New express passenger trains (XPT) will replace ageing New South Wales regional trains as part of a plan to accelerate the delivery of country rail infrastructure, following the investment of an additional $50 million in funding.
New South Wales Deputy Premier, Troy Grant, and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, announced the extra funding, which would see the procurement process for new XPTs kicking off in the first half of 2017 – two years earlier than promised.
“We’ve already committed to starting planning for a faster, modern, comfortable country train fleet by 2019, but we’re not going to wait. We’re getting the ball rolling now so we can get contracts signed in this term of government and new trains on our tracks earlier,’’ Mr Grant said.
“This is a real commitment to rail passengers in the bush and we expect it to also generate regional maintenance jobs.’’
Mr Constance said the new fleet would replace the 60 XPT passenger cars currently operating on the NSW TrainLink network, taking customers between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Dubbo, and going through regional towns including Bathurst, Orange, Taree, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Casino, Goulburn and Albury.
“We’ve boosted spending now to $50 million so we can bring forward the best solutions for country travellers,” Mr Constance said.
“We want this to be a great outcome and for that to happen, we need to start talking to industry about the options available and how we get new trains on the track quickly.”
Opportunities to replace more than 50 XPLORER and Endeavour trains that serve other key regional destinations like Armidale, Moree, Griffith, Broken Hill, Canberra, the Hunter and South Coast (between Kiama and Bomaderry), will also be investigated as part of the work.
“Country travellers deserve modern trains, and the very real dividends resulting from the sound financial management of this government will make it happen,’’ Mr Grant said.
“A new fleet of trains will ultimately require less work to maintain, are more reliable and can be used more often.”
Each year about one million customer journeys are taken on the XPT fleet, which travels 3.5 million kilometres a year. The trains are up to 35 years old.