This month we have a look at the development of country passenger train speeds in New South Wales over the past two decades as illustrated by one particular route - the Northern Tablelands line between Sydney and the New England towns of Tamworth, Armidale, Glen Innes and Tenterfield.
The data is taken from the Public timetables of the NSW State Rail Authority (and its successors) dated 5/July/1981, 4/June/1984 and 26/March/1996. The graph shows for four selected trains the elapsed travel time from Sydney to each of the following stations: Gosford (81km), Broadmeadow (163km), Muswellbrook (289km), Werris Creek (411km), Tamworth (455km), Armidale (579km), Glen Innes (681km) and Tenterfield (774km).
The trains selected are the Northern Tablelands Express of 1981, the North Mail of 1981, The Northern Tablelands XPT of 1984 and the Armidale Xplorer of 1996.
It is interesting to note that the current day Armidale Xplorer is faster to Tamworth and Armidale than was the XPT of 1984. This is partly due to the lower number of intermediate stations served. The slow schedule of the North Mail is also quite evident. The reduced rate of journey time improvement between 1984 and 1996 compared to the improvement between 1981 and 1984 is also quite striking; and of course there is now no train service at all to towns north of Armidale.
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