The XPT Train First Class is a comfortable way to travel between cities on the East and South Coast of Autralia. It’s everything but fast, but even for longer distances, I think it’s a fun experience as you’ll read in this extensive review!
I’m originally from Germany (the home of the ICE) and I’ve lived in France (the home of the TGV) for a while, plus I enjoyed high-speed trains in China. I think you can guess what I’m about to say: Trains in Australia are a joke. Distances in the country are incredible, but what’s more incredible is how slow trains are. Just as an example, the XPT First Class ride I took departed in Brisbane at 5:55 am and it arrived in Sydney at 8:12 pm, that’s more than 14 hours for a distance of “just” 900 kilometers.
With a car you only need 10 hours and in other countries, trains take less than half the time for such a route. So does that say that the XPT in Australia sucks? Not it all as even for this very long ride, I thought it’s a fun experience!
The XPT Trains come with relatively basic cars, even in First Class. There are seats in a typical 2-2 configuration, which look quite worn and not particularly nice.
At the same time, my coach remained very empty throughout the whole journey, so it was a real sanctuary compared to other train rides I’ve taken over the years.
The seats as such are padded okay and are comfortable for a couple of hours, though I found them to get more and more uncomfortable in the last hours.
The seat pitch is very good though and you can easily stretch.
Luggage can be put either above the seats or in luggage racks at the end of each coach.
Summed up, I’d say that seating in the XPT Train First Class is comfortable enough, but not really great for longer rides or even nighttime ones. There are also two toilets in each coach.
They are alright and are kept clean during the duration of the journey.
Passengers travelling with the XPT Train can choose from a menu of different snacks and light meals. There is also a decent selection of drinks.
First class passengers additionally enjoy three complimentary meals. On my ride, the first meal was a lunch service, where I chose the pasta.
I though the meal did not only look quite nice, it also tasted good. Sure, it’s not really amazing food, but totally fine for a train. The meal was served with a drink.
A few hours later, I was offered an afternoon tea service consisting of a scone, butter and jam.
Two hours before arriving in Sydney, there was yet another meal service, where I decided on the chicken, which was okay. All in all, I’d say that the catering options in the XPT First Class are alright for a train. You won’t starve and there are plenty of further options on the menu.
Entertainment is the biggest issue when it comes to the XPT Train First Class. Why is that? Well, there’s nothing. No newspapers, no magazines, no overhead or seat-back entertainment and last but not least also no WiFi. Taking into account that the only major cities on the 14 hours ride are Brisbane (the departure point) and Sydney (the destination), cellphone connection is also gone for hours. So what are you doing when on the XPT? Look out of the window and enjoy the nature!
Or bring a book, a newspaper or maybe streaming entertainment on your laptop. If you are thinking about working in the XPT Train, that’s possible on your laptop, too. However, don’t forget that there are also no plugs in the ancient coaches, so you’ll need a good battery!
Would I take the XPT Train from Brisbane to Sydney again? Hell no, it was just too long of a ride on seats just not comfortable enough for such a long journey. At the same time, I’d definitely consider the train for shorter rides of up to four hours. The seats offer decent seat pitch, the catering is nice enough, but the entertainment is really lacking in all regards. Thus, I’d definitely rather fly with Qantas or Virgin Australia than taking the XPT in the future, but it was an interesting ‘detox’ experience nevertheless!