Highlands commuters still not happy with services

COMMUTER WOES: Slow train services are forcing Highlands commuters into catching trains from other areas, or facing unnecessarily long journeys. Photo: file.
COMMUTER WOES: Slow train services are forcing Highlands commuters into catching trains from other areas, or facing unnecessarily long journeys. Photo: file.

It’s been just over a week since the new train timetable has come into play, and many commuters aren’t happy. 

Community rail-users group 80by20 said feedback about the new timetable had been “mainly negative.” 

“This relates to slower journeys, inconvenient connections and the deletion of the popular 6:19pm service from Campbelltown to Moss Vale,” co-founder Adam Jacobson said. 

Mr Jacobson said the group’s main focus was to get a direct service from the Highlands to the city by 8.30am.

“The government cannot lean on Opal data to justify timetabling when one in five cars [parked] at Campbelltown station are from Wollondilly and Wingecarribee,” he said.

“Commuters would be attracted back to the train with an appropriately timetabled direct service arriving in the city by 8.30am.”

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) announced last week that $40 million would be invested in infrastructure improvements to help improve reliability on the Southern Highlands railway. 

While Mr Jacobson welcomed the improvements, he said rail users still raised concerns about how the upgrades would affect reliability. 

“[The upgrades] could also result in delays between now and the end of the renewal program in 2020,” Mr Jacobson said.

Track close-downs took place between December 1 and 4 at various locations along the Southern Highlands line for the commencement of the re-railing. 

ARTC is replacing lengths of older rail with new Australian sourced steel rail. The older rail installed over 20 years ago can have defects arise which are best managed by replacing the rail itself.

Goulburn MP Pru Goward said the infrastructure announcement was an early Christmas present for the Southern Highlands. 

“It’s about time the ARTC invested in this line and I am pleased that my continuous lobbying on behalf of a frustrated and often angry community has paid off,” she said.

“I am sure the temporary inconvenience of the works will be tolerated because the community knows we will benefit in the end.”

Ms Goward said while she was pleased the ARTC was investing in the Southern Highlands line, more needed to be done. 

“I encourage ARTC to continue to invest in the passenger line, the better the track the more people will use it and the easier it is to make the case for more services,” she said. 

Wingecarribee councillor Ian Scandrett said the Wingecarribee and Wollondilly “needed an a new express diesel electric train.”

“We need six carriages to arrive at Central at 8.30am and to depart at 6pm,” he said. 

A recent study by Campbelltown City Council has found that about 20 per cent of cars parked at Campbelltown Station each day belong to Wingecarribee and Wollondilly residents, Cr Scandrett said a new electric service would prevent this. 

“I meet a lot of people in my role and am very sure that that a new service would be embraced solidly,” he said.