Since moving to the Hunter Valley I have ridden on quite a lot of the Hunter 2 car DMU's, and I have generally found them a bit quieter than the Xplorer cars, not by much but they also provide a lot less motor like vibration than the Explorers no matter which carriage one is in. Thanks for feedback
Today I caught a Dungog service and rode in the trailing carriage from Hamilton to Victoria St, the cars number was 2851, on getting into the carriage, I noticed it had the same seating arrangement of 3+2 seats across the carriage with reversing backs, although it did not have the side mounted seats at each end. The other internal difference I noted was smaller windows and much better air conditioning, also there was only a single partition section one side in the middle. When accelerating there was a huge difference to the run of the mill Hunter carriages and the Xploder carriages that I have ridden in on the Northern line to Tamworth.
I was ultra surprised at how smooth and quiet they were compared to the other trains. As many are pushing for DMU's of similar type for the XPT replacement I thought I would post this, as it was quite a surprise for me. I am still not in favour of this type of train for the replacement but, I have to say the one I rode in today has made me a lot happier than what I rode in so far.
The XPL is early 90's technology, the Hunter cars are basically early 2000's technology. What would today's technology deliver?
I don't think people are pushing per-say the DMU concept (including me), rather there is a lack of alt technology for the relatively small trains used by NSW trains plus the significant advantages of a single platform fleet which seems to be working well for Vic.
While I am a bit old school, well more than a bit, the experiences that I have found from both drivers and passengers perspective, and now not just being older, I still suffer much as a consequence of my time on the job. I still love the whole aspect of trains and also travelling on them, with my health issues I find travelling by car these days is hard, even with a new car that is very nice to drive compared to my previous 2003 BA Falcon which was a very nice comfortable car to drive, took me to Port Douglas and back very well indeed.
What amazes me with the new breed of trains is the actual seating and with the Hunter cars, but not the one that I was in that ran to Dungog is the vibration and noise levels in them, also the hardness of the seats of those and the latest EMU's, which look nice and fine for travelling from Maitland/Victoria St to Hamilton but when you have to travel on the EMU trains with the same seats to Sydney and even from Wyong when were there up until last year. I have to consider the aspect of using the car instead.
Those seats are simply too hard/harsh for the times in the trains, having the old EMU's is a very pleasant experience, I also find that if I travel backward, it also affects my health especially over longer distances. Interestingly when working on Steam and some diesels we had to sit side saddle for longish hours and that had other unpleasant aspects, but nothing like we have here today in this discussion.
When the mk 2 44cl and 48cl came into service a new seat was put into them for the crews, prior to these seats we had a comfortable seat that was wide enough for you to sit on likewise the backrest also curved into you back contour as well. The new seats however came with s soft square sponge seat around 18" square, when you sat on it air escaped and you sat on the squashed foam that was around 2 inches thick at the most also hard. Rather than the fall back support there was a backrest that was around 6" high set at an angle that caught you in the kidneys. These seats gradually replaced all the old seats on all diesels until the arrival of the 422, as Clyde refused to fit them. There is a side on view in the 38cl book of a driver sitting on his seat, imagine that seat not of horse hair filled for the main cushion also the backrest dropped to half the height of how it was, and you can see what I am talking about.
Why did we get those seats? We had a senior locomotive inspector who became the employees rep through dept appointments said we had too much comfort and would cause enginemen to go to sleep, he later even said the back rest on the firemans seat should be removed. It wasn't really until the 73 and 80cl came out that we got something better than the old seats. When I was AFULE delegate and was involved with the 45 on BE working at Werrise Creek I insisted that we have air ride Balstrom (or similar sounding name) seats cloth covered seats, to me they were bee's knees but nothing compared to whats seen these days. Comfortable seating is very much part of all OH&S requirements these days, why not for passengers?
Many enginemen with back problems had serious issues with them
I believe that having trains that the customer wants more especially in and for journeys over 90 minutes should be the priority of governments or those who are in charge of getting trains into service. How much do they consult or ask for feed back on them? Most people do not get the chance as they do not know until after the event.
With the way of replacement for the current XPL & XPT trains being considered, I hope that the announcement that will be made in time for next years state election and contracts signed that we may well get trains that are not really what is of the type needed for those who will used it.
Outside of that, there is a need to have that provide good and reliable services, also able to run at speeds up to 200Km/h in the future, track and conditions allowing/providing.. There also needs to be enough spare cars both sitting/sleeper as well as power units to allow for extra services as needed. Spare train sets also would allow for hiring out but more importantly for reliability of services when the diagram arrangements are put out owing to late running of the preceding services.
I really also see the need for two types of trains, ones for the very long services such as the interstate and NCL and Wagga Wagga - Albury. Maybe a bit more HE power for them as well. These trains should be still serviced at Meeks road, most of the empty train running to/from is in the off peak so should not worry that side of things. If that does not happen, where do the train sets arriving in Sydney go to get fuel and servicing when they get back to Sydney, before their next trip?
The new plant at Dubbo is pure political in its reasoning, as how many sets will actually be serviced there and at what times? Certainly a servicing area could be built there to ensure the train is right for its return to Sydney, but how is a servicing locations how many Km/s from Sydney going to handle the whole fleet. Even if there were two return services a day, meaning that one return would likely take over from the Bx bullet from the preceding days down afternoon service, there is still the need for the other service to be carried out. But, that is still only two trains each way a day. Compared to how many leave Sydney each day.