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Author Topic: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency  (Read 3113 times)

somebody

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Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« on: August 24, 2010, 02:03:26 PM »
Based on this thread on railpage: http://www.railpage.com.au/f-t11307061.htm
It seems that a 6 car train costs about $17.6m (ouch!).  If you assume a 40 year depreciation cycle, and a 7.5%p.a. interest cost, that makes the cost of ownership $1.76m/year in the first year.  Figure that a crew is worth about $250 000p.a. for a 35 hour week, and that make the crew's time worth about another $1m if it is worked for 140 hours a week.  Maintenance and electricity also cost, but that would not sway this analysis, and I will ignore these costs for simplicity, and also because of the rough nature of these calculations.  So the major cost doesn't matter if the set is in use or not.

Factor in that a lot of crews need to spend a long time at terminus dwells on the current timetable, at Cleveland, Varsity Lakes, Beenleigh, Ferny Grove and the airport most notably. I expect that near Bowen Hills for the Cleveland trains which do not extend to Doomben is also a long dwell.  This means that the amount of a crews time it would cost to run a better service doesn't rise as much as one might expect.

Seems completely criminal to have such a poor train frequency.

I would anticipate at most a 25% increase in costs from running a 15 minute service, and probably more like 15-20%.  The question is: would it generate an equivalent increase in fares?  Seems from the experience of the BUZ services that the answer is resoundingly: YES.  Even if the patronage only doubles, the extra fares collected will have paid for the extra service, based Minister Nolan's statements on fares currently paying for 25% of the overall PT service.

So why don't they want to run a decent off peak service?
« Last Edit: September 25, 2010, 01:52:38 PM by somebody »

Offline ozbob

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2010, 02:05:45 PM »
Indeed, another cogent argument.  Thanks for sharing this.
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Offline #Metro

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2010, 04:39:39 PM »
Would we need more trains for a higher OFF peak frequency, I don't think we would as there should be trains spare from peak hour.
The second thing is we should only really mind about the cost to put an extra train on- so that would be crew time and power costs. Slight increases in cost of maintainence.

I agree. Seems criminal.
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somebody

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2010, 04:47:34 PM »
I don't think we would as there should be trains spare from peak hour.
Indeed.

Offline Golliwog

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2010, 05:00:24 PM »
Playing devils advocate: Would this increase in passengers be totally new passengers, or would it just be redistributing current passengers (ie: they would have paid for a fare anyway be it on the current trains or on a bus) onto the more frequent train service?
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somebody

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2010, 05:03:59 PM »
Playing devils advocate: Would this increase in passengers be totally new passengers, or would it just be redistributing current passengers (ie: they would have paid for a fare anyway be it on the current trains or on a bus) onto the more frequent train service?
I expect mostly new, but some may have diverted from buses.  Would the latter be a bad thing?  A bus only has about 50 seats per crew member.

Offline #Metro

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2010, 05:20:03 PM »
All things equal, if a passenger has a choice between a bus and a train, they should take the train (or a bus to the train).
Trains do line haul work very well. The buses should be reorganised into feeder services.
This will be good for both buses AND trains.

I now have tracked down some information from our Victorian cousins, the PTUA.
The data is a bit dated, but it compares Melbourne and Toronto.

76% of people on Toronto's rail network (1991 figures) were brought in by feeder bus or feeder tram.
That is well over half the people travelling doing interchange between bus and rail.

And what is really interesting is that the number of people who walked up to the station was almost identical in both cities.


http://www.ptua.org.au/myths/parkride.shtml
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 05:23:35 PM by tramtrain »
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somebody

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2010, 05:34:11 PM »
Be interesting to see updated figures on that.  Melbourne's rail network carries far more than 88m trips/year now.  I think 200m+

EDIT: Toronto's is now up to about 280m/year.  Not nearly the growth of Melbourne.  Probably due to Torontos system being more advanced in 1991 rather than any problem there.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 07:04:07 PM by somebody »

Offline Jonno

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2010, 06:24:37 PM »
If we add patronage increase due to the mehring effect could the additional cost be almost negligent or cost neutral?

EDIT: Plus highlight the mode share conversion from cars as well.  Sure not all the patronage will be mode shift from the car (some may be from bus as mentioned above) but some will be and the rest will be increase on mobility for those without access to a car.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 06:30:06 PM by Jonno »

somebody

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2010, 06:29:55 PM »
If we add patronage increase due to the mehring effect could the additional cost be almost negligent or cost neutral?
Mohring.

I think we have done so, haven't we?

Offline Jonno

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2010, 06:31:13 PM »
Yes we have but if we bring this together we have a strong business case.

somebody

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2010, 07:00:47 PM »
The devil's advocate points are:
Rail journeys are longer (on average) and therefore get lower fares per km.
Costs per pax are presently higher for rail than bus, so therefore fares may cover less than 25% of rail's costs.
It may take some time for the increased frequency to translate to improved patronage.
It remains to be seen that the increase in patronage will work for rail as well as it did for bus, although it is unclear why not.

Improving the frequency massively improves the cost per pax in the longer term, so long as the patronage increases like I/we expect.

Still, I think that the argument works.

Offline #Metro

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2010, 10:23:45 PM »
The devil's advocate points are:
Quote
Rail journeys are longer (on average) and therefore get lower fares per km.

But rail is far more efficient. 2 staff per 1000 people. Energy use is low per km, compared with say a bus traveling the same distance. In a setting like SEQ it makes no sense to use buses for transport to the Gold Coast, Caboolture etc. Putting on a bus isn't going to make those journeys magically shorter. And besides, the railway is already there, why build busway just to duplicate it? The trains are already there from peak hour.

Quote
Costs per pax are presently higher for rail than bus, so therefore fares may cover less than 25% of rail's costs.
It is wrong to assume that because this is the situation now, that this will also be the situation in the future. Rail networks and public transport networks generally show low marginal costs, but high fixed costs. Perth's annual reports show the cost per passenger going down as more people use the system. A bus-rail integrated feeder network would reduce the per pax cost for all modes used.

Quote
It may take some time for the increased frequency to translate to improved patronage.
BUZ has shown that it works. Perth has also done it. It is a well trodden path.
Quote
It remains to be seen that the increase in patronage will work for rail as well as it did for bus, although it is unclear why not.
If the service is shoddy, people will refuse to use it. Again, Perth is the example.

The bottom line is that all sorts of woeful excuses pass for credible reasons as why to do nothing.
It can be done and has been done. You have to show people a city that does it for people to believe that it can work.
Perth is that city.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 10:25:31 PM by tramtrain »
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Offline #Metro

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2010, 11:14:24 PM »
Quote
EDIT: Toronto's is now up to about 280m/year.  Not nearly the growth of Melbourne.  Probably due to Torontos system being more advanced in 1991 rather than any problem there.

Do you have a link for this figure?

I don't think it was because it was more "advanced". The number of walk up passengers are almost identical in both cities at that time.
The difference was then, that Melbourne did not have a developed feeder bus system, while Toronto did. As you can see the feeder buses allow astronomical numbers of people to gain access the rail station. This is how their rail system collected large numbers of people.
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somebody

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2010, 09:28:27 AM »
Link: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/Ridership/2010_q1_ridership_APTA.pdf
Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_subway_and_RT

Interestingly, in the vaunted Toronto, bus seems to carry slightly more than rail.  Perhaps a sizeable portion is feeder bus trips.

Good point about having a decent rail frequency working in Perth.  Probably Melbourne too.

Offline #Metro

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2010, 11:02:46 AM »
Its true. They run a huge bus feeder system.
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somebody

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2010, 06:51:14 PM »
Presentations at the Citizens PT forum claimed that 61% of CityRail pax travel in peak and 72% of CityTrain pax travel in peak.  In places like Hong Kong which have full cost recovery, that figure was 35%.

justanotheruser

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2010, 12:20:06 AM »
The bottom line is that all sorts of woeful excuses pass for credible reasons as why to do nothing.
It can be done and has been done. You have to show people a city that does it for people to believe that it can work.
Perth is that city.
Is there anything from Perth (or elsewhere) that shows the effect on maintenance? What I don't know is how often are the trains serviced? How many are serviced during off-peak? if more trains are put on will this require more trains so the maintenance work can be done or for maintenance to be done mostly at night? Or is it already done at night.

I'm just thinking if it is done during the day then trains will not be as well maintained giving them a shorter life or those costs will go up or we will need more trains. Does anyone know this?

Offline #Metro

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2010, 12:26:10 AM »
Not sure, but you could ask. Their replies are apparently reasonably fast:
http://www.transperth.wa.gov.au/ContactUs/tabid/437/Default.aspx
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Offline Derwan

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Re: Financial analysis of poor off peak rail frequency
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2010, 08:52:48 AM »
I assume it would be the same as Brisbane - where they have a "buffer" of additional units.  This means that some can be serviced (and there are spares in the case of failed units) without affecting the ordinary running operations.

I suspect though that as you increase the frequency, you'd have to increase the number of additional units and maintenance facilities - simply because they'll require maintenance more often.

I guess this is another factor for Brisbane.  We're increasing the fleet AND the frequency (eventually), so we'll need a two-fold increase on maintenance facilities.
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