We recently took the XPT from Sydney for a trip to Taree. The XPT goes from Sydney to Grafton and takes approximately 12 hours. I have been on the XPT before but not for over 20 years. As far as comfort and amenities, it has not changed that much.
I bought us tickets in the first class cabin as it was only $40 each extra and were a total of $180 for the round trip. The seats were comfortable and the leg room was really spacious. The staff on board were friendly and accomodating. They helped me with my luggage and also offered to bring us our food in our seats so I didn’t have to take Lola with me every time we wanted something from the buffet.
The buffet menu had a good choice of meals and everything we ate was fresh and of good quality. They also had hot meals that you could order for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They were of high quality compared to your average airline meals. I enjoyed my lunch with a glass of Australian shiraz which made the trip just that bit more pleasant.
As far as sceneray there are some great views fro the train, especially around the Hawkesbury river and Wyong but for the most part you are traveling through farm country so there is not that much that is interesting to see.
I also found the lack of wifi frustrating. We are really behind in regards to this technology in our regional areas. I had planned to do some work on the train but unfortunately the work I needed to do involved watching some videos which were in my drop box account nad then writing up some materials based on these. I couldn’t complete the work as the videos kept dropping out.
What is so frustrating about this is that you could be in the middle of somewhere in Cambodia, Vietnam or Thailand and you would have full internet access, but in a country such as Australia, you need to be in a capital city or major country town. With work becoming more mobile and most people relying on having internet access to communicate and get things done, the Government needs to step up their game with this. We are just so far behind.
I do enjoy train travel for short trips and feel that 5 hours is probably the max for us. I also get motion sickness really easily so at times felt a bit sick especially when the train was going around a lot of bends.
All in all it was a good trip which we would definitely do again. In the future I would be more prepared with what luggage we take as well as making sure we don’t forget anything. The solution to this is having a permanant list on my iPad that I check off before each trip.
In fact, I now have 4 hours until we get to Sydney so I might just start that list now.