My No Fly July has meant I have not been inside a plane for over a month and have sampled a lot of Australian rail travel.
My latest trip was from Sydney to Melbourne in a sleeping carriage on the XPT (EXpress Passenger Train). It was such a delightful experience, I would do it again.
The train leaves from Platform Number One of the grand Central Station in Sydney, Central never quite looks right. It always seems a bit down at heel and always seems to be under construction. Currently the clock tower is being renovated. AAll sorts of alterations have been made which don’t quite work. There are ugly barriers cutting off platforms 4 to 13, the food court covers a magnificent floor mural illustrating all of Australia’s railways.
There is now a youth hostel located in some old carriages permanently parked next to Platform One at Central Station.
I found the cabin to which I had been allocated. I had been reserved bed 9.There are two bunks and three seats in each cabin. The seats are only used in the day time. Each cabin shares a shower and a mini toilet. The toilets in the next carriage are much nicer.
My cabin mate arrived five minutes before the train departed. Bummer! I had thought I might have had the cabin to myself. Soon after our carriage attendant (for the first 400 km anyway to Albury arrived). After confirming we were not travelling together, she escorted him to his own cabin! There were only 15 passengers travelling in sleepers that night.
My order for the complimentary breakfast was taken (raisin toast, cereal and juice) and I was given a demonstration of bunk lowering, attendant call button, toilet and shower.
The train departed at 840pm. I folded the bed down soon after departure, changed into my (Qantas) pyjamas and hopped into bed for a read.
I soon fell asleep but was woken by a huge jolt which made me think we had left the tracks. I stayed awake for a while before falling back to sleep until just before breakfast in bed arrived.
A nice invigorating shower before dressing came next. The disquieting thing was that the shower ran cold water for ages and my heart sank. After a while it dawned on me that if I turned the tap on full, hot water might flow-which it did.
The cost of my sleeper was $216.00. Its interesting to compare the cost to flights the same night or next morning. Plenty of cheap flights were available for the price range of $99 to $149. Getting to Sydney airport would cost between $12 and $30 depending on whether I took bus, train or taxi where as I walked to Central Station. Getting from Melbourne airport would cost me $15 to $50 depending on bus or taxi. So total airfare would cost between $126 and $229. If I had stayed in a hotel that night…….
For me, the price was so worth it! It was such a relaxing way to travel.