The NSW Nationals have signed a contract with Momentum Trains for the $2.8 billion project to design, build, finance and maintain the new regional rail fleet, along with a new purpose-built maintenance facility in Dubbo to help stimulate regional economies.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro has confirmed details of the project, which includes capital costs of $1.26 billion for the 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.

Mr Barilaro said the Nationals in Government were delivering on a commitment to build a first-class rail fleet for passengers travelling in regional NSW.

“This is a new era for regional rail,” Mr Barilaro said. “This Government is following through on its commitment to replace the old rail fleet with a new modern fleet that passengers can use to travel in comfort with all of the facilities expected of modern rail transport. This investment will inject billions of new dollars into regional NSW, creating local jobs during the fit out and commissioning of the new fleet.”

The new rolling stock 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.

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.

This is one of the most exciting transformations of passenger rail in NSW for decades, improving how people travel in the regions and making sure that investment goes straight back into regional economies.

If it were up to the Labor party, we would be stuck with 20th century trains that are housed and maintained in Sydney while regional passengers are left behind.

The new regional fleet will comprise 117 new carriages to form 10 regional intercity trains, nine short regional trains and 10 long regional trains. The ones that operate on longer regional journeys 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.

NSW TrainLink will operate the new regional fleet with the first trains to be progressively introduced from 2023.