REPLACEMENT of the aging regional rail fleet, starting with new XPTs, will be accelerated with $50 million to speed up delivery of new trains and improve comfort and reliability.
Deputy Premier Troy Grant and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance announced extra money has been committed, which will see the procurement process for new XPTs kicking off in the first half of next year - two years earlier than promised.
"We've already committed to starting planning for a faster, modern, comfortable country train fleet by 2019, but we're not going to wait. We're getting the ball rolling now so we can get contracts signed in this term of Government and new trains on our tracks earlier. This is a real commitment to rail passengers in the bush and we expect it to also generate regional maintenance jobs," Mr Grant said.
Minister Constance said the new fleet will replace the 60 XPT passenger cars currently operating on the NSW TrainLink network, taking customers between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Dubbo, and going through regional towns including Bathurst, Orange, Taree, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Casino, Goulburn and Albury.
"We've boosted spending now to $50 million so we can bring forward the best solutions for country travellers," Mr Constance said.
"We want this to be a great outcome and for that to happen, we need to start talking to industry about the options available and how we get new trains on the track quickly."
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 (between Kiama and Bomaderry), will also be investigated as part of the work.
"Country travellers deserve modern trains, and the very real dividends resulting from the sound financial management of this Government will make it happen,'' Mr Grant said.
"A new fleet of trains will ultimately require less work to maintain, are more reliable and can be used more often."
Each year about one million customer journeys are taken on the XPT fleet, which travels 3.5 million kilometres a year. The trains are up to 35 years old.