The procurement process for a new fleet of trains to replace New South Wales’s ‘ageing’ XPTs will begin in the first half of 2017, after a $50 million funding commitment by transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance.
Constance on Friday said replacement of the ageing regional rail fleet, starting with new XPTs, would be accelerated with the funding to speed up delivery of new trains and improve comfort and reliability.
Constance, who was joined by deputy premier Troy Grant, said the start of procurement in the first half of next year would be 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,” Grant said.
“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.
“This is a real commitment to rail passengers in the bush and we expect it to also generate regional maintenance jobs.’’
Constance said the new fleet will 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,” 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.”
The minister said opportunities would also be investigated 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).
“Country travellers deserve modern trains, and the very real dividends resulting from the sound financial management of this Government will make it happen,’’ Grant said.
“A new fleet of trains will ultimately require less work to maintain, are more reliable and can be used more often.”