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The NSW TrainLink Discovery Pass

Forg

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When I think about it, we paid ~$600 for 5 day’s worth of travel in Europe nearly 20 years ago.
As a tourist, from one point of view a solid 6 months of unlimited travel looks like good value; a one-way trip Sydney-Armidale was around $100 on the train, by comparison.
On the other hand; our rail is very limited c/f Europe or Japan ... or even the USA.
 

Melburnian1

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There is no Senior's Discovery Pass at a further discount, but $550 1st class for six months is still great value for those of that age. (I'm not one).

If booking sleepers, often it can pay to ring the call centre a few weeks in advance as with only nine compartments (18 berths) and no opposite sex stranger sharing allowed, it can be difficult to find a spare berth (particularly Sydney - Melbourne - Sydney) at short notice.
 

Forg

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^ I'll believe it when I see it actually happen.
First rule of previous-governments-started-this club is never talk about previous-governments-started-this club …
I'm truly amazed they're forging ahead with the North West Rail Link in Sydney (and NSW governments have a strong history of ignoring regional NSW c/f Sydney infrastructure) … I'll remain sceptical 'til some tracks are laid.

I love the "artist's impressions", a DB ICE photoshopped with a NSW Gov logo on the nose. :D
 

Melburnian1

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There were about 340 passengers using today's Melbourne to Sydney daytime XPT train, so I was told.

The train had slightly fewer than 300 seats, so some seats turned over more than once. Quite impressive given that NSWTrainLink doesn't really advertise, and considering it isn't yet full school holidays.

The XPT trains are rarely completely full ex Melbourne but like Mattg's experience from Brisbane to Coffs Harbour, they fill en route on busier days and nights at stations like Albury, Wagga Wagga and Cootamundra. There are heaps of daytime road coach connections at the latter in particular.

As it's compulsory to reserve (unlike Victoria's V/Line, where there's always some unreserved seats on longer distance trains), no one ever has to stand. I have seen a double booking once or twice but generally the conductors sort that out, and like the airlines there are usually some no shows (though whether as high as an airline's typical five per cent is unknown).
 

Melburnian1

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Friends of mine have just bought NSW TrainLink Discovery Passes, which remain A$550 for six months' unlimited travel each in first class (less in economy but they, and I, don't recommend latter). Sleeping berths are still A$88 per trip (per person) as the supplement that also gets you some snacks and drinks. Mattg's review shows the latter if I recall.

They couldn't believe the cheap fare.

With COVID19, apparently if travelling solo, no one else is booked into the seat next to you, and the same in sleepers that normally a solo traveller may have to share with another of the same sex. So 'shadows' come to the railways.

At times NSWTrainLink are running 'supplementary road coaches' on the Sydney - Melbourne - Sydney route but not every day, and strangely not necessarily every day during NSW/Vic July school holidays. Better to travel on the train as it is faster and most importantly, a lot more comfortable.

There are now two trains a week each way between Sydney and Griffith, with the daily (or better) road coaches that operate to/from Cootamundra or Wagga Wagga (two distinct routes) remaining. The Griffith trains attach to or detach from a Canberra train at Goulburn.

Not that I've experienced it, but with the NSW/Qld border closure, the train is only operating as far north as Casino in NSW, while the road coaches via Murwillumbah are terminating or originating at Tweed Heads NSW, and no longer going through to/coming from Surfers Paradise or Brisbane.
 

Mattg

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Friends of mine have just bought NSW TrainLink Discovery Passes, which remain A$550 for six months' unlimited travel each in first class (less in economy but they, and I, don't recommend latter). Sleeping berths are still A$88 per trip (per person) as the supplement that also gets you some snacks and drinks. Mattg's review shows the latter if I recall.

They couldn't believe the cheap fare.

With COVID19, apparently if travelling solo, no one else is booked into the seat next to you, and the same in sleepers that normally a solo traveller may have to share with another of the same sex. So 'shadows' come to the railways.

At times NSWTrainLink are running 'supplementary road coaches' on the Sydney - Melbourne - Sydney route but not every day, and strangely not necessarily every day during NSW/Vic July school holidays. Better to travel on the train as it is faster and most importantly, a lot more comfortable.

There are now two trains a week each way between Sydney and Griffith, with the daily (or better) road coaches that operate to/from Cootamundra or Wagga Wagga (two distinct routes) remaining. The Griffith trains attach to or detach from a Canberra train at Goulburn.

Not that I've experienced it, but with the NSW/Qld border closure, the train is only operating as far north as Casino in NSW, while the road coaches via Murwillumbah are terminating or originating at Tweed Heads NSW, and no longer going through to/coming from Surfers Paradise or Brisbane.
Yes, I did post a review of the XPT sleeper car here - Melbourne to Sydney by overnight XPT train

I recently bought another Discovery Pass too, since I'll probably be spending a lot more time than I usually do in NSW over the next six months. I can't believe the price is still $550 for 6 months of unlimited first class travel - it hasn't gone up in years (although, neither has the quality of the service if I'm honest).

I made good use of the pass last month, travelling from Canberra to Sydney, Coffs Harbour, Katoomba, Orange, Dubbo and Condobolin with NSW TrainLink. It's a nice way to travel when you're not in a hurry.

Until the end of June, NSW TrainLink was only allocating one seat per row on the trains - hence the need for supplementary coach services as many of the trains were sold out despite being 1/4 full. From yesterday (1 July) they have started allocating more seats, but there is still some level of social distancing. They still are not seating strangers directly next to each other.
 

Mattg

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Don’t forget to visit Broken Hill.
I did visit Broken Hill a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. Will try to get back there again before my pass expires. The problem is that the train there only runs once per week - so you have to stay 1 night or 8 nights (or find another way to get home, like I did last time).
 

Melburnian1

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The grand circle trip, broken Hill, Rex to Adelaide, the Overland to Melbourne then XPT north.

The overland has another three years funding.
But with Vic/SA border closed, it's not operating until later in the year.

There's now a NSWTrainLink coach twice a week from Adelaide to Broken Hill or return. Haven't looked it up to see what days it operates.

There's another NSWTrainLink bus from Mildura to Broken Hill, which from memory (I haven't used it) is three days a week each way. V/Line operates coaches to Swan Hill or Bendigo then trains to Melbourne.

Neither of these NSWTrainLink coaches seem to be in the 'Western Region' timetable as they're not yet permanent, but by using the online trip planner, one can find them.

Both remedy substantial gaps in surface transport, as there were no other operators (rail or coach) although for a while some outfit called 'Buses'R'Us' ran between Adelaide and Broken Hill, but at very high fares. The weekly 'Indian Pacific' train unfortunately doesn't have sitting cars any longer and does not sell local trips, only Adelaide to Sydney in its sleepers.

Discovery Pass is valid on both these NSWTrainLink Broken Hill coach routes.
 
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Melburnian1

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..I recently bought another Discovery Pass too, since I'll probably be spending a lot more time than I usually do in NSW over the next six months. I can't believe the price is still $550 for 6 months of unlimited first class travel - it hasn't gone up in years (although, neither has the quality of the service if I'm honest).

I made good use of the pass last month, travelling from Canberra to Sydney, Coffs Harbour, Katoomba, Orange, Dubbo and Condobolin with NSW TrainLink. It's a nice way to travel when you're not in a hurry.
Mattg, if you have the time and inclination, Sydney to Moree on the XPlorer train is enjoyable. Check to make sure there isn't trackwork that results in road coaches instead. The baths at Moree attract many Sydney-domilciled central and eastern European Oz migrants. At times when attending I've thought I was in 1960s Australia!

Another enjoyable trip through very scenic country (separate ticket for V/Line, but not expensive) is Melbourne to Bairnsdale by train, connect to V/Line road coach, choose to overnight at Bombala or Cooma - then using your pass NSWTrainLink to Canberra by coach and then Sydney by train (or Yass Junction by coach and then XPT to Melbourne) or many places in Riverina/western NSW by changing at Cootamundra (or in a few cases Wagga Wagga or Albury) from the train to a coach again. All works well and you won't be stranded. Very extensive network.
 

Mattg

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But with Vic/SA border closed, it's not operating until later in the year.

There's now a NSWTrainLink coach twice a week from Adelaide to Broken Hill or return. Haven't looked it up to see what days it operates.

There's another NSWTrainLink bus from Mildura to Broken Hill, which from memory (I haven't used it) is three days a week each way.
None of these options are coming up for me to book on the NSW TrainLink website at the moment. (It will let me book Broken Hill-Mildura, but it's a 39 hour trip via Sydney and Cootamundra.)
 

Buzzard

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I did visit Broken Hill a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. Will try to get back there again before my pass expires. The problem is that the train there only runs once per week - so you have to stay 1 night or 8 nights (or find another way to get home, like I did last time).
I thought there was a bus from Dubbo to Broken Hill and back on the days the train doesn't go all the way.
 

dajop

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There's another NSWTrainLink bus from Mildura to Broken Hill, which from memory (I haven't used it) is three days a week each way. V/Line operates coaches to Swan Hill or Bendigo then trains to Melbourne.
Or there's a NSWTrainLink bus from Mildura to Cootamundra, via Griffith that could link up with the train at either Griffith or Cootamundra. So no need to buy any new tickets 🤣
 

Melburnian1

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None of these options are coming up for me to book on the NSW TrainLink website at the moment. (It will let me book Broken Hill-Mildura, but it's a 39 hour trip via Sydney and Cootamundra.)
For the trips that do not run daily, it may be that you have selected a non-operating day. Try looking up the journey planner first to find operating days.
 

Mattg

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I thought there was a bus from Dubbo to Broken Hill and back on the days the train doesn't go all the way.
You're quite right. I takes a different route to the train and it's a long trip on the coach, but an option I guess.

For the trips that do not run daily, it may be that you have selected a non-operating day. Try looking up the journey planner first to find operating days.
I did try selecting different days of the week, it didn't come up at all.
 

Melburnian1

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Mattg, one website you can use to track NSW trains (or road coaches, plus suburban/interurban buses, trains and light rail) is the 'Any Trip' one. Seems to work well on a desktop. I haven't used it on my smartphone. This will show you how each service is running, and give you a statewide picture.

The other tip for the coaches to/from Broken Hill is you may need to select the stop 'Broken Hill Town' not 'Broken Hill' as in accordance with rail operator practice worldwide, the latter refers to the railway station but these coaches do not arrive and depart from it, but elsewhere in Broken Hill, so NSWTrainLink gives the stop a different name to try to avoid passenger confusion. I'd prefer that the coaches departed and arrived from/at the railway station as is the case in many other towns, but not to be.
 

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