New South Wales Xplorer

The Xplorer is a diesel multiple unit train operated by NSW TrainLink on regional rail services in New South Wales, Australia from Sydney to Armidale, Moree, Broken Hill, Griffith and Canberra. The first Xplorers entered service in October 1993, and are mechanically identical to but feature a higher level of passenger amenity than the Endeavour railcars. All 23 carriages were built by ABB Transportation in Dandenong, Victoria.

An Xplorer crossing the Queanbeyan River near Queanbeyan in January 2012
Interior of a refurbished economy class carriage
In serviceOctober 1993
ManufacturerABB Transportation
Built atDandenong
Entered service19931995
Number built23 cars
Formation2–4 cars
Fleet numbersEA 2501-2508, EB 2511-2517, EC 2521-2528
Capacity42 First (EA) 66 Economy (EB) 50 Economy (EC)
Operator(s)NSW TrainLink
Depot(s)Xplorer-Endeavour Service Centre
Line(s) servedMain Northern
Main Western
Main Southern
Car length25.250 m (82 ft 10 in)
Width2.921 m (9 ft 7 in)
Height4.11 m (13 ft 6 in)
Maximum speed145 km/h (90 mph)
Weight57 tonnes (56 long tons; 63 short tons)
Prime mover(s)Cummins KTA-19R (one per car)
Power output383 kW (514 hp) per car
TransmissionVoith Turbo T311r KB260
AuxiliariesCummins LT10R(G) 181 hp (135 kW)
BogiesPJA (Power) NJA (Trailer)
Coupling systemScharfenberg
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge


Following the election of the Greiner Government in March 1988, consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton was commissioned to prepare a report into NSW rail services. On purely economic grounds, the report recommended closing all country passenger services as they were judged unviable, however this was not politically acceptable.[1] If services were to be maintained, the report recommended an 'all XPT' option supported by an expanded coach network.

This option was taken up by the government and a new timetable introduced in February 1990. One of the casualties was the Northern Tablelands Express from Sydney to Armidale which was operated on alternate days by a locomotive hauled HUB/RUB set and XPT. This was truncated back to Tamworth allowing it to be operated by one XPT as a day return service. A road coach from Sydney to Armidale was introduced. Another service to be replaced by coach was the Werris Creek to Moree connecting service that was operated by a DEB set.[2]

After suffering a number of losses in northern NSW electorates where services were cut during the March 1990 Federal Election, the National Party decided a policy reversal was needed. In June 1990 the government announced that it would purchase 17 Xplorer carriages to reintroduce services to Armidale and Moree and replace locomotive hauled stock and coaches on services to Canberra. This would release an XPT to operate a daily service to Grafton.[3][4] The Xplorers entered service on the North Western service in October 1993[5] and on the Canberra service in December 1993.[6] In November 1994 the government ordered a further four Xplorer carriages.[7]

From May 2000 Xplorers took over the weekly services to Griffith and Broken Hill.[8][9]

All are scheduled to be replaced by the NSW TrainLink Regional Train Project.[10][11][12] A contract with CAF was signed in February 2019, with the Xplorers to be replaced from 2023.[13]


The Xplorers currently operate on these services out of Sydney:

  • Armidale and Moree:[14] the Armidale/Moree Xplorer daily service runs along the Main North line to Werris Creek where the train divides. One portion proceeds to Armidale and the other to Moree. The Armidale portion normally consists of three carriages and the Moree portion two. During times of high demand these can be built up to four and three carriages respectively.
  • Canberra:[15] 3 services each way per day. Normally operated by a three carriage set but during times of high demand these can be built up to four.
  • Griffith:[15] service is attached to a Canberra Xplorer service until Goulburn on Saturdays only, and operates to Griffith via the Main South, Hay and Yanco-Griffith lines. Service returns on Sundays joining an Xplorer from Canberra at Goulburn although on occasions when either train runs late, each will run separately to Sydney. Normally operated by two or three carriages.
  • Broken Hill:[16] the Outback Xplorer service runs along Main Western and Broken Hill lines to Broken Hill Outbound service operates Monday, returning Tuesday. Normally operated by three carriages.


Coding for the carriages are as follows:

  • EA First Class Driving Power Car: First Class seating, Buffet and Satellite Telephone.
  • EB Economy Class Intermediate Power Car: Economy Class seating and Toilet.
  • EC Economy Class Driving Power Car: Economy Class seating, Disabled toilet with baby change facilities, wheelchair space and booked Luggage space.

Carriage numbering is as follows:

  • EA 2501-2508
  • EB 2511-2517
  • EC 2521-2528

EA 2508 and EC 2528 used to be Endeavour railcars LE 2815 and TE 2865. They became available following the electrification of the Illawarra line from Dapto to Kiama, and were converted to Xplorers by Bombardier Transportation, Dandenong.

Each car is powered by a Cummins KTA-19R diesel engine rated at 383 kW at 1800rpm coupled to a Voith T311r hydraulic transmission driving both axles on one bogie via Voith Turbo V15/19 final drives. The transmission incorporates a Voith KB260/r hydrodynamic brake. This traction package gives the Xplorer a maximum speed of 160 km/h (100 mph) but in service this is limited to 145 km/h (90 mph). An auxiliary 135 kW Cummins LT10R(G) diesel engine drives a Newage Stamford UCI274F alternator to supply power for the air conditioning and lighting.[17]


In October 2006 RailCorp issued a tender for the refurbishment of the Xplorer and Endeavour railcars. The contract specified new seating, buffet upgrades, new carpets, toilet upgrades, DVA upgrades, extended booked luggage section, and more wheelchair spaces for the trains. Bombardier Transportation, Downer Rail and United Group Rail responded, with Bombardier being the successful bidder. All units were repainted into new CountryLink colours. The refurbishment started in mid-2007 and concluded at the end of 2008. After the creation of NSW TrainLink, the CountryLink branding was removed from the trains.


  1. "CountryLink 2000" Railway Digest August 1989
  2. "The New Timetable" Railway Digest March 1990
  3. "New Trains for Northern NSW" Sydney Morning Herald 13 June 1990
  4. New "Explorer" trains for NSW Railway Digest July 1990
  5. "Xplorer Enters Service" Railway Digest November 1993
  6. "No Big Bang for Canberra Xplorers" Railway Digest December 1993
  7. "More Xplorer & Endeavour Cars Ordered" Railway Digest December 1994
  8. "CountryLink Loco-Hauled Services Cancelled" Railway Digest May 2000
  9. "Griffith Xplorer Launched" Railway Digest June 2000 page 6
  10. NSW Region train fleet on track Transport for New South Wales 14 August 2017
  11. NSW seeks private finance for regional fleet International Railway Journal 15 August 2017
  12. NSW regional train fleet to be replaced Railway Gazette International 15 August 2017
  13. CAF to replace New South Wales regional train fleet Railway Gazette International 14 February 2019
  14. North West timetable NSW TrainLink
  15. Southern timetable NSW TrainLink
  16. Western timetable NSW TrainLink
  17. Xplorer/Endeavour Operating Manual. ABB Transportation. 1994.
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