XPT trip 27th January 2005 - by David Head
Heading north to Brisbane for a family do, I decided to treat myself to a train trip, and find out what the XPT was like. I have heard a lot of horror stories from many people, and on groups like Railpage & aus.rail , and seen some incident ont he news as well. Told myself keep a open mind, yet I made sure I booked a flight SYD-BRI the next day, and in the afternoon, just in case.
Thursday 27th. Got a friend to drop me off at the station, which I haven't been to for over 2 years I think. It is certainly a maze and a construction zone. Got fropped off about 6.30am , so had plenty of time to prepare for the trip, and watch the incomming and outgoing trains. At the moment the XPT comes into it's own siding/bay platform,and has to negotiate a level crossing. At the moment a rather unglamorous start/end to the trip.
The XPT arrived in due time, the passenger disimbarked, and the cleaners went in. MY car,CarD was the second from the rear(which was the Mel end), so I assumed I'd get glimpses of the train around curves. On boarding the train I easily found my seat, a window seat on the left (facing Sydney). The train soon left, with the car I were in (1st class sitting) not that full, which allowed me to look out the 'right' side alot as we slowly moved out. The seating for me was quite OK, plenty of foot room for my bag as well. The window was great.
Alot to see as we left Melbourne, I must confess to jumping from my seat to the other side of the carriage ,taking many photos. As a consideration I configured my digital camera not to make a sound, as I think it would have annoyed my fellow passengers who were in the car, but made it difficult to know if I had taken a photo.
As I settled into my seat I found them announcing the catering arrangements, breakfast, morning tea, and a 1 hr closure of the catering at Albury. I got muffins & a hot chocolate and happily read my new AMRM while looking out on the passing surrounds. At this point I'm happy to say the food and drinks on offer were quite OK for the trip. One of the staff stopped to say hello, had noticed the AMRM, and we had a nice chat, as he was in the hobby and had a model Railway at Culcain, in the carrage that he and others are restoring.
The trip settled down alot, especially when we arrived at Albury. The carriage I were in filled up alot, ending my use of the next seat. However being mainly the older, there was no drama child& person wise at all, a nice quiet carriage. A Interail train passed by letting me see the first QR stickered "X". But now of courdse I couldn't see out the right hand side as well.
Genrally the trip was good, and still interesting as I saw the outside from a new perspective, having seen the XPT by road on this Albury-Wagga streatch many times. We got to Junee, having arriving early by a minute or two. The next part I really wanted to experiance , the Bethurgra Sprial. As we approached it was very obvious of a previous derailment by several cement wagon well off the rails.
Rarther than ordering a meal, I just got a pie and a drink. Their meals were preordered first then you were called up to pick them up. So I cannot really attest to these meals. Whenb you do buy anything you are suposed to carry it back to your seat in a cardboard tray, which I worked out going back for something else - the same car had passengers - I don't think I woulf have enjoyed the trip in that car. Once we passed Harden, we slowed down, and the announcer on the speaker tried to explian it was due to WOLO, and what that was. Seems to have been a small streatch, for arriving into Goldburn we were once again on time, if a little early.
Enjoyed the ride as we headed North and gradually approached Sydney. Had a few more Hot chocolates as I enjoyed them. Loved going throught staions, seeing places I have only read about or seen a photo. We got into Sydney in plenty of time, not too late or early. Got my other bag from the luggage, took a final photo of the XPT, and went off to catch a cab to the hotel I were staying at.
The digital camera was ok for many, but I have a lot of reflected shots, and I am sure you will agree the few I have included here are not so great. But they still recorded the trip for myself. There were at least a 100 more photos, but these were the ones's I'll share here. Many were useless, blurred, too much reflection etc.
Next time I have the opportunity I wish to do the daylight Brisbane-Sydney trip.
In conclusion I enjoyed it.
The leading XP into Sydney, at Central.
By David Head - and no it is not a work of fiction - it did happen :)