Within NSW several trains of the railways were officially (and unofficially) named, Albury has its fair share grace the station facility over its 133 year life span. From the South Mail, Riverina Express, Intercapital Daylight, Melbourne Express (or MEX), Sydney Express (or SEX), Southern Aurora and from the Victorian side the Spirit of Progress.
All the glory and the romance of these once well patronised and famous services are reduced now to the XPT that services Albury daily. Not that I am knocking the XPT - it has served Albury well for 33 years but unfortunately age is catching up with the XPT fleet faster than it can be suppressed.
The Riverina Express began running on September 19th 1949, the same year the NSW railways completed the order of 30 38 class steam locomotives for use on express passenger services all over NSW. Records show the first Riverina Express departing platform 2 at Sydney Central with 3822 in charge.
The Riverina Express was a daylight passenger train, meaning it only travelled during daylight hours and sleeping quarters for passengers were not provided. Initially the Riverina express was made up of RUB carriage sets, accommodating for 74 First Class passengers and 212 Second Class passengers plus a buffet car. The RUB passenger cars were brand new at the time, and RUB set 140 was the first set to enter service and allocated to the Riverina Express. RUB Set 141 was allocated to the Riverina Express in 1950. Notes suggest that HUB passenger set 118 was briefly used during 1949 (HUB Sets were used on shorter daylight trains like the Newcastle Flier, South Coast Express and Central West Express)
The Riverina Express departed Sydney at 0815hrs, and travelled to Griffith on Mondays and Fridays. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays the Riverina Express travelled to Albury. Arrival time into Griffith was 2146hrs and 1945hrs into Albury. The return trips departed Albury at 0844hrs, Griffith at 0645hrs and arriving into Sydney at 1954hrs
The 1962 Southern Timetable showed stops for the Riverina Express (to Albury) as Follows;
? Yass Junction
? Junee (Branch to Griffith)
? Wagga Wagga
During February of 1972 the NSW Railways introduced the 1200 Class diesel Tulloch railcars to replace the RUB sets that were allocated to the Riverina Express. The Tullochs were designed to depart Sydney as a single train and break apart at stations along the line to service the rural areas as individual rail motors (such as Cowra, Tumut, Lake Cargelligo and Hillston) On the return trip the cars would amalgamate into a single train to arrive in Sydney.
The 1200 Class were known for a complicated electrical system, failures were common particularly when cars were amalgamating.
After a 1200 class suffered a distorted engine frame the 1200 class were withdrawn from service in 1973. A single set of 4 cars returned to service on the Riverina Express for 3 days a week rotating with a locomotive hauled service.
The 1200 class were withdrawn in October 1975, later it was decided to convert them to passenger hauled rollingstock for use on the south coast.
In August 1973 a 900 Class DEB Set was allocated to the Riverina Express to replace the failed 1200 Class, the set was removed from the Canberra Monaro Express after a decline of patronage on that service.
The DEB?s were built during the 1950?s and were a reliable and well regarded by passengers and crew. The DEB sets worked the Riverina Express until 1982 when the XPT was introduced.
The Riverina XPT Terminated in Albury until 1993 when the XPT service was extended to Melbourne, then a day and night service took over the roster between Sydney and Melbourne. This also saw the end of the Melbourne Express and the Sydney Express.
The Riverina Express operated for 44 years, using Steam, diesel locomotives and rail motors/cars.