New South Wales XPT

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Countrylink XPT at Sydney Central station.jpg
XPT in the second CountryLink livery at Central station
In service 8 April 1982
Manufacturer Comeng
ABB Transportation
Built at Granville
Family name High Speed Train
Entered service 1981-1994
Number built 19 power cars
60 passenger carriages
Formation 2 power cars, 4-7 carriages
Fleet numbers XP2000-18, 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 speed Service: 160 km/h (100 mph),
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 output 1,492 kW (2,001 hp) per power car
Bogies PJA (Power) NJA (Trailer)
Coupling system knukle
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

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 promises 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.[1][2][3][4][5]

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. 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.[3]

In service[edit]

XP2007, in the first CountryLink livery, on a railway overpass in Wagga Wagga in August 2008
First Class
Interior of sleeper. The seats and the overhead compartments convert to beds. Tray tables fit into the armrests
First Class Daysitter
Sleeper Car
Buffet Car

The first power car and trailer commenced testing with a stainless steel luggage van in August 1981. 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.[6] The speed record reached by the XPT made it Australia's first train to reach approximately 200 km/h, the general international definition of high-speed rail. 200 km/h was the speed that the test attempted to reach.[7] This record was broken by Queensland Rail's Electric Tilt Train in May 1999.[8]

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.[3]

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.[9] By tightening up the diagrams, an overnight South XPT to Albury was introduced, but cancelled in June 1985 due to low patronage.[10][11] In 1985 an additional 12 trailer carriages were ordered to allow six sets of 7 carriages to be formed.[12][13] 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.[14]

Initially the XPT carried a fare surcharge compared to parallel locomotive hauled services; however this was abolished from May 1985.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18]

In October 1990, the government announced that eight sleeper carriages would be ordered for use on overnight services to Brisbane, Murwillumbah and Melbourne.[19][20] 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.[21][22][23][24]

In November 1993. XPTs replaced locomotive hauled stock on the overnight Sydney/Melbourne Express.[25] In December 1994 an XPT daylight service to Melbourne was introduced by extending the Riverina XPT from Albury.[26]

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.[27]

With the closure of the Murwillumbah line, the XPT service was cut back to Casino from April 2004.[28]

Each January, an XPT operates a service to Parkes for the Parkes Elvis Festival.[29] In October 2013 with a set isolated west of Lithgow by bushfires, it was deployed on the Outback Xplorer service to Broken Hill.[30]

In October 2016, the NSW government announced the XPTs would be replaced as part of the NSW TrainLink Regional Train Project.[31][32] A contract is scheduled to be placed in 2019 for an early 2020s entry into service.[33][34]


The XPT fleet are currently used on five services from Sydney, the terminus stations are:

  • Dubbo[35] (Daily each way – daylight service, morning departure from Sydney, afternoon return – travel time 6.5 hours)
  • Grafton[36] (Daily each way – daylight service, designed to service the north coast of NSW – travel time 10 hours)
  • Casino[36] (Daily daylight train from Sydney to Casino, daily overnight service from Casino to Sydney with sleeping car attached travel time 11 hours – coach connections to/from the Gold Coast and Brisbane)
  • Brisbane[36] (Daily overnight service from Sydney to Brisbane with sleeping car attached, daily daylight train from Brisbane – travel time 14 hours)
  • Melbourne[37] (Daily overnight service in each direction with 1 sleeping car attached, daily daylight service in each direction – travel time 11–11.5 hours)

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

  • Day 1 - HT22 Meeks Road to Sydney, forms ST23 (8622) Sydney to Melbourne day train. Forms 8621 (ST22) Melbourne to Sydney overnight train.
  • Day 2 - ST22 arrives in Sydney, forms HT23 to Meeks Road. Serviced. Forms HT34 to Sydney. Forms NT35 Sydney to Grafton day train. Stables.
  • Day 3 - NT36 Grafton to Sydney day train. Forms HT37 to Meeks Road. Serviced. Forms HT20 to Sydney. Forms ST21 (8612) to Melbourne overnight train.
  • Day 4 - ST21 (8612) arrives in Melbourne. Forms 8611 (ST24) to Sydney day train. Forms HT25 to Meeks Road. Stables.
  • Day 5 - HT32 Meeks Road to Sydney. Forms NT33 Sydney to Casino day train. Forms NT34 Casino to Sydney overnight train.
  • Day 6 - NT34 arrives in Sydney, forms HT35 to Meeks Road. Serviced. Forms HT30 to Sydney. Forms NT31 Sydney to Brisbane overnight train.
  • Day 7 - NT31 arrives in Brisbane. Forms NT32 Brisbane to Sydney day train. Forms HT33 to Meeks Road. Stables.

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 Day 2 and Day 3, and two overnight stablings in Sydney, between Day 4 and Day 5, and between Day 7 and Day 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.[38] Today XPTs operate with four carriages to Dubbo, and five on the North Coast and Melbourne services, with six during peak times.


The XPT fleet consists of:

  • 19 XP Power cars
  • 9 XFH Economy class saloon/luggage cars
  • 25 XF Economy class saloon cars
  • 9 XBR First class saloon/buffet cars
  • 9 XL First class saloon cars
  • 8 XAM Sleeping cars

Power cars[edit]

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 / 2,000 horsepower that had been successfully used by some British Rail High Speed Trains since 1994.[39][40] 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:

XP2001-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.


Carriage coding, features and numbers are as follows:

Type Services Provided Number in fleet Seating Capacity Weight (tonnes) ID Number and constructor Notes
XFH Economy Class
Booked Luggage Compartment
Guard's Compartment
9 44 40.1 XFH 2104 – XFH 2110, XFH 2112 and XFH 2113
XF Economy Class 25 68 40.1 XF 2200 – XF 2224
XBR First Class
9 21 (plus one wheelchair space) 43.6 XBR 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
XL First Class 9 56 40.1 (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
XAM First Class sleeping car
First Class day sitting car
8 18 sleeping
27 seated
48.3 XAM 2175 – XAM 2182 (ABB Transportation)

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.

Potential export sale[edit]

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) 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.[24]


  1. ^ "NSW gives country passengers a break" Railway Gazette International March 1979 page 210
  2. ^ "HST begets XPT" Railway Gazette International June 1980 pages 511/512
  3. ^ a b c Cooke, David (1984). Railmotors and XPTs. Australian Railway Historical Society NSW Division. ISBN 0 909650 23 3. 
  4. ^ Marsden, Colin (2001). HST Silver Jubilee. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0 711028 47 8. 
  5. ^ "XPT Australia's train of tomorrow" Rail Enthusiast September 1982 pages 40-42
  6. ^ "The making of an XPT speed record" Railway Digest November 1992 page 417
  7. ^ "XP Class frame". Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  8. ^ "QR Tilt Train Sets Australian Rail Speed Record" Railway Digest June 1999 page 15
  9. ^ "Northern Report" Railway Digest July 1984 page 225
  10. ^ "Country Train and Coach Changes" Railway Digest August 1985 page 229
  11. ^ "The XPT Turns 15" Railway Digest April 1997 page 43
  12. ^ "XPT Cars Ordered" Railway Digest October 1985 page 297
  13. ^ "In Brief" Railway Gazette International October 1985 page 737
  14. ^ "More Timetable Changes" Railway Digest November 1985 page 327
  15. ^ "XPT Fares Reduced" Railway Digest April 1985 page 98
  16. ^ "CountryLink 2000" Railway Digest August 1989 page 262
  17. ^ "The New Timetable" Railway Digest March 1990 page 94
  18. ^ "Xplorer Enters Service" Railway Digest November 1993 page 458
  19. ^ "XPT sleepers for North Coast trains" Railway Digest November 1990 page 385
  20. ^ "XPT revamp" Railway Gazette International November 1990 page 823
  21. ^ "NSW/Vic to share XPTs" Railway Digest January 1991 page 7
  22. ^ "Sydney-Melbourne to go XPT" Railway Gazette International January 1991 page 9
  23. ^ "XPT trailer cars to be built in Victoria" Railway Digest August 1991 page 273
  24. ^ a b Dunn, John (2013). Comeng: A History of Commonwealth Engineering Volume 5 1985-2012. Kenthurst: Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 13–15, 203–219. ISBN 9781922013521. 
  25. ^ "Major Passenger Train Changes Commence this Month" Railway Digest November 1993 page 466
  26. ^ "Sydney-Melbourne Daylight XPT Commences This Month" Railway Digest December 1994 page 7
  27. ^ "So why do you call it a tilt train?" Railway Digest July 1995 page 30
  28. ^ Closure of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail service NSW Parliament 24 November 2004
  29. ^ All aboard the NSW TrainLink Elvis Express train NSW Trains 8 January 2014
  30. ^ Australian Railways Illustrated December 2013 page 8
  31. ^ New NSW country fleet procurement to begin in 2017 Rail Express 31 October 2016
  32. ^ NSW fleet replacement accelerated Railway Gazette International 31 October 2016
  33. ^ First steps taken to deliver new XPT fleet Transport for NSW 1 March 2017
  34. ^ Process kicks off to replace XPTs Rail Express 1 March 2017
  35. ^ Western timetable NSW TrainLink
  36. ^ a b c North Coast timetable NSW TrainLink
  37. ^ Southern timetable NSW TrainLink
  38. ^ "Asian Downturn Hits CountryLink - XPTs Shed Cars" Railway Digest June 1998 page 9
  39. ^ "MTU looks at IC125 power" Rail Business Intelligence issue 118 20 January 2000 page 6
  40. ^ "Market" Railway Gazette International April 2000 page 210

External links[edit]

Media related to XPT at Wikimedia Commons