Future of Overland train service in doubt

 
Topic moved from News by dthead on 25 Nov 2019 19:16
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Were they Nightfire or forced too by having no other option. If there was an each way train between the two cities each day, I wonder how many coach's would drop off the radar ?

Seems old don would be traveling on the rails if able but it's not an option for him so, yes he's happy to use the coach. I as I've said before used to catch the bus from Horsham to either Ararat or Ballarat and was happy to do so but if I had the choice would have been on the rails.

It's seems to be the way, to apply the strangle hold on something and then say, look not many people are using the service.

Looking from the other side of the glass.

BigShunter.
BigShunter
Hello BigShunter, I would prefer a nice train like anyone on this board but the reality is that the Daylink bus suits my needs much better. The most annoying thing is still the wait for connecting services at Horsham and (sometimes) Ararat but in the absence of a train that is able to do the whole trip to exactly where I want to go then a bus is just fine.

The V/line Firefly part of the service is hardly ever filled to capacity except at the peak holidays or special events - generally a load of about 25-30 people is the rule. On those sorts of numbers you'd have to wonder who would be interested in using the train even if it were returned as a return daily service.

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  david harvey Junior Train Controller

Location: Bairnsdale
The overland is caught in a time warp


, Maybe it’s the evolution of Transport at first there was the horse and cart then came the river boat and along came the railway.                         Next we have the car, the truck, the aeroplane,  ,the  automatic warehouse delivery system ,the Segway ,the  driverless car ,
the  driverless truck, the hover board ,   the  driverless flying uber taxi,  next is  Virgin’s   passenger rocket ship  into space .
Need I go on……..  

As  “Just a Passenger” said above , If a survey was taken to see how high the Overland would rank with the residents who live in the towns/cities along the way in South Australia/Victoria with an   honest survey asking them to list their top 10 priorities for state government expenditure in the region without any prompting of the answers.  What have the Romans ever done for us?  Would the Overland rate a mention? Every Body Wants The Train To Run, I’m Sure Of That, because it’s a security blanket for their town. No body uses it, but don’t take it away from our town!!!


      Seriously    why would a business spend their own money when there is a sniff that a Government is willing to chip in millions on a service that just “diddly bops” along and has second priority to freight trains .

 Maybe there are no votes in it this time around?
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.
Ok I'll pull the flag to all of the above. However I am hoping to grasp a ride on the Overland from Nhill back to dons home land capital, on it's unofficial second last trip and after that we will see if Mikelander comes up with the goods for another years worth of funding.

BigShunter.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line

It would be interesting to see how high the Overland would rank if you were to run a survey with the residents who actually live in the towns/cities along the way in Victoria. Maybe ask them to list their top 10 priorities for state government expenditure in the region, without any leading questions to corrupt the process.
justapassenger

I live in a dormitory town in Ballan and if the same questions were to be asked, PT provision would also probably be well down the list after...let's see...

provision of schools, education
health services
community safety
lower taxes...(always gets a guernsey)
better roads
more parking and drop off points at schools (encourages childhood obesity)
cheaper petrol...yeah right Exclamation

Then maybe some peripheral issues might arise like better PT options or the like.

Chances are the people in these SA towns as referred to would not have a clue about the Overland and the bus options being scant and expensive are no option either.

...and how often are these people actually travelling by any means to Adelaide anyway Question

I'd hazard a guess...not often.

Footnote:

to a lesser degree, in Victoria people of these rural towns along the line also hardly know of the Overland nor its infrequent schedule, but they probably know of the V/Line buses to/from Ararat and Ballarat and occasionally use them, particularly as the Boomers age and demand better PT options...and young people, increasingly don't even bother with a drivers licence and by using the services, drive increased frequency.

Many people from these Victorian towns along the line drive to Ballarat where there is now good parking at the station and frequent trains at reasonable cost to...and late services from Melbourne to give a real transport option instead of mixing it with heavy traffic hassles and expensive parking etc.

The Overland as a daily service would probably become a transport facilitator, particularly in Victoria similar to the increased trains on my line to Ballarat and to a degree the increased frequency to Ararat and also Horsham. These positive transport experiences rub off on others...hence the provision of PT overall expands.

It would also create a certainty the train to/from Adelaide leaves every morning in a similar vein to the still popular daily XPT and the daily SA intercapital travellers would increase leaving the buses to service the smaller towns along the route and other routes the train cannot.

However to drive all this needs a government that's provision and support of PT and history has shown they are generally Labor governments....perhaps.. with a nod to Sims an exception being the Berejiklian government in NSW



Mike.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
To the Gippslander.

I'm getting the Overland from Horsham to Melbourne on Friday, bypassing bustitution on the Ballarat line. It was a serious battle to book online but I eventually beat the not very user friendly website. The 1st class option 'Red Premium' is booked out and there were only 30 economy seats left when I signed up on Sat. This service does not appear to have any commonality with the Ghan or Indian Pacific.

It seems from what you are saying that you booked through the Journey beyond site, not the PTV site...could you please clarify.

Mike.
  TOQ-1 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Power Trainger
At the start of last year I was involved in a community feedback session with council about the station precinct in Ararat.

There were a lot of representatives from various aspects of the tourism industry invited along for one of the early sessions. None of them had any real idea of what the V/Line services were actually like, and no idea that there was a potential market there, a whole new way of encouraging people to come to the town.

If people who have a vested interest in knowing what the local transport options look like don't have any idea, then the general public will have none.
  Rossco T Chief Train Controller

Location: Camberwell, Victoria
For the Victorian Intrastate market the answer is short term : Contract GSR to run a daily loco hauled service am Up Horsham via Cressy and North Shore and returning from Southern Cross just after 1800 . Maintain the car set and loose spare cars in Melbourne.
kuldalai

What about instead using the V/Line SG N sets that are currently being used for the Albury service that a soon to be replaced with new SG V/Lo sets?  Or would using the N sets be less reliable than the GSR rollingstock given the poor track record on the Albury corridor.  Just use them between Nhill and Ararat, no need to run through to Southern Cross.

Ross
  trainbrain Chief Commissioner

the saga continues.........................
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
....for only around 6 weeks until the official announcement.

Mike.
  Gremlin Assistant Commissioner

....for only around 6 weeks until the official announcement.

Mike.
The Vinelander
So, is there an actual date when it will stop?

Is 31 December "suggested" or published or inferred or...?
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
....for only around 6 weeks until the official announcement.

Mike.
So, is there an actual date when it will stop?

Is 31 December "suggested" or published or inferred or...?
Gremlin
There are ten (count 'em) Overland services left this year and at this point you can't book from 1st of January onwards, obviously they still don't have funding beyond that date. I looked at the remaining trains to try and figure out if I could swap to a bus or train at Ararat and get to Ballarat but I'd have to wait an hour and twenty minutes before the next V/line train. I might consider doing that though if they actually do cancel it, the last opportunity to ride and all that.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
....for only around 6 weeks until the official announcement.

Mike.
The Vinelander
Six weeks would take it through until AFTER it's been cancelled.
  Gremlin Assistant Commissioner

....for only around 6 weeks until the official announcement.

Mike.
So, is there an actual date when it will stop?

Is 31 December "suggested" or published or inferred or...?
There are ten (count 'em) Overland services left this year and at this point you can't book from 1st of January onwards, obviously they still don't have funding beyond that date. I looked at the remaining trains to try and figure out if I could swap to a bus or train at Ararat and get to Ballarat but I'd have to wait an hour and twenty minutes before the next V/line train. I might consider doing that though if they actually do cancel it, the last opportunity to ride and all that.
don_dunstan
I am booked to travel MEL-ADL on 3-DEC, purely as a sightseeing trip Smile
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
....for only around 6 weeks until the official announcement.

Mike.
So, is there an actual date when it will stop?

Is 31 December "suggested" or published or inferred or...?
There are ten (count 'em) Overland services left this year and at this point you can't book from 1st of January onwards, obviously they still don't have funding beyond that date. I looked at the remaining trains to try and figure out if I could swap to a bus or train at Ararat and get to Ballarat but I'd have to wait an hour and twenty minutes before the next V/line train. I might consider doing that though if they actually do cancel it, the last opportunity to ride and all that.
don_dunstan
be careful, it may not actually be cancelled officially until right at the end or indeed the last trip.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
....for only around 6 weeks until the official announcement.

Mike.
Six weeks would take it through until AFTER it's been cancelled.
don_dunstan

Sorry, I was somewhat under duress when I wrote this, being stuck in a contorted sitting position on a tiny bus seat with no armrest to lean against in a full bus 'express' from Ballan to SCS, but still taking 105 MINS...with very little leg room sitting next to a large woman on my rail replacement bus this morning when I wrote this...

and you hail about how wonderful buses are for interstate journey's Question

Mike.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
be careful, it may not actually be cancelled officially until right at the end or indeed the last trip.
RTT_Rules
It really wouldn't worry me if I missed the last Overland, in all fairness it died about fifteen years ago.
  wobert Chief Commissioner

Location: Half way between Propodolla and Kinimakatka
probably longer
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
....for only around 6 weeks until the official announcement.

Mike.
Six weeks would take it through until AFTER it's been cancelled.

Sorry, I was somewhat under duress when I wrote this, being stuck in a contorted sitting position on a tiny bus seat with no armrest to lean against in a full bus 'express' from Ballan to SCS, but still taking 105 MINS...with very little leg room sitting next to a large woman on my rail replacement bus this morning when I wrote this...

and you hail about how wonderful buses are for interstate journey's Question

Mike.
The Vinelander
I know you find it incredible but yes, the bus is way better than the Overland. The bus is convenient, daily, fairly-priced, fully integrated with the V/line system and almost always comfortable... really there's no comparison to the infrequent, expensive, difficult-to-use train.
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
Here's my 2 cents worth.

Last Tuesday I travelled on The Overland for the first time, from Southern Cross to Adelaide. Then on Monday this week, I returned to Melbourne again on The Overland. Both trains were fully booked up (2 Red class carriages and 2 Red Premium class carriages + the cafe car). My main motivation was to do the trip and see the railway sights while I still could.

Overall I would say the experience was good, a bit more of an adventure than flying yet without the stress of driving. If I just wanted to get to Adelaide as quick as possible, I would obviously fly, and if I wanted to do it as cheaply as possible, I would have driven myself, forget the coach, I just wouldn't do that to myself.

That's not to say it couldn't be better, aside from the rough ride (particularly between Ararat and Serviceton) which was commented on by quite a few in my Red Premium class carriage on the return trip from Adelaide (this is more of a comment on the quality of the track itself rather than the carriages), the carriages could do with a bit of re-vitalisation. Wifi and USB charging ports positioned near the seat would be a good start, also the Premium seats don't really have the sort of premium feel that the more discerning traveller may expect, something a bit more akin to a modern business class seat is what I think many people may expect, rather than what was more like a business class seat from an Ansett plane from the late 80s.

That said, it certainly had its good points too. There is a good deal of space, unlike on a coach or an airliner, I never felt like I was sitting in a sardine can. Also, the staff were very friendly, and the catering was certainly better than anything you will find on a full service domestic flight (the curry of the day was quite good).

So while the positives are there and shouldn't be completely ignored, if the train is going to stick around, it could do with a bit of an upgrade to keep up with its competitors.

As for the comments earlier in this thread about nobody using this service, both ways The Overland was completely full. If the amenities could be improved, and more importantly, the frequency was upped to something a bit more user-friendly, I do think it could become more popular. While I did pay full freight for my premium class seats, I can't say for certain everybody else did or didn't.

Would I travel on The Overland again in the future? Probably, if it was timed conveniently enough, otherwise I would just drive myself.

Could V/Line run it? Of course they could, but the Journey Beyond staff did make the trip that bit more special, I can't see V/Line staff matching that. Maybe I am wrong.

I do hope it is going around again next year, or better yet, for many years to come after receiving a bit of love. Leaving it as it isn't going to help it grow.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

For the Victorian Intrastate market the answer is short term : Contract GSR to run a daily loco hauled service am Up Horsham via Cressy and North Shore and returning from Southern Cross just after 1800 . Maintain the car set and loose spare cars in Melbourne.

What about instead using the V/Line SG N sets that are currently being used for the Albury service that a soon to be replaced with new SG V/Lo sets?  Or would using the N sets be less reliable than the GSR rollingstock given the poor track record on the Albury corridor.  Just use them between Nhill and Ararat, no need to run through to Southern Cross.

Ross
Rossco T
The loco hauled N sets off the sg Albury would be fine for service between Nhill & Ararat connecting with bg V/Locity to and from Melbourne.  (It is the ARTC track quality on the North East coupled with the timber transom bridges on the East sg line in the North East that give the problems - PLUS  VLP see all Inter City longer distance services as second priority to their Commuter rail operations .  With the North East takes 2 sets to run 3 return sg trips a day, well they have 4 sets so 100 % back up and VLP cannot manage to make it happen .

One could not use sg sets ex Abx short term on Horsham / Ararat as the sg VL sets for the Albury are still NOT ordered yet after some 5 years of announcements, re-packaging of media releases, statements of "getting on with it" when nothing is really ahppening, etc - on-going spin and waffle .

With a sg loco hauled operation Ararat - Horsham - Nhill by VLP you would have to work the sets to and from Melbourne for maintenance purposes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and in that circumstance they may as well carry pax via Geelong (North Shore):  Viz:  Through trip UP & Down  Friday and Sunday nights in both directions to change car sets over . (A strict Ararat based operation won't work as the car and locos sets do need to be maintained, and not worth building such a maintenace facility at Ararat for such a small number of sets and locos.)
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
A theory/idea:

If the subsidy for The Overland were to be pulled by the Andrews Government:

V/Line could purchase or lease the cars currently used by Journey Beyond on The Overland for use on a new service for the Wimmera.

Run it twice daily between Nhill and Ararat connecting with Ararat - Melbourne VLocities Monday to Friday.

Run 1 service on a Saturday morning from Nhill to Southern Cross via North Shore
Run 1 service on a Sunday evening from Southern Cross to Nhill via North Shore

Then you have the set in Melbourne once a week for any major maintenence, minor maintenence can be performed on site at Nhill or Ararat.

All that would be required to operate this would be a simple stabling siding facility at Nhill a couple of extra N class locos on the SG (these could transfer overnight during the week) and the required staff.

Operate a connecting road coach service from Nhill to Adelaide to fill the gap left by The Overland if required.

I know a 7 day per week service is preferable, but compared with the current 4 trains per week, 22 trains per week is still a huge improvement, while still allowing enough time for most scheduled maintenance to be carried out.
  gippslander Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland, Vic
I am travelling on the bus-train-bus combo from Melbourne to Horsham at the moment.
The V/Locity service to Ararat is fast and comfortable but the 4pm down out of Ballarat barely had a busload on it.
Returning from Horsham to Melb on The Overland on Friday.
Would seem very difficult to get a V/Line train back to the Wimmera with such small regional locations experiencing long term population decline.
  justarider Assistant Commissioner

Location: Stuck on VR and hoping for better.
....for only around 6 weeks until the official announcement.

Mike.
So, is there an actual date when it will stop?

Is 31 December "suggested" or published or inferred or...?
There are ten (count 'em) Overland services left this year and at this point you can't book from 1st of January onwards, obviously they still don't have funding beyond that date. I looked at the remaining trains to try and figure out if I could swap to a bus or train at Ararat and get to Ballarat but I'd have to wait an hour and twenty minutes before the next V/line train. I might consider doing that though if they actually do cancel it, the last opportunity to ride and all that.
don_dunstan
Trying to be helpful here @don

the 3:32 bus from Ararat to Ballarat meets the Overland. It's tight and don't know if the bus driver will wait for the Overdue.
If concerned ring the Ararat station , but it's a nice enough town to while an hour's wait.

Returning to Adelaide, the Ballarat train arrives Ararat @ 10:59 to meet the 11:15 Overland.

Love to hear any comment of your experience.

cheers
John
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

I am travelling on the bus-train-bus combo from Melbourne to Horsham at the moment.
The V/Locity service to Ararat is fast and comfortable but the 4pm down out of Ballarat barely had a busload on it.
Returning from Horsham to Melb on The Overland on Friday.
Would seem very difficult to get a V/Line train back to the Wimmera with such small regional locations experiencing long term population decline.
gippslander
But Stawell and Horsham are actually growing and Ararat has boomed since restoration of its rail service.
Ararat Weekday train times need fine tuning however to maximize patronage  to  :

Down :  0816  1116  1316  1633  &  1823   Up:  0618   0815  1126   1348  1648

A second stabling siding is currently being put in at Ararat which next year will result in the am Down MT Cars ex Ballarat to Ararat being replaced by potentially extending the Wendouree portion of the 1633 Down Wendouree/Maryborough to Ararat .

The second am Up needs to run an hour later and other services re-spread to maximize patronage over the 5 trains each way .
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland


The V/line Firefly part of the service is hardly ever filled to capacity except at the peak holidays or special events - generally a load of about 25-30 people is the rule. On those sorts of numbers you'd have to wonder who would be interested in using the train even if it were returned as a return daily service.
don_dunstan
Your numbers seem about right, earlier this year I traveled from Warragul to Nhill on a Friday evening, the Velocity arrived at Arrarat with over 100 passengers on board, where there was a road coach to Nhill (via Dadswells Bridge) and a road coach to Horsham (via Rupanyup)

The Nhill coach had about 30 passengers on board, 1 off at Great Western, 4 off / 4 on at Stawell (both coaches follow one and other to Stawell) 1 off at Dadswells Bridge.
At Horsham all but 4 of us left the coach, and all 4 of us traveled through to Nhill with no takers for Pimpinio, Dimboola or Kiata.

Should of been a maxi taxi beyond Horsham, no chance of a train been justified (that was found In a recent report)

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