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The Westlander!

Started by ozbob, December 19, 2011, 07:42:32 AM

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ozbob

Just leaving Roma and the internet for a while. Bit chilly on the platform!

:-c
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mufreight

Well left Roma and still have internett    :-t   :lo

ozbob

Indeed, next station Mitchell, few minutes adrift speed restrictions post floods some sections.
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ozbob

#43
15 minutes out of Morven,  few pics so far ...








































Photographs R Dow 12-13 April 2012
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colinw

Sigh. Wish the thing could be marketed properly. The Westlander traverses such a classic slice of country Queensland.

Once you get west of Toowoomba, the big city imperatives of South East QLD start looking very remote and a bit selfish & silly.

Oh well, only 15 years until I retire, then I can get out of this forsaken city & go home.

ozbob

25 minutes or so from Charleville ..

The best strategy from here would be carriage modifications, one sleeping car, one sitting car for DDA requirements, and put freight back on the Westlander.  The freight together with fares almost covers the cost of operation. Cattle trains are still running ex Quilpie, hope to check on the Cunnamulla line's status later today.

Been a great run out. Train crew are marvellous, around 70 pax on at Toowoomba, few getting off at intermediate stations since Toowoomba.  Better marketing of the service.  Interesting comment from train crew is that they get a lot of overseas visitors onboard as well.
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colinw

Bob, do they still sell those cracking good steak sandwiches in the dining car? Best cooked bit of meat I've had on a train, by far, and I'm including the Queenslander when it was a separate train in that.

Very envious of you chaps riding the Westie, my favourite of the QR long distance trains by far.  Wish I'd had the time to do so.

ozbob

Had a lovely egg and bacon burger for breakfast!  None of this one piece of bacon stuff, it was a good feed!

:D
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Fares_Fair

duplicated bacon   :-t
sounds like a great trip.
Regards,
Fares_Fair


colinw

Quote from: Fares_Fair on April 13, 2012, 11:54:44 AM
duplicated bacon   :-t

Not available on QR services north of Beerburrum, sorry.

ozbob

Some RAIL Back On Track members just enjoyed a steak luncheon at the Charleville RSL ....

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somebody

Quote from: ozbob on April 13, 2012, 11:41:32 AM
25 minutes or so from Charleville ..

The best strategy from here would be carriage modifications, one sleeping car, one sitting car for DDA requirements, and put freight back on the Westlander.  The freight together with fares almost covers the cost of operation. Cattle trains are still running ex Quilpie, hope to check on the Cunnamulla line's status later today.

Been a great run out. Train crew are marvellous, around 70 pax on at Toowoomba, few getting off at intermediate stations since Toowoomba.  Better marketing of the service.  Interesting comment from train crew is that they get a lot of overseas visitors onboard as well.
Has freight been removed from the Westie?  I didn't know that.  Is there enough demand to justify many separate freight trains?

ozbob

Freight was never put back following the 2011 floods. Spoke with another shop owner in the town today who said the road transport is a shambles, 10% of his stock comes in damaged.  It never happened on the train.

Attaching to the Westlander makes sense as they generally only needed 4 to 5 wagons.

The word is that there might be a daily stock train out of Quilpie for Dinmore in a year or so as well.  Presently one a week.

Have also confirmed that the line to Cunnamulla is usable as well.
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somebody

So what's the traffic on the line?  2 Westies + 1 stock train per week?  Or did mistake you.

ozbob

#54
Charleville




















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ozbob

Quote from: Simon on April 13, 2012, 16:22:19 PM
So what's the traffic on the line?  2 Westies + 1 stock train per week?  Or did mistake you.

Yes that is the regular stuff at the moment, other trains do run.  There is also some mining stuff going on as well which will probably impact. As you get close in to Roma you get heaps of coalies as well.
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somebody

Ah yes, of course.  A bazillion coalies keep the line open.

SurfRail

Quote from: Simon on April 13, 2012, 16:57:42 PM
Ah yes, of course.  A bazillion coalies keep the line open.

Not necessarily.

The Wallangarra line is still in working order, and doesn't have any regular traffic except for tourist trains.
Ride the G:

ozbob

#58
About 2 hours out from Toowoomba, passed an outbound coalie a short while ago.  Toowoomba is where the service finishes today due to the track closure.

Some suggestions that the optimum times for the Westlander would be a 3.30pm departure from Roma St (platform 2), return depart Charleville at 10pm to 11pm.  This would make it more functional for intermediate transport as well as giving a couple of daylight trips on the range
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ozbob

#59
Back at Toowoomba











Photographs R Dow 14th April 2012
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ozbob

This was a very enjoyable trip out to Charleville and return.  The onboard Queensland Rail staff were marvellous, helpful, friendly and knowledgeable.  They went out of their way to ensure all passengers were making the most of the travel.  A number of overseas people were on board as well, and they appreciatively thanked the staff on leaving the train at Toowoomba.

Fine-tuning the timetable, sorting out the carriages for DDA and getting the freight back on would maximise the benefits of this service.  It is a marketing opportunity waiting to happen.
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ozbob

Sent to all outlets:

15th April 2012

The Westlander

Greetings,

The journey to Charleville on the Westlander, departure 7.15pm  Thursday 12th April from Brisbane, return from Charleville, departure 6.15pm Friday the 13th April was a most enjoyable journey.

The Queensland Rail Travel train staff onboard were very helpful, friendly and knowledgeable.  Their attention in  making sure all passengers had a pleasant journey was exemplary.  Well done.

Some pictures here --> http://railbotforum.org/mbs/index.php?topic=7301.msg94734#msg94734

The bigger issue though is the future of the Westlander and the Inlander services.  These are very important rail services for inland Queensland.  They are transport communication links and economic drivers.

The loss of these services would have a devastating impact on the respective communities.

There is a requirement for public transport operators to meet the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) which sets out to make public transport accessible to all users, including wheelchairs.  The Westlander passenger carriages were built in 1954, a long time before the DDA requirements were known.  The date that these requirements must be meet is 2016.  What can be done is that one sleeper carriage, and one sitting carriage be modified for wheelchair access.  This would allow the service to continue.

To further defray costs of running the train, the freight service that was once provided by the Westlander be re-instituted.  Historically the Westlander has always had a number of freight wagons attached to transport general goods.  The freight service was never started again after the 2011 floods. Putting freight back onto the Westlander would  serve the community well as there are problems with time reliability and damage of the road transport.   I was able to speak to a number of local business people who are having major problems with damage to goods transported by road, which they did not suffer when the Westlander was carrying freight.  Also the road transport is unreliable as to delivery dates. When the freight was being moved by rail the delivery was much more certain.

The Westlander is a great rail journey.  It could be improved by tweaking the timetable.  Presently it leaves Brisbane at 7.15pm Tue and Thu, if this was changed to around 3.30pm on Mon and Thu it would make for better intermediate transport links, and provide a daylight run up the range, a strong tourist initiative.  The return could be 10pm out of Charleville on the Tue and Fri.  Again provide more useful times for passengers and, another daylight run down the range.  Improved marketing and the service is a big success, and provides the community with a safe alternative to the road nightmare.

We have invested a lot of money in our rail network.  It is time it was utilised properly.  The damage being done to the road system by ever increasing truck transport is out of control, and the cost of road trauma is breaking the nation.

Time to get freight back onto rail.

Best wishes,
Robert

Robert Dow
Administration
admin@backontrack.org
RAIL Back On Track http://backontrack.org

Quote from: ozbob on April 12, 2012, 02:51:31 AM


Media Release 12 April 2012

Queensland:  Long distance passenger rail travel is a winner!

RAIL Back On Track (http://backontrack.org) a web based community support group for rail and public transport and an advocate for public transport is highlighting the value of the long distance passenger rail services in Queensland.  Today RAIL Back On Track representatives will be departing Brisbane on the Westlander and will be arriving in Charleville at noon on Friday (13th April).

Robert Dow, Spokesman for RAIL Back On Track said:

"The Westlander is one of the great long distance passenger trains in Queensland. In 2004 there were Golden Anniversary celebrations marking 50 years of the Westlander serving the community and visitors of western Queensland (1). The long distance passenger trains in Queensland are unique.  Providing a quality tourist travel experience they are also important transport communication links for many remote towns throughout Queensland. The Sunlander, the Spirit of the Outback, the Westlander, the Inlander and the Tilt Train services all value add to the economy of Queensland, directly and indirectly.  This was further reinforced with Queensland Rail's Traveltrain Holidays taking out the Major Tourist Attraction award at the 2008 Outback Queensland Tourism Awards (2)."

"Subsidies to Queensland Rail's long distance passenger trains are sensible and are of benefit to the whole community.  Support for the rural community by the Queensland Government in maintaining and improving these services is to be applauded.  It should also be noted that public transport in south-east Queensland is also heavily subsidised.  So is health, electricity, water, education and other transport modes.  Rarely is the true cost of road and air infrastructure, and their environmental penalties costed into those transport modes. If they were, they too would show distortions of cost and subsidies. The cost of road trauma is breaking our nation (3). As freight is moved from rail to road, ever increasing numbers of road trucks are causing costly road damage. Queensland is more than just the south-east! Rail subsidies are returned as broader economic benefits which is why the world getting on with the rail revolution."

"Governments are there to support their communities. Governments lost the transport plot in the 1950s and until recently have lacked the long term vision of our pioneers who laid down our basic rail network.  For example, the myopia demonstrated when the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads railways were closed during the 1960s and right of way lost is now hitting home in exorbitant infrastructure costs to re-establish those lines."

"In twenty or thirty years it is highly likely that the only sustainable bulk transport mode will be rail.  Air and road will be subject to extreme fuel and environmental costs. Governments need to be thinking long term and therefore expanding and continuing support for rail networks.  Rail is the safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly transport solution for Queensland and the nation."

"RAIL Back On Track has reason to believe the Westlander passenger rail service may be ceased in the not too distant future.  The aging Queensland Rail long distance passenger carriage fleet needs replacement. Consideration should then be given to other new diesel/hybrid multiple unit train sets besides the tilt trains for more local and long distance inland passenger services in Queensland (4). Regular commuter services could also be introduced from places such as Gatton, Helidon, and eventually Toowoomba and further west, and similarly from Gympie North and Maryborough.  Apart from the coastal services more local rail services for major provincial cities in Queensland could also be achieved. Local commuter rail services could be established in places like Cairns and Townsville with a bit of vision (5).

"Queensland Rail could also provide a light freight service attached as part of the inland passenger services.  The loss of regular rail freight services to towns such as Cunnamulla and Quilpie, and Charleville is hurting these communities."

"Country rail passenger services have boomed in Victoria under the V/Line banner.  There is no reason why similar results can not be achieved for rural Queensland."

References:

1.   WESTLANDER CELEBRATES GOLDEN MILESTONE http://statements.cabinet.qld.gov.au/MMS/StatementDisplaySingle.aspx?id=36990

2.   http://railbotforum.org/mbs/index.php?topic=1510.0

3.   Road trauma is breaking the nation http://www.brisinst.org.au/here-and-now/october-2010-issue/7

4.   http://www.hitachi-rail.com/products/rolling_stock/hybrid/index.html

5.   http://railbotforum.org/mbs/index.php?topic=4683.0

Contact:

Robert Dow
Administration
admin@backontrack.org
RAIL Back On Track http://backontrack.org
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colinw


ozbob

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ozbob

From the Western Times 19th April 2012 page 9

Group fights for future of service

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ozbob

Sent to all outlets:

2nd June 2012

Rural Queensland is falling apart due to rail transport neglect

Greetings,

Today in the Couriermail there is a report of funding shortfalls for roads. (Newman axe for $400m road projects, CM June 2 page 18.)

The roads are being smashed by ever escalating numbers of trucks.  Road trauma is out of control. It has been another very sad week for road trauma - multiple deaths and injuries,  on the roads.

Specifically mentioned in the CM article is the Warrego Highway " .. which is in dangerous disrepair ... ".

The Western rail line to Charleville, with branches to Quilpie and Cunnamulla  runs adjacent to the Warrego Highway.  Prior to the 2011 floods, the Westlander passenger train ran as a mixed train, attached to the passenger carriages for each journey out west to Charleville were 4 or 5 freight wagons. This provided an economical, timely and reliable, safe way of transporting goods along the line to Charleville.  Following the floods the freight service on the Westlander was never restarted.

I travelled on the Westlander in April of this year.  At Charleville I spoke with a number of local citizens who were scathing about the loss of their freight service.  The goods now arrive by road transport, without any reliable time line,  and the damage to the goods is causing significant difficulties, damage that did not occur anything like what is happening by the roads.  Also of great local concern is the ever escalating number of trucks, the massive damage being done to the road system, and the sheer terror of being forced to drive on the roads under such conditions.

It is time that the Minister for Transport and Main Roads directed Queensland Rail to negotiate with QRN with a view to restoring general freight services on the Western line.  Attaching freight wagons back to the Westlander effectively means the the cost of providing the passenger service is largely offset, and there are broader economic benefits for the community.  Their goods will once again arrive on time and without damage.  Less damage to the road system, road trauma costs are lessened, environmental impacts reduced.

It is time we moved bulk and long haul freight back on to rail for the economic and social benefit for all Queenslanders.

Best wishes
Robert

Robert Dow
Administration
admin@backontrack.org
RAIL Back On Track http://backontrack.org
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Fares_Fair

 :-t

There are economic benefits in doing so, hitch 'em up and ditch the truck.
Regards,
Fares_Fair


ozbob

Letter to the editor published Couriermail 4th June 2012 page 24

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SurfRail

I will be undertaking my own trip on the Westie this month - leave Thursday 22 November, return Saturday 24 November.

Inlander trip will follow sometime in 2013, but the next big rail trip will be platinum class on The Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide.
Ride the G:

ozbob

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SurfRail

Well, I'm back.

Very decent trip, many thanks to Julius and the train crew.  He shared a few memories of the Dirranbandi Mail, which he worked before it was removed.

Descending the range out of Toowoomba was interesting, although in itself it is a fairly compelling case for why passenger rail is utterly non-viable in the Toowoomba-Brisbane market with the current infrastructure in place (4 hours travel time to Roma Street west junctions).

The berth was comparable to an IP "gold" berth, and the ride quality was quite good (although for some reason a little worse coming back than heading out - perhaps just a perception thing).

Charleville is looking a bit sad unfortunately.  Not too uncommon for regional towns these days.

Ride the G:

ozbob

 :-t  Yes, I noticed things did not look overly bright at Charleville as well.

It is an enjoyable trip the Westlander.  I hear there could be some changes to come.

Rail to Helidon and bus from there is a real option.  This used to do quite a good service in the rail motor days.  With the growth happening out that way Gatton and Helidon eventually some sort of commuter rail may eventuate.
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SurfRail

I'd like to think that over time, if a new range crossing is created, we can have 4 services heading up that way:

- The "Lockyer Valley" line, which would be basically all stations Toowoomba to Ipswich, then Darra, Indooroopilly, Milton and Roma Street only.  Electrified so long as that would not prejudice double-stacking containers on intermodal freighters, otherwise maybe diesel tilts.

- The Westlander - retimed to provide a more useful service

- The Winelander - reintroduce passenger service to Wallangarra and market it as a tourist train

- Reinstate part of the old Dirranbandi Mail, probably running only as far as Goondiwindi.

Depending on how the Melbourne-Brisbane line goes, you could have a quite reasonable alignment from Brisbane to Warwick, which means these last 2 might not have to go via Toowoomba.

The last 2 would probably only be once or twice weekly.  The Westlander could see some serious use given all the activity happening west of Toowoomba for CSG and other resource extraction.
Ride the G:

colinw

Quote from: ozbob on November 25, 2012, 02:53:02 AM
Rail to Helidon and bus from there is a real option.  This used to do quite a good service in the rail motor days.  With the growth happening out that way Gatton and Helidon eventually some sort of commuter rail may eventuate.

Though my childhood and until the advent of the electrics, the Helidon "Co-Ordinated" was THE way to get between Toowoomba & Brisbane on public transport.  In those days there was a reasonable service comprising a bus to/from the very well kept Helidon station (even had a snack bar open), then a comfortable and well kept 2000 class railcar to Brisbane, running express from Ipswich with a stop at Corinda.  During Ekka time the railcar used to extend around the exhibition loop.  The other stations along the line were neat & tidy as well, particularly Laidley which had nice hanging potplants, etc.

There was also direct bus from Toowoomba to Brisbane, but in those days the McCafferty's terminal was in South Brisbane near the interstate station, not at Roma St.  Thus you had to get a bus from South Brisbane to the city, or else walk over the bridge.

Great memories!

Stillwater

Maybe SOTO journey in 2013?

ozbob

Sent to all outlets:

19th November 2014

Westlander and Inlander - two great icons smashed by incompetence

Greetings,

The loss of the Westlander and Inlander as we know it is a sad day.  It is not as though we have not tried.  We did put plans forward that would have turned around the services, but the will to succeed is not there in Queensland.  A Media Release from April 2012 below, a sad reflection on transport mediocrity in Queensland.

Today,  Brisbanetimes -->  Westlander and Inlander to lose dining and sleeping cars

Best wishes
Robert

Robert Dow
Administration
admin@backontrack.org
RAIL Back On Track http://backontrack.org

============================



Media Release 12 April 2012

Queensland:  Long distance passenger rail travel is a winner!

RAIL Back On Track (http://backontrack.org) a web based community support group for rail and public transport and an advocate for public transport is highlighting the value of the long distance passenger rail services in Queensland.  Today RAIL Back On Track representatives will be departing Brisbane on the Westlander and will be arriving in Charleville at noon on Friday (13th April).

Robert Dow, Spokesman for RAIL Back On Track said:

"The Westlander is one of the great long distance passenger trains in Queensland. In 2004 there were Golden Anniversary celebrations marking 50 years of the Westlander serving the community and visitors of western Queensland (1). The long distance passenger trains in Queensland are unique.  Providing a quality tourist travel experience they are also important transport communication links for many remote towns throughout Queensland. The Sunlander, the Spirit of the Outback, the Westlander, the Inlander and the Tilt Train services all value add to the economy of Queensland, directly and indirectly.  This was further reinforced with Queensland Rail's Traveltrain Holidays taking out the Major Tourist Attraction award at the 2008 Outback Queensland Tourism Awards (2)."

"Subsidies to Queensland Rail's long distance passenger trains are sensible and are of benefit to the whole community.  Support for the rural community by the Queensland Government in maintaining and improving these services is to be applauded.  It should also be noted that public transport in south-east Queensland is also heavily subsidised.  So is health, electricity, water, education and other transport modes.  Rarely is the true cost of road and air infrastructure, and their environmental penalties costed into those transport modes. If they were, they too would show distortions of cost and subsidies. The cost of road trauma is breaking our nation (3). As freight is moved from rail to road, ever increasing numbers of road trucks are causing costly road damage. Queensland is more than just the south-east! Rail subsidies are returned as broader economic benefits which is why the world getting on with the rail revolution."

"Governments are there to support their communities. Governments lost the transport plot in the 1950s and until recently have lacked the long term vision of our pioneers who laid down our basic rail network.  For example, the myopia demonstrated when the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads railways were closed during the 1960s and right of way lost is now hitting home in exorbitant infrastructure costs to re-establish those lines."

"In twenty or thirty years it is highly likely that the only sustainable bulk transport mode will be rail.  Air and road will be subject to extreme fuel and environmental costs. Governments need to be thinking long term and therefore expanding and continuing support for rail networks.  Rail is the safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly transport solution for Queensland and the nation."

"RAIL Back On Track has reason to believe the Westlander passenger rail service may be ceased in the not too distant future.  The aging Queensland Rail long distance passenger carriage fleet needs replacement. Consideration should then be given to other new diesel/hybrid multiple unit train sets besides the tilt trains for more local and long distance inland passenger services in Queensland (4). Regular commuter services could also be introduced from places such as Gatton, Helidon, and eventually Toowoomba and further west, and similarly from Gympie North and Maryborough.  Apart from the coastal services more local rail services for major provincial cities in Queensland could also be achieved. Local commuter rail services could be established in places like Cairns and Townsville with a bit of vision (5).

"Queensland Rail could also provide a light freight service attached as part of the inland passenger services.  The loss of regular rail freight services to towns such as Cunnamulla and Quilpie, and Charleville is hurting these communities."

"Country rail passenger services have boomed in Victoria under the V/Line banner.  There is no reason why similar results can not be achieved for rural Queensland."

References:

1.   WESTLANDER CELEBRATES GOLDEN MILESTONE http://statements.cabinet.qld.gov.au/MMS/StatementDisplaySingle.aspx?id=36990

2.   http://railbotforum.org/mbs/index.php?topic=1510.0

3.   Road trauma is breaking the nation http://www.brisinst.org.au/here-and-now/october-2010-issue/7

4.   http://www.hitachi-rail.com/products/rolling_stock/hybrid/index.html

5.   http://railbotforum.org/mbs/index.php?topic=4683.0

Contact:

Robert Dow
Administration
admin@backontrack.org
RAIL Back On Track http://backontrack.org
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Gazza

I'm finally doing the Westlander, departing Corinda Tuesday the 24th and returning from Charleville on the 27th, so will have essentially 2.5 days to explore the town.

Something kind of amusing about being able to wander down to an overnight train straight from my house.

ozbob

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Stillwater

It is a bit of a walk, but a good walk -- hike it to the airport to see the Cosmos Centre. Don't forget the Flying Doc Centre /School of the Air .. and the meals at the RSL are pretty good!

ozbob

Second that.  The RSL is a good place.  I stayed at the old Railway Hotel Charleville in the 1990s (destroyed by fire 2011).

On arrival I said can I have my room key please?  The bloke behind the bar said we don't have keys.  Ok, fair enough.

At breakfast, I ordered steak and eggs.  The steak was size of a large dinner plate, no joking!

During my most recent visit to Charleville (2012) it was not hard to notice the general impact of the previous floods and economic downturn.  I will be interested in hearing your comments Gazza.  Real shame the sleepers and dining buffet are no longer part of the Westy.
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