Thirroul Transport Committee, accompanied by Professor Phillip Laird, has visited State Parliament in a bid to secure a better deal for Northern Illawarra commuters.
They’ve met with representatives of the Transport Minister Andrew Constance and Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward, to discuss how our region will cope when Bulli Pass closes next week.
With just a few days remaining before the closure of the Pass it seems not a lot has been done to make-ready the Northern Illawarra.
Despite already crowded rail services, the State Government has ruled out any extra services during the closure period.
A Transport NSW spokesperson says they believe there is already enough room on our local trains.
“There is capacity on some existing train services,” she says. NSW Trainlink data suggests there are seats for every commuter when a morning peak train arrives at Helensburgh.
The news has upset the Thirroul Transport Committee, who have been calling for a re-think of the timetable, which has seen Thirroul become a hub, and are calling for more peak-hour services to also stop at Bulli.
“We were told by the Principal Manager Rail Service Planning at a meeting in June,” says spokesman Stephen Kennard, ” that it was easier for the trial to make extra express trains stop at Austinmer because there are more ‘contingencies’ to cope with south of Thirroul.
“We explained that because of the topography, there are many more houses and therefore commuters between Bulli and Corrimal and that these people are now driving to catch the train from Austinmer,” he says. “His ‘contingencies’ seemed real, but not enormous.”
Mr Kennard says Transport NSW has not taken the closure of Bulli Pass seriously enough to make any real changes to rail services. “They have shown no valid reason why this should not be done. This decision should be looked at immediately.
“If there needs to be four express stops at Austinmer, there needs to be at least 10 express stops at Bulli.”
“A recent Transport NSW Survey has found rail usage on the South Coast line has fallen by 13%, which is the most significant decline in NSW. Rail usage across the state rose by 23% between 2004 and 2014. Can this be explained by anything other than a deteriorating rail service?”
“We have been assured at our meeting in June that they are working towards better solutions than Helensburgh being a hub station, due to the safety and logistical issues.
“They are also aware of the 18 minute wait at Thirroul for a connecting feeder train south, and the fact that rail passengers arriving at Thirroul have to climb the stairs or wait for a lift to change platforms to continue their journey north. “