Great South Pacific Express - Blue Mountains - December 1999

 
  Bevan Wall Deputy Commissioner

With a new luxury train, the Great Southern, making its first appearance in NSW this month, it is worth remembering that twenty years ago in December 1999, another opulent tourist train, the Great South Pacific Express, was also visiting parts of NSW for the first time. Here are some scenes to refresh the memories.
Enjoy,
BW



https://youtu.be/i12rFXiZag0

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  simstrain Chief Commissioner

was this a one off? How long did it last for and who ran it?
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

This train operated from Cairns to Melbourne. Reading up a little more apparently they went through a bogie exchange at acacia ridge. How was this achieved?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
This train operated from Cairns to Melbourne. Reading up a little more apparently they went through a bogie exchange at acacia ridge. How was this achieved?
simstrain
It did a number of trips south of the border, it was originally supposed to be fortnightly or something like that, but it didn't last as there was likely limited interest in the costly NSW NCL section and cost incurred of bogie change.

Bogie exchange, pick up carriage, drop the bogie, slide out, then slide new one in, drop the carriage, move forward, next!

I counted 22-26 (??) carriages at Brisbane once, so it had some length, but the carriages were not long, the train was longer than  Plat 2 Roma Street, but not much longer.

I think the concept was great, high end train flexible enough to travel the country and not be boxed in by one gauge. It was supposed to reach Perth, but I don't think every got west of Adelaide if it ever got to Adelaide at all. But it was hamstrung by a few issues that have been mentioned previously in RP and elsewhere;

- Extremely noisy and rough NG bogies

- Building a top end train on decades old 2nd hand guards van frames that were not well regarded by the guards.

- Narrow bodied and length of carriages making long trains for few numbers, claustrophobic feel as shown by Katrina Roundtree when she reported on it for one of the travel TV shows. There she is standing looking all classy,looking the part in formal ball gown to align with the ritzy feel of the service. Then showed the challenge of but walking across the buffers in a long dress and heels and having people squeeze (read "rub") past you while holding a drink trying to look all classy (remember she is not flat chested). Anyway, it wasn't a great promo for the service, but they didn't lie either.

- Global crash for rich Yanks post Sept '11

- High Maintenance of the wood work and brass fittings.

I doubt they got too much repeat patronage.

The issue with the carriage profiles was to enable it to travel up the range from Cairns. At least if they used the CTT profile the train cabin would be very similar to what GSR cars offer, but for what 25-30km of route km the whole service suffered.
  4206 Chief Commissioner

Location: Dorrigo yard
Thank you for sharing
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
This GSPE train had the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) against it 10 years ago and then IF you rode on it, not to mention all that Shane has mentioned above, the bogies were absolutely terrible and did nothing for riding comfort. The old Inter-capital Daylight Express comes to mind...for those of us who can remember the days of 'the varnish' and that was a rough riding train as well...but I digress.

The GSPE became so bad that the train slowed right down for meal service...and towards the end, on some sections of track, the train would not be travelling at all during the meal service, such was the shocking riding freight bogies under the cars. The fares were hideously expensive and rival the current I.P & Ghan expensive fares.

Finally after many years at Ipswich rail museum after the whole concept collapsed, the cars got shipped to NZ around 4 years ago if I recall.

Mike.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
This GSPE train had the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) against it 10 years ago and then IF you rode on it, not to mention all that Shane has mentioned above, the bogies were absolutely terrible and did nothing for riding comfort. The old Inter-capital Daylight Express comes to mind...for those of us who can remember the days of 'the varnish' and that was a rough riding train as well...but I digress.

The GSPE became so bad that the train slowed right down for meal service...and towards the end, on some sections of track, the train would not be travelling at all during the meal service, such was the shocking riding freight bogies under the cars. The fares were hideously expensive and rival the current I.P & Ghan expensive fares.

Finally after many years at Ipswich rail museum after the whole concept collapsed, the cars got shipped to NZ around 4 years ago if I recall.

Mike.
The Vinelander
Its a pity they didn't recognize the issues of the noisy and comfort earlier, bite the bullet and stop the service, get new bogies and start again, but the service was run into the ground so to speak.

Stopping for meals on a train destroys the whole nostalgia of eating on a train, they may as well stop along side a station in a town with a pub near by.

I believe the train was sold to Chile, but I doubt it will return to service in its previous state. I tried to fine photos of it in Chile, but so far no.

If you to try and repeat similar today, you'd be better off starting with some of QR's old rolling stock L or M class and rebuilding it and forget the bogie exchange. Just use a SG train south of the Tweed.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

The fomer GSPE now operates on standard gauge in Peru as the Belmond Andean Explorer. The 21 carriages were built on the underframes of 20 TLV guards vans, another underframe was built new, in QR's South Yard Workshops (Townsville) as a joint project between QR and Venice-Simplon Orient Express. It operated from 1999 until 2003. The carriages were then stored in QR's Ipswich Workshops from June 2003 until February 2016, when they were shipped to Peru.



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