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The Silver City Comet was a train service that operated from 1937 to 1989 and ran between Broken Hill and Parkes in rural New South Wales and with special services to Sydney. It was to be the first ever airconditioned-train service in Australia and all sets were based in Parkes during their lifetime. In the 1940s the train provided regular services to Canberra and Newcastle during coal shortages.
Broken Hill had two tramways which were established by the early 1900s. One was closed in 1926 due to loss of profit while the other was converted to standard gauge rail in 1919 and eventually connected to Sydney via the Broken Hill line in 1927. In 1937, New South Wales Government Railways commissioned the Silver City Comet to be built by Ritchie Bros. at Auburn. The train was originally powered by two eight-cylinder diesel engines built by Harland & Wolff of Belfast, and electricity was supplied by two National diesel generator sets. The original engines were later replaced with General Motors Series 110 two-stroke diesels, in a similar configuration.
The Silver City Comet had provided 52 years of service from 1937 to 1989. The NSW State Liberal Government had commissioned a report into the State Rail Authority with US consultants Booz Allan and Hamilton. The report had recommended that several regional services be axed (Including the Silver City Comet and Canberra XPT), with job losses up to 8,000 and the closure of 94 regional stations. The report also recommended that all country services to be scrapped but the government had found that doing so would be politically unfeasible. The last service was conducted in November 1989 and was replaced by the State Rail Authority's Road coach.
In 1994, the state Labor Party promised that if elected they would reintroduce the service to Broken Hill by the end of 1995.
Preserved Silver City Comet at NSW Rail Transport Museum in Thirlmere, 2007 However, when they tried to do this they found the withdrawn sets in a state of disarray and the only available rolling stock were old and had a remaining life of four years. Labor had pledged to the people of Broken Hill that they would one day return the service. The service to Broken Hill was resumed in March 1996 using three locomotive-hauled RUB set carriages, providing a once-weekly service. This service ended on April 12, 2000 with the retirement of the carriages used, and resumption of the service awaiting the delivery of additional rolling stock to CountryLink. On June 25, 2002 the service was reintroduced using a CountryLink Xplorer. However, the service that runs between Sydney's Central Station and Broken Hill was not given the name of Silver City Comet. The move was welcomed by Broken Hill residents.
From January 1957 Silver City Comet stock operated a three times per week service from Parkes to Orange and Dubbo. Following the introduction of the XPT service to Dubbo in April 1982 this was cut back to Orange.