No-one wants to ride in XPT's ... with the price where air is cheaper and quicker.
Which is why it has earnt certain nicknames from the types of people who frequently use them, not to mention CountryLink, which has "smeg of a Link"...
Assuming the XPT does have at least ten years left, which it should - maybe even more, who knows what the situation is going to be in 2023-30? I still think our speculations now could turn out to be totally useless if certain economic changes begin to take place over that time.
At this point I should disclose that I have a soft spot for the XPT and will be sorry to see her go, despite her incompatibility with the 60 km/h colonial network she spends most of her time running on.
Trains (non HSR) is old and appears to be inefficient.
That depends how you look at it because efficiency can be measured in a number of ways, e.g. time, money (who owns it, who pays/subsidises), energy/resource consumption (per trip and overall incl. manufacturing, delivery, infrastructure), safety issues (e.g. passengers killed or seriously injured per million journey miles) and other externalities (e.g. waste products, air pollution, noise pollution, environmental damage, congestion) etc, even from a philosophical perspective, and trains normally do pretty well by some of those measures. When looking at efficiency, many analyses have a narrow financial focus and deliberately ignore other aspects of the overall picture (some of which are difficult to measure) in order to support a particular outcome or agenda.
Thousands of cars, especially with only the driver aboard, are energy inefficient and they are not exactly cheap to buy or keep on the road. Cars and trucks are quick, convenient and private but the motor/road transport industry as a whole uses a shedload of energy per car/bus/truck manufactured and per passenger/ton-mile and cars are not very safe (although buses are). Also, the motoring industry depends on energy dense petroleum fuels that are becoming more expensive and huge amounts of taxpayer funds are thrown at the infrastructure and associated bureaucracies, highway patrol/parking nazis, speed cameras, manufacturers through subsidies/grants in some cases etc. People can buy more efficient cars but they cost thousands of dollars and a lot of energy to make, so they are spending money in the hope of saving money. More fuel efficient cars also means more distance travelled or more cars on the road and therefore higher overall fuel consumption which puts even more upward pressure on fuel prices. Then there's maintenance. I spend at least $2000 on my car every year. Add to that registration, insurance etc and it's pretty clear that the convenience (time efficiency, ignoring daily gridlock) of cars comes at a price (money, energy, safety, pollution, waste).
Aircraft also depend on energy dense liquid fuel and can be inefficient (loss-making) if not filled with fare paying passengers, but they are very quick, and since they move through the air they don't need much expensive ground based infrastructure like trains need the permanent way. Airliners are generally very safe, except when run by dodgy operators, their loads slide to the back on take off, hit by extreme weather, terrorist attacks or other misfortune. Modern aircraft are much more fuel efficient than the first jetliners, but that is just as well, because fuel ain't getting any cheaper (in terms of money and energy required for extracting and refining). Without drastic changes (slowing down to about Mach 0.75, in-flight refuelling, flying in formation, laminar wing, blended wing-body designs) the drive to continued fuel efficiency gains is now clearly subject to the law of diminishing returns. Light aircraft? I think I'll get a slow train...
Unlike the road transport and airline industries, railways are not dependent on petroleum fuel. They ran on coal before the more energy dense oil became the bloodlife of the economy, and most electric trains are still powered indirectly by coal (not that we could convert back to steam overnight, but maybe it could be done to some extent if it had to, and no, I'm not saying steam is more efficient than diesel or electric). Rail vehicles have a useful life of 40 years or more, so they tend to last much longer than cars (10-20 yrs) and aircraft (20-30 yrs) meaning better amortisation characteristics. At a stretch they can be pushed to well over half a century, and this has been done in many places where money is short. Trains are very safe. Rail infrastructure tends to be hideously expensive and politically less sexy than roads, but it can last even longer than the trains. Because railways are so bloody expensive, they also tend to be government owned or subsidised, but that means they generally don't just stop dead if profits dry up - not so much an efficiency matter but still worthy of consideration in terms of the fragility of a system (when the USSR collapsed, the power stations and most public transport kept running even though no-one had any money - it's hard to imagine that happening with private motor cars and for-profit institutions).
As long as it viable, it will be the order of the day.
Yeah... I find it interesting that we are speculating about a train that won't need replacement for another decade and many other possible future projects, yet few people (anywhere - I don't really mean Railpage) want to talk about the future viability of rail's main competitors for short and long distance travel (air/road), which could have a major impact on the future of rail, maybe in favour of or against it. Not that I wanted to go off topic or hijack the thread; it's just a general observation.