Here’s the XPT last Saturday, after leaving Melbourne Southern Cross, heading into the Bunbury Street tunnel under Footscray, on its way to Sydney.
It’s not breaking any land speed records in this clip, but the XPT (Express Passenger Train) fleet does get to higher speeds along the route, regularly reaching 160 km/h, similar to the V/Line VLocity fleet.
The XPT fleet was introduced in the 1980s, and based on the British Intercity 125.
According to Wikipedia, most of the fleet runs a weekly cycle: Sydney; Melbourne; Sydney; Grafton; Sydney; Melbourne; Sydney; Casin0*; Sydney; Brisbane; Sydney.
(*I have to spell it like that, otherwise WordPress refuses to save my post text. True story; probably a web host thing, which I haven’t resolved just yet.)
The night train arriving in Melbourne departs as the day train about an hour later, and vice versa. So the sleeper compartments get switched to and from “daysitter” cabins.
The XPT is in the twilight years of its life. Introduced in the 1980s, and based on the British Intercity 125, the fleet is set to be replaced in coming years by NSW Trainlink’s new regional fleet.
The good news is the new trains will feature bi-mode electric and diesel power, so they can use electric power when running on the electrified part of the Sydney network.
The bad news is the new trains won’t have sleeper carriages. It’s been a few years since I’ve used the XPT sleeper services, but sleeper trains in general are good fun, and have you arriving into a city centre bright and early in the morning.
The sleeper fare for Melbourne to Sydney or Sydney to Brisbane is about $235 twin share at present. More expensive than a hotel, but cheaper than travel+hotel, which is effectively what you’re getting.
Unfortunately the XPT sleeper service from Sydney to Brisbane has you arriving a little too early… 4:53am in winter, 3:53am in summer, and you won’t be able to sleep in, as the train heads back to Sydney about an hour later. Apparently this is due to track capacity issues in Brisbane, but it’s not my idea of a conveniently-timed trip.
That’s assuming it runs on time. The Sydney-Melbourne XPT is notorious for delays.
Sleeper service aside, hopefully the new trains bring better comfort for seated passengers, and better reliability. Perhaps even higher speeds if the track is up to it? They’re expected around 2027.
Speaking of XPTs: the ATSB’s final report into the Wallan crash has been released.