Travellers in limbo
By SALLY GORDON
GRAFTON residents Helen and Don McLeod will be a little disappointed if they are forced to board a coach instead of the XPT train today.
The couple recently booked first-class seats on the XPT to make an appointment with a medical specialist in Sydney.
The train was supposed to leave from the Grafton Railway Station at 7.15am today.
But, following the RailCorp safety debacle, in which the entire NSW regional rail fleet of XPT trains was taken off line late last week after a single locomotive derailed at Harden on the NSW South Coast, commuters look set to be catching the bus at for at least another few days.
"The timing of the return of the three remaining XPT services to Grafton, Melbourne and Brisbane will be considered later this week," the RailCorp CEO, Vince Graham, said.
RailCorp has agreed to refund the difference between first and economy class seats, but Mrs McLeod said if they go by coach, they will have to forgo the much-valued added commuter comforts of rail travel.
"My concern was that I paid to go first class and there is no first class in the coaches," she said.
"We also heard on the news that the buses they'll be putting on don't have toilets in them, which makes it hard for older people who may have to go to the toilet every few hours ... and at least in the train you can get up and have a stretch."
Meanwhile, a Countrylink passenger travelling on Thursday night from Grafton to Maitland picked up her ticket on the same day and was not told the trains were not in operation.
She was forced to catch a coach and was two hours late arriving at her destination.
"At one point the driver got lost and the door kept opening," she said.