XPT Replacement Discussion

 
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

In terms of cost effective replacements for the XPT, there are few other ideas I've had beyond loco hauled.

I think the efficiency of the Xplorer train sets could be boosted by the addition of a converted XFs (XPT 2nd class coaches) to Xplorer trailers.  In terms of traction the Xplorers have enough grunt.  Hotel power is another issue, but turning down the AC and/or adding a few solar panels should make this possible without having to install generation into the trailers.

That would boost the size of 7 of the 8 Explorer sets from 150 to 220 seats, and make them suitable for some of the lighter loaded XPT routes, while making them cheaper to operate than a 4 car Xplorer now.

The second idea is to merge some of the Endeavour sets with some of the Xplorer sets, to create mid-range DMUs with a mix of seating.  The result should be a long 4 car version with ~270 seats (similar to a 6 car XPT) and a buffet, and a short version with 150 seats and some vending machines.  I don't fancy sitting on an Endeavour seat for 10 hours (though it's better than on a bus), but that's not what they are for.  They are for shorter haul PAX and/or overflow.  The short version would be ideal for the Canberra route and the Bathurst train.

For a "cheap" replacement, I think a V'Locity style DMU driving cab unit with - the critical feature - a mating compatible with the XPT coaches and enough grunt to lug a trailer.  That would produce a train with seating for ~250/300 (depending on how much space is given over to meal service and luggage) for the cost of a 2 car DMU, basically enough to cover any of the XPT routes now.

The second tranche of the order would be for non-driving cabs to deliver a cost effective 2 car train, and a third tranche to eventually replace the XPT coaches as trailers.  

Initially that'd mean a typical (initial) capital outlay of ~$12mil per 4 car train set, rather than $24mil.  I think these trains (with a crew of 3) would cost ~$750/hr to operate (vs $1450 for an XPT) and thus deliver ~$0.035-$0.04 per seat km (ie on a part with busses).

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  boromisa Junior Train Controller

I don't think it is all doom - as I've made clear many times before on this site.

Even if I did - a discussion forum is for discussion!

But I absolutely think there is very little prospect for long distance premium class rail transport that would require a very heavy government subsidy. I've presented a fair bit of stuff that supports my view that a heavy government subsidy is exactly what would be required if you went down that path. Critique away if you think that what I've put forward is wrong, but I've got history on my side.

Beyond that - I don't think there should be a prospect for that sort of service - heavily subsidising long distance premium class passenger rail is an absurd waste of society's resources. Tax the poor to pay for the rich type silliness.
donttellmywife

I agree that taxpayers should not be paying for a bunch of gunzels to travel in Commissioner's Carriage each. However, I believe that there should be comfort options for those wanting to pay more (as indicated in the example with Austrian RailJet).

I appreciate your maths indicate that it still does not break even however the government provides even bigger subsidy for someone who jumps in a car and drives from Sydney to Melbourne. Someone who pays 1000 dollars for registration of a motor vehicle does not even pay enough for maintenance of roads in their local suburb let alone interstate. We also pay for indirect costs of accidents, delays and similar.

How many hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted on Pacific Highway? It is still the worst road in the state and bottlenecks and delays still occur. So road transport is really the one that is not economical for taxpayers. I know such argument would fall on deaf ears with powermakers as they are all bought by road and air lobby.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I appreciate your maths indicate that it still does not break even however the government provides even bigger subsidy for someone who jumps in a car and drives from Sydney to Melbourne. Someone who pays 1000 dollars for registration of a motor vehicle does not even pay enough for maintenance of roads in their local suburb let alone interstate. We also pay for indirect costs of accidents, delays and similar.

How many hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted on Pacific Highway? It is still the worst road in the state and bottlenecks and delays still occur. So road transport is really the one that is not economical for taxpayers. I know such argument would fall on deaf ears with powermakers as they are all bought by road and air lobby.
boromisa

This is not the thread for this particular debate, but road users contribute for their use of taxpayer roads primarily through fuel excise.  That is why there is an excise on fuel!

There are absolutely things that I would change about the current road user charging system, but going to the extent of saying that the subsidy for a passenger using interstate rail is anything like the subsidy for that same person driving themselves is frankly ridiculous.

This also ignores the reality that the biggest competitor to interstate rail for the premium traveller is not the car, it is the aeroplane.  The amount of subsidy for interstate aviation, direct or indirect, is negligible.  About fifty years ago air travel started to win against long distance long distance rail for the premium end of the market, and it has only got progressively stronger since then.  In the last ten to twenty years aviation has absolutely obliterated rail and bus for both premium and economy long distance travel.

There is no conspiracy.  It is just a very hard ask to come up with a justification for the amount of subsidy that's required for interstate rail travel.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Solar power mounted on a train will not run the AC

If buying new, the lsst thing you would is force the designer to match it with a 30 year old train. Most semi coupled trains now come with open through access oc the train so it no longer feels like you are on seperate car, rather a train. Saves space and makes access to whole train easier.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

This is not the thread for this particular debate, but road users contribute for their use of taxpayer roads primarily through fuel excise. That is why there is an excise on fuel!

There are absolutely things that I would change about the current road user charging system, but going to the extent of saying that the subsidy for a passenger using interstate rail is anything like the subsidy for that same person driving themselves is frankly ridiculous.

This also ignores the reality that the biggest competitor to interstate rail for the premium traveller is not the car, it is the aeroplane. The amount of subsidy for interstate aviation, direct or indirect, is negligible. About fifty years ago air travel started to win against long distance long distance rail for the premium end of the market, and it has only got progressively stronger since then. In the last ten to twenty years aviation has absolutely obliterated rail and bus for both premium and economy long distance travel.

There is no conspiracy. It is just a very hard ask to come up with a justification for the amount of subsidy that's required for interstate rail travel.
donttellmywife

More of Torries rhetoric.

Investment in roads this year by Federal Govt alone is about 6.6 billion this financial year and fuel excise will raise about 280 million dollars.

http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/

http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/BudgetReview201415/FuelExcise

Doesn't sound like heavily subsidised to you?

It is correct that interstate air is main competitor but regionally it is not. It is car.

Further if we invested in rail as much as we invested in roads we would have much better infrastructure and hence more competitive travel times.

(Not to mention that more people would still be alive due to not having exhausted truck drivers rolling B doubles all over the place)
  johnboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Up the road from Gulgong
More of Torries rhetoric.

It is correct that interstate air is main competitor but regionally it is not. It is car.
boromisa


furthermore, the interstate competition (as in captial to capital) is Air versus Road.  Rail is a very small 'competitor' ...... a couple of XPTs per day is hardly competition for road or air in this century.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
More of Torries rhetoric.

Investment in roads this year by Federal Govt alone is about 6.6 billion this financial year and fuel excise will raise about 280 million dollars.

http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/

http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/BudgetReview201415/FuelExcise

Doesn't sound like heavily subsidised to you?
boromisa

The $280 million figure you refer to is just the increase in fuel excise (before rebates) that results with the introduction of indexation.  It is not the total amount.

In the recent budget, the estimates of the petrol and diesel excise for the current financial year (2014-2015) are $5950 and $9250 million respectively - see table 8 at http://www.budget.gov.au/2014-15/content/bp1/html/bp1_bst5-03.htm.  From that you then need to subtract rebates that are given (in the main the rebates for uses of fuel that have nothing to do with public funded roads - for example - diesel used to run trains) - $6720 million (see table 3.1 on http://www.budget.gov.au/2014-15/content/bp1/html/bp1_bst6-01.htm).

$5950 + $9250 - $6720 = $8480 million dollars.  Over eight billion dollars, if you want to talk round figures.  (I find it a bit amusing that the supposed "Torries rhetoric" was a proposal to increase road related taxes.)

On top of that you can then add your state government related charges, such as registration.  

If you want to look at historical data for approximately the same sort of numbers - BITRE provide relevant statistics in their yearbook - for example https://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2013/yearbook_2013.aspx.  In that year see table T1.2d for the expenditure side of things and T1.3 for the road related taxes and charges.

I'm the last to argue that the current way that road users are charged is ideal, but the extent of subsidy claims that you've made are just absurd.  It varies year by year, it varies depending on what you consider a road related charge or a road related expense, but that excess or subsidy for someone driving themselves is nothing like the ongoing situation with long distance passenger rail transport, where the state governments have to pay something like 75% of the cost of providing the service.

There is no conspiracy and this isn't a matter of brainlessly idiotic "liberal versus labor" political barracking.  It is an issue of technology and modal competition.  Long distance conventional passenger rail is too slow or too expensive or too inflexible to appeal to the masses relative to air or road.  This isn't the 1930's - air travel and car ownership are not luxuries.   Because it doesn't appeal to the masses long distance passenger rail transport is not even able to take advantage of one of its strengths, which is that it scales well to move relatively large numbers of people, so its costs go up even more.

This isn't a new situation - it was bleedingly obvious when the XPT was first bought - hence it was configured the way it was!  In many respects it was bleedingly obvious decades before that, certainly by the end of November 2, 1964.
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
I am not sure who thinks trains are 'competition' in regional centres either. According to Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development air passengers exceed train passengers 10 fold in most NSW Regional Centres.
Albury Airport = 285,000 / year
Pt Macquarie = 212,000 / year
Wagga Wagga Airport = 208,000 / year
Dubbo Airport = 173,000 / year
so forth....
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

There is no conspiracy and this isn't a matter of brainlessly idiotic "liberal versus labor" political barracking.
donttellmywife

It is highly political matter. Public transport is a core issue that state should pursue instead of pouring money into roads.

http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/europe/norway-unveils-record-rail-budget.html?channel=542
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
It is highly political matter. Public transport is a core issue that state should pursue instead of pouring money into roads.

http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/europe/norway-unveils-record-rail-budget.html?channel=542
boromisa


-

Are you advocating a direct subsidy for tickets booked with QantasLink and Rex?
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I am not sure who thinks trains are 'competition' in regional centres either. According to Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development air passengers exceed train passengers 10 fold in most NSW Regional Centres.
Albury Airport = 285,000 / year
Pt Macquarie = 212,000 / year
Wagga Wagga Airport = 208,000 / year
Dubbo Airport = 173,000 / year
so forth....
Jim K

Jim,

Would you mind posting a link or a bit more of a guide to finding these stats?   And did you notice if the DoI&RD have stats on passenger rail transport?
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
I have a 2012 report hardcopy. However their website has extensive figues and graphs on all modes of transport.
https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/transport/
http://web.archive.org/web/20111003061827/http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/92/Files/BITRE_Yearbook_16Mar2011.pdf

There is rail data ... as well as a number of reports downloadable about recommending improving transport.

And the 'trusted' Wiki has older figures:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_busiest_airports_in_Australia
...which they claim comes from BITRE
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
It is easy for NSW air stats.

http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/content/quarterly-passenger-statistics-nsw-air-routes-and-sydney-airport, which is probably similar to http://www.bts.nsw.gov.au/Statistics/Aviation/default.aspx

and then you have nationally http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/ongoing/domestic_airline_activity-annual_publications.aspx

But for regional rail it gets hard.  (Why?  Relative to collecting stats for something like the urban rail network, collecting and reporting NSW TrainLink regional should be a doddle.  And its not like it is commercial in confidence...)

TfNSW annual report as of June 2013 said about 1.85 million total CountryLink (as it was, rail plus coach) journeys with a load factor of 43.3%.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Wiki has regional airport traffic.

The thing is a decent regional rail network willl eliminate many of these relatively short regional flights to Dubbo, Port Maquarie,/Coffs and Wagga etc. Its also these often small pax loading flights that add to Sydney airport congestion as thecflights are carring less than 50 people and take up more flights paths due to increased spacing behind larger aircraft.

HSR wont have much impact on a lot of regional flights as the stations are too far apart.

If NSW could modernise the track and increase frequency to Canberra, Wagga, Dubbo, Tamworth and Coffs ghere would be a significant shift to rail of FF pax. Even if the trains were XPT's.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
There is no conspiracy and this isn't a matter of brainlessly idiotic "liberal versus labor" political barracking. It is an issue of technology and modal competition. Long distance conventional passenger rail is too slow or too expensive or too inflexible to appeal to the masses relative to air or road. This isn't the 1930's - air travel and car ownership are not luxuries. Because it doesn't appeal to the masses long distance passenger rail transport is not even able to take advantage of one of its strengths, which is that it scales well to move relatively large numbers of people, so its costs go up even more.

This isn't a new situation - it was bleedingly obvious when the XPT was first bought - hence it was configured the way it was! In many respects it was bleedingly obvious decades before that, certainly by the end of November 2, 1964.
donttellmywife

Donttellmywife, I like your exploration of the evolution of public transport methods. Does 2NOV1964 refer to the introduction of the TAA and Ansett Boeing 727s and their first revenue services Melbourne (Essendon) - Sydney on November 02, 1964?
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Donttellmywife, I like your exploration of the evolution of public transport methods. Does 2NOV1964 refer to the introduction of the TAA and Ansett Boeing 727s and their first revenue service Melbourne (Essendon) - Sydney on November 02, 1964?
petan

Yes sir - it does.  Well done.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Yes sir - it does. Well done.
donttellmywife

I have had that little gem on my website for many years Smilehttp://www.petan.net/aviation/intro.htm
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Yes sir - it does. Well done.
donttellmywife

I thought it must have been DTMW's birthday.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

-

Are you advocating a direct subsidy for tickets booked with QantasLink and Rex?
donttellmywife

No, that seems to be the line that you are advocating at least indirectly by suggesting the state should not be providing subsidy to rail services.

I find your position really disappointing. Even USA who is the home of neoliberal capitalism subsidises Amtrak (which by the way provides way more decent service than NSWTrainLink)
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Wiki has regional airport traffic.

The thing is a decent regional rail network willl eliminate many of these relatively short regional flights to Dubbo, Port Maquarie,/Coffs and Wagga etc. Its also these often small pax loading flights that add to Sydney airport congestion as thecflights are carring less than 50 people and take up more flights paths due to increased spacing behind larger aircraft.

HSR wont have much impact on a lot of regional flights as the stations are too far apart.

If NSW could modernise the track and increase frequency to Canberra, Wagga, Dubbo, Tamworth and Coffs ghere would be a significant shift to rail of FF pax. Even if the trains were XPT's.
RTT_Rules


I don't think modernisation of the alignments is a serious prospect in NSW.  It would need billions and take decades before it had a significant effect.

Strangely enough given the way this discussion is going, I think a driver for this could be a 2nd (or 3rd) Sydney airport outside the Sydney basin.  I know Badgeries Creek is all systems go at the moment, but I find it inconceivable one of the 4 major parties (state Lab, Lib + Fed Lab Lib) won't scuttle it in any of the 5 elections we'll have before it gets off the ground.

RTT_Rules has suggested a Sydney to Canberra MSR might be a viable option *if* the overflow airport is either Canberra or (and I hate to say this as I live here) Goulburn.

To achieve a sub 120min journey time Sydney-Canberra by rail I think is reasonably achievable, and "should" be relatively affordable - at least as a portion of the cost of building a big airport.  

It would be achieved by converting ARTC's main southern route to mostly single track, and having a dedicated sparked single track for the PAX.

To do it I think there would need: (Sub 90min to Goulburn)
- 2 or 3 minor deviations between Menangle & Picton
- Rebuild the Mittagong Loop line
- Restore the old alignment nth of Exeter
- 2 minor devations of the sharpest curves around Bundanoon and Wingelo
- restore the old aligment nth of Marulan
- A major deviation around Towrang.
- A flyover (or two) of some sort to get the SSFL to cross the MSR.

From Goulburn on to Canberra:
- Major deviation/rebuild of the climb out of Tarago.
- Minor curve easement approaching Bungendore
- A deviation of the tunnel approaching the defence force site
- A deviation/deep cut/tunnel through the forest west of the defence HQ site
- (the big one) A 3km tunnel diverting past eh Mongolo river canyon
- The 3km on new line behind Fyshwick tot he airport (and possibly on into Civic).
- And spark the whole thing too
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Why do you think ARTC would be happy in having their double line converted to single track?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I don't think building a fast regional network for NSW is unachievable, especially if other users will benefit as well such as freight and/or commuter.

The canberra service takes almost 4.5hr,  1.5hr on 100km canberra branch, but there is about 60km of good alignment where the train is above 100km/hr. You also have some good areas dragged down by old and outdated infrastructure. The track from Quenbeyan to Civic is an example. Curve easing, track rebuilding and about 30km of new works should remove 45min, note there will also be about 5km of the route removed in the realignment. I would have thought a $1B would do it and partly funded by ACT, NSW, Fed. Also extend to airport. Close Civic and sell off to help fund.

The main south Macurthur to Goulburn screams oppurtunity. The Can train takes about 2hr to cover 170km. Through the improvements mentioned in above post, about 30min could be saved, maybe 45min. But commuter, Mel XPT and freight also benefit saving significant costs for NSW trains and freight operators.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Why do you think ARTC would be happy in having their double line converted to single track?
MD

I didn't say they'd be happy Smile.

But it would get PAX trains off their corridor and reduce maintenance costs.
  Transtopic Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I don't think building a fast regional network for NSW is unachievable, especially if other users will benefit as well such as freight and/or commuter.

The canberra service takes almost 4.5hr, 1.5hr on 100km canberra branch, but there is about 60km of good alignment where the train is above 100km/hr. You also have some good areas dragged down by old and outdated infrastructure. The track from Quenbeyan to Civic is an example. Curve easing, track rebuilding and about 30km of new works should remove 45min, note there will also be about 5km of the route removed in the realignment. I would have thought a $1B would do it and partly funded by ACT, NSW, Fed. Also extend to airport. Close Civic and sell off to help fund.

The main south Macurthur to Goulburn screams oppurtunity. The Can train takes about 2hr to cover 170km. Through the improvements mentioned in above post, about 30min could be saved, maybe 45min. But commuter, Mel XPT and freight also benefit saving significant costs for NSW trains and freight operators.
 
RTT_Rules

Agree.  There is no reason why the Sydney - Canberra rail route couldn't be improved with a modest upgrade (millions not billions) to make it competitive with car and bus, about 3 hours, until such time as HSR becomes viable.  As you suggest, this would also improve transit times between Sydney and Goulburn for freight and Regional and Interstate passenger traffic.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Sigh.
Economic reality seems to be a really weak point with railfans.
NO ONE is offering any money to upgrade anything, unless you volunteer.
There is no point continuing to wish for all sorts of wonderful rail upgrades unless you
also explain the financing, and of course no one ever does.

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