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Rockhampton Tilt Train Reviewed

Started by Gazza, October 08, 2019, 09:27:47 AM

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Gazza

So after living in Brisbane for over 10 years I finally did the Electric tilt to Rockhampton this long weekend.

I'll put my thoughts into dot points:

-Departure was 30 min later, and went out via Central due to CRR works on the Ekka loop.

-Just on the timetable, why is it departure set so late? It leaves Brisbane at 11 and gets to Bundy around 3:30 and Rocky just before 7. Why not leave around 7 or 8am and you'd be in Bundy before lunch and Rocky before dinner!?

-It actually runs at full speed way less than you'd expect, almost as if the tilt mechanism is not worth having. I think it was full speed maybe 1/5 of the time at best.
the fastest part seems to be Caboolture to Beerburrum haha.
We all know that its not that fast to Gympie North. It picks up a bit of speed on the Gympie deviation, then seems to take its sweet time to Maryborough.
To Bundy are a couple of quick bursts of speed, but not at full speed for a lot of it. There appear to be many bridge replacements going on, for example over the Gregory River at Woodgate Rd, so that's nice.
The fastest part seemed to be Bundy to Gladstone.
Gladstone to Rocky was the biggest disappointment, it stuck on 100 even though it's signboarded for 150 and very straight...why?

-Did it previously have a faster timetable?

-I got a business class seat northbound but couldn't southbound. It turns out pensioners snap them up early, which is a bit of a joke...If you are happy to pay extra for first class, then you don't really need the discount. Just means full fare paying passengers miss out ☹
Business class basically gets a wider seat, more legroom, and a complementary juice or water, and a newspaper, and a 240V socket.

-Economy is a bit more cramped, and just has a USB port under the armrest.

-Onboard entertainment is a movie and a couple of travel shows, plus a couple of periods where they just show the front camera of the train.

-Food is okay, you have a choice of TV dinner style hot meals, but I thought my Chicken Aioli  wrap was the pick of the bunch.

-Staffing seems excessive. 2 ticket checkers, 2 people doing food, plus the driver and I think a guard?

-A very busy train! Most seats were taken. I think they could easily do a 3rd service.

-Arrival into Brisbane was just over 30 min late. Classic QR.

-Overall, it was OK. Westlander seemed more interesting to be honest.


timh

Quote from: Gazza on October 08, 2019, 09:27:47 AM
-A very busy train! Most seats were taken. I think they could easily do a 3rd service.

This I'm glad to hear. I've been meaning to make this trip for funsies at some point myself, but I worry that the patronage wouldn't justify keeping the service going. Sounds like it's very strong though!

To Rockhampton I guess it makes sense. About the same travel time as driving, if not a bit quicker, and by far much cheaper than flying.

SurfRail

I'd like the Inlander and the Westlander scrapped and the resources plumbed into the coastal route.  Buy a few more tilts (both electric and diesel), buy enough sleeper cars to put 2 on every diesel set and on 2 of the electrics, and run a more useful timetable.  I'd like to see something like:

- 3 daily sleeper trips in both directions - from Brisbane to each of Cairns, Townsville and Mackay (with staggered departures)
- At least 2 electric trips to Rockhampton - one day train and one overnight
- At least 2 electric trips to Bundaberg - day trains

That gives you 7 trains per day to Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, 5 to the Capricorn and sleepers further north.

Keep the SOTO but charge an appropriate tourist premium, and work on making it top notch and DDA compliant.

Keep Kuranda, the Savannahlander and the Gulflander (all of which are basically tourist attractions / living museums and not terribly expensive to keep going relative to what they bring in).

Worry about Toowoomba and anywhere further out once an alignment becomes available that allows them to achieve journey times of at least 1.5 hours from Roma St to Toowoomba, otherwise it isn't worthwhile.  With that in place you can maybe run trains from say Roma and Warwick, and look at regular tourist offerings using the old alignment from Rosewood to Toowoomba and weekend away trains to Stanthorpe.
Ride the G:

timh

Quote from: SurfRail on October 08, 2019, 14:03:01 PM
I'd like the Inlander and the Westlander scrapped and the resources plumbed into the coastal route.  Buy a few more tilts (both electric and diesel), buy enough sleeper cars to put 2 on every diesel set and on 2 of the electrics, and run a more useful timetable.  I'd like to see something like:

- 3 daily sleeper trips in both directions - from Brisbane to each of Cairns, Townsville and Mackay (with staggered departures)
- At least 2 electric trips to Rockhampton - one day train and one overnight
- At least 2 electric trips to Bundaberg - day trains

That gives you 7 trains per day to Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, 5 to the Capricorn and sleepers further north.

Keep the SOTO but charge an appropriate tourist premium, and work on making it top notch and DDA compliant.

Keep Kuranda, the Savannahlander and the Gulflander (all of which are basically tourist attractions / living museums and not terribly expensive to keep going relative to what they bring in).

Worry about Toowoomba and anywhere further out once an alignment becomes available that allows them to achieve journey times of at least 1.5 hours from Roma St to Toowoomba, otherwise it isn't worthwhile.  With that in place you can maybe run trains from say Roma and Warwick, and look at regular tourist offerings using the old alignment from Rosewood to Toowoomba and weekend away trains to Stanthorpe.

Agree the Westlander is a bit of a money pit at this stage. A new alignment to Toowoomba is really needed if they want to run rail that way. Until a new alignment is built (which I expect won't happen until late 2030s at least) then do what you said: reallocate some of the funds elsewhere.

achiruel

Regarding the pensioners travelling in first class, my father has to use it when he travels as he uses a medical device that requires a 240V outlet, so it's sometimes required, even for pensioners.

Gazza

I think in those cases its fair, same as obviously wheelchairs go in the first class car as well.

But I don't think general passengers should get first class at a discount.

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