In the early 90's the Qld govt wanted Sydney trains to run to Roma Street, maybe back then even in peak it wasn't a drama and rail was far more popular than today. Roma Street up until a few years back still had the motorrail unloading, so it gives you an idea on how long ago that was and hence times have changed.
Is it the Qld govts fault the XPT can no longer run into/out of Brisbane in peak? Hardly. Would you allow the XPT run reverse road across the Sydney Harbor bridge in peak, no, so why expect that in Brisbane. Sydney long ago shifted its country services out of peak, so did Brisbane NG country services. The XPT's timetable was just something not easy to change and hence it wasn't until its existence could no longer be tolerated. You could not expect the govt to fund a major upgrade of 15km of track costing billions for 1 country train a day. The issue for the delay in building the CRR is not linked to the XPT.
The fact is like every other regional service arriving in Sydney and Brisbane, it simply needs to be shifted out of peak where it belongs and the main reason they couldn't do it was because of mostly the overworked XPT timetable.
The issues with traffic into and out of Sydney Terminal in peak is more driven by bottles necks on the major arteries that get the trains to Central. Yes Sydney Terminal yard is a mess and needs an investment to sort out the track layouts, but its not the be all to increasing interurban and regional services.
Sim's argument that people on the NC don't or don't need to access Brisbane is rubbish. The more people that live in these booming areas the more that need to go to the capital. Don't forget the NC is a retirement area and hence medical is probably a major factor to go apart from shopping, entertainment etc. Likewise same for people I know who lived at Albury, they travel to Melbourne because its closer.
Every day there is a mostly full Tilt Train running from Bundberg to Brisbane (360km) arriving after 9AM and leaving Brisbane after 5 PM, there is no reason a train doing the same thing from Coffs Harbour (390km to Brisbane vs 530km to Sydney) would be any less uterlised if available and the run time was reasonable.
The simple answer is the NSW is cashed up and will continue to remain so as forecast for a number of years to come. NSW can very easily afford to replace the XPL and XPT fleets to one standard fleet to replace all the current services on a like for like basis AND improve the timetables in either frequency and/or practicality. The NSW govt's biggest issue is not money, its resources to actually spend that money without wasting it on poorly researched procurement projects, ie repeat many of Qld's mistakes from the mining boom. So far most the NSW govt seems to be doing ok in this regard.
There are a few options to improve Brisbane whether its 1 service a day or 2, but lets stick the current 1.
- Run Night trains only. ie leave Sydney after PM peak, arrive Brisbane after AM peak and reverse before Brisbane PM Peak arrive Sydney before AM peak.
- Run Day service only, leave Sydney before AM peak arrive Brisbane after PM peak, depart Brisbane before AM peak and arrive Sydney after PM peak.
Both services require 6-8hr layover in Brisbane, but this currently occurs with Grafton XPT and NW XPL so if you have the rolling stock, so what?
Once you get into the options like now trying to go up and back with a 1hr turnaround you have timetabling issues like now and end up with stupid arrival/depart times.