THE provision of $25 million in the State Budget “to commence the planning and initiate procurement of the Regional Fast Rail Fleet Program to replace the ageing XPT diesel fleet to meet customer and service requirements for regional rail services” presents a generational opportunity to remedy the deficiencies in the provision of regional rail services for the Central West.
Hopefully this process will involve determining the type and number of services to be provided then the number of rolling stock to be acquired accordingly, and not vice versa.
The outcome for the Central West should be the provision of two daily services: one leaving Sydney in the morning and returning in the evening – more or less as currently provided – and a new service leaving the Central West in the morning and returning in the evening.
The absurd situation, whereby the only train service from the region arrives in Sydney at nearly 9pm, is well documented.
Connecting coaches with the Bathurst Bullett or the proposed Lithgow Flash are only band-aid solutions.
Reversing the current XPT timetable would significantly disadvantage those travelling beyond Dubbo, to as far away as Lightning Ridge, Bourke and Broken Hill.
The only real long-term solution is therefore the provision of sufficient rolling stock, as part of the XPT replacement programme, to allow an additional daily service leaving the Central West in the morning and returning from Sydney in the evening.
In recent years this government has provided billions of dollars for transport projects, including the acquisition of over one thousand new rail carriages, in the metropolitan area.
There is an apparently endless pipeline of future projects, to cost tens of billions.
Surely the addition of an extra half dozen or so additional carriages to provide the extra Central West service is not too much to ask