Melbourne to Sydney by overnight XPT train

It hasn't for months.
There have been a number of changes on both NSW Trains and V/Line.

V/Line have been running trains to/from Albury to Melbourne for most of the latest border closure. Before that V/Line was terminating at Wodonga.
 
All the many Vline cross border coach services resumed yesterday.

Cross border travel set to resume

No indication that NSW Trains, ever the dinosaur, has recommenced XPT to Melbourne as they're not selling tickets beyond Albury (yet?)

Cheers skip
 
All the many Vline cross border coach services resumed yesterday.

Cross border travel set to resume

No indication that NSW Trains, ever the dinosaur, has recommenced XPT to Melbourne as they're not selling tickets beyond Albury (yet?)

Cheers skip

Have a look at its booking site. From 6 or 7 November depending on the direction, bookings are being accepted. First, they have to operate 'empty cars' from Albury south as the drivers from Junee all need retraining, having not been on the route to Melbourne for months. Not much different from what the airlines must do.
 
Have a look at its booking site. From 6 or 7 November depending on the direction, bookings are being accepted. First, they have to operate 'empty cars' from Albury south as the drivers from Junee all need retraining, having not been on the route to Melbourne for months. Not much different from what the airlines must do.
Or people just connect on to the V/Line Albury services
 
The former. Maintenance of any transport equipment is however the key. And in some ways, apart from that, older equipment/rollingstock has better seating: the XPTs have comfortable seats and sleeping berths, rather than those horrible slimline airline seats.

I don't condemn ZL for having what in airline terms are considered 'old planes' but unlike the XPT trains, there's no plan for ZL to replace its SAAB aircraft (as others have pointed out, there's not many options to replace them with).

Old post but a very relevent point. The XPTs are damn good trains. The New regional sets NSW Trains are ordering look like they will be far inferior replacements, having diesel engines under the floor of passenger compartments (unlike the XPT with seperate loco power cars at the ends), no sleeper cars or showers, and very hard commuter style seats. The design is based on a regional European DMU which normally does runs of 100-200kms on much faster European tracks. They really couldn't be less suited to what's being expected of them. I'd happily take an XPT sleeper any day (or night, as the case may be) to MEL or BNE. It's good value, comfortable and convenient...But once they get replaced, only a masochis_ would even consider it. 14 hours on a rock hard seat with a diesel engine screaming away 20cms under your feet, on a vinyl floor? I'd rather spend it on Ryanair....
 
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^^^ And I am also guessing that just like the Sydney light rail carriages, TfNSW will not know how to repair them?

I believe there's a new maintenance facility being built in Dubbo for them, but not sure just how much work will be done there. Modern DMUs are pretty complex beasts so unless there's an agreement with CAF themselves to manage the facility (which is pretty common practice in Europe thee days), I imagine anything serious outside of routine servicing and overhauls will need people being sent out by the manufacturer. It really would have been *way* better, way cheaper and way simpler to get Downer to built a batch of their current diesel-electric locos with a modern styling update and with gearing for passenger operations at 160km/h (ideally with a mac rating over 180 or 200 to allow for future improvements) and then get some modern coaching stock. KiwiRail in NZ built a small new fleet coaching stock in-house a few years back that has proven popular and worked pretty well, so rather than re-inventing the wheel, either ordering a batch directly from them in standard gauge, or licencing the design to assemble locally would all have been good options. Sadly, NSW Trains in-house engineering has, and continues to be, systematically run-down. The NSW government is incredibly hostile to NSW Trains and has been pretty open about the desire to see it broken up and sold off. To my eyes, it's nothing short of vandalism of public property. My partner worked in the industry for almost 20 years, and it breaks their heart to see the organisation reduced to what it is today.
 
I believe there's a new maintenance facility being built in Dubbo for them, but not sure just how much work will be done there. Modern DMUs are pretty complex beasts so unless there's an agreement with CAF themselves to manage the facility (which is pretty common practice in Europe thee days), I imagine anything serious outside of routine servicing and overhauls will need people being sent out by the manufacturer. It really would have been *way* better, way cheaper and way simpler to get Downer to built a batch of their current diesel-electric locos with a modern styling update and with gearing for passenger operations at 160km/h (ideally with a mac rating over 180 or 200 to allow for future improvements) and then get some modern coaching stock. KiwiRail in NZ built a small new fleet coaching stock in-house a few years back that has proven popular and worked pretty well, so rather than re-inventing the wheel, either ordering a batch directly from them in standard gauge, or licencing the design to assemble locally would all have been good options. Sadly, NSW Trains in-house engineering has, and continues to be, systematically run-down. The NSW government is incredibly hostile to NSW Trains and has been pretty open about the desire to see it broken up and sold off. To my eyes, it's nothing short of vandalism of public property. My partner worked in the industry for almost 20 years, and it breaks their heart to see the organisation reduced to what it is today.

Also stupid to have the mtce facility in Dubbo because inevitably that'll mean a lot of empty unscheduled running at times (assuming trains are not so defective that they can't operate to Dubbo for attention). Some attention may still occur in Sydney but this has not publicly been explained.

The airline analogy would be to have even middle ranking maintenance at Guam for all Australian airlines.
 
Why would that mean extra empty cars to Dubbo? Isn't there a daily service to/from Sydney? One unit shunts out, another unit docks up ex maintenance.
 
Why would that mean extra empty cars to Dubbo? Isn't there a daily service to/from Sydney? One unit shunts out, another unit docks up ex maintenance.

Depends on the nature of the problem - some going in for routine maintinance could be scheduled to run the passenger service up to Dubbo - but it's inevitably going to mean a lot of pointless stock shuffling as the current train fleet is some of the most heavily utilised in the world, with pretty much zero slack in the system. The new fleet has a tiny increase in sets to improve things marginally, but not enough to avoid this problem (let alone reintroduce some of the routes they've axed, or make logical extensions). Since NSW regional services are a hub a spoke model out of Central, not having the depot in Sydney was utter insanity - it's pure pork barrelling BS, typical NSW politics. The analogy to Guam is spot on.
 
Why would that mean extra empty cars to Dubbo? Isn't there a daily service to/from Sydney? One unit shunts out, another unit docks up ex maintenance.

You may not understand how many things can go wrong with heavily utilised railcars, as AussieJasmine sagaciously points out.

At present, because the Marrickville depot is close to Central railway station, NSW TrainLink does a pretty good job of maintaining the ageing, yet still fairly reliable, fleet of XPTs and XPlorer railcars. Both these trains run an incredible number of kilometres per annum, yet recently when I was on the XPT, it still had no trouble quickly reaching 160kmh when permitted by track maximum speed limits. Similarly, the XPlorers easily reach 130kmh as I also recently found.

The decision to put the maintenance facility in Dubbo was made because at the time the NSW Coalition Government was at huge risk of losing that seat. Many may like Coalition Governments but this decision was lunacy.

I don't know how they're going to get railcars 'empty cars' (i.e. without passengers) from Sydney to Dubbo if the set has failed: perhaps haul them with a locomotive up front, but that may need a special transition coupling. It'll be seven hours or more with a slower 'empty cars' train up the Blue Mountains and via the windy track to Orange, and then straighter and faster to Dubbo.

It will inevitably mean more long distance trains become unpopular road coaches, which can sometimes be much slower than trains (particularly if they have to go in and out of each railway station) and are disliked for their general lack of comfort, such as constricted seating, inability to move about as one can on a train, a coughpy service station 'refreshment stop' compared with trains' pleasant on-board buffet, and well, road coach toilets...
 
You may not understand how many things can go wrong with heavily utilised railcars, as AussieJasmine sagaciously points out.
I asked a question, I'm not familiar with the nuances of what occurs in NSW. Units can be rostered to be where they need to be for maintenance. Your disabled train example while relevant could occur anywhere.

As for your statement that I don't know how many things can go wrong on a railway...my employer and my employment contract would strongly disagree with your assertion
 
I asked a question, I'm not familiar with the nuances of what occurs in NSW. Units can be rostered to be where they need to be for maintenance. Your disabled train example while relevant could occur anywhere.

As for your statement that I don't know how many things can go wrong on a railway...my employer and my employment contract would strongly disagree with your assertion

There can be some rostering to Dubbo, but the reality is that all services with the new fleet (except the southern highlands shuttle out of Campbelltown, and the odd service on the Hunter line) run to/from Central, so having the depot within Sydney would make maintenance much more efficient. Only a handful of services pass through Dubbo, and given the very limited redundancy in the fleet, there will be disruption as if a train has to be sent all the way out there for maintenance it might be rostered for the journey up, but it won't be available for the return journey, meaning a load of people get herded onto a bus. NSW Trains will be unwilling to keep spare sets out there as the where the overwhelming majority of services start and terminate in Sydney, so when something goes wrong, that's where they want any spare sets ready to go - not 6 1/2hrs away in Dubbo.

A disabled train can happen anywhere, but if it can be brought back to your main hub (i.e. Sydney), disruption is minimised as you can concentrate any spare sets there to ensure smooth onward travel for affected passengers. Also it's much more likely that the train will be nearer Sydney than Dubbo when it fails, and that travellers on board are more likely heading to Sydney anyway - so you can just haul them more slowly to their destination (the one advantage of DMUs is that if a engine unit fails, they can still limp home on the remaining units) . Another advantage is that all routes around Sydney are multiple track (quad or sextuple tracks) so a limping or towed unit has much less disruption than if it's struggling along at 40km/h hauling itself *up* the Blue Mountains - which had this exact same problem just a few days ago when a heritage train broke down on the line, and held things up for *hours* as a V-set tried to drag it to a siding and get it out of the way. The first attempt to drag it up the mountains failed, so it had to be brought back down. Huge mess.
 
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Hi all, long time lurker but first time poster. I've utilised NSW TrainLink quite regularly this year for work travel that I would have otherwise undertaken by car, primarily on the SYD - CBR services, and just wanted to share some thoughts about my experiences and see how others who are also regular flyers have found the experience.

I've found so far that compared to even any low cost airline that I've travelled on, the operation of the service is very passenger unfriendly - at least Ryanair will let you choose the best seat on the plane if you pay for it, but NSW TrainLink does not give you any option to select a seat whilst booking online, and any comments stated in the "special request" box seem to be ignored.

Call centre and booking office staff advise that they have been given a new instruction earlier this year to not allow passengers to choose their seat, other than requesting aisle/window, unless they they have a "genuine need" such as a medical reason for a particular seat.

It is not as if all seats are same - for the Xplorer train which runs between SYD - CBR there are two windowless single seats per carriage, which some regular passengers (such as myself!) would love the chance to select, but are understandably unpopular with many, plus some seats with extra legroom that are without a fold-down tray table (not ideal for working), but the only way to land in any of these seats is through good or bad luck.

I'm also unsure of how the booking system exactly works, but it seems to be designed to completely fill each carriage before allocating anybody to the next carriage, meaning that you may spend a very long journey in close confines with a fellow traveller, whilst the next carriage is close to empty.

Which brings me to the issue of the attitude of some of the staff - most journeys have been fine, and some of the staff are absolutely lovely, but there is a minority of officious staff who take great pleasure in strictly enforcing the seat reservations, such as the woman I had on the evening SYD - CBR service this week whilst sitting in "first class" who verbally scolded me and ordered me to move after I had switched from my allocated seat, a window seat adjacent to a stranger on the aisle, to one of the several surrounding empty unbooked double seats two hours into the journey, topped off by a sarcastic personal remark about myself being "afraid of other people".

This was despite friendlier staff on other journeys having specifically said it was fine to move about after the train had left the outer suburbs of Sydney because very few passengers would be boarding in the towns along the way on an evening journey to Canberra - and I had seen other passengers on previous journeys also receiving a verbal scolding for committing the same "offense".

I luckily haven't been effected by this but I have heard from others (and noticed on the service advisories) that NSW TrainLink no longer seems to guarantee a replacement coach service when trains are cancelled, on several instances in the last 12 months they have cancelled either the Melbourne or Canberra services and provided no alternative other than taking a refund or re-booking for another day.

Unlike the airlines there is no offer of any kind of accommodation either, even for passengers who have booked a sleeper cabin on an overnight service that was cancelled due to a freight train issue.

I would have to say overall that compared to domestic air travel, travelling by long distance train comes as a bit of a shock. I have had some pleasant journeys but overall I think a Ryanair-like carrier would still be preferable to the train experience.
 
Welcome to AFF, @L2.

My last journey on NSW Trainlink was from Strathfield to Moree. We were booked into First on the Xplorer, but the Moree portion of the train was cancelled and we were downgraded to economy. At least we got seats.

We found out via an announcement to go to the bus stop in Everton Road for a replacement coach. If we'd heeded that anouncement we would have missed the train. There was another announcement to join the armidale portion. We had been rebooked into Economy and were told we would be emailed instructions on getting a partial refund. It never happened.

The attitude of the staff was "oh poor us now we will have to deal with ungrateful passengers". It was all self pity and contempt. We got told by other passengers that the cancellations, and the attitudes, were routine.

That was my last ever trip on NSW trainlink.
 
Hi all, long time lurker but first time poster. I've utilised NSW TrainLink quite regularly this year for work travel that I would have otherwise undertaken by car, primarily on the SYD - CBR services, and just wanted to share some thoughts about my experiences and see how others who are also regular flyers have found the experience.

I've found so far that compared to even any low cost airline that I've travelled on, the operation of the service is very passenger unfriendly - at least Ryanair will let you choose the best seat on the plane if you pay for it, but NSW TrainLink does not give you any option to select a seat whilst booking online, and any comments stated in the "special request" box seem to be ignored.

Call centre and booking office staff advise that they have been given a new instruction earlier this year to not allow passengers to choose their seat, other than requesting aisle/window, unless they they have a "genuine need" such as a medical reason for a particular seat.

It is not as if all seats are same - for the Xplorer train which runs between SYD - CBR there are two windowless single seats per carriage, which some regular passengers (such as myself!) would love the chance to select, but are understandably unpopular with many, plus some seats with extra legroom that are without a fold-down tray table (not ideal for working), but the only way to land in any of these seats is through good or bad luck.

I'm also unsure of how the booking system exactly works, but it seems to be designed to completely fill each carriage before allocating anybody to the next carriage, meaning that you may spend a very long journey in close confines with a fellow traveller, whilst the next carriage is close to empty.

Which brings me to the issue of the attitude of some of the staff - most journeys have been fine, and some of the staff are absolutely lovely, but there is a minority of officious staff who take great pleasure in strictly enforcing the seat reservations, such as the woman I had on the evening SYD - CBR service this week whilst sitting in "first class" who verbally scolded me and ordered me to move after I had switched from my allocated seat, a window seat adjacent to a stranger on the aisle, to one of the several surrounding empty unbooked double seats two hours into the journey, topped off by a sarcastic personal remark about myself being "afraid of other people".

This was despite friendlier staff on other journeys having specifically said it was fine to move about after the train had left the outer suburbs of Sydney because very few passengers would be boarding in the towns along the way on an evening journey to Canberra - and I had seen other passengers on previous journeys also receiving a verbal scolding for committing the same "offense".

I luckily haven't been effected by this but I have heard from others (and noticed on the service advisories) that NSW TrainLink no longer seems to guarantee a replacement coach service when trains are cancelled, on several instances in the last 12 months they have cancelled either the Melbourne or Canberra services and provided no alternative other than taking a refund or re-booking for another day.

Unlike the airlines there is no offer of any kind of accommodation either, even for passengers who have booked a sleeper cabin on an overnight service that was cancelled due to a freight train issue.

I would have to say overall that compared to domestic air travel, travelling by long distance train comes as a bit of a shock. I have had some pleasant journeys but overall I think a Ryanair-like carrier would still be preferable to the train experience.

@L2. yes, the lack of seat selection is a common frustration for me with NSW TrainLink. I have done a lot of travel with them over the past decade, mainly Sydney-Canberra, and have given that feedback to their management team several times. So far they haven't changed anything. I suspect their booking/seat allocation process hasn't changed much since the trains were introduced 30 years ago...

A few years ago you could call up to request a different seat, but as you say, the staff have been told not to do that any more. It's a bizarre rule.

And yes, the services are not all that reliable. I'm still waiting for a refund of the difference between first class and economy when my XPT first class ticket from Wagga Wagga to Yass became a replacement coach (with only economy seating) that ran 3 hours late. That was in 2019.

Other than that, I find the train travel quite pleasant and most of the staff are friendly in my experience.
 
I haven't tried the XPT since I had a friend turn up at Southern Cross station with his sleeping berth ticket only to find out the train is cancelled and replaced by a very uncomfortable bus. A bit like booking a bed at a hotel only to be told on on arrival that there are no beds, you will just have to make do with the seats in the lobby.
The reason the train is frequently cancelled is because of the outdated signalling equipment used along the line, in particular between Craigieburn and Seymour where they use a nineteenth century safety system called "Double line block". I have been told that it hasn't been working properly for the last 5 or so years and the stations are just resorting to using mobile phones.
As for staff refusing to let you change seats, maybe they have had an incident in the past where someone has boarded the train at a station along the way and a "that's my seat" arguement has broken out.
 
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outdated signalling equipment used along the line, in particular between Craigieburn and Seymour where they use a nineteenth century safety system called "Double line block".
While true for Broad Gauge, Standard Gauge services, which the XPT is, are fully signalled in that area.
 
I haven't tried the XPT since I had a friend turn up at Southern Cross station with his sleeping berth ticket only to find out the train is cancelled and replaced by a very uncomfortable bus. A bit like booking a bed at a hotel only to be told on on arrival that there are no beds, you will just have to make do with the seats in the lobby.
The dreaded phrase “your train has been replaced by a bus for the entire journey”

The other thing that can happen is that the service runs so late that it’s quicker to truncate it at Albury and operate the Victorian section Albury- Southern Cross -Albury by coach.
 

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