Friday, 28 October 2016
Lobbying to intensify for early Xplorer replacement date
FAST-TRACKING the planning for a new, modern, comfortable and reliable XPT train fleet means northern train travellers are closer to getting updated regional Xplorer services, the parliamentary secretary for Northern NSW Adam Marshall said today.
Mr Marshall welcomed today’s announcement from Deputy Premier Troy Grant and Transport Minister Andrew Constance of an accelerated program to replace the ageing country rail fleet, starting with new XPTs (35 years old), will also speed up delivery of new trains across the northern region of NSW.
Mr Marshall said a $50 million injection will mean the procurement process for new trains will kick off in the first half of next year – two years earlier than previously promised.
“While this major announcement is about the XPT trains, fast tracking this decision brings the replacement of our Xplorer fleet, which is 23 years old now, all that much closer,” Mr Marshall said.
“I’ll be intensifying my lobbying efforts and push for a commitment from the government to fast-track and commit to a speedy timeframe for the replacement of our trains on the Moree and Armidale daily services.
“The government is already committed to starting planning for a faster, modern, comfortable country train fleet by 2019 but they’re not going to wait on the original timeline and are getting the ball rolling now so we can get contracts signed in this term of Government and new trains on our tracks earlier.
“This as a real commitment to rail passengers in the bush and I expect this to also generate regional maintenance jobs.
“This can be replicated in the New England North West region – and that’s just what I’ll be pushing for when parliament resumes next month.”
The new fleet will replace the 60 XPT passenger cars currently operating on the NSW TrainLink network, on services between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Dubbo, and going through regional towns including Bathurst, Orange, Taree, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Casino, Goulburn and Albury.
Mr Marshall said opportunities 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, will also be investigated as part of the work.
“Country customers know only too well of the reliability issues that are experienced and as our Xplorer fleet ages, those maintenance and break-down issues will only be exacerbated.
The XPT fleet trains are up to 35 years old and about one million customer journeys are taken on the XPT fleet, which travels 3.5 million kilometres a year.