GSR - The Overland Thread

 
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I think Serco made it pretty obvious that they considered the Overland a non-core business that they were only running at the behest of the SA and Vic governments; I think with Allegro (as with Serco) will be happy to accept more money to keep it going but (as with Serco) it's just not a core part of their business that they'll actively promote.

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  SN7 Chief Commissioner

Today's Melb - Adl service had extra cars attached to the full consist - HM 957 - AG376- AG375 & CDF 225, about 12 cars all up + moto rail
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I think Serco made it pretty obvious that they considered the Overland a non-core business that they were only running at the behest of the SA and Vic governments; I think with Allegro (as with Serco) will be happy to accept more money to keep it going but (as with Serco) it's just not a core part of their business that they'll actively promote.
don_dunstan

Could the service then be better in Vline Passenger hands rather than the new owners?

I can;t see any value in moving management and delivery of the service to SA government as they have no recent experience in running any long distance services.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I think Serco made it pretty obvious that they considered the Overland a non-core business that they were only running at the behest of the SA and Vic governments; I think with Allegro (as with Serco) will be happy to accept more money to keep it going but (as with Serco) it's just not a core part of their business that they'll actively promote.

Could the service then be better in Vline Passenger hands rather than the new owners?

I can;t see any value in moving management and delivery of the service to SA government as they have no recent experience in running any long distance services.
bevans
Just throwing it out there, but id say that NSW Trains would be the best placed to run it.  V/Line doesn't have ultra long distance services, but NSW Trains does.  They could loop the service using XPTs from Southern Cross, i.e. Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney.  Now, there are umpteen reasons why it wont happen (accreditation, government priorities, NSW not doing the work of Vic and SA unless it gets paid in full for it, XPT availability, crewing, unions, etc etc etc etc etc) but if you're looking for someone with that experience, they are there.  Qld Rail might be too but of course, narrow gauge trains don't work so well on standard track....
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
I think Serco made it pretty obvious that they considered the Overland a non-core business that they were only running at the behest of the SA and Vic governments; I think with Allegro (as with Serco) will be happy to accept more money to keep it going but (as with Serco) it's just not a core part of their business that they'll actively promote.

Could the service then be better in Vline Passenger hands rather than the new owners?

I can;t see any value in moving management and delivery of the service to SA government as they have no recent experience in running any long distance services.
bevans
The SA Government wouldn't want it!
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
The SA Government wouldn't want it!
Pressman
I doubt any government wants it.

Not quite sure what people have been smoking?
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
The SA Government wouldn't want it!
I doubt any government wants it.

Not quite sure what people have been smoking?
bingley hall
Well the SA govt does want it (as they have announced funding), contingent on the Vic govt also wanting it.  As to running it, thats another question altogether.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Time is starting to run away if the Victorian government was going to re-fund the service for another two or three years: The option of Motorail ceases at the end of next month and you still can't book a service on the GSR site beyond the 31st of December.
  ssaunders Train Controller

Prediction: Vic will fund for 6 more months temp until they commit longer term in 2016, PN retains until for the temp period.

ss
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Time is starting to run away if the Victorian government was going to re-fund the service for another two or three years: The option of Motorail ceases at the end of next month and you still can't book a service on the GSR site beyond the 31st of December.
don_dunstan
Nor can you do so in person.  The opinion of some booking office staff remains that the Overdue is a dead duck.  

If Victoria is going to do something the time to do so was long ago.  To throw a few gold coins into the hat at the 11th hour and 59th minute does little good when all potential business has already been told "Sorry- closed"
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Time is starting to run away if the Victorian government was going to re-fund the service for another two or three years: The option of Motorail ceases at the end of next month and you still can't book a service on the GSR site beyond the 31st of December.
Nor can you do so in person.  The opinion of some booking office staff remains that the Overdue is a dead duck.  

If Victoria is going to do something the time to do so was long ago.  To throw a few gold coins into the hat at the 11th hour and 59th minute does little good when all potential business has already been told "Sorry- closed"
Gwiwer
Yeah, you can't actually buy a ticket over the counter, it's been that way for a while. There's apparently only two and half months of the service left now anyway?
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Prediction: Vic will fund for 6 more months temp until they commit longer term in 2016, PN retains until for the temp period.

ss
ssaunders
I'm inclined to agree with Gwiwer, I think time is being deliberately ran out.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
As per the GSR website, the last two Overland services of the year will not run due to trackwork (Mon 28th and Tues 29th of December). So potentially the final services will be the ones before Christmas in about two months.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

I'm inclined to agree with Gwiwer, I think time is being deliberately ran out.
don_dunstan
I agree.

The reason that the Victorians aren't coming out and saying it is, in my opinion, because they are an ALP government and they have to make some concession to the received wisdom that only the nasty conservatives make cuts.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the SA portion of the subsidy. Hopefully the work experience kid who handled the A-City procurement has finished their placement and the government had an adult take care of the GSR contract to make sure it could be exited as needed - the only thing worse than subsidising (at the price of a plane ticket per passenger!) this ridiculous non-service would handing over the money and literally getting nothing in return.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere

the only thing worse than subsidising (at the price of a plane ticket per passenger!) this ridiculous non-service would handing over the money and literally getting nothing in return.
justapassenger
Unless, of course, some way was found to make this into a viable service with an enthusiastic operator

Welcome to Australia.  A First-World nation with Third-World rail services and policies.  Byron Bay and Newcastle closed.  Now the Vic - SA rural regions stand to lose their rail link to the capitals and the two closest mainland State capital cities will no longer have a passenger rail link.

This despite the upturn in passenger rail traffic generally and in other countries.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
It's not entirely a story of doom and gloom but longer haul services have been decimated to the point where only tourist trains are viable; the public voted with their feet to make them un-viable and I think in the case of the Overland the (Victorian) government just hasn't wanted it to be an attractive or easy-to-use option for a long time because they've wanted to pull the pin for a while.

As we've seen with the success of the Bracks modernisation of V/line - I don't like to use the 'Regional Fast Rail' acronym because it is not particularly fast! - short-haul runs are where rail can most effectively win customers back and relieve congestion on the roads so that's where governments have been shovelling money, not on long haul (with the possible exception of the reinstatement of Bairnsdale train?).
  Calgully Deputy Commissioner

Location:
I have no specific information, but it wouldn't surprise me if the future of Melbourne to Adelaide passenger rail services is as a southward extension of the Ghan so that it runs weekly from Melbourne to Darwin via Adelaide.  In that way the fares could be higher and it makes it just that bit easier to attract potential travellers from the Melbourne market.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
I have no specific information, but it wouldn't surprise me if the future of Melbourne to Adelaide passenger rail services is as a southward extension of the Ghan so that it runs weekly from Melbourne to Darwin via Adelaide.  In that way the fares could be higher and it makes it just that bit easier to attract potential travellers from the Melbourne market.
Calgully
Extending the Ghan to Melbourne has been tried in the past and it was unsuccessful.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
It's not entirely a story of doom and gloom but longer haul services have been decimated to the point where only tourist trains are viable; the public voted with their feet to make them un-viable and I think in the case of the Overland the (Victorian) government just hasn't wanted it to be an attractive or easy-to-use option for a long time because they've wanted to pull the pin for a while.

As we've seen with the success of the Bracks modernisation of V/line - I don't like to use the 'Regional Fast Rail' acronym because it is not particularly fast! - short-haul runs are where rail can most effectively win customers back and relieve congestion on the roads so that's where governments have been shovelling money, not on long haul (with the possible exception of the reinstatement of Bairnsdale train?).
don_dunstan
Totally agree

Like It or not the trend In Australia Is well and truly moving away from long distance rail travel (unless It's a rolling hotel or public transport serving many towns and cities en-route like the Brisbane - Cairns service)

The reason fast rail between Melbourne - Sydney and Brisbane will be nothing but talk/spin Is the market for this mode of travel Is slipping away very quickly (The talked about travel times seam very unrealistic going by European standards)

Over In Europe people don't travel 900-1000 km via rail, they fly ! (as one can see by the amount of aeroplanes over EU airspace at any given time)
  murray2612 Station Staff

Location: Adelaide, Australia
No wonder it's on a downward spiral, when The Overland can't compete with one single mode of transport on speed or frequency. Improvements to speed should have been made while patronage was higher and thus justifiable, so at least it could compete with car travel.

I agree with previous comments that their check-in requirements are ridiculous. I remember a few years ago boarding at SCS 15 minutes prior to departure, without knowing about their 1hr rule, and getting a talking-down from the staff member at the door about being "late". I still don't know what the issue was, especially considering I only had carry-on baggage. Another time I turned up at Keswick 1hr prior as instructed, and the check-in counter wasn't even open yet. When it opened, the staff just told me to make my way to the platform, without processing anything, as again I only had carry-on baggage. Then at the platform the carriages were still locked and everyone had to wait! It was very frustrating.

I think The Overland should focus more on destinations mid journey, given their uncompetitiveness on the full route. There is an enormous market of (mainly international) tourists who want to do Melbourne-Great Ocean Road-Grampians-Adelaide and visa-versa. V/line already covers Ararat-Grampians-GOR-Melb but it's shame they can't work closer together to align them properly.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
We have compared the subsidy of V/Line and NSW Trains in other threads, anyone know what the subsidy is for the Overland specifically?
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I agree with previous comments that their check-in requirements are ridiculous. I remember a few years ago boarding at SCS 15 minutes prior to departure, without knowing about their 1hr rule, and getting a talking-down from the staff member at the door about being "late". I still don't know what the issue was, especially considering I only had carry-on baggage. Another time I turned up at Keswick 1hr prior as instructed, and the check-in counter wasn't even open yet. When it opened, the staff just told me to make my way to the platform, without processing anything, as again I only had carry-on baggage. Then at the platform the carriages were still locked and everyone had to wait! It was very frustrating.
murray2612
This is a problem identified time and again on this forum - it really puts people off being told that they have to be there an hour beforehand like an aircraft when clearly there's no need for it if you have no booked baggage. Gwiwer has a theory that it's part of the conspiracy to put people off using it and I'm inclined to agree.

I think The Overland should focus more on destinations mid journey, given their uncompetitiveness on the full route. There is an enormous market of (mainly international) tourists who want to do Melbourne-Great Ocean Road-Grampians-Adelaide and visa-versa. V/line already covers Ararat-Grampians-GOR-Melb but it's shame they can't work closer together to align them properly.
murray2612
This has also been discussed a lot; I guess the most significant obstacle would be the infrequent running. I've seen different tourism operators picking up clients directly from the Ararat V/line train (I once saw a Halls Gap holiday park bus picking up a group directly from the train) so it's not impossible that a train service could work in with those tourism operators... just not the GSR Overland.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
This is a problem identified time and again on this forum - it really puts people off being told that they have to be there an hour beforehand like an aircraft when clearly there's no need for it if you have no booked baggage. Gwiwer has a theory that it's part of the conspiracy to put people off using it and I'm inclined to agree.

don_dunstan
I agree, they are trying to ween people off the service, they could on purpose cancel a service, terminate the service mid run (replace It with busses) make It run very late, make booking very complicated restrictive and confusing.

Just turn It Into a dog of a service, than fully withdraw the service and few people would even miss It !
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I think there is some overly conspiratorial thinking going on here.  I doubt any agency would have the brilliance to pull such a conspiracy off, and if they did they would be executing more important conspracies than the little old Overland!!  If anything it is just dithering.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
James Bushell: I beg to differ, I think it's the perfect conspiracy to make a service unattractive. In the United States, if National Bus Lines bought out a streetcar system in the thirties the first thing they did was reduce the frequency of the trams to make it less attractive to users. You can have all sorts of reasons for wanting to run a business or service into the ground but it happens all the time.

Continuing to fund a silly eleven hour rail-cruise style trip that nobody wanted was a better alternative to cutting the service off ten years ago when there were more users. Easier to stop funding it once most sources of passengers have stopped using it - as it is now. Next year it won't even have pensioner discounts so I can't imagine how empty it will be if they continue to run it.

You asked earlier if anyone had worked out the level of subsidy for the current Overland - I can't find the specific calculations now but I think it was said that each time they ran the train the taxpayer subsidy was about $30,000+ so even being extremely generous and assuming a loading of 200 passengers you could still buy each one of them an airfare instead at around $150 each. It makes V/line subsidies at about $20 a passenger trip look extremely cheap by comparison.

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