Timetable changes to be introduced next month for the Illawarra line are not the solution many local commuters had hoped for.
The State Government has announced that from October 17, there will be ‘more frequency, capacity and reduced journey times on the Illawarra line between 3.15pm and 3.45pm to reduce overcrowding’.
In March, the Government announced they would trial six new stops at Austinmer Station, to help ease the congestion they caused by making Thirroul a ‘hub’. Four of these stops will now be made permanent.
Three additional all-station trains will also be introduced between Bondi Junction and Hurstville in the afternoon peak.
These new services will enable four existing Waterfall-bound services to stop at fewer stations which is expected to reduce overcrowding.
The small changes are a slap in the face to local commuters, shopkeepers and the Thirroul Transport Group, who have been lobbying for years to have the local timetable altered, arguing that the reduced number of stops at the Northern Illawarra’s smaller stations is inconvenient for rail users, adding time to their journeys.
Thirroul Transport Action Group has been meeting regularly with Illawarra Parliamentary Secretary Gareth Ward and Shadow Minister for the Illawarra Ryan Park to have significant changes made. They’ve called for extra stops to be made at Bulli, where plentiful parking sits idle.
The 2013 timetable created parking chaos in Thirroul. This forced the State Government to build the new parking area, and has cost Thirroul businesses dearly as they miss out on trade because shoppers find it so hard to park in the southern end of the village.
Local resident Mitchell says yesterday’s announcement is nonsensical.
“Three express services have been added from Austinmer heading north in the morning at peak times, which is great, but there are not enough services to get people back to the same station in the afternoon.
“The single additional service to Austinmer is the 4.43 from Central, which is too early for most office workers. The only other option is the 5.43pm which was already stopping at Austinmer.”
Transport Minister Andrew Constance says they are continually looking at ways to use the network more efficiently.
“We will continue to monitor the network to identify where we can deliver further improvements to current services.”