The NSW government will spend $2.8 billion on a new fleet of intercity trains that it says will be more comfortable, potentially run faster, result in more jobs being created, and for the first time see airconditioning in all state train carriages.
About 65 new intercity trains, including about 520 new carriages, will carry passengers to the Central Coast, Newcastle, the Blue Mountains, and the Illawarra.
The state government will be funding the new trains itself and expects the first one to become available for passenger service in 2018. The rest of the fleet will be progressively rolled out from 2018 until 2024.
Transport minister Gladys Berejiklian said the government was considering opening up to private industry some carriages on the new trains to offer refreshments to passengers.
"I do want to look at enhancing the customer experience," Ms Berejiklian said.
"So if there are proposals where certain carriages can have that premium service where you can get refreshments I'm definitely open to looking at that."
Ms Berejiklian also said the government hoped to have toilets available on all the new trains as well.
"Obviously when you're travelling those longer distances you should have onboard facilities like toilets," Ms Berejiklian said.
"So I anticipate definitely there will be toilets, there will be more comfortable seating."
The new trains would "provide unprecedented levels of comfort and convenience for customers", Ms Berejiklian said.
In addition, she said infrastructure improvements "could" result in the trains going faster than they travel now.
"What we're doing in addition to providing these new carriages [is] we are looking at infrastructure improvements that could reduce travel times," Ms Berejiklian said.
The NSW government would begin the process of procuring the new trains this month, with industry briefings to take place in coming weeks.
Ms Berejiklian couldn't say whether the government would be procuring the trains from Australian companies or ones overseas.
"We'll be listening to companies around Australia but also companies around the world," she said.
"The good news is no matter where the trains come from this means more jobs for people in NSW because it means more services."
Airconditioning on all services will come about by reallocating the existing Oscar intercity fleet - currently operating to outer metropolitan areas - to the Sydney suburban services.
Ms Berejiklian said around 90 per cent of all train services in NSW had airconditioning. When Ms Berejiklian's government came to office this was about 70 per cent.
"This is a major investment in a brand new train fleet for NSW and shows how hard we are working to improve services for the tens of thousands of customers commuting daily between Sydney and the South Coast, Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Hunter," NSW Premier Mike Baird said.
The story $2.8 billion to be spent on airconditioned trains for NSW first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.