Open market for passenger service?

 
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
This is coming out of thoughts ive had in different threads, but thought a separate thread would make sense for future search references.

For this question, you need to ignore the fact that passenger rail services are generally not financially viable on their own and they need to be subsidised.

Basically, my question is whether there is anything legal stopping the two main regional passenger operators, NSW Trains and VLine, from operating in other states.  Eg, could NSW Trains operate its own services say Albury to Melbourne (in addition to the XPT that already does that).  Could VLine operate services into NSW?  Could either of these operate services elsewhere (Qld, SA etc) without any legal restriction?  I know there would be requirement to become appropriately accredited and comply with the track access requirements of the networks they operate, but my question is more around if there are any legislative restrictions on competition in the relevant states.  Or is it open access to all?

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  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
I think independent operators would be a good idea from the passengers point of view.

Many years ago, at the end of the last century, I lived in Melbourne and worked in Geelong. My hours were flexible and I often had the choice of taking a Vline or West Coast operated train. I always took the West Coast train if I could because the service was more comfortable and the conductors were far more "proactive" in handling disturbances, whether they were yobs who had a few drinks or mothers who let their unleashed and unmuzzled spawn run around the carriage yelling and jumping on innocent fellow passengers. But during the time that WCR operated, Vline service quality gradually improved.

I think the competition kept BOTH service operators on their toes and striving to do things better. Unbelievably, while I took the train many hundreds of times, not one service I took was ever bustituted.

I have no idea of the existing legal framework, but perhaps the government could guarantee a particular track speed, set a price for hire of rolling stock and indicate a desired frequency of trains. Then companies (or bureaucracies) could tender to operate a service for say, 8 years, based on the lowest subsidy per passenger on a particular line. That would provide an incentive to provide a service that appealed to passengers as well as one that was more financially efficient.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
In NSW at least, accreditation is the legal barrier to anyone operating a service - you are required to be accredited for a particular public transport service, not just as an operator.  If TfNSW (or their masters) doesn't want you to run a passenger train between two points, then they can simply refuse to give you accreditation for a service between those two points.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
Open access has been tried already in Victoria as discussed above. They've also looked at it from the point of view of trying to reinvigorate our tired interstate services but I think the fundamental problem is the very high standards required of new operators/entrants and the upfront capital cost of investing in new trains.

West Coast Railway was one of the more successful operators but I think they suffered from having to use cast-off V/line locomotives and rolling-stock and there were issues around reliability/safety towards the end - they just didn't have the resources or capital to keep it going and it's extremely difficult to get the money to procure new things/upgrades.

As for V/line expanding interstate, I think if you search you'll find a thread dedicated to extension of the Albury V/line services to Wagga (or even perhaps Goulburn) but the issue at the moment is that they have barely enough standard-gauge rolling stock to cover existing Albury services - maybe in the future it might be possible. Countrylink already operates into Victoria and V/line into NSW so I can't see why there would be any legal barriers to extension of the service.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
As stated above there is no barrier for any rail operator to run interstate services as long as they are accredited as stated above.   Trains NSW is a good example in that they operate into Vic and Queensland.   Similar Great Southern Rail as an accredited train operator using the Hook and Pull services of Pacfic National operates freely across the country.   The establishment of a "National" rail regulator based in Adelaide has as part of its role a remit to "facilitate" greater seamless operation of trains across the country rather than an operator having to approach each individual "state" regulator to gain accreditation.  That still has a long way to go in actual practice.

The real issue after addressing regulation relates to the polcies/attitudes State Governments have to funding interstate passenger trains.  Both NSW, VIC and South Australia contribute to varying degress in different funding arrangements to support this operations.   How long states are prepared to continue to do this is really the issue.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Interesting thought James.au.
If I was to set up say a passenger service between Adelaide and Melbourne, I'd have to find suitable rolling stock, locomotives, etc. Then gain accreditation as an operator, then I'd be like the other operators and pay for a path on the ARTC controlled DIRN.
But I can see a possible problem.......
I'd have to negotiate for platform access in both Adelaide and Melbourne.
Now the people that own that platform space are the very people I'd be competing against for passengers (GSR in Adelaide and V/Line in Melbourne)
Whilst the network between my destinations is Open Access, the stations at each end may not be so open to me.
Access payments at each end could very well "break" my back dollar wise.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Notwithstanding the various hurdles already listed here, the simple answer is 'yes'.

Has been that way for over 20 years.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Notwithstanding the various hurdles already listed here, the simple answer is 'yes'.

Has been that way for over 20 years.
bingley hall
The simple answer is perhaps 'yes' BUT........................
  ssaunders Chief Train Controller

Yes is the straight answer.

Why is a different question.

ss
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
Interesting thought James.au.
If I was to set up say a passenger service between Adelaide and Melbourne, I'd have to find suitable rolling stock, locomotives, etc. Then gain accreditation as an operator, then I'd be like the other operators and pay for a path on the ARTC controlled DIRN.
But I can see a possible problem.......
I'd have to negotiate for platform access in both Adelaide and Melbourne.
Now the people that own that platform space are the very people I'd be competing against for passengers (GSR in Adelaide and V/Line in Melbourne)
Whilst the network between my destinations is Open Access, the stations at each end may not be so open to me.
Access payments at each end could very well "break" my back dollar wise.
Pressman
As already done to death in various threads, the available paths and the restrictions on speed are probably the most significant factors. Southern Cross has much more platform space available with the recent commissioning of Regional Rail Link.

I did read somewhere that they were looking at putting some money into the corridor with some loops being extended into 'passing lanes' 7-8km long so that trains wouldn't have to slow to a stop every time.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
@ all.  Thanks for this.  

Of course, I acknowledge the paths, track conditions, speeds, rollingstock, accreditiation, terminal access, and not to mention financial and economic beneifts etc are all real blockers to a profitable rail transport business, however there doesn't appear to be any anticompetitive legislation in place restricting operations.  Just the ordinary compliance ones.

Why I ask, pure interest and armchair CEOing!
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE


Basically, my question is whether there is anything legal stopping the two main regional passenger operators, NSW Trains and VLine, from operating in other states.  Eg, could NSW Trains operate its own services say Albury to Melbourne (in addition to the XPT that already does that).  Could VLine operate services into NSW?  Could either of these operate services elsewhere (Qld, SA etc) without any legal restriction?  
james.au
The short answer is no. there are no legal barriers to prevent any operator operating anywhere else provided their equipment, people and procedures are certified and accredited.

The only barrier is the willingness of one state govt to use taxpayers money from that state to provide services in another.

Despite my previous optimism in the past, I no longer believe that in Australia it is possible to run just about any rail pax service of almost any kind at a sustainable commercial profit with a few notable exceptions and I think they are marginal.

I just don't think we have enough people with enough money willing to use the limited options that are out there enough.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

But I can see a possible problem.......
I'd have to negotiate for platform access in both Adelaide and Melbourne.
Now the people that own that platform space are the very people I'd be competing against for passengers (GSR in Adelaide and V/Line in Melbourne)
Whilst the network between my destinations is Open Access, the stations at each end may not be so open to me.
Access payments at each end could very well "break" my back dollar wise.
Pressman
I'm not sure how it works in Victoria, but Adelaide Parklands Terminal is most certainly Open Access, and subject to the oversight of the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) to prevent anti-competitive activity.

If negotiations between GSR's infrastructure division and another operator break down, ESCOSA has the power to force GSR to open their books and then set access fees no higher than the rate that GSR's infrastructure division charges to their operations division.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

Despite my previous optimism in the past, I no longer believe that in Australia it is possible to run just about any rail pax service of almost any kind at a sustainable commercial profit with a few notable exceptions and I think they are marginal.

I just don't think we have enough people with enough money willing to use the limited options that are out there enough.
RTT_Rules
There are very few genuinely profitable passenger rail operations anywhere in the world, even in countries with the population density and shorter distances which make rail a more popular option.

Even those which show a paper profit are usually running on public-owned tracks where someone else is picking up the lion's share of the capital and operational costs associated with the infrastructure.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE

I'd have to negotiate for platform access in both Adelaide and Melbourne.
Now the people that own that platform space are the very people I'd be competing against for passengers (GSR in Adelaide and V/Line in Melbourne)
Whilst the network between my destinations is Open Access, the stations at each end may not be so open to me.
Access payments at each end could very well "break" my back dollar wise.
Pressman
Do you really think they see you as competition?

V/line, not a chance. Full fare operation against a heavily subsidized operation.

GSR, maybe, but I doubt it as again the service is subsidized. They'd probably do better charging you rent.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
The only barrier is the willingness of one state govt to use taxpayers money from that state to provide services in another.
"RTT_Rules"


The Sydney-Melbourne corridor remains a (relatively) popular rail service with a lot of population centres along the route. As with the SA/Vic governments sharing of the costs of the 'Overland', NSW and Victoria have been looking at expanding the operation of V/line from its present terminus at Albury to a destination much further into NSW to better connect with other Countrylink services; the idea is to provide passengers in NSW with additional connections from regional NSW into Melbourne and the cost of expanding the service would be shared between the states.

If V/line wasn't having ongoing problems with a shortage of standard-gauge rolling stock and issues with the ARTC track post gauge-conversion then I think this would have already happened. We take V/line for granted here in Victoria but our country rail system and its operator are widely admired nationally and I'm sure if the Albury service was expanded into NSW then it would be well-patronised.

It's not all doom and gloom for rail in Australia, Shane! Some things do continue to improve - in the time that I've lived in Victoria the interurban train system has been completely rebuilt with new tracks, new trains and a brand new Melbourne terminus.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta


Basically, my question is whether there is anything legal stopping the two main regional passenger operators, NSW Trains and VLine, from operating in other states.  Eg, could NSW Trains operate its own services say Albury to Melbourne (in addition to the XPT that already does that).  Could VLine operate services into NSW?  Could either of these operate services elsewhere (Qld, SA etc) without any legal restriction?
 The short answer is no. there are no legal barriers to prevent any operator operating anywhere else provided their equipment, people and procedures are certified and accredited.
RTT_Rules
There is a misunderstanding in some of the posts in this thread.  In NSW at least, "A person must not operate a public passenger service that is conducted according to regular routes and timetables or according to regular routes and at regular intervals otherwise than under the authority of a passenger service contract.  Maximum penalty: 1,000 penalty units."

There are exemptions, but in the absence of separate permission from some bit of the NSW government, those exemptions are not relevant to a passenger rail operation.  I wouldn't be too surprised if the other states had a similar set-up, otherwise you run the risk of third parties "cherry-picking" profitable services to the financial detriment of the (very heavily subsidised) system as a whole.


My point about accreditation was wrong - an exemption I missed means that TfNSW defers to the new national legislation for that for rail operators - but in the end the outcome is the same - to operate a rail service in NSW that meets the "regular routes and timetables" condition above, you still need some form of explicit permission - it is not just a question of compliance.  Nothing obliges the NSW government to give that permission.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
NSW and Victoria have been looking at expanding the operation of V/line from its present terminus at Albury to a destination much further into NSW to better connect with other Countrylink services;
don_dunstan
Care to share more of what you know DD??  I have done the write to the minister thing (in a time of life where I had little else to do!), and got both a letter and a phone call saying that VLine wouldn't serve Wagga on the basis that it wasn't in their priorities to serve the residents of another state.  I did ask on the phone, if the service was commercial, would you operate it, and the person I spoke to had very little to say about it.  It clearly wasn't a question she expected.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW


Basically, my question is whether there is anything legal stopping the two main regional passenger operators, NSW Trains and VLine, from operating in other states.  Eg, could NSW Trains operate its own services say Albury to Melbourne (in addition to the XPT that already does that).  Could VLine operate services into NSW?  Could either of these operate services elsewhere (Qld, SA etc) without any legal restriction?
 The short answer is no. there are no legal barriers to prevent any operator operating anywhere else provided their equipment, people and procedures are certified and accredited.
There is a misunderstanding in some of the posts in this thread.  In NSW at least, "A person must not operate a public passenger service that is conducted according to regular routes and timetables or according to regular routes and at regular intervals otherwise than under the authority of a passenger service contract.  Maximum penalty: 1,000 penalty units."

There are exemptions, but in the absence of separate permission from some bit of the NSW government, those exemptions are not relevant to a passenger rail operation.  I wouldn't be too surprised if the other states had a similar set-up, otherwise you run the risk of third parties "cherry-picking" profitable services to the financial detriment of the (very heavily subsidised) system as a whole.


My point about accreditation was wrong - an exemption I missed means that TfNSW defers to the new national legislation for that for rail operators - but in the end the outcome is the same - to operate a rail service in NSW that meets the "regular routes and timetables" condition above, you still need some form of explicit permission - it is not just a question of compliance.  Nothing obliges the NSW government to give that permission.

donttellmywife
Now that is interesting.  Which act is that?
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
NSW and Victoria have been looking at expanding the operation of V/line from its present terminus at Albury to a destination much further into NSW to better connect with other Countrylink services;
Care to share more of what you know DD??  I have done the write to the minister thing (in a time of life where I had little else to do!), and got both a letter and a phone call saying that VLine wouldn't serve Wagga on the basis that it wasn't in their priorities to serve the residents of another state.  I did ask on the phone, if the service was commercial, would you operate it, and the person I spoke to had very little to say about it.  It clearly wasn't a question she expected.
james.au
I recall a thread on this board where this was extensively discussed some months ago but no action taken by either government due to operational issues with the present ARTC track and capacity restrictions with V/line. Regardless of who knows what or who said what it is not going to proceed any time soon due to the issues already discussed.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Oh , ok I remember a hypothetical one where I may have raised the question about VLine operating to Wagga and if there were technical limitations on rollingstock.  This was not based on anything from either government.
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney


Basically, my question is whether there is anything legal stopping the two main regional passenger operators, NSW Trains and VLine, from operating in other states.  Eg, could NSW Trains operate its own services say Albury to Melbourne (in addition to the XPT that already does that).  Could VLine operate services into NSW?  Could either of these operate services elsewhere (Qld, SA etc) without any legal restriction?
 The short answer is no. there are no legal barriers to prevent any operator operating anywhere else provided their equipment, people and procedures are certified and accredited.
There is a misunderstanding in some of the posts in this thread.  In NSW at least, "A person must not operate a public passenger service that is conducted according to regular routes and timetables or according to regular routes and at regular intervals otherwise than under the authority of a passenger service contract.  Maximum penalty: 1,000 penalty units."

There are exemptions, but in the absence of separate permission from some bit of the NSW government, those exemptions are not relevant to a passenger rail operation.  I wouldn't be too surprised if the other states had a similar set-up, otherwise you run the risk of third parties "cherry-picking" profitable services to the financial detriment of the (very heavily subsidised) system as a whole.


My point about accreditation was wrong - an exemption I missed means that TfNSW defers to the new national legislation for that for rail operators - but in the end the outcome is the same - to operate a rail service in NSW that meets the "regular routes and timetables" condition above, you still need some form of explicit permission - it is not just a question of compliance.  Nothing obliges the NSW government to give that permission.

Now that is interesting.  Which act is that?
james.au
Rail Safety National Law (NSW) 2012
http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/rsnl270/

PASSENGER TRANSPORT ACT 2014 - SECT 39
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/pta2014248/s39.html
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Now that is interesting.  Which act is that?
james.au
The NSW Passenger Transport Act, 2014, s39.

(Though I don't think this bit has formally commenced yet.)
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
NSW and Victoria have been looking at expanding the operation of V/line from its present terminus at Albury to a destination much further into NSW to better connect with other Countrylink services;
Care to share more of what you know DD??  I have done the write to the minister thing (in a time of life where I had little else to do!), and got both a letter and a phone call saying that VLine wouldn't serve Wagga on the basis that it wasn't in their priorities to serve the residents of another state.  I did ask on the phone, if the service was commercial, would you operate it, and the person I spoke to had very little to say about it.  It clearly wasn't a question she expected.
I recall a thread on this board where this was extensively discussed some months ago but no action taken by either government due to operational issues with the present ARTC track and capacity restrictions with V/line...
don_dunstan
...but mostly because it would cost one or both governments more, and both governments are already having a hard time justifying the amount spent on long distance rail given the limited benefit delivered.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
NSW and Victoria have been looking at expanding the operation of V/line from its present terminus at Albury to a destination much further into NSW to better connect with other Countrylink services;
Care to share more of what you know DD??  I have done the write to the minister thing (in a time of life where I had little else to do!), and got both a letter and a phone call saying that VLine wouldn't serve Wagga on the basis that it wasn't in their priorities to serve the residents of another state.  I did ask on the phone, if the service was commercial, would you operate it, and the person I spoke to had very little to say about it.  It clearly wasn't a question she expected.
I recall a thread on this board where this was extensively discussed some months ago but no action taken by either government due to operational issues with the present ARTC track and capacity restrictions with V/line...
...but mostly because it would cost one or both governments more, and both governments are already having a hard time justifying the amount spent on long distance rail given the limited benefit delivered.
donttellmywife
There's more urgent priorities in Victoria as far as V/line's budget is concerned. Also NSW might view it as not in Countrylink's interests to extend a competing service.

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