Two new bus routes linking communities in the area to regional centres will be trialled next year.
A weekly return bus service will run between Tumut to Wagga, through Adelong and Grahamstown, to connect with the XPT.
A service currently runs from Tumbarumba through Tumut and Gundagai – linking with the train in either Wagga or Cootamundra – daily.
Meanwhile, in a nod to the prospect of the Snowy 2.0 getting a start, a bus service will run each week from Cooma to the Snowy town of Cabramurra.
It will run through Adaminaby and Angler’s Reach.
The state government announced 13 new bus routes yesterday.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the new services would boost regional connectivity by providing access to long distance public transport services on trains and buses from the second half of 2019.
“By providing 13 new public transport routes, we will connect 44 of our most isolated communities with a nearby rural town, city or existing public transport service, enabling residents to make a day return trip to another region,” Mr Barilaro said.
“This will improve access for remote communities without public transport; and for regions with existing services, it’ll provide faster and more direct connections that will help boost local economies.
New services to be provided include return trips between Goodooga and Lightning Ridge via Dubbo, Goondiwindi to Inverell via Boggabilla, Conargo to Echuca via Deniliquin and Cabramurra to Cooma.
The weekly services will initially be provided on a trial basis.
For those who do travel on the old and dilapidated XPT, there’s news that the trains will be upgraded, though it will be at least a four-year wait.
The government yesterday signed a contract with Momentum Trains for the $2.8 billion project to design, build, finance and maintain a new regional rail fleet, along with a new purpose-built maintenance facility in Dubbo to help stimulate regional economies.
Capital costs of $1.26 billion will go towards a new fleet, the new maintenance facility in Dubbo, network enabling works and other project delivery costs. The contract also includes maintenance services for the first 15 years.
The government first announced in 2015 it would replace its regional train fleet.
“This is one of the most exciting transformations of passenger rail in NSW for decades, improving how people travel in regional NSW and making sure that investment goes straight back into regional economies,” Mr Barilaro said.
Some of the new features will include more comfortable, reversible seating, window blinds, charging points for electronic devices and overhead luggage storage similar to what is available on airlines.
They will replace the existing XPT, XPLORER and Endeavour trains, some of which are close to 36 years old and nearing the end of their lifespan.
The new regional fleet will comprise 117 new carriages to form 10 regional intercity trains, 9 short regional trains and 10 long regional trains.
The government will introduce new economy and premium classes. Economy class will have a two by two seating layout while premium class will feature an increased number of seats, set in a two by one layout.
Trains for longer regional journeys, like the XPT, will also feature buffet cars and will be more comfortable for those who require wheelchair access.
The trains will be powered by engines which produce fewer emissions than the current fleet, reducing the impacts on air quality, Mr Barilaro said.
Momentum Trains will also maintain the trains for 15 years and will be responsible for designing and building the new fleet maintenance facility in Dubbo, which will be where the final fit out and commissioning of the trains will take place.
NSW TrainLink will operate the new regional fleet with the first trains to be progressively introduced from 2023.
An artist’s impression of the new train proposed for regional NSW.