 'rail cruises' they run and it just isn't working. I don't know why the respective state governments kept funding it that way, they should have realised years ago that GSR are not the right operator for that service.
  rwatts Junior Train Controller

Location: Adelaide SA
I remember exactly the same happened at Keswick Terminal ten years ago. You had to check in at least an hour before departure yet the train wasn't docked until five minutes before departure.
and neither was it permitted to walk beyond the leading carriage to take photos of the locomotive even though there was perhaps 100 metres of platform to spare. I wasn't even able to confirm its number until we arrived in Melbourne!

I travelled to Melbourne on The Overland in June 2011 and thought the check-in requirement was ludicrous. I had my seat allocation already and was travelling with hand luggage only.  I should have been encouraged to board and settle on the train as early as practical.  As I recall, all tickets were checked by on-train staff - although maybe because some travellers seem incapable of finding their correct seats.

When I arrived the carriages were on the platform but the locomotive had not appeared.  There was no restriction on walking the platform and I went down to watch and (poorly) photograph the coupling.




Apart from the baggage being loaded the platform was empty and I was able to walk down to watch that and then the shunting of the Motorail wagon by PL1, followed by attachment of the end of train marker.  At least I am interested in the minutiae of such things otherwise I would have been extremely bored sitting around all this time.



The snack bar was open when I arrived and a few people seemed to be making use of it but most were just sitting around inside the terminal on the rather uncomfortable seating.  Eventually I noticed one or two others had wandered onto the train so I followed suit.

The trip was certainly long, and some sections in Victoria - especially from North Shore onwards - seemed abysmally slow.  I was glad that I had decided to burn some airline points and fly back home.  Still, travelling in Red Premium I had enormous leg room, had selected a single seat and could get up and walk around whenever I wanted but it was enough to satisfy my appetite.

My previous travel on The Overland was as a nine year old in 1969 with my Mother and Sister, each in separate roomettes.  I'm realistic enough to know those days are long gone but gee I really think today's Overland could be done so much better.

Of course if the rumours of its demise are true, maybe it's time for one last trip.

Richard.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Considering the XPT recommended presentation time is 15 minutes (30 if you want to check luggage), the hour seems excessive.....
  CS2905 Junior Train Controller

Location: Canberra, ACT
Gee, I haven't been on RP for a while, have I?....

Someone mentioned "medical conditions" earlier in this thread. When I travelled on The Overland from Ararat to Southern Cross last year, the track was so rough in places that it was almost enough to give you a medical condition. Shocked
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
I travelled on the Overland in both 2009 and 2013 and I felt that the track was much rougher in 2013.
  greasyrhys Chief Commissioner

Location: MacDonald Park, SA
The Overland was much better before G$R took over 18 years ago. I'm prepared to say the same with The Ghan & Indian Pacific.
  thadocta Chief Commissioner

Location: Katoomba
The Overland was much better before G$R took over 18 years ago. I'm prepared to say the same with The Ghan & Indian Pacific.
greasyrhys

The Overdue, I would agree, the IP and Ghan, depends which class you are travelling in Economy Sleeper WAS ok, when there was a separate dining car, once they went to the same crap that sitting passengers were subjected to it became a non-starter

Of course, Red Sleeper is no longer available, so no longer an issue. Gold Class on the other hand is better than it was under gom'mint running, so no complaints there. apart from the fact that they are slashing the number of services per week.

As a service marketed to tourists, twice weekly is needed, once a week is not enough, particularly when dealing with Americans, who typically only get two weeks of annual leave per year, making them wait for a weekly service is just not going to cut it

Dave








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  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
The Overland was much better before G$R took over 18 years ago. I'm prepared to say the same with The Ghan & Indian Pacific.
greasyrhys
That's a fairly broad statement Rhys.

I rode the IP, Brisbane Limited, Spirit Of Progress and the Overland back in AN's days.
My ratings
AN controlled IP and Overland = both 5 star
NSWGR controlled Brisbane Limited = 1/2 star, SOP 1 star!

More recently I rode the Ghan (several times) rating = 6 star plus! (GSR)
(Also of note, the Ghan only went to Alice Springs in AN's days, the extension to Darwin came in GSR's era)

The Overland started suffering back in the late AN era, to put a time on the downfall I'd say around the time of the Adelaide - Melbourne gauge conversion.
It didn't run for a few months due to the gauge conversion closure of the line.
This was also around the time of the beginning of the "Air Fares war"
In a nutshell the regular travelling public walked away from the Overland, patronage fell drastically.
AN then experimented with running a Daylight service, a Day service returning as an Overnight service, but patronage was way down. (And if I remember correctly it was AN who first reduced the Overland to less than a daily service)
The Overland was starting on it's path to a slow death and this was still the days of AN!
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
I travelled on the Overland in both 2009 and 2013 and I felt that the track was much rougher in 2013.
GeoffreyHansen
I do find it amusing that some blame the train for a 'rough' ride.
Other posters have blamed GSR for the rough ride and transit time delays.

GSR don't own the track and are not responsible for it's maintenance.

I suppose it's kind of akin to blaming Hertz or Avis for the pot holes on the highways or the traffic delays around road works. Rolling Eyes
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
One thing I was keen to do was ride on the Red class sleeper until it was removed.

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