The time an event starts, finishes, meals are served, acts perform – everything.
And if you are running a roadshow or just an event in a different city, then the delivery of goods and people is crucial.
If you are running a roadshow in different cities around Australia then the only way to be confident that your gear is going to get from one to another is to truck it yourself. Last weekend I was working with Expertise Events in Melbourne, Gary Fitz-Roy and his son drove a truck with vital props etc from Sydney to Melbourne. Once they got to Melbourne they discovered some equipment that was meant to be shipped from Adelaide to Melbourne was instead sent to Sydney. Yep! Unless you drive it yourself you have no idea where it is going or when it will get there.
Shipping is a nightmare and Australia Post and courier companies are still blaming COVID – FFS they have had two years to get their systems sorted. Even before COVID I gave up on TNT because they were so unreliable.
Last weekend showed that moving people from city to city is also fraught. On Friday I left home at 3 PM (for a 6 PM flight) and finally arrived in Melbourne at 11 PM. On Sunday I was booked on a 7 PM flight to return home. I was getting pinged with messages about delays and then around 3 PM the flight was cancelled altogether and I was rescheduled on a flight at 6 AM the following day. My call to the Virgin call centre was incredibly frustrating. I simply could not understand the person I was dealing with. I had to keep telling him to slow down and repeat and repeat. The best he could offer was a 4 PM flight – at 3:15 PM and I’m still in the city!
I managed to get an 8 PM flight with Rex that was subsequently delayed until after 9:30 PM.
At the airport I went to the Virgin sales desk to sort out a refund – the clerk apologised and admitted that they get many complaints about the call centre.
Virgin used to pride themselves on customer service – the new owners obviously have no pride.
Incidentally the Rex 737 might have Rex branding on the outside but the seats were in the very recognisable Virgin colour scheme.
Which brings me to the VFT and a lack of vision by our political parties. For decades they have been talking about a Very Fast Train service between SYD – CBR – MEL. And then just spending money on inquiries that result in no action. The issue was sadly missing from the recent campaign.
The proposed VFT offers a travel time of three hours between Sydney and Melbourne (and I think five hours between Brisbane and Sydney).
It currently takes longer than three hours to get to Sydney airport, fly to Melbourne collect your luggage and get to Melbourne CBD at the best of times!
The previous government were more interested in wasting money on local infrastructure like suburban train station parking than on national projects like the VFT.
The advantages of the VFT include – they would be electric and could be powered by a series of wind generators along the line (so very little CO2 emissions), more leg room, no need to pack your laptop away for take-off and landing (so you could continue working for the whole trip), no restriction on the size/weight of your carry-on luggage (and hopefully no lost luggage), you could relax in a buffet car, you could enjoy the view. As they would travel between Sydney Central and Melbourne Southern Cross stations there would be no battling through traffic from the airports and the city.
Incidentally, when I saw that the XPT was leaving Melbourne at 7PM I was tempted – but it is a 12 hour trip.
However with Sydney’s second airport now under construction I do not believe I will see the VFT in my lifetime for the following reasons.
The SYD-MEL air corridor is in the top five busiest in the world. If travellers had the opportunity to go by train – they would. This would deplete the traffic in and out of both Sydney airports and so the airports and the airlines would lose money. Airports and airlines contribute to the coffers of the major political parties – they would lobby against the VFT and the parties would listen to them.
If only we could find enough politicians with vision for the nation – instead of localised pork barrelling.
And to those promises
In a late-stage election bid, the Federal Opposition has promised to invest over $1 billion for planning works on a High Speed Rail Link along Australia’s east coast, as well as $300 million for Melbourne’s Suburban Rail Loop.
Labor has promised to spend $1 billion buying land between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane to build a future high-speed rail link.
Is the Very Fast Train all huff and no puff? April 2010
The idea of a very fast train (VFT) connecting Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne is gaining momentum (again). The CRC for Rail Innovation launched a pre-feasibility study earlier this year; veteran journalist Brain Toohey expressed his enthusiasm for the idea on Insiders on 11 April; and now the Greens are calling on the Federal Government to fund a $10 million study into a new scheme they are proposing.
And on the state of the current Sydney – Melbourne line
From showpiece to goat track: the long, dangerous decline of Sydney-to-Melbourne rail travel – Feb 2020
“The Melbourne-Sydney rail line should be the jewel in the crown of Australia’s interstate rail network,” Luba Grigorovitch said.
“Instead, it’s known within the industry as the goat track because it is in such bad condition.”