IT was a packed Bathurst Bullet that rolled out of town yesterday morning, ushering in a new era for rail transport in the city.
There was standing room only on the platform at Bathurst railway station ahead of the debut of the daily return express rail service to Sydney.
A carnival atmosphere envel-oped the station as the band played and speeches were made before the Endeavour train sounded its horn and left on time at 7.28am.
Filled to its 178-seat capacity with passengers and dignitaries, there was no happier person than Rail Action Bathurst chairman John Hollis.
For many years Mr Hollis and Rail Action Bathurst (RAB) have been driving forces in lobbying for the CityRail fast daily return train service from Bathurst to Sydney.
Mr Hollis was quite overwhelmed by the occasion, describing it as a very emotional day.
“It’s just great to see so many people here this morning,” he told the Western Advocate. “I am still pinching myself to believe all our hard work has paid off.
“This is a tremendous thing for Bathurst and I can only urge all residents to make use of this service. The response here this morning is just unbelievable.”
Bathurst MP Paul Toole said it was the type of day that makes being the local member such a great job.
“It’s gratifying to know you can get things like this done,” he said. “It’s an election promise I made and here it is.”
NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian was due to meet the Bathurst Bullet when it arrived at Central Station.
Bathurst station master Steve McKelvey had a full team on hand, including security staff, to ensure day one of the service went without a hitch.
“It’s great to see a crowd like this turn out for the launch of this service,” he said.
“People were here before the sun came up to get their tickets. I hope this type of support continues.”
Train driver Ken Shepherd from the Lithgow depot was charged with the responsibility of piloting the Bathurst Bullet on its maiden journey.
The Endeavour train has a maximum speed of 145km/h, although Mr Shepherd said it would probably average about 75km/h for the three-and-a-half hour trip to Sydney.
“We will reach the maximum speed on the Raglan to Brewongle stretch,” Mr Shepherd said.
Bathurst Business Chamber president Angus Edwards was up bright and early to make sure the Bathurst Bullet made it into town.
“I drove down to Lithgow with my son James and we jumped on the Bullet when it headed to Bathurst for its date with destiny,” he said. “I was impressed. It’s comfortable, smooth and quiet ... and on time. Everyone should make the most of the service.”
The Bathurst Bullet leaves Bathurst at 5.48am weekdays and arrives at Central at 9.25am. It leaves Central at 5.55pm and gets into Bathurst at 9.38pm.
On weekends it departs at 7.28am and arrives at Central at 11.06am, making the return trip from Central at 5.50pm, getting back to Bathurst at 9.30pm.