Being marketed as a nostalgic trip back in time for "mature" customers is in reality a prison camp train. You have to be at Keswick at 6.30 to be locked in to a train with no food or drink available till you depart. For seniors the food is crap. It is a fourteen hour day so many pensioners have stopped using it.
Good point, pensioners generally like their nostalgic trips back in time to be tinted with a pleasant rose hue.
Maybe it should be marketed as an experience geared towards the other type of pensioner nostalgia, which is of course about telling their grandchildren about how hard it was back in their day. The Ice Arena is not far from APT, GSR could organise for every ticket to include a long walk in snow over their heads to enhance the experience
Then leave Sunday AM for a pleasant [sic] daylight trip home. Include a quality food experience using the dining cars available because of reduced services on the IP and Ghan.
Or leave on a flight at Sunday 3pm after enjoying an extra eight hours in the city (including not needing to get up before dawn) and still get home earlier.
Include a quality food experience at whatever restaurant you care to choose from the large range of different restaurants available in either city and the surrounding areas, albeit without the novelty of attempting to eat while being chucked around by the train drivers that Pacific National don't feel able to trust with revenue-earning freight services.
What the Overland should be looking to do is to become a journey in itself. A Dining car, lounge cars etc is what the market is looking for. A commuter train is just a waste.
Any real reason (citations please) to believe that "is what the market is looking for" and that this so-called "market" is big enough to justify it running for the whole year? It sounds more like another build it and they will come
fantasy than anything else.
If that was what "the market" really wanted then GSR would be better off retiring the Overland name from regular usage and just running it a few times a year as if it were the Southern Spirit - during the Ghan off-season perhaps. The whole "scenic land cruise market" would then theoretically be concentrated into a couple of trains which would each draw enough people to be viable instead of requiring an airline ticket's worth of subsidy per passenger by being spread across the whole year.
But the market doesn't want that on the Adelaide-Melbourne route. It's not a legendary cross-continental trip, the generation who still uses it will mostly be dead in 10 years (perhaps the real reason that usage is declining?), and you can see pretty well the full variety of scenery that the Overland passes in eleven hours just by making a Gawler-Adelaide-Belair trip on Adelaide Metro.
Adelaide-Melbourne passenger rail for transport is possible - if they forgot completely about competing with the airlines and instead focused on competition with driving. To be better than driving it needs six things:
- Running overnight - especially Adelaide-Melbourne departing Friday night and returning Sunday night to target people going over for a weekend of shopping/sport/concerts. That weekend event flow would ideally be reversed for Adelaide's 'crown jewel' event weekends of the Tour Down Under, Adelaide Fringe and Clipsal 500.
- Run at least an hour faster than it does currently.
- Reasonable pricing with aggressively competitive discounts for booking multiple tickets. Families and groups (e.g. school trips) will switch from air/coach travel and tolerate the various "experiences" of GSR if the price is right.
- Allow passengers to turn up five minutes before departure if only bringing a carry-on bag.
- Better integration with local public transport and car hire firms at either end.
- Onboard wifi - 3G coverage along the route is very patchy.
Would ARTC be compelled to maintain higher speeds ? Why not
If the body/bodies paying for the upgrade also paid for the difference in maintenance costs from the current speeds then I'm sure ARTC would happily do the extra work.
Some parts of the route might already be built to the physical standard suitable for lighter passenger rail vehicles to travel at speeds higher than 115 km/h (or at least faster than the limit for freight trains) and available to be "upgraded" at the stroke of a pen. DMU/DEMU operation would be necessary though, instead of using a lardarse freight loco.