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Sydney will soon feel closer to home for Hunter commuters.
A new express train service will be trialled between Newcastle and Sydney when the Wickham Transport Interchange is complete, the state government has revealed.
The new service, leaving the interchange at 5.03am, is expected to slash 26 minutes off the journey between Newcastle and Sydney, compared to the 4.40am service it will replace.
It will also be 20 minutes faster than the existing 5.25am express service from Hamilton to Sydney, with three fewer stops - Cardiff, Fassifern and Eastwood.
Heading north, 11 minutes will be trimmed off the 3.45pm train from Central to Newcastle. The trial will start on November 26 and last for six months.
“Customers travelling to and from Sydney have been screaming out for faster rail services,” NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said.
“So this is great news for the early starter who will not only spend less time travelling, they will also enjoy more time in bed, with a later morning service.”
The new morning express train will reach Central at 7.26am, after stopping at Hamilton, Broadmeadow, Morisset, Wyong, Tuggerah, Gosford, Woy Woy, Hornsby, Epping and Strathfield.
The afternoon service will stop at the same stations.
“We’ve also thought about customers further afield than Newcastle, with Maitland customers on the Hunter Line still able to change trains to connect to this premium service,” Mr Constance said.
The new service will be the fastest option out of any of the express trains already operating between Newcastle and Sydney.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the early morning and mid afternoon time slots were chosen for because the Newcastle and Central Coast Line was already a busy passenger and freight corridor.
And she said the train fleet was currently being used at its capacity.
"It’s also timed for an eight hour work day for those customers wishing to start and finish early," she said.
"Our aim is to make this a permanent service.
"We’ll be monitoring the trial, customer feedback and Opal data closely before a final decision is made."
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said regular commuters had approached him and requested the trial.
“We have listened to the community, who have asked us to trial this service to make the trip to Sydney easier,” he said.
The Wickham Interchange is expected to open in November.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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