GSR - The Overland Thread

 
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
If it is just the issue of air competition, why has the Overland declined more than other long distance trains such as the XPT and some of the Queensland trains?

Sponsored advertisement

  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Speed, distance, service frequency and population catchment.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Speed, distance, service frequency and population catchment.
LancedDendrite
Two of which could be quite easily improved upon.  Distance is fixed. Population catchment is probably not that different to Melbourne - Sydney if we factor out the V/line operations between Melbourne and Albury and leave the rest to a two-trains-a-day service.  One of which is in the middle of the night.
  K-Class Chief Train Controller

Location: Melbourne
If it is just the issue of air competition, why has the Overland declined more than other long distance trains such as the XPT and some of the Queensland trains?
GeoffreyHansen
The two big reasons in my mind are cost the cost of the competing services and spread of population.

The Overland is basically just there for end to end travel which has been said over and over there are many ways to fet between Melbourne and Adelaide that are faster or cheaper and often both.

The Melbourne Sydney XPT has the same competition on the end to end service, but has large population centres along the way and my understanding is that by far the major of the journeys on the XPT are not the full distance between the capitals but either end or start outside of Melbourne or Sydney. Air travel from Melb or Sydney to these regional areas is either not available or is much more expensive the rail option.

The much higher population density along the east is what is driving the demand to maintain 2 serviced each way each day.

I dont know much about the situation in Queensland but I do know they have cancelled a number of their long distance services over the past few years and have heard there is probably still more rationalization to come.

Matthew
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Speed, distance, service frequency and population catchment.
LancedDendrite

Service Frequency is the big issue in my view.  If the train was a daily then people could rely on it being available.  When you have to begin looking at timetables because you cannot expect a daily service between two cities with a combined population of over $4.5 million people something is wrong.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
The Overland is basically just there for end to end travel which has been said over and over there are many ways to fet between Melbourne and Adelaide that are faster or cheaper and often both.


Matthew
K-Class

Precisely the mentality which will see a perfectly good train service killed off.  It needs to be pitched at the intermediate towns and cities, needs to be marketed as a credible option for inter-city and regional travel and can be marketed as a great way to access the Grampians region reducing car traffic there.

Yes end-to-end traffic usually chooses air but any which goes by rail is welcome.  There are many journeys possible by The Overland (and would be more if some stops were reinstated) which are not possibly by air - or at least not at the sort of competitive price which has seen Capital-Capital traffic won over in droves.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
There are many journeys possible by The Overland (and would be more if some stops were reinstated) which are not possibly by air - or at least not at the sort of competitive price which has seen Capital-Capital traffic won over in droves.
Gwiwer

...but it has to operate daily in both directions similar to V/Line long distance services so people who want to use it know it runs every day; not wait two days to travel on it.


Mike.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
Service Frequency is the big issue in my view.  If the train was a daily then people could rely on it being available.  When you have to begin looking at timetables because you cannot expect a daily service between two cities with a combined population of over 4.5 million people something is wrong.
bevans
K-Class has hit the nail on the head - between Murray Bridge and Horsham there are hardly any towns over a thousand people whereas the XPT services four or five very large population centres on its journey. You can't compare the two routes for that reason.

The South Australian and Victorian governments repeatedly tried to increase intermediate traffic with station refurbishments and new platforms at those smaller towns but with no success. You could argue that the cuts to service frequency ran counter to what they were trying to achieve but at the same time the numbers continued to collapse so it wasn't supported anyway.

Stick with 2-3 return buses a day connecting with the train at Ararat or Bendigo - it won't cost anything like a new train doing the full distance and it will serve those small communities much better than a new train anyway.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Airlines often run less than weekly services to places with low demand.  But (most well run airlines) operate a minimum of 3 per week (3pw).  Depending on demand growth, the step up can be to 5pw, then daily (though depends on the route, 4pw and 6pw are seen not infrequently).  Would a service frequency of 3pw be enough to make it more desirable?  Or 5pw?
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
Some clever marketing wouldn't go astray. A frequent, well marketed, reasonably fast service that stops at the right places should get them in...
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Two of which could be quite easily improved upon.
Gwiwer
One of which (service frequency) is fixed easily but not cheaply.

The speed problem is not easily fixed, with a substantial amount of work needed to get the rail network up to the standard needed for the Overland to be faster than a coach, let alone at a point where it's faster than a car and starting to compete with a plane. Remember that with a car there is no transfer at either end, and that real people undertaking real journeys don't generally make the arbitrary city centre to city centre journeys used by pro-rail people to tilt a comparison in their favour.

Population catchment is probably not that different to Melbourne - Sydney ...
Gwiwer
LOL.

Adelaide: 1.3 million people
Sydney: 4.9 million people

And that doesn't account for the significant proportion of Sydney-Melbourne XPT passengers who are using it as an inter-regional service to one of the centres along the way rather than an inter-city service. The only significant regional centres on the Overland route which would come close to warranting a stop if they were on that XPT route are Ararat, Horsham and Murray Bridge - and two of them have other superior public transport options linking them to their respective state capitals.

For most people, the thought of needlessly spending an entire day on a train, when there is a 1 hour flight as an affordable alternative, its pure insanity. That is the only reason the Overland has declined, and is the reason why the Overland will continue to decline.
Gman_86
Indeed.

There is plenty of research in Europe to suggest that high speed rail can compete against air only when the train journey time is a maximum of two hours longer than the flight time - largely to account for the time lost while the plane is on the ground at each end. Note that competition ≠ domination, despite the availability of Eurostar there are still airlines filling plenty of planes between London and Paris because the well-connected airports over there can be more convenient than battling into the centre of the cities with the commuter crowd.

If Australia was as serious about better transport as European countries are then we would be looking at starting to make the baby steps which would eventually lead to a 250+ km/h alignment between Adelaide and Melbourne - not actually building the high speed track, but easing curves and improving clearances every time any piece of infrastructure is renewed for the purpose of future proofing the route.  Before anyone points out that it would not be commercially viable, it's