The 2014 federal budget was not kind on Australia’s rail infrastructure. Although it dedicated some funding to improving the country’s rail network, this was a mere smidgen compared to what other infrastructure projects – roads in particular – were allocated.
However, it appears the NSW government at least is committed to improving rail in its state, with the announcement that it will invest $2.8 billion into an intercity train project. This undertaking will not only increase the already existing fleet of intercity carriages, but also introduce a range of measures to make the journey more comfortable for every passenger.
According to Transport for NSW, a total of 65 new trains will be added to the fleet, comprising more than 500 new individual carriages. The expanded fleet will help in transporting travellers in the state to the Central Coast, Newcastle, the Blue Mountains, and the Illawarra.
The Oscar intercity fleet, which currently serves the outer metropolitan areas, will also be redirected towards suburban Sydney services, bringing air conditioning to every train in NSW.
“This is a major investment in a brand new train fleet for NSW and shows how hard we are working to improve services for the tens of thousands of customers commuting daily between Sydney and the South Coast, Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Hunter,” explained NSW Premier Mike Baird.
Meanwhile, Australasian Railway Association Chief Executive Bryan Nye welcomed the news of the project, saying it will have a number of flow-on benefits.
“New intercity trains are also likely to entice more commuters onto the rail network, which will have the added benefit of reducing road congestion and pollution levels in Sydney,” he said.
The first train is expected to be ready for public service by 2019, with the rest of the fleet being rolled out up to 2024.