Australians choosing interstate train travel amid soaring air fares

 Wednesday, March 29, 2023 



The Australians facing record high domestic air fares are opting for cheaper overnight trains and coaches to travel interstate, with patronage between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane more than doubling in recent months as services are booked to capacity.

Despite decades-old infrastructure on Australia’s east coast that makes train journeys several hours longer than equivalent car trips, fresh ridership statistics have exposed the dramatic effect of the reduction in flights and soaring air fares on summer travel plans. A general view of Qantas planes parked on the tarmac at an airport, seen through a mesh wire fence

Australians to face sky-high air fares over Christmas as threat of industrial action at Qantas looms. The cheapest available domestic air fares remain above a peak not seen since March 2004, as airlines struggle with the slow rebuilding of the aviation workforce, staff illnesses and high fuel prices.

The return economy fares between Sydney and Melbourne – the world’s second busiest air route before Covid 19– in December average $500 on budget carriers and exceed $1,000 on Qantas, as the number of seats on offer remain at 76% of pre-Covid 19 levels.

But the New South Wales government-run XPT train services from Sydney to and from Melbourne, Brisbane and Dubbo, as well as shorter Xplorer services to destinations including Canberra, remain at much lower fixed prices that are only occasionally subject to slight holiday peak increases.

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