On some routes (or parts of routes), bus travel is faster, eg Bathurst to Victoria, Canberra to Campbelltown (Direct), Maitland to Hornsby.
Maybe bus travel is more appropriate to increase reliability and reduce costs, in light of that the majority of passengers are on benefits or pensions and not paying market fares.
One thing about the propossal to replace Countrylink XPT & other rail services would do is help the airline industry no end. I had the misfortune on having my XPT service from Wyong to Casino, then bus to Surfers cancelled on the 1st March, notified at Wyong station at 1712 when I got there to book luggage through, & told it was cancelled, the station staff was told at 1650, & we got a text message from CL at 1735 advising us of its cancellation, 9 minutes before it was due at Wyong & 100minutes after it was due out of Sydney.
We then travelled on a bus the next morning, a joy of all kinds, water leaking through one of the overhead light/air conditioning units. Had 1/2 hour at Taree to grab something to eat & the last location we could stretch our legs until Casino, were not allowed off the bus at Coffs or any other stop after Kempsey (was on time leaving there) as we were then running late. Straight through to SOG, & the driver had to be directed by an XPT crew to not go over the bridge. Again not allowed off.
We arrived at Casino at 1915, at the due departure time & had to change buses to the QLD journey, the area was chaotic, with people from the north waiting for the buses for a return trip to Sydney, we got going at around 1945, & then it was real fun. The bus was the worst I had ever travelled in, & the seats worse than old 1st Gen diesels with the short back kidney crushers, rounded cup back rests that were too small for even some Asian tourists.
Told by the driver that the overhead rack was only suited for hats, & all luggage needed to be under the bus in the storage compartment. Advised we could not eat on the bus, well that was logical as there was nowhere to have obtained food since the stop at Taree way back at 1200. Also if you use the toilet everyone on board would know what you had done in there owing to the smells would be reticulated through the bus compartment, & the toilet did have seat belts so was dangerous to use.
The air conditioning was useless & when asked to turn it up, the driver said it was on full, & not capable of cooling the bus with the amount of passengers on board, & it was only half full. Thankfully the emergency exit hatch on the roof was not seated properly so it allowed the bus to cool down, although it also meant water spraying into the seats around that area as well.
Finally the nightmare, oops daymare was over at Surfers Transport terminal, which is now closed & has been for around 12 months or more for renovations, & no notices for anyone going further. The arrival time was 2040 NSW time.
We had a rail pass for first class travel, with the ticket price shown for Recoup of $580,00 for my wife & I. Who in their right mind would pay that much by rail? Thankfully the return trip was good, the seats in the XPT in car B seemed different to those on our last trip in 2011, much more leg room & the backrests tilted back further. The carriage was half full most of the way, & the sleeper carrriage was fully booked & the ist class buffet car also was near full. We arrived on time back at Wyong.
The thing is though, had we paid the full first class fare would we have gotten a refund of the price to travel by bus the same as so called economy passengers paid? For me, the whole forward journey was not economy, not the old 2nd class nor even 3rd class, but probably comparable to those who sit on the roofs in India.
What also got me was how long the bus driver was on duty, having driven from Sydney to Casino, & I would assume that he would have picked his bus up at the depot, then taken it to Central, & then through to Casino, one driver only, & only the one 30minute break at Taree (just) & only stops after that was to unload luggage. He must have known what was in story as he got a bag full of Coca Cola & food for himself at the Taree stop, but no one else on board knew about how long it was going to be before we could get some refreshments along the way.
While the return was much better owing to the much shorter time & the better seats on the bus from Surfers to Casino, I was still affected by the seating standards of the bus. However, it still gave me problems with back & leg pain. I am waiting for back surgery once again & this sort of travel on the buses does nothing for those in similar situations like myself. The bus trips are harsh on the potted rural roads these ones travel over, the choice to cancel the holiday meant I would have lost the 2 weeks accomadation paid for, as well as the pass entitlements, same would have applied to a fare as well.
The whole issue was a consequence of water over the line at Sandgate on the 1st March which culminated in all XPTS on that day being cancelled, with the Casino service having no alternate bus arrangememts. The Grafton XPT terminated at BMD & the set formed a City Rail service at 2000 back to Sydney. 2 XPT sets were stabled in Taree Yard for the W/E & one in Grafton.
Owing to a Track maintenance program that started at midnight that night for the W/E the XPT's were all replace by buses, as was the Northern Xployers. DID any Freight services operate over the line on the W/E? How come in this day & age this sort of crap still goes on, especially when the CL services all 8 of them in a 24hr period would hardly affect any of the work, much less than any freight service anyway. Interesting that in the early 80's during the Hunter Valley track strengthening program from Waratah to MBK, that all freight & passenger services were able to operate over the single lines for several years, also it used to happen that Diesels pulled electrics through the times of O/head being turned off, we certainly have advanced a lot.
Having worked over the Sandgate area for around 10 years, this is the first time I have ever heard of water being over the line there & preventing trains from operating, what is the cause of this? sure there was a lot of rain but its not the first time nor the worst either, has the track work there that has taken the coal road deviations & associated work created this problem?