Speed, distance, service frequency and population catchment.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.
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?The two big reasons in my mind are cost the cost of the competing services and spread of population.
Speed, distance, service frequency and population catchment.
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.
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.
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.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.
Two of which could be quite easily improved upon.One of which (service frequency) is fixed easily but not cheaply.
Population catchment is probably not that different to Melbourne - Sydney ...LOL.
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.Indeed.
Airlines often run less than weekly services to places with low demand. But 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?3 per week for a rural air route is very different to 3 per week for an inter-city train - there's still a 57% chance of turning up at the station to ask for the next train and being told a time more than 24 hours away. It was only a couple of years ago when the Overland was running three times a week each way and it was still haemorrhaging passengers even before the Wednesday/Thursday return run was cancelled.
Some clever marketing wouldn't go astray.There's no amount of turd polishing which can fix the Overland, it needs infrastructure.
Some clever marketing wouldn't go astray. A frequent, well marketed, reasonably fast service that stops at the right places should get them in...
I'm sure GSR would be open to any fully costed plan to provide a profitable service as both they and their predecessors have failed to ever find one.I often wonder how hard they look though. Rail is popular and even profitable elsewhere. Why can't we do it here? You have to spend money to make money. Any businessman knows that. People can't/won't use something that doesn't exist or doesn't meet their needs. Does anyone even try?
....With the exception of the steam-age alignment through the Adelaide Hills, the route is actually quite flat and straight - in my opinion the very cheapest way of getting the speeds up would be to focus on level crossing elimination. Speeds for DMU's would be heavily restricted by the possibility of collision with a heavy vehicle; if you could get rid of all the level crossings and run DMU's with a decent cruising speed across (mostly) existing alignments and track I think perhaps you could shave three hours off the existing times at least getting them competitive with driving.
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 worth noting that none of the big rail projects in Europe are either (certainly not the Channel Tunnel, or the AlpTransit project) but they are necessary for far greater reasons.
Apparently V/locity is capable of much higher speeds than presently allowed (160kmh) but there's issues with insurance and the existence of level crossings along the routes.Apparently they had a very rough ride quality when tested at 200km/h
Apparently they had a very rough ride quality when tested at 200km/hNot really designed for that obviously but there's plenty of similar DMU's overseas that can do those kind of speeds in regular service; the British have been doing it for forty years. I'd imagine that if Bombardier were asked to build a 200km/h diesel multiple-unit for the route (maybe as an Albury loco-hauled/XPT replacement too) they could probably come up with one based on the V/locity; like a V/locity long-haul generation 2/Bombardier class 222 Meridian.
I often wonder how hard they look though. Rail is popular and even profitable elsewhere.Where on this planet is passenger rail genuinely profitable?
Why can't we do it here? You have to spend money to make money. Any businessman knows that.Australia does not have the population to sustain the running of rail as a business, outside of a handful of core freight routes. It therefore needs to return to being run as a service, with the profitable routes cross-subsidising the loss-making routes which are essential.
Does anyone even try?You're right here though.
You have to have the political will and the $$$ to get these things done. Ultimately the Commonwealth needs to be doing the spending because the states don't own the tracks and unfortunately the current administration is scoping ways to flog off the infrastructure to the private sector so upgrades will be the last thing on their minds.
Which perhaps should be the building of mostly-new high-speed lines. I don't say "all-new" because such lines should continue to serve rather than avoid regional centres but the 19th Century steeply-graded, sharp-curved routes we are still struggling with won't last forever as traffic demands increase.
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