WITH the ageing XPT fleet due for replacement, NSW rail undergoing a review, and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian operating with the catchcry “fix the trains”, now is the opportune time for Orange to jump on board to lobby for better transport to Sydney.
That’s the view of Dr Peter Bilenkij who believes Dubbo, Cowra and Parkes could also benefit from the convenience and comfort of train travel.
“We’re very impressed with Bathurst being able to get an extra train,” he said.
“Passenger trains always run at a loss, but it’s a social service benefiting business, families, medicine and tourism.
“Unless country people stand up and say we want improved services [decisions] will be made for us by people in the city.”
Dr Bilenkij hopes the mayors of all towns on the western line will work together and lobby the government to trial new faster trains in the central west following the lead of other states.
“[Train travel] is undergoing a resurgence in regional Victoria, is successful in Western Australia on new lines and in Queensland with the tilt train,” he said.
“[Victoria] has led the way and doubled the patronage since 2005.”
Although Dr Bilenkij is “all for road transport” he said a day trip to Sydney in the car was difficult for the ageing population and for business travellers train travel gave them the advantage of being able to work while on the way to Sydney.
Options to improve transport from Orange to Sydney:
* Change the timetable, so the morning coach service from Orange links to the Bathurst Bullet, and allow passengers to purchase tickets for the train on-board the coach.
* Add an extra morning coach service from Orange to connect with the electric rail service starting in Lithgow.
* Stable the Bathurst Bullet in Orange overnight so it could begin and end its service in Orange each day.
* Ask the government to guarantee the future of the XPT service to Orange and the central west and trial new faster trains to replace the ageing fleet.
* Make some electric train services leaving Lithgow express services, cutting out the 20 stops on the way to Sydney and slashing up to 40 minutes from the travel time.
Do you regularly travel to Sydney via train, coach or plane? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experiences.