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Goodbye avonlink

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Goodbye avonlink

Postby laptop15 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:12 am

I seriously can not believe this...

AvonLink and MerredinLink Service Changes

Transwa AvonLink and MerredinLink Services will be changing, effective December 30th 2013. The AvonLink train between Northam and Perth is to be replaced with a road coach service, which will operate twice as often as the current train. The MerredinLink service will be incorporated into the Prospector service and will stop at all current MerredinLink service destinations. More details will be provided as they become available but in the meantime should you have any questions you are welcome to contact us at info@transwa.wa.gov.au.


http://www.transwa.wa.gov.au/Default.aspx?tabid=118&ArticleID=369
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby adx666 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:43 pm

Yeah well we do have a liberal govt don't we?
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby mrobsessed » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:46 pm

It never had any chance of being viable. Question is whether the coach service will be tendered or run by Transwa
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby PaxInfo » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:08 pm

Just for fun an interstate comparison between Northam and Seymour in central Victoria.

* Seymour and Northam have about the same population
* Seymour and Northam are the same distance from the capital city (100km)
* Seymour and Northam both have people on 'lifestyle blocks' who commute
* Seymour and Northam both have heritage as major rail junctions and are on main lines
* Seymour and Northam both have a significant population of low income people

The biggest difference is the train timetable. Seymour's is at
http://ptv.vic.gov.au/timetables/line/3986

Note the frequency and span of service compared to Northam!
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby adx666 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:16 pm

I dont see the relevance
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby laptop15 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:29 pm

I do - it proves that you invest in regional rail like Victoria has then you can sustain a service! Simple things like smart rider having the service come into Perth and advertising would go a long way... Northam is the heart of the wildflower country why not capture that???
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby High Floor Bus » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:11 pm

Question is whether the coach service will be tendered or run by Transwa

No doubt about to me , looks like a big time penny pincher move in the making here by cutting gov rail service and then relacing it with a bus service,most likley it will be privatised.
Now what happens to the rolling stock used for the avon link? , do they get repainted into the Prospector livery for and added to make a larger Prospector consit for when higher booking demands. Since there not much other SG rail they can use them on.
:idea: here a good idea for the gubbermint , change them to narrow gauge and use them from Geraldton to Bunbury . Lol
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Mr OC Benz » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:25 am

As mentioned in the link, the MerredinLink would be absorbed into the Prospector and I suspect that since the Prospector has had strong growth over the years, extra capacity could be useful. Only thing is the layout of the AvonLink is different to the Prospector railcars.

I wouldn't be surprised if one day The Australind is withdrawn. Ever since Forrest Hwy opened, patronage has been declining and it is slowly headed for an almost certain death where as the Prospector is increasing while the remaining two are fairly sluggish.
image.jpg
Attached 2011-12 Patronage figures for TransWA
image.jpg (48.93 KiB) Viewed 7758 times


If they were to keep the AvonLink, it really should be running more frequently, and as a real commuter service with no need to book. I guess this puts people off and it's lack of frequency doesn't make it useful for many people. The new timetable is not yet finalised, so I guess people still have a chance to respond, but the changes may well be better for the majority... Just have to wait and see...

Also I doubt that the road coach service will be privately tendered, but who knows. If the whole network does one day get privatised, then it would be better to do it all at once rather than have different sections operated by different operators, it's really not a big enough network to do that.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby PaxInfo » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:56 am

I wonder if Avonlink only existed at all as a back-up service for Eric Charlton, the local MP and transport minister, who had the habit of losing his drivers licence?

In relation to TransWA privatisation, I wonder if contracting out could be done in exchange for PTA taking over service planning for all coaches, particularly in the southwest?

The Perth - Bunbury - Dunsborough/Margaret River corridor could potentially be very strong but is currently run by competing public and private operators with illegible and uncoordinated services.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Mr OC Benz » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:26 am

While the South West coach network is not the most convenient nor frequent, I think for what South West Coach Lines offer, it is quite good as you will notice that most of their services are coordinated to connect with the mainline trunk Perth-Busselton service but run separately to TransWA. Bit like Integrity and TransWA in the north, I guess you could say it's competitive, but given buses don't run that frequently, I'm sure that it is just another means of "options". I do think the Perth-Busselton service needs to be operating more frequently, and I also suspect that a shift in patronage from the Australind to the Express bus has occurred. I took a trip to Perth on a Sunday morning a couple years back and I was able to get the second last seat a few hours before departure. Whereas on the Australind, most times, you can just turn up to the ticket office, get your ticket and hop on without a problem. SWCL seem really good to communicate with on services as alot of their latest initiatives has been the response of customer feedback such as the additional fourth express service to Perth, Capes Shuttle, etc and even TransBunbury and TransBusselton network.

While most bus/train loving gunzels don't think much beyond the sad fact of a service being withdrawn, you really need to look at the logistical and economical (and sometimes political :roll: ) reasons behind it. It will be really interesting to read the annual report for 2012-13 once it is released to compare the patronage data for the last financial year on the AvonLink and other services. Just looking at the figures I had attached earlier, while I have not really got any experience on the Prospector, one could assume that most of it's patronage catchment is beyond what the AvonLink serves? Perhaps the longer distance makes it more attractive to catch a time competitive train where as Northam and Toodyay are just a stones throw away in comparison.

Either way, I'm sure the AvonLink railcars won't go to waste, perhaps they will boost up the capacity on the Prospector where figures show that it has had more success over the last few years.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby In Transit » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:06 am

Some good points raised by Mr OC Benz.

Its a bit difficult comparing Seymour and Northam - not only does the Seymour service operate right into the Melbourne CBD rather than requiring a change en route, but much more importantly it passes through far more towns and catchment areas than the AvonLink does. With only Toodyay as an additional pickup point, it was always going to be a challenge for AvonLink to generate enough patronage.

With the costs per passenger being so much higher for rail than bus, and there being no particular justification for the use of rail in this instance, its perhaps surprising that AvonLInk ever got off the ground in the first place. The lack of frequency and requirement to change at Midland can't have helped - but neither of those can be fixed in a cost effective manner. Taking the patronage figures in Mr OC Benz's post, daily patronage was averaging around 60 passengers - so presumably 30 per trip in 2011/12.

No doubt the railcars will now provide useful additional capacity and spares for the Prospector.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby adx666 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:44 am

laptop15 wrote:I do - it proves that you invest in regional rail like Victoria has then you can sustain a service! Simple things like smart rider having the service come into Perth and advertising would go a long way... Northam is the heart of the wildflower country why not capture that???


Yeah I see that point but the Libs couldn't care less about anything that doesn't generate cashflow
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Q4004 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:48 am

Troy Buswell is an idiot, I hope he sees this post and realises what hes done is stupid. This will cause people to switch to cars therefore putting pressure on roads such as Toodyay Road and Great Eastern Highway which those roads have a bad reputation for road safety.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Mr OC Benz » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:02 pm

Q4004 wrote:Troy Buswell is an idiot, I hope he sees this post and realises what hes done is stupid. This will cause people to switch to cars therefore putting pressure on roads such as Toodyay Road and Great Eastern Highway which those roads have a bad reputation for road safety.

I hope you realise that it isn't a decision solely placed on Troy Buswell and posts targeting Individuals in a negative manner with no justification is not a smart thing to do. In fact, he probably would know very little about how the AvonLink performs as there are hundreds of other matters that need to keep tabs on. The PTA is responsible for managing and reviewing services and it is mostly what they recommend in a cost effective and efficient manner which has resulted in this. And as In Transit mentions, 30 passengers for a rail trip costs far more than 30 passengers on a bus trip. Like I did mention before, the Prospector timetable is being altered, good chance that perhaps there will be minimal impact on those who used the AvonLink as perhaps the Prospector will be scheduled to service and stop at the affect places at approximately around the same time, the big difference is that the Prospector will be arriving and picking up passengers on what would already be a well patronised railcar, rather than a multi million dollar ghost train which only has two stops to fill up two railcars. (I really don't know the capacity of each railcar, but I'd hazard a guess and say that the train could carry a few hundred people) and that is a fairly big percentage of the towns that exist at the two stops served given that most will already be car dependent as it is.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Mr OC Benz » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:37 pm

PTA wrote:AvonLink to be replaced with twice-daily road coach service 21/08/2013
The AvonLink train between Northam and Perth is to be replaced with a road coach service, which will operate twice as often as the train
The changes – as a result of declining passenger numbers - will be effective from December 30 this year.

Public Transport Authority spokesman David Hynes said the train’s patronage had been poor for several years.

“On average we now have about 30 passengers on each AvonLink service – out of a total capacity of 130 seats,” he said.

“By operating road coaches instead of the AvonLink as it exists today, we will save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars each year.”

“The PTA has taken the responsible decision to operate a service that is still capable of moving all our passengers, but in a more cost-effective way.”

Mr Hynes said the train would be replaced with a twice-daily return road coach service.

“Though timetable details have not yet been finalised, we expect to offer a Northam-to-Midland return service early in the morning and again late in the afternoon Monday to Friday.”

This expands the existing train service which operates from Northam at 6.30am (and Toodyay at 6.50am), arriving at Midland Station at 7.50am, Monday to Friday, returning at 5.50pm and arriving Northam at 7.10pm (Toodyay 6.43pm).

“The additional trips (return to Northam in the morning and Midland in the late afternoon) are designed to encourage tourists to visit Northam and Toodyay by offering same-day travel. In all other respects, the services are comparable,” he said.

The Avonlink started operating in 1995.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby burrumbus » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:02 pm

In Transit wrote:Some good points raised by Mr OC Benz.

Its a bit difficult comparing Seymour and Northam - not only does the Seymour service operate right into the Melbourne CBD rather than requiring a change en route, but much more importantly it passes through far more towns and catchment areas than the AvonLink does. With only Toodyay as an additional pickup point, it was always going to be a challenge for AvonLink to generate enough patronage.

With the costs per passenger being so much higher for rail than bus, and there being no particular justification for the use of rail in this instance, its perhaps surprising that AvonLInk ever got off the ground in the first place. The lack of frequency and requirement to change at Midland can't have helped - but neither of those can be fixed in a cost effective manner. Taking the patronage figures in Mr OC Benz's post, daily patronage was averaging around 60 passengers - so presumably 30 per trip in 2011/12.

No doubt the railcars will now provide useful additional capacity and spares for the Prospector.

Unfortunately you can not justify economically or politically a train service that averages just 30 pax per trip.Those train resources are better spent elsewhere.30 pax per trip as a coach service can be justified.Just tender it out.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby laptop15 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:09 pm

But its not justifying 30 passengers per trip its the fact nothing has been done to give it a chance...
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Bus-1809 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:38 pm

Seeing as the AvonLink is being withdrawn, it gives an opportunity to look at the Australind too.

The 5 cars that form the Australind Service were new in 1987, which makes them 26 years old now. They run V8 engines which don't meet the earliest of Euro Emission Standards & to be truthfully honest, they are pretty clapped out.

With what Mr. OCB showed, regarding the declining passenger numbers, is it maybe time to put out a tender for a Coach Service between East Perth Terminal and Bunbury Central Bus Station via South Western Hwy?
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby laptop15 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:22 pm

Why? Its the busiest route? Yes its decreasing it does not mean cancel it! You should be looking at improving the service first, and besides you will need a lot of coaches to compensate some which would need to travel via all the stops the Australind makes now making an extremely long journey.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Mr OC Benz » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:40 pm

Yes but it is declining due to other competition, before the new highway opened, the Australind would've had a large catchment including Bunbury which gives it the extra boost in potential passengers. Now that the new highway has effectively stolen the catchment that otherwise previously would have been on the train, that is a massive hit to the service because all the other areas the Australind serve don't even have reasonable sized population compared to Bunbury. Another area that would've had far less in impact is Pinjarra with the new Transperth service that goes there connecting it to the network meaning people aren't all confined to catching the train arriving in Perth around 0830. It probably won't be long until the Prospector overtakes the Australind for total boardings. There isn't really any solution to the Australind that would involve railway, simply isn't competitive with the highway. Here's hoping they are still looking into a high speed rail to Bunbury as that will pick up more competition again, but for the time being, if it continues to decline, it is probably more viable running more frequent express coaches on the highway, and running a few that go via Pinjarra, Harvey etc. over the cost of running two return rail trips. It'll probably be more convenient for others too having a greater choice of frequency and a quicker journey time.

I know that even a few years back, not everyone was entirely happy that the only trip they could get into Perth from Bunbury was a killer 0600 or a 1445 thereabouts. I know what I would do if that was the case and I didn't have to be in the city that early or if the later one was too late. The SWCL bus leaves at 0845 from Bunbury and for only a two hour trip, works out far more convenient and quicker, in fact I'm pretty sure alot of them run with full loads even on weekends and public holidays!
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Mr OC Benz » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:03 pm

Something of interest showing some detail from 1999 re: the AvonLink:
http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/hansard/hans35.nsf/(ATT)/15C235435458F13B4825680B002AA12B/$file/A1012021.PDF
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Newcastle Flyer » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:17 pm

laptop15 wrote:I seriously can not believe this...
http://www.transwa.wa.gov.au/Default.aspx?tabid=118&ArticleID=369
You can't??

What ADX666 said.

Mr OC Benz, try this for your PDF link instead: http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/hansard/hans35.nsf/(ATT)/15C235435458F13B4825680B002AA12B/$file/A1012021.PDF
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby BroadGauge » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:33 pm

In Transit wrote:Its a bit difficult comparing Seymour and Northam - not only does the Seymour service operate right into the Melbourne CBD rather than requiring a change en route, but much more importantly it passes through far more towns and catchment areas than the AvonLink does. With only Toodyay as an additional pickup point, it was always going to be a challenge for AvonLink to generate enough patronage.

The two services (as opposed to towns) would be more equivalent if the Seymour train ran from Broadmeadows to Seymour, stopping only at Tallarook and Seymour.

Was there ever any reason why it was never considered running the AvonLink into East Perth Terminal? While it's still not in the city, and you still need to leave the city on a Midland train to pick it up, it's far more marketable to advertise that passengers can get on at a terminal just outside of the CBD than telling people to catch a suburban train to the last stop at the end of the line and change.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby Mr OC Benz » Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:20 am

I believe the AvonLink was purposely intended to connect with the Midland Line train upon arrival so there would be a seamless transfer. Terminating at East Perth is a bit more of a headache for a commuter service because in actual fact, it'll probably take a little longer to get into the city anyway. The platforms that serve the AvonLink and Midland Line train are directly opposite each other.
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Re: Goodbye avonlink

Postby mrobsessed » Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:48 pm

I personally think that if its carrying 30 pax per trip the government should butt out and let the coach run on a commercial basis. It has potential because of all the reasons mentioned before, and there is enough charter to keep a vehicle going between trips to make it worthwhile.
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