The Sydney Express (Retired)

The Sydney Express (Retired)
The Sydney/Melbourne Express was an overnight intercapital passenger train service that operated between the Australia's largest two cities, Sydney and Melbourne, between August 1986 and November 1993. Operated jointly by State Rail Authority and V/Line the name depended on the direction of travel, with the train nicknamed the 'Sex' or 'Mex'.
The Sydney/Melbourne Express was formed to replace the Spirit of Progress and Southern Aurora to cut operating costs of the intercapital rail service with the first train operating on 2 August 1986. The last Melbourne Express ran on the night of 20 November 1993 ex Sydney, with the last Sydney Express running ex Melbourne on 21 November. It was replaced by an unnamed XPT service that continues today.
The Sydney Express Operation
The Sydney/Melbourne Express used the rolling stock of its two predecessor trains: including New South Wales and Victorian lounge, dining, buffet, sleeping and sitting carriages. A usual consist had two sleeping cars, being increased to three in busier periods. The timetable had the running time of the Southern Aurora with the stopping pattern of the Spirit of Progress. When operations commenced the train operated as a 'first division' of sleeping cars followed by a 'second division' with the sitting cars, but was later altered to be a 17-vehicle-long train.
A motorail wagon was also attached for the carriage of passengers' motor vehicles. 
The motive power was usually a single NSW 81 class or V/Line G class, with a second locomotive often attached for the steeper grades between Albury and Sydney. 
Onboard catering crew included a drink steward in the lounge, two cooks, a head waiter, three table waiters in the dining car, and four buffet staff. Four conductors were also employed to serve the sitting and sleeping car passengers.
When introduced, a typical consist for the Sydney Express would be Locomotive-MHN-VFS-VFK-VRS-VFX-VBK-NAM-LAN-NAM-LAN-RMS-BCS-DAM-LAN-NAM-PHN-MBY; in holidays this would change to and all-sleeper consist, with a separately scheduled relief train with Locomotive-MHN or VHN, VFR-VFKx3-VRS-VFX-VBKx2-PHN.
In February 1990 an across-the-board cut in NSW rail services, the Sex/Mex lost the Motorail service, and the V/Line sitting carriages (anything with V in the code). These cars were replaced with BHA cars for economy class and SDS for first class. It was also thought that the dining car would be lost, but in the end it was retained. Further, the NAM twinette sleeper cars were replaced with FAM sleepers. The relief expresses were also withdrawn from the timetable, allowing the V/Line coaches to be shifted to broad gauge and used to boost the Victorian country rail network services.
The Sydney Express Overview
Service Type: Overnight sleeper train
Status: Ceased
Predecessor: Southern Aurora
Spirit of Progress
First Service: 3 August 1986
Last Service: 21 November 1993
Successor: Unnamed XPT service
Former Operator(s): State Rail Authority
Route Start: Sydney
Route End: Melbourne
Distance Travelled: 956 kilometres
Service Frequency: nightly in each direction
Train Number(s): SL1/SL2
Line Used: Main South, NSW
North East, Victoria


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