SA to keep Overland running

 
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
I've written to incoming Minister for Public Transport, Melissa Horne regards this issue.

Three weeks is long enough till 31st December for the Andrews team to pull a rabbit out of the proverbial hat.

Mike.

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  potatoinmymouth Chief Commissioner

Yes Mike, I'll be doing the same.

There seem to be an awful lot of people in this thread falling for the logical fallacy of "it's not viable in its current form and therefore it should cease altogether".

We all know that once you stop passenger services, no matter how threadbare they were on closure, it's well nigh impossible to start them again, as you enter the cycle of asset deterioration > capital cost of reopening increased > reopening postponed > further asset deterioration.

A total cessation of passenger service on this route is a major obstacle to future Wimmera passenger operations.
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.
A letter which will be printed in the Nhill Free Press / Kaniva Times.          won't it, wobert........Razz

Informative piece from one of the locals, perhaps if more people, such as the author of the letter, from regional Vic, used the train, combined with pen to paper, the service " may " never have got to the current situation.

SAVE THE OVERLAND!

Congratulations to the Victorian State Govt for having the vision to commit funding to the Overland Train service from Adelaide to Melb for the next 15 months but shame on the South Australian Govt for withdrawing funding after this year.

Living in Nhill, I am a frequent traveller on the Overland to  both Melb & Adelaide, as are many others living in our town, or those visiting from other cities or regional areas. The train provides a safe, comfortable, efficient means of travel for the elderly, the disabled, those travelling with little children, those travelling to seek medical treatment and a very pleasurable trip for the general public. Colleen and her dedicated crew really make the trip an enjoyable experience for all.  

Yes, there are alternative buses available, but this usually involves changing services, there are no food services available, the toilet facilities offered are unsuitable for the elderly & disabled as are the departure & arrival times.

With Governments trying to encourage more regional development and with many Wimmera groups lobbying for additional train services isn't this a step back in time rather than a step forward into the future?  I urge the SA Govt to think beyond the $$$ and consider the needs of the people you are supposed to represent by reviewing your decision not to fund the Overland!!

I also invite all those interested in SAVING THE OVERLAND to hop aboard this campaign to do so, if we do nothing,  nothing will happen and we will lose this service and become more isolated.

Our biggest weapon is the media, social media or, for those not online, there is always the $1 stamp which I have found to be most effective in the past.

Start writing!!!

Margaret Millington


BigShunter.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

As a railfan I am sad to see it go, but as a realist I understand that it cannot be kept going forever, if they cannot get bums on seats. As the service does virtually nothing for passengers in South Australia but a lot more for Victorian passengers then maybe V/line can run a train from Melbourne to Nhill and return to satisfy the people that use this service in Victoria now. It could even use the Overlands slot in the track access. The only major city it services in South Australia now is Murray Bridge and you can get there a lot quicker by bus or driving as on the Freeway now it is a lot quicker and more direct. As for Bordertown it is not exactly a tourist mecca is it and this missing from being serviced by the Overland is not going to cause a real out cry. The only out cry in SA is the fact that the train service will cease to Melbourne. But to be honest here most people these days would seek a cheaper and quicker alternative to visit rellies or something in Victoria and vice a versa as well. The quicker services mean they get to spend more time at their destination and should the bottom fall out of the bag so to speak while they are there they can return when they want to return not have to wait a day or so for the train to run.

I am a pensioner and have never used the current service,  I have used the old V&SAR version though, simply because I would get bored rather rapidly on the train as I do not like sitting up for about 11 hours doing sweet bugger all really. Sleeping through the night is good though and is normal as well. Yes books and Ipads etc are good but not all the time during the 11 hour trip. Flying takes about an hour and add an hour or a little bit longer most probably to get from the airport into Melbourne by car, taxi or bus and it is only a two hour trip that is a saving of 9 hours overall that can be spent at your destination, rather than sitting in your seat. Also flying is cheaper as is most bus services if you want to see the scenery as you go past. The scenery is the same almost from a train or bus so you do not miss that much depending of course whether your bus travels during the day or in the night or both.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Someone please mail Margaret a copy of the relevant timetables. The coaches depart Nhill and arrive Adelaide/Melbourne and v.v. with almost the same timings. How this doesn’t suit disabled people has me mystified. Indeed, the coach gets her to Adelaide in particular in a truer sense than the Overland ever could.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

Yes the coach or bus gets you into almost the centre of the CBD where as the train dumps you on the outskirts and you have to make your own way into the CBD baggage and all and at extra cost to the traveller as well. You can step off the bus in the city and take a walk out of the bus station and it is not far to go to find accomodation or whatever from there. You have to go into the city from Keswick anyway if you use public transport if you have to go to most places anyway. It would be a rare few that Keswick was along the route they had to go to get somewhere.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Yes the coach or bus gets you into almost the centre of the CBD where as the train dumps you on the outskirts and you have to make your own way into the CBD baggage and all and at extra cost to the traveller as well. You can step off the bus in the city and take a walk out of the bus station and it is not far to go to find accomodation or whatever from there. You have to go into the city from Keswick anyway if you use public transport if you have to go to most places anyway. It would be a rare few that Keswick was along the route they had to go to get somewhere.
DJPeters

Would you SA guys still hate this train if it turned into a daily service, utilising V'Locity's specifically kitted out for long distance travel and travelling at speeds up to 130 Km/h Question

Mike.
  allan Chief Commissioner

It's not a case of hatred, just a recognition that the time of the Overland is long past.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
We don’t hate the Overland, we just acknowledge that it’s a relic from a past era, ‘serving’ a market that effectively doesn’t exist. Victoria’s country services are Victoria’s problem, the idea that the Overland serves country SA is taking the piss.

Murray Bridge isn’t really a country town, listen to people from there smeg about the freight costs of goods from Adelaide and they’ll soon tell you ‘how close to the city’ they are...

As for Bordertown - I would be very surprised if more than 10% of the few thousand people that live there ever caught to train. I used to deal with a lot of residents and landholders from out that way, and NONE of them ever caught the Overland to Adelaide, unsurprisingly choosing to make the less than three hour journey in their own cars which took them directly from home to wherever it was they were going.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
We don’t hate the Overland, we just acknowledge that it’s a relic from a past era, ‘serving’ a market that effectively doesn’t exist. Victoria’s country services are Victoria’s problem, the idea that the Overland serves country SA is taking the piss.

Murray Bridge isn’t really a country town, listen to people from there smeg about the freight costs of goods from Adelaide and they’ll soon tell you ‘how close to the city’ they are...

As for Bordertown - I would be very surprised if more than 10% of the few thousand people that live there ever caught to train. I used to deal with a lot of residents and landholders from out that way, and NONE of them ever caught the Overland to Adelaide, unsurprisingly choosing to make the less than three hour journey in their own cars which took them directly from home to wherever it was they were going.
Aaron

So...your'e not actually interested in the fact the train, even as it operates right now brings over 100 tourists and other money spenders into your less than buoyant SA economy, but the more important local issue that the train doesn't pick up many pax from Murray Bridge or Bordertown, therefore it should be axed...

Strange logic indeed.

Mike.
  allan Chief Commissioner

It's not up to me, but to our state government, which I must presume has crunched the numbers. Clearly I am not in disagreement.

I do have doubt that the SA subsidy was as low as $300,000...
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Yes the coach or bus gets you into almost the centre of the CBD where as the train dumps you on the outskirts and you have to make your own way into the CBD baggage and all and at extra cost to the traveller as well. You can step off the bus in the city and take a walk out of the bus station and it is not far to go to find accomodation or whatever from there. You have to go into the city from Keswick anyway if you use public transport if you have to go to most places anyway. It would be a rare few that Keswick was along the route they had to go to get somewhere.
DJPeters
Yeah I feel as a regular (3 or so times a year) user of the corridor I'd prefer the bus for that reason, that and the fact that the train just doesn't take me exactly where I want to go. I stopped using the train when it just became too much of a hassle to use so now-days I either drive or its the bus. The bus leaves at 7am on the dot and I can make it to Franklin Street bus station by public transport pretty easily by then - also easy when I'm coming back the other way. I also have the option of the Jet Bus Adelaide Metro service if I want to get a plane from this end.

The plane is surprisingly convenient if you know your way around Melbourne's public transport, if you have time you can even figure out how to catch the 901 PTV bus to Broadmeadows and then the train to the city, surprisingly well patronised the last time I did that. Flying to Melbourne really isn't that hard and the very short time that you spend in the air more than makes up for the inconvenience at either end. Anyway, I love a nice train as much as anyone else but the train would actually need to offer me something for me to want to use it again... and it doesn't.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Someone please mail Margaret a copy of the relevant timetables. The coaches depart Nhill and arrive Adelaide/Melbourne and v.v. with almost the same timings. How this doesn’t suit disabled people has me mystified. Indeed, the coach gets her to Adelaide in particular in a truer sense than the Overland ever could.
Aaron

Margaret also mentions the extremely difficult to use for able-bodied pax to the impossible to use for elderly, infirm or people in wheelchairs...toilets on the bus. She also mentions access/egress issues on the bus for people with a disability and the absence of refreshments on that mode of transport.

Indeed the train clearly is the winner for its friendliness towards people with virtually any kind of disability who wish to travel...and I'd go further to say that due to the existence of the various Disability Acts, that like Victoria's V'Locity's which are VERY disability access friendly, the governments have an obligation to provide transport along the corridor which is disability access friendly.

Mike.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

I really do want to love this train, but it's too damn hard.

In an ideal world, the SA government would not withdraw their subsidy completely but instead use the situation to force some long-needed reforms and drag the non-service kicking and screaming into the late 20th century.

Something along the lines of replacing the fixed grant with a $15 subsidy per ticket sold on sectors including travel in SA (would need to sell 22,000 tickets per year to add up to $330k) so long as the ridiculous hour before departure rule is changed to 5 minutes would have been a good start. Give GSR an incentive to promote the service so it is more popular than the current 82 passengers per train average (source: GSR's own claims of 17,000 using the train per year) and fixing one of the most egregious examples of its awkwardness would be a good start, then further changes could be included in the next year's deal.

Who knows, maybe this was attempted and GSR weren't interested in updating the train?
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Mike, if only the Overland bought 100 people to Adelaide, I know it’s hard to believe given the confected outrage expressed here and on FB etc by ‘twain’ lovers that it’s actually LESS than 100 people.

I am confused, as are you, as are GSR and as are everyone else that wants to keep the Overland running. Are we doing this for the disabled, OAPs and other concession card holders or are we doing this for tourists? 100 tourists is a drop in the ocean, more tourists drive into SA day than catch the train every three.

Aviation numbers? Off the proverbial chart in comparison to both.
  DJPeters Assistant Commissioner

Mike, if only the Overland bought 100 people to Adelaide, I know it’s hard to believe given the confected outrage expressed here and on FB etc by ‘twain’ lovers that it’s actually LESS than 100 people.

I am confused, as are you, as are GSR and as are everyone else that wants to keep the Overland running. Are we doing this for the disabled, OAPs and other concession card holders or are we doing this for tourists? 100 tourists is a drop in the ocean, more tourists drive into SA day than catch the train every three.

Aviation numbers? Off the proverbial chart in comparison to both.
Aaron
While Aaron and I do not see eye to eye on some things we both do on this. I have to agree with his post though less than a hundred passengers per trip is just running a sentimental journey for a few. It is not like there is a queue waiting to use every time it is docked at Keswick and as some said getting to Keswick is a pain in the butt for starters if you do not have a car. Then getting to a small building in the middle of no where almost what are you going to do to kill time for that hour that you have to be there for before it leaves. Last time I was in the new terminal there it had virtually nothing at all that could take up an hour of your time doing something. Probably even less now.

At least at the bus station in central Adelaide if there is a delay in your bus leaving you can get a bite to eat or a drink or simply go for a walk or visit one of the squares and do something. At Keswick there is nothing except the terminal buildings, platforms and car park. It is boring in the extreme, more so if you have to spend an hour there doing nothing, not everyone is a rail fan and would be rapt in the place.

Like someone said either on here or another site it should have been put out of it's misery 20 years or more ago.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
It's a bit scary for me to think that when I'll go from Sydney to Adelaide next year on an Indian Pacific Roomette I'll now be travelling on the cheapest available GSR flexible fare.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Mike, if only the Overland bought 100 people to Adelaide, I know it’s hard to believe given the confected outrage expressed here and on FB etc by ‘twain’ lovers that it’s actually LESS than 100 people.

I am confused, as are you, as are GSR and as are everyone else that wants to keep the Overland running. Are we doing this for the disabled, OAPs and other concession card holders or are we doing this for tourists? 100 tourists is a drop in the ocean, more tourists drive into SA day than catch the train every three.

Aviation numbers? Off the proverbial chart in comparison to both.
Aaron
Whilst I agree that the Overland is a relic of the past if it is 50 tourists per trip, 2 inward per week that's 5200 per year. At a cost to the SA Government of $300K that is less than $60 per pax. Many of them will contribute many times that to the economy while they are there (not to forget the $$$ contributed to SA's under performing economy just by having the train in the first place, staff costs etc)

What is needed is some real information on pax numbers and their contribution to the economy and not some ideological decision to end the Overland just because we don't like subsidies. Personally I am no fan of subsidizing private profit making businesses but again I say this is a paltry $300K we are talking about here. How long has it been since a detailed study of the above was done?

BG
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Mike, if only the Overland bought 100 people to Adelaide, I know it’s hard to believe given the confected outrage expressed here and on FB etc by ‘twain’ lovers that it’s actually LESS than 100 people.

I am confused, as are you, as are GSR and as are everyone else that wants to keep the Overland running. Are we doing this for the disabled, OAPs and other concession card holders or are we doing this for tourists? 100 tourists is a drop in the ocean, more tourists drive into SA day than catch the train every three.

Aviation numbers? Off the proverbial chart in comparison to both.
Aaron

Sorry SA guys you just don't get it... Confused

Fortunately the Andrews government does and hopefully it should stump up the cash like it did 2 years ago.

Moreover...being condescending towards people advocating for the Overland's retention and probable increase in frequency, patronage and updated rolling stock going forward doesn't endear you to others.

Aviation numbers are not a comparison in this discussion. We are talking about a different demographic who aren't interested in flying, don't want to sit in a cramped bus and probably live in a place...like Victoria or UK etc where regional train travel is routine and they wish to utilise it for their interstate journey.

Mike.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Whilst I agree that the Overland is a relic of the past if it is 50 tourists per trip, 2 inward per week that's 5200 per year. At a cost to the SA Government of $300K that is less than $60 per pax. Many of them will contribute many times that to the economy while they are there (not to forget the $$$ contributed to SA's under performing economy just by having the train in the first place, staff costs etc)
BrentonGolding
I would be extremely surprised if each trip into SA had even 20 inbound tourists, let alone 50.

GSR's own claim about the train's annual patronage (likely rounded up) are that the average total patronage is only 82 for each running of the train. If the service is as great for western Victoria as we are led to believe, then that's probably no more than ~50 travelling on the part of the journey actually in SA. Marshall is absolutely correct to call the Victorians' bluff and see what they do.

If we are very optimistic and make the assumption that even half of those ~50 are inbound tourists who do spend in SA (a very big assumption, given we've just heard about how the train is so great for various concession holders and how the schedule makes it better for outbound travel to Victoria) then you're looking at around $130 each in subsidy as a best case.

As I said earlier, the best way to deal with this from a SA government point of view would be to cancel the $330k fixed subsidy and replace it with a more reasonable offer paid per ticket. If GSR aren't interested, call for other expressions of interest in running a service. I wouldn't be surprised if this is how it played out behind the scenes.
  justarider Assistant Commissioner

Location: Stuck on VR and hoping for better.
just to be pendant.

As usual with discussion about minor events, the Consultant and Public Service reports on the decision for The Overland has already spent the $300K. Nothing left in the kitty - sorry.

cheers
John
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Sorry SA guys you just don't get it... Confused
The Vinelander
Well we're the people who are the potential users of the service and all of us (pretty much) have decided not to use it. That in itself says volumes about the impracticality and inconvenience. Eighty-two passengers per train, that's not even two full buses.

If you're all gung-ho on saving it then when was the last time you used it, Mike? End-to-end, not just for a jaunt out to Ararat.

NB: Actually the bus does have disabled access, someone in a wheelchair was on a service I used last year and it was interesting to see the hydraulic lift mechanism in use on the side of the bus.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
If you're all gung-ho on saving it then when was the last time you used it, Mike? End-to-end, not just for a jaunt out to Ararat.
don_dunstan
I don't think you are going to win any arguments questioning Mike's commitment to rail travel. He may not use the Overland but he posts VERY regularly of his trips to Melbourne, Swan Hill and well beyond as far as Qld by rail.

BG
  SAR523 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Chicago, IL
In virtually every case, young people only think of the destination as quickly as possible and cannot comprehend that the journey is sometimes even better than the destination, so they don't really factor into the traveller demographic.

...
The tired old XPT, combined with cheap airfares has killed off interstate bus travel between Melbourne & Sydney and the same could occur between Melbourne and Adelaide, provided a timely daily rail service is implemented. There are MORE pax travelling the full journey between Melbourne and Sydney than most 'pagers realise.
The Vinelander
When an argument depends on the customer being wrong, it's probably a good time to retire it.  

Out of curiosity, what is the joy of the journey in the Overland?  It's nice as it goes through the Adelaide hills, and there's a brief bit of excitement at Murray Bridge, but otherwise?  

It's nice to travel on a train, but you can get there and back between the same cities even with all of the time spent at airports before the train gets you there in one direction, and there are planes all day.  There's simply no comparison.

I prefer to travel by train when I can but mostly I simply don't have the time and I have considerably more flexibility and work portability than most people.

In Japan I'd almost always take the train over plane unless I'm changing islands, but no-one is talking about building Shinkansens in Australia.  In Europe (primarily Germany), I still drive more than I want to as often there isn't a rental car place open where I'm going at the time I'm going there (something that simple can kill the option of the train).

I live in the US and am travelling between Chicago and Detroit on occasion.  If I can, I'll take the train across but never on the way back as it just takes too long and I want to get home.  And basically everyone else looks at me like I've lost my mind to have taken the train in the first place.  It's faster to drive.  

I just don't see the time vs convenience tradeoff working for a train for a distance such as that between Adelaide and Melbourne.  Running it every day isn't going to help.  And you know what?  That's what the passenger numbers tell us.

Between Sydney and Melbourne we're now talking of being able to draw from half the population of the country for potential passengers.  I'd wager that's why the XPTs do better.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Sorry SA guys you just don't get it... Confused
Well we're the people who are the potential users of the service and all of us (pretty much) have decided not to use it. That in itself says volumes about the impracticality and inconvenience. Eighty-two passengers per train, that's not even two full buses.
don_dunstan

Fine...don't use the train. Many others who wish to travel in either direction each week do...

Feel free to write to Premier Andrews to express your strong concerns about this service operating any longer.

There you go...knock yourself out... Smile

daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au

Mike.

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