Long distance rail travel continues to pique the public interest, with more than a million journeys made so far this calendar year on NSW TrainLink’s long-distance regional train services and patronage now around 3% higher than pre-COVID levels.
NSW TrainLink says patronage on all routes has steadily increased overall with around 107,000 journeys now made each month on regional trains including the XPTs and XPLORERS, compared to an average of around 42,000 in 2021.
In addition, more than 440,000 coach journeys have been made in 2023, with an average patronage of around 40,000 per month – or double the 2021 figure.
The sharpest increase in demand has been on the Melbourne to Sydney train route, with a 250% increase in average monthly patronage compared to 2021 and a 47% increase compared to 2022.
NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Jenny Aitchison said the State Government was incredibly pleased to see passengers embracing what NSW TrainLink has to offer, including around 127 regional train services and 605 coach services each week.
“People are recognising that it is a unique, cost-effective way to sit back and enjoy the ride, taking in the stunning scenery out the window, without the stress of driving or catching a plane,” she said.
“We also see, particularly for popular routes like Melbourne and Brisbane, are valued because passengers arrive right in the heart of the city, without the need to transfer from an airport.
“Train travel offers passengers fantastic flexibility. They’re able to visit the buffet and stretch their legs, get on and off at multiple stops, breaking up their journey or visiting more places in regional NSW and Australia.”
NSW TrainLink attributes the uplift in demand to factors including an advertising campaign (pictured, below) which has generated more than 14,000 bookings in under two months.
Demand during the cooler months was also strong this year, with all regional train journeys seeing an average 33% increase during winter when compared to 2022.
On the Sydney and Melbourne XPTs, there were 90,000 passenger journeys combined for June, July and August this year, compared to 60,000 for 2022.
NSW TrainLink says its regional train and coach services are filling up fast, particularly going into the peak summer period and passengers are being encouraged to book ahead as much as possible to avoid disappointment.
The most convenient and cost-effective way to book is online. There are online discounts of 10% off adult fares or 20% off adult fares for bookings made five or more days in advance.
Cheaper options are available through online saver fares sales on selected routes, which change every season, with discounts of up to 35%.
Find more about online saver fares.