Mount Victoria Great Train Weekend 2013

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

If you look forward to the screech of the steam whistle and the smell of the coal smoke each May when Mt Vic runs the Great Train Weekend, you will be disappointed to hear the 2013 event has been

The Lithgow Mercury reports organisers struggled to get access to a steam engine at an acceptable cost, forcing the very popular event to be scrapped.

Hopefully the 2014 Great Train Weekend will return bigger and better than ever.

Central, first stop Katoomba!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The O’Farrle government has announced a new daily train service between Bathurst and Central.

The morning run departs Bathurst  at 5.40am and arrives at Central at 9.25am.  The return service will leave Sydney at 5.55pm and arrive in Bathurst at 9.30pm. The express will stop at Katoomba, Mt Vic and Lithgow.

The Lithgow Mercury is calling the service the Bathurst Bullet, which is hardly the Fish and the Chips (see last question).

Free Books on the Train – Say no to MX

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Weary mountains commuters got a pleasant surprise Tuesday evening when the 5:08 to Mt Vic was littered with novels on every second seat.

“MX will destroy your brain. Read this book instead” and “Check me out I’m Free” were samples of the notes stuck to the front covers.  A note inside reminds readers that MX is part of News Limited, Rupert Murdoch’s global news and information empire, and urges readers to consider what such a strong concentration of media ownership (13 papers in Australia alone) does for the quality of impartial reporting. The benefactors remained anonymous.

More guerrilla book distribution in future is encouraged!

New Rail Fares announced

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

The premier has announced a new rail fare structure that is set to benefit upper mountains residents substantially.

The new ticket types includes the MyMulti unlimited rail/travel/ferry pass for $57 a week for mountains locals. If you just need the train component you can save a dollar. This compares to a Leura-City weekly price currently of $66. Occasional users can buy a one day MyMulti ticket for $20.

Also cut are single ticket prices with Katoomba to the City at $7.80 compared to the current $12.20. Off-peak return tickets also drop substantially from $16.80 to $10.80.

New rates will be available from April 18 2010, and full details are at the MyZone website.

MyZone Map

MyZone Map

Mountains train fares to increase?

Friday, July 4th, 2008

There have been some stirrings following the release of the IPART discussion paper for train fares. The recommendation is for the fare structure to be a ‘flag-fall’ charge then a per kilometre fee. Initial media reports suggested this could see Blue Mountains users paying up to 50% higher fares. The paper also calls into question the discounts available for weekly tickets.

In response, the government stressed this was a discussion paper only, but recently reports are appearing that link the IPART fare structure to a revived Tcard electronic ticketing system:


IPART are calling for submissions to, so if you have a view, it would be a good time to share it.

Commuting by train from the Upper Mountains

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

This post is primarily aimed at people outside the mountains. I know when we were considering moving here the prospect of commuting to the city was rather daunting, and I didn’t know anybody who was doing it at the time.

First off, the journey is long. From Leura it is 100km, and about 2 hours. Heading to the city the main commuter trains are the 6:01am (the Fish), the 6:18am (the Chips) and the 6:44am (no fancy name). On the return leg trains leave Central at 5:09 (The Fish), 5:24 (The Chips) and 5:39 (The Heron, an explanation for these names is here).

The trip is a little like what I imagined from British TV shows, everyone having their own special seats, standing in the same place on the platform every day, but also quite different. There is little talk, and rarely do groups of friends play cards or similar.

Mainly, people quietly read or tap away on a laptop. It is quiet enough to sleep, and certainly the mountain half of the journey (as opposed to the Penrith-City half) usually happens without people having cell phone conversations.

In my experience, commuting five days is close to unsustainable. The lack of sleep compounds to destroy weekends, and leaves you grumpy. Perhaps if you are one of those souls who only require 5 or 6 hours of sleep you could keep it up.

Otherwise, the grind of working all day, travelling 2+ hours, arriving home at 7:30pm and only having 2 1/2hours before you need to be asleep in order to snatch the 7 1/2hours minimum sleep you can survive on before you get up again at 5:30am is pretty dispiriting.

A lot of people catch up on sleep, but I found it damaged my back to twist sideways with my head on the window to snooze. The extra shut-eye wasn’t worth the ongoing dull ache of sciatic pain.

The other big drawback is the impact on your social life and community. My kids school P&C meeting is at 6pm – meaning I must miss it, and I am not home early enough to even mind the kids while my spouse attends. Even if functions are on later, it is a tall order to get off the train and head straight to a Rotary meeting or similar.

On the plus side, heading down the mountain you will always get a seat, and almost always on the return journey. Beware though, if you board the return trip at Parramatta, the train is pretty full of passengers travelling to Penrith and Emu Plains, so you might have to stand for half an hour.

The service is fairly reliable, it is unusual to be more than 10mins late either way, less than once a month I estimate, and disruptions and delays occur more frequently on the way home – presumably as there has been a whole day of operations for issues to reverberate through, while the early morning leads to a pretty clear run.

I think I have been more than 20mins delayed on the way to the city only twice in 5 years.

In any case, you will certainly have the chance to catch up on your reading.

A good program looking at the life and philosophy of the mountains commuter is at the ABC