French start-up promises “hotel on wheels” with overnight trains

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 18 Jun 2021 08:18
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
if only we had such forward thinking CEO's in this country.  Open up the rail network to new operators, encourage innovation (does not currently exist), have a vision and deliver a service that delights people.

French start-up promises “hotel on wheels” with overnight trains

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  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
if only we had such forward thinking CEO's in this country.  Open up the rail network to new operators, encourage innovation (does not currently exist), have a vision and deliver a service that delights people.

French start-up promises “hotel on wheels” with overnight trains
"bevans"



Australia lags far behind European railways and the upcoming resurgent Amtrak.

Examples...GB has implemented new or refurbished sleeping car trains to Scotland and Cornwall and the European NightJet service, despite COVID-19 is still in operation and will no doubt grow strongly once the international borders open up and tourism resurges.

Given this and the comparison with Australia and Sydney-Melbourne being one of the worlds busiest air routes, there must surely be a potential market for a hotel on wheels overnight service on this route.

Comparisons with the underfunded and unloved railway service between the two capitals 40 years ago are now so outdated as to be completely irrelevant due to a number of factors such as:

* Trains being far more environmentally friendly than air travel.
* Trains arrive in the centre of the city, not out at the airport.
* Overnight travel eliminates getting up at stupid o'clock to catch early flights.
* Overnight travel would inevitably be more economical than flying.
* Overnight travel enables people to work as they are travelling.
* Thousands of people fly between the two cities each day. The old 'Aurora only accommodated 198 pax, a small percentage of the potential clientele.

There are many other factors that suggest this would work on the MEL-SYD route and the reinstatement of 'refreshed' Southern Aurora cars for this could gauge the interest in offering such a service before the investment is made to update to modern rolling stock.

Mike.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
if only we had such forward thinking CEO's in this country.  Open up the rail network to new operators, encourage innovation (does not currently exist), have a vision and deliver a service that delights people.

French start-up promises “hotel on wheels” with overnight trains
bevans

Faaark me, how many times does it have to be said

Most networks are open to new operators. If you have the $$$ and the right accreditation then get on with it and stop your mithering.

Worth bearing in mind there is nothing substantive in this story at all to suggest whether it will actually work or not. Just dreams at the moment.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Bingley are you certain the routes are open now to passenger services including stations etc.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Bingley are you certain the routes are open now to passenger services including stations etc.
bevans
Open Access is open access - it's enshrined in national and state legislation. Get your rollingstock, get your accreditation, pay your access fees. Heritage groups are already doing this.
  apw5910 Chief Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
Bingley are you certain the routes are open now to passenger services including stations etc.
Open Access is open access - it's enshrined in national and state legislation. Get your rollingstock, get your accreditation, pay your access fees. Heritage groups are already doing this.
Sulla1
And a few groups now running "hotel-on-wheels" tours...
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
Looks to me like this is just a European take on what is already happening in Australia with Journey Beyond's trains.

With regards to more night trains in Australia, The Sydney - Melbourne XPT is the best case for overnight train travel in Australia. The two biggest cities in the country, perfect distance for suitable departure and arrival times, yet this train only utilises a single sleeper carriage on each train. That doesn't scream success to me.

Maybe the issue in Australia is its just too damn easy and too damn cheap to fly. Rail can not hope to compete.
  route14 Chief Commissioner

They haven't announced any details yet, including fares.
    The short consist on XPT is a major contributor to the failure.  I believe the network access fee is more based on paths than the train lengths, and there are other fixed costs based on the number of trains run, including driver's working hour.  If the seat fare needs to be double that of a budget flight to justify for the operating costs, the sleepers are nowhere near attractive.  I am interested in trains enough that I'd take a seat on the XPT when they had discounts making its fare close to air fare in 2005 (69 dollars seasonal discount.  They also had an advance booking discount of 66 dollars for bookings made between 7 and 14 days before departure, and 55 dollars for even earlier booking, which are no longer offered).  At least with my current income I'd rather fly if it costs half the train's seat fare.
  Richard stroker Junior Train Controller

Slow news day?
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
At least with my current income I'd rather fly if it costs half the train's seat fare.
route14

Add in the additional costs and like buying a cheap home printer, the extras bump up the price significantly.

Airport car parking.
Taxi/train/bus fares to/from airport.
At least one night in an hotel...

costs add up.

Mike.
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
Add in the additional costs and like buying a cheap home printer, the extras bump up the price significantly.

Airport car parking.
Taxi/train/bus fares to/from airport.
At least one night in an hotel...

costs add up.
The Vinelander

I agree in there being value in travelling over night, for all of the reasons you outline here, to me it makes sense. But I'm a train guy, I'm always looking for a way to make the rail option work.

My question is: If it is such a good idea for the general public, why is there currently only 1 sleeper carriage per night between our 2 major capitals? Especially when that trip is ideally suited to a sleeper train.

The only explanation that I can see is flying is, or at least as seen as cheaper and more convenient.

Not by me, but by the general public who isn't looking at specifically how to do it by rail.
  route14 Chief Commissioner

I'm happy to take route 902 (from Keon Park) and route 901 buses to MEL, then Sydney's route 400 to Mascot and a train to Central.  About 7 dollars in total.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Add in the additional costs and like buying a cheap home printer, the extras bump up the price significantly.

Airport car parking.
Taxi/train/bus fares to/from airport.
At least one night in an hotel...

costs add up.

I agree in there being value in travelling over night, for all of the reasons you outline here, to me it makes sense. But I'm a train guy, I'm always looking for a way to make the rail option work.

My question is: If it is such a good idea for the general public, why is there currently only 1 sleeper carriage per night between our 2 major capitals? Especially when that trip is ideally suited to a sleeper train.

The only explanation that I can see is flying is, or at least as seen as cheaper and more convenient.

Not by me, but by the general public who isn't looking at specifically how to do it by rail.
Gman_86

The current model is...lets face it, compared to the European and US offerings...cr@p. Nevertheless I ALWAYS use the train at least one way when I travel to/from Sydney. But then again, I'll never learn and my partner, not a railfan tolerates my passion.

All the European and US offerings are diesel hauled, as was the old 'Aurora.
The others feature sit down dining availability, separate lounge/club cars and most of all ROOMETTE sleeping. The current offering features NONE of these requirements.

Moreover, the current international offerings are marketed far better. They have a good product to sell. The XPT features curves taken so fast through the Southern Highlands that one has to hang on to the bed to avoid ending up on the floor Exclamation

The XPT offers a choice of 5 steam heated pre-packaged TV dinners and a buffet car...ok for day travel, but evening travel...impossible and sharing your cabin with a stranger...unacceptable these days and no sleepers whatsoever in the NSWGR proposed replacement train.

Even the Cairns Tilt train plans at some point to introduce sleeping cars again and the mega-expensive IP and Ghan...even the old 'Aurora are ALL sleeping cars. See the recurring theme Question

But if Journey Beyond or whoever is operating the Ghan and IP these days were to take it on, the model cannot be priced like the bucket list trains they operate.

Mike.
  Brianr Deputy Commissioner

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
I am pleased to see this and other proposals for overnight trains in Europe and hope they eventuate, although, aged 77 and due to Covid, not sure I will ever make use of them.
I have fond memories of travelling Europe in my 30's in couchettes, arriving in a large city in the morning and searching for accommodation.
I need more comfort and planned accommodation now but can also afford to pay for that.

Sadly it has become far more difficult. I did travel overnlght from Rovaniemi to Helsinki in 2008 then combined with TGV changing at the France/Spain border from Paris to Lisbon in 2011. I tried to book Milan to Paris in 2013 but had to accept the day train.  
In 2018 (my last visit to Europe) I travelled from London to Fort William before the recent carriage upgrade.  I have crisscrossed North America several times by train.

In my 65 years living and travelling in Australia, I made 5 domestic plane flights, 4 across Bass Strait (but also took my car on the ferry on my 3rd and last visit to Tasmania). The other was Sydney to Melbourne paid for by my employer as I picked up and drove a car back the same day.

Since moving to NZ I have flown from Broome to Perth in 2012. I flew from Christchurch to Melbourne, took the Overland to Adelaide, Ghan to Darwin, drove a campervan to Broome then the Indian Pacific back to Sydney. They were still giving Seniors discounts then. I also flew once from Sydney to Brisbane to connect with a flight to Dunedin.

So I only catch plane when no other choice and love overnight train travel.
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
Back in the days of the Southern Aurora (sounds of nostalgic weeping), one major problem was the ratio of staff to passengers. In its heyday, there was one conductor per carriage ( this did change eventually), one electrician, three or four dining car/lounge car staff, two cooks, one guard and two enginemen. Then, with the exception of conductors, the crew was replaced en route.With its maximum of ten sleeping cars, this was a total about 30 crew to look after the same number of passengers that these days will fit into an A330 Airbus, with its crew of about eight or nine. Each service had its "ground crew" so to speak which possibly cancelled each other out. Throw in the 13 hour train versus one hour and twenty five minutes journey time, and it's easy to see where the economic benefit is.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
I'm happy to take route 902 (from Keon Park) and route 901 buses to MEL, then Sydney's route 400 to Mascot and a train to Central.  About 7 dollars in total.
route14
A lot of people just walk to Mascot Station, I recall the last time I went there I just followed the crowd. Much cheaper than using Domestic station with its surcharge.
  Lockspike Chief Commissioner

Back in the days of the Southern Aurora (sounds of nostalgic weeping), one major problem was the ratio of staff to passengers. In its heyday, there was one conductor per carriage ( this did change eventually), one electrician, three or four dining car/lounge car staff, two cooks, one guard and two enginemen. Then, with the exception of conductors, the crew was replaced en route.With its maximum of ten sleeping cars, this was a total about 30 crew to look after the same number of passengers that these days will fit into an A330 Airbus, with its crew of about eight or nine. Each service had its "ground crew" so to speak which possibly cancelled each other out. Throw in the 13 hour train versus one hour and twenty five minutes journey time, and it's easy to see where the economic benefit is.
Valvegear
Ahh, the Southern Aurora, a magnificent train and symbolic of the pride of rail workers.
The high passenger/staff ratio was reflected in an era where service was still important, and that it was a premium service.

A current era sleeping train would likely have:
1 or 2 drivers
3 passenger attendants/food servers (1 safe working qualified).

A big difference.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
By definition overnight sleeper trains must be expensive but when balanced against accommodation and transport costs combined they can be advantageous. There is definitely a place for them especially the way the Europeans run their trains.

Great for business travel but, perhaps less so for tourists if they dump one in the city at 0800 with nowhere to call home. International airlines excel at this.

When travelling to meetings etc in Australia I preferred the Overland or the Aurora but my favourite overnight sleeper train was always the Overland.

Probably all in the mind, but somehow it always seemed more 'solid/homely' (old fashioned if you like) and less 'glitzy' than the Aurora. Certainly the carriages were better finished and maintained than the Aurora with its frequently cheap and pealing vinyl wallpaper and often rude dining car staff.
  tom9876543 Chief Train Controller

I'm guessing a lot of people would be worried about getting a bad night's sleep on overnight sleeper train between Sydney / Melbourne.

I think a overnight sleeper train could work but must have:
- Carraiges will have to be built with hotel room like design. It must seem like you are stepping into a hotel room.
- Need a way to somehow guarantee a quiet smooth ride. Very hard on Australia's crappy railways unfortunately. All level crossings would need to be removed because of the loud bells and train driver blows loud horn as well. Then the railway track has to be built to high standard so there aren't any bumps / jolts of the carraiges. Would also want NO stops in middle of night, train should keep moving at all times.

If train company could guarantee quiet night's sleep and hotel like room, I think patronage would increase significantly.
Price has to be competitive of course.
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
"I'm guessing a lot of people would be worried about getting a bad night's sleep on overnight sleeper train between Sydney / Melbourne."
I never had any trouble sleeping on the Southern Aurora, which I used extensively for business trips to Sydney and back. Similarly on the Indian Pacific, Ghan, and Overland; all of which I have travelled on more than once.

"Hotel room like design". What does that mean? How much floor space do you want per cabin? 3, 4 or 5 star hotel?

"Need a way to somehow guarantee a quiet smooth ride. Very hard on Australia's crappy railways unfortunately." Desirable of course, but see above.

"All level crossings would need to be removed because of the loud bells and train driver blows loud horn as well." Not necessary. In the enclosed, air conditioned sleeper you don't even hear the loco horn, and crossing bells are quite muted and fleeting.

"Would also want NO stops in middle of night, train should keep moving at all times." So, we have to do away with single line running and consequent crossings or run-throughs, and also have no crew changes. From Melbourne to Sydney, the Aurora stopped at Albury (2350-0013), Junee (0202-0209) and Goulburn (0555-0602), all of which involved changes to loco crews and/or catering staff. (The Albury stop also involved transferring the Motorail from leading vehicle to trailing vehicle).

"Price has to be competitive of course." Competitive with what? First or Business air fares?  Good luck.

In another forum, I have suggested that you should consider continuing a discussion in the Armchair Experts section. I think the same applies here.
  Brianr Deputy Commissioner

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
I'm guessing a lot of people would be worried about getting a bad night's sleep on overnight sleeper train between Sydney / Melbourne.

I think a overnight sleeper train could work but must have:
- Carraiges will have to be built with hotel room like design. It must seem like you are stepping into a hotel room.
- Need a way to somehow guarantee a quiet smooth ride. Very hard on Australia's crappy railways unfortunately. All level crossings would need to be removed because of the loud bells and train driver blows loud horn as well. Then the railway track has to be built to high standard so there aren't any bumps / jolts of the carraiges. Would also want NO stops in middle of night, train should keep moving at all times.

If train company could guarantee quiet night's sleep and hotel like room, I think patronage would increase significantly.
Price has to be competitive of course.
tom9876543
I find this ridiculous. I love sleeping in a train with the rocking and clicketty clack. Travel across the USA and the horns seem to  going all night, no worry.
Of course it is not like a hotel room but you are not paying the same prices (after removing actual travel costs).
Sometimes you wake and realise the train has stopped, who cares.
What I do hate about the XPT is having to share with a stranger. In the 1970's I shared couchettes in Europe with 3, sometimes 5 but I was a lot younger in those days. Even those were an experience. Forget exact details but once travelled from Madrid to Paris with round cabin discussion in various languages. A Japanese guy spoke to me in English, I translated to French to a guy who translated to Spanish etc.  Now I am able and prefer to pay for some privacy.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
Find myself in rare agreement with Valvegear, we've been here before -

Luxury overnight trains are a nice idea but they very seldom work overseas so its fair to assume it probably wouldn't do that well here - where would you obtain the rollingstock up to modern five star standard for a start.

We've had lots of different models of this kind of train tried and failed here in Oz - the only one with long term success is the remaining Great Southern 'cruise train' type services and they cater to a very specific market different to the one we're talking about.

Five star straightforward point-to-point overnight seems a much more difficult proposition.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I'm happy to take route 902 (from Keon Park) and route 901 buses to MEL, then Sydney's route 400 to Mascot and a train to Central.  About 7 dollars in total.
A lot of people just walk to Mascot Station, I recall the last time I went there I just followed the crowd. Much cheaper than using Domestic station with its surcharge.
don_dunstan
It's a 2 km walk, a few waits to cross at major Intersections.
  route14 Chief Commissioner

Good idea, but you don't get to enjoy the transfer discount of 2 dollars.  My Opal only got deducted 40 cents when I left Central.
  ssaunders Train Controller

Bingley are you certain the routes are open now to passenger services including stations etc.
Open Access is open access - it's enshrined in national and state legislation. Get your rollingstock, get your accreditation, pay your access fees. Heritage groups are already doing this.
Sulla1

Except track access agreements and access to stations are two separate things, any heritage groups have an access agreement on OneRail trackage for example. There are many complexities some of which are not resolved.

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