New South Wales XPT

Last updated

XPT in the second CountryLink livery
In service8 April 1982
Manufacturer Comeng
ABB Transportation
Built at Granville
Family name High Speed Train
Entered service1981–1994
Refurbishment1992–1993, 2005–2008
Number built19 power cars
60 passenger carriages
Formation2 power cars, 4–7 carriages
Fleet numbersXP2000-18, XFH2104-10, XFH2112-13, XBR2150-58, XAM 2175-82
XF2200-24, XL2228-36
Operator(s) NSW TrainLink
Depot(s) XPT Service Centre
Line(s) served North Coast
Main Western
Main Southern
Maximum speedService: 160 km/h (100 mph) [1] ,
Record: 193 km/h (120 mph)
Traction system Diesel electric
Prime mover(s) Paxman Valenta 12-cylinder diesel (as built)
Paxman VP185 12-cylinder diesel (from 2000)
Power output1,492 kW (2,001 hp) per power car
Bogies PJA (Power) NJA (Trailer)
Coupling system Knuckle
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The New South Wales XPT (short for Express Passenger Train) is the main long-distance passenger train operated by NSW TrainLink on regional railway services in New South Wales, Australia from Sydney to Dubbo, Grafton and Casino as well as interstate destinations, Brisbane, and Melbourne. The XPT is based on the British Rail designed High Speed Train and entered service in April 1982.




Improving public transport was a major issue in the 1976 State Election in New South Wales and one of the commitments of the incoming Wran Government was to buy new rolling stock for country rail services.

In January 1978 the Public Transport Commission invited tenders for 25 high-speed railcars similar to the Prospector railcars delivered by Comeng to the Western Australian Government Railways in 1971. The tender allowed bidders to suggest alternative types of high-speed train. Comeng submitted a tender for a train based on the British Rail designed High Speed Train which had entered service in the United Kingdom in October 1976. In August 1979, Comeng was announced as the successful bidder and although the tender had called for 100 vehicles, by the time the contract was signed in March 1980, the order was only for 30, 10 power cars and 20 carriages, enough to form four five-carriage trains with two spare power cars. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

The High Speed Train design was significantly modified, with the power cars being 50 cm (19.7 in) shorter, the Paxman Valenta engine downrated from 2,250 to 2,000 bhp (1,680 to 1,490 kW), gearing lowered for a top operating speed of 160 km/h (99 mph), suspension modified to operate on inferior track, and air filters and the cooling system modified to cater for hotter and dustier Australian conditions. However, the XPT is theoretically capable of reaching speeds of 200 km/h (120 mph). [8] A different light cluster was fitted along with three high-beam spotlights mounted to the roof. The passenger trailer cars were based on a Budd design, with the British Rail Mark 3 trailers considered unsuitable. [5]

In service

XP2007, in the first CountryLink livery, at Central station in May 2009 CountryLink XPT at Central railway station, Sydney.jpg
XP2007, in the first CountryLink livery, at Central station in May 2009
First Class NSW TrainLink XPT First Class.jpg
First Class
Passenger compartment of XAM-type carriage in sleeper configuration. NSW TrainLink XPT First Class Sleeper.jpg
Passenger compartment of XAM-type carriage in sleeper configuration.
Passenger compartment of XAM-type carriage in First-Class "daysitter" configuration. The seatbacks fold forward to provide the lower of two sleeping bunks. XPTdaysitter.JPG
Passenger compartment of XAM-type carriage in First-Class "daysitter" configuration. The seatbacks fold forward to provide the lower of two sleeping bunks.
Passenger corridor of XAM-type sleeper carriage, showing a passenger compartment in "daysitter" configuration. XPT train sleeper car.JPG
Passenger corridor of XAM-type sleeper carriage, showing a passenger compartment in "daysitter" configuration.
Interior of XBR-type carriage showing First Class saloon seating, looking towards Buffet compartment. NSW TrainLink XPT Buffet Car.jpg
Interior of XBR-type carriage showing First Class saloon seating, looking towards Buffet compartment.

The first power car and trailer commenced testing with a stainless steel luggage van in August 1981. [9] The initial XPT livery was red, black and orange with InterCity XPT signwriting on the power cars. On a demonstration run to Albury on 6 September 1981 the XPT set a new Australian speed record of 183 km/h between Table Top and Gerogery in southern NSW, breaking that set by the Western Australian Government Railways' Prospector railcar in 1971. On a test run to Albury on 18 September 1992 the XPT reached 193 km/h between Table Top and Yerong Creek. [10] 200 km/h was the target speed. [11] This record was broken by Queensland Rail's Electric Tilt Train in May 1999. [12]

The first full test XPT set ran in January 1982. The four sets entered service on the Central West XPT to Dubbo in April 1982, the Mid North Coast XPT to Kempsey in May 1982 and the Riverina XPT to Albury in August 1982. [5]

In 1983, a further five power cars and 15 trailers were ordered. These allowed the Canberra XPT to commence in August 1983 followed by the Northern Tablelands XPT to Glen Innes and Tenterfield (2 times per week only) in June 1984. [13] The XPT cut 50 minutes off the trip between Sydney and Canberra. [14] By tightening up the diagrams, an overnight South XPT to Albury was introduced, but cancelled in June 1985 due to low patronage. [15] [16] [17] In 1985 an additional 12 trailer carriages were ordered to allow six sets of 7 carriages to be formed. [18] [19] From October 1985, the Mid North Coast XPT to Kempsey ceased, being replaced by the Holiday Coast XPT to Grafton. The Northern Tablelands XPT also was cut back to Armidale and only ran on alternate days with a HUB/RUB set operating on the other days. [20]

Initially the XPT carried a fare surcharge compared to parallel locomotive hauled services; however this was abolished from May 1985. [21]

It was proposed to extend operations to Melbourne with costs to be shared with V/Line. A promotional train ran to Melbourne in November 1990, with the consist XP2012-XDH2111-XDR2156-XD2219-XD2215-XFH2015-XP2008. [22] Further demonstration runs took place to Melbourne in February 1985. [23] Crew training commenced on the North East line between Albury and Benalla in July 1985 with services scheduled to commence on 3 August, however agreement could not be reached with the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Employees over crewing and the plan was shelved. [24] [25] [26]

Following the election of the Greiner Government in March 1988, consultants Booz Allen Hamilton were commissioned to prepare a report into NSW rail services. On purely economic grounds, the report recommended closing all country passenger services as they were judged unviable; however this was not politically acceptable. [27] If services were to be maintained, the report recommended operating a reduced rail service, all with XPTs.

In February 1990, the Brisbane Limited and Pacific Coast Motorail were withdrawn and replaced by XPT services to Brisbane and Murwillumbah. To provide rolling stock for these, the Canberra XPT was withdrawn and replaced by a locomotive hauled train and the Northern Tablelands Express was truncated to become a day return service to Tamworth. [28] [29]

In June 1990, the government announced that it would purchase a fleet of Xplorers to reintroduce services to Armidale and Moree. When these were introduced in October 1993 the Northern Tablelands XPT ceased and the stock replaced a locomotive hauled set on a service to Grafton. [30]

In October 1990, the government announced that eight sleeper carriages would be ordered for use on overnight services to Brisbane, Murwillumbah and Melbourne. [31] [32] These were included in an order placed with ABB Transportation, Dandenong in 1991 for four power cars and 13 trailers that was jointly funded by the New South Wales and Victorian governments. [33] [34] [35] [36] At the same time the earlier stock was repainted in CountryLink livery. [37]

In November 1993. XPTs replaced locomotive hauled stock on the overnight Sydney/Melbourne Express. [38] In December 1994 an XPT daylight service to Melbourne was introduced by extending the Riverina XPT from Albury. [39]

In 1995, CountryLink trialled three Swedish Railways X2000 tilting train carriages. After conducting a statewide tour in March, they were used on Canberra services from 23 April until 18 June 1995 with modified XPT power cars XP2000 and XP2009. [40]

Since 2003, an XPT has operated a service each January to Parkes for the Parkes Elvis Festival. [41] [42] With the closure of the Murwillumbah line, the XPT service was cut back to Casino from May 2004. [43] [44] In October 2013 with a set isolated west of Lithgow by bushfires, it was deployed on the Outback Xplorer service to Broken Hill. [45]

Accidents and incidents

On 3 May 1991, an XPT locomotive derailed at Henty near the New South Wales-Victorian border, injuring the driver and six passengers. [46]

On 27 January 2001, an XPT collided with a car on a level crossing at Gerogery, New South Wales. Five people in the car were killed, and the train was derailed. [47]

On 20 February 2020, a Sydney to Melbourne bound XPT derailed at around 7:45 pm near Wallan, Victoria, killing the train's driver and pilot and injuring twelve. [48] [49]


In October 2016, the NSW government announced the XPTs would be replaced as part of the NSW TrainLink Regional Train Project. [50] [51] [52] [53] [54] A contract with CAF was signed February in 2019, with the XPTs to be replaced from 2023. [55]


The XPT fleet is currently used on services from Sydney to Dubbo, Grafton, Casino, Brisbane and Melbourne. [56] [57] [58]

Operating cycle

The Dubbo set is captive and operates a daily return service. The other seven sets rotate on a seven-day repeating cycle as follows: [59]

Between each duty in Sydney, trains are serviced at the XPT Service Centre south of Sydenham station. This pattern has led to the XPT being one of the most utilised train fleets worldwide with only three significant periods of downtime in the cycle. This includes one overnight stabling in Grafton, between days 2 and 3, and two overnight stablings in Sydney, between days 4 and 5, and days 7 and 1.


Initially all services operated with five carriage sets. Following the purchase of extra carriages, this was increased to seven. In 1998 each set was reduced to six carriages. [60] In 2001 all were reduced to five carriages outside of school holiday periods. [61] [62] Today XPTs operate with four carriages to Dubbo (formed from the country end as XL, XBR, XF and XFH), and five (formed from the country end as XAM, XL, XBR, XF and XFH) on the North Coast and Melbourne services, with six during peak times when an extra XF is added. The Dubbo set can operate with one power car if required, with the power car turned at its destination.


The XPT fleet consists of:

Power cars

XPT power cars originally powered by a Paxman Valenta 12RP200L engine with a single turbocharger. These were replaced from June 2000 by Paxman VP185 12-cylinder, diesel engines with four low-pressure turbochargers and two high-pressure turbochargers boasting 1,492 kW or 2,001 horsepower that had been successfully used by some British Rail High Speed Trains since 1994. [63] [64] Traction equipment was manufactured in England by Brush Traction of Loughborough.

Power cars comprise five main compartments at the platform level. At the front is the drivers' cab, followed by the clean air compartment, engine room, cooling group, and compressor room at the rear of the locomotive.

The State Rail Authority named the XP power cars after destinations that the XPT served. All nameplates have since been removed.

These were:

XP2000-XP2014 were built by Comeng, Granville with XP2015 – XP2018 built by ABB Transportation, Dandenong.

XPT power cars have dimensions of 17.30 metres long, 2.89 metres wide and 4.03 metres high. They weigh 76 tonnes with two operating on each service in a push pull arrangement.


The original XPT carriages were refurbished in 1992/93 including a repaint in CountryLink livery. [37] All were refurbished again between 2005 and 2008. [65] [66] [67] [68]

Carriage coding, features and numbers are as follows:

TypeServices ProvidedNumber in fleetSeating CapacityWeight (tonnes)ID Number and constructorNotes
XFHEconomy Saloon,
Booked Luggage Compartment,
Guard's Compartment
94440.1XFH 2104 – XFH 2110, XFH 2112 and XFH 2113
XFEconomy Saloon256840.1XF 2200 – XF 2224
XBRFirst Class Saloon,
921 (plus one wheelchair space)43.6XBR 2150 – XBR 2158
XBR 2157 was rebuilt from economy class saloon XD 2225 and XBR 2158 from economy saloon/luggage car XDH 2111, both by United Goninan, Broadmeadow
XLFirst Class Saloon95640.1 (Comeng)
39.6 (ABB Transportation)
XL 2228 – XL 2232
(ABB Transportation)
XL 2233 – XL 2236
XL 2233 – 2236 were rebuilt by United Goninan from XFH/XDH saloon/luggage cars
XAMFirst Class corridor car,
Guard's Compartment
818 sleeping
27 seated
48.3XAM 2175 – XAM 2182 (ABB Transportation)Nine passenger compartments available as twin-berth sleepers for overnight services or three-seat "daysitters" at other times, with five shared toilet/shower compartments.

The XPT fleet is maintained at the XPT Service Centre, a purpose built depot south of Sydenham station within the confines of the Meeks Road Triangle. All work is performed here except for wheel reprofiling which is performed on a wheel lathe at Flemington Maintenance Depot.

Potential export sale

In 1986 agreement was reached to build a fleet of XPTs for the State Railway of Thailand. To allow it to be built to the narrower 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge and retain the same fuel capacity, it was proposed to extend the power cars by 2.7 metres to 20 metres and mount them on Bo-Bo-Bo bogies. The negotiations were sufficiently advanced for the Prime Minister of Thailand to announce it on television, however the Australian Department of Trade withdrew its support at the last moment and the deal fell through. [36] [69] [70]

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  18. "XPT Cars Ordered" Railway Digest October 1985 page 297
  19. "In Brief" Railway Gazette International October 1985 page 737
  20. "More Timetable Changes" Railway Digest November 1985 page 327
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  49. "'It was horrendous': Derailed train passengers were tossed around in crash". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  50. New NSW country fleet procurement to begin in 2017 Rail Express 31 October 2016
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  52. First steps taken to deliver new XPT fleet Transport for NSW 1 March 2017
  53. Process kicks off to replace XPTs Rail Express 1 March 2017
  54. "Shortlist announced for NSW regional fleet renewal" International Railway Journal 4 December 2017
  55. CAF to replace New South Wales regional train fleet Railway Gazette International 14 February 2019
  56. Western timetable NSW TrainLink
  57. North Coast timetable NSW TrainLink
  58. Southern timetable NSW TrainLink
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  60. "Asian Downturn Hits CountryLink – XPTs Shed Cars" Railway Digest June 1998 page 9
  61. "Countrylink News – XPTs cut to five cars & Xplorers to Broken Hill?" Railway Digest June 2001 page 7
  62. "Here & There" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 765 July 2001 page 273
  63. "MTU looks at IC125 power" Rail Business Intelligence issue 118 20 January 2000 page 6
  64. "Market" Railway Gazette International April 2000 page 210
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  69. "Comeng poised to win deal" Newsrail October 1985 page 302
  70. "Thai train deal" Newsrail February 1986 page 52

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