Analysis suggests sending Countrylink XPT trains into retirement
An analysis into CountryLink’s XPT trains has revealed the fleet has travelled more than three million kilometres further than they were designed to.
The confidential report, prepared for the director-general of Transport for NSW, revealed the long-distance fleet is suffering from fatigue and corrosion issues and that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find replacement parts for the fleet.
The analysis suggests that the future of regional rail is bright if the NSW Government is willing to retire the ageing fleet in favour of “premium” tilt trains, which would travel faster and offer more comfort for passengers.
Other options include rebuilding the fleet or buy a new fleet of similar trains, however the author of the analysis says that while the option of purchasing a fleet of tilt trains, similar to those in use in Queensland, would be considerably more expensive initially, it has the potential to attract more full-fare paying customers, leading to a higher cost recovery than the other two options.
It’s estimated that a new “premium” fleet could cut travel time between Sydney and Canberra by over an hour and increase passenger numbers by 60 per cent.
Loco Division Secretary Bob Hayden said it’s critical the government explains its plans for our regional trains.
“This report suggests that we’ll need either an upgrade or new fleet by 2018 – given that it can take years to receive new trains, the government needs to start moving on this very quickly.
“Most of our Countrylink XPT trains hit the tracks in in early 1980s. They’ve got a life-expectancy of about 27 years, so the government is already overdue in its assessment of the future of our regional service.
“The state government needs to start thinking further ahead on these issues. It’s not good enough to wait until our fleets hit their used-by date and then start looking at the options.
“It’s critically important that we get regional transport right. If that means spending the big bucks early on, then so be it. Regional transport is too important to be forgotten about or given a quick-fix.”