Changes to proposed rail timetable cause concern

CONCERNED: STRUG president Greg Price and secretary John Proctor at Goulburn Railway Station recently.
CONCERNED: STRUG president Greg Price and secretary John Proctor at Goulburn Railway Station recently.

Proposed changes to the rail timetable which come into effect in November have angered local commuters.

An analysis by local train expert Leon Oberg shows proposed services will be slower and will run to later times in the new timetable for the Goulburn line. 

“A perusal of the draft timetable actually shows Goulburn to Sydney (Opal card) trains are slower despite retaining similar stopping patterns,’ Mr Oberg said.

“The once popular morning train currently leaving Goulburn for Sydney at 7.40am will now depart at 7.49am. (There were widespread calls for a circa 7am departure time). This means passengers using that service will not reach Sydney until an even less useful time of 10.47am.

“Those returning to Goulburn in the afternoon on the present 4.02pm service will leave Sydney a minute earlier but instead of reaching Goulburn at 7.07pm will now experience a longer journey, getting to Goulburn at 7.19pm – an increased overall running time of 12 minutes.

“The current 5.21pm week-days electric ex-Central to Campbelltown will now depart at 5.48pm for the connection with the Goulburn diesel Endeavour train, which is timed to leave at 7.08pm for a 9.02pm arrival in Goulburn instead of the present 8.37pm.

“One of the community’s main platforms was a call for the through morning train ex-Goulburn to run at week-ends.

“But no, the new timetable ignores this, the only morning train departing Goulburn at virtually the same time of 5.56am with a change to an electric service at Campbelltown.

“Passengers returning to Goulburn at weekends now departing Central at 5.25pm for an 8.25pm arrival in Goulburn will now leave at 5.49pm arriving in Goulburn at 8.53pm.”

Mr Oberg said the NSW TrainLink XPT and Explorer timetables are likely to also be affected by the proposed changes. 

“The 6.12pm Canberra Explorer ex-Sydney is timed to reach Goulburn at 8.56pm but anyone with an understanding of signaling headway and sectional running times will instantly see conflict between the late evening Explorer and Endeavour trains,” he said. 

Southern Tablelands Rail Users Group (STRUG) president Greg Price said the state government had ignored the needs of users with the proposed timetable changes. 

“It seems to me that after STRUG lobbying the government for years they have taken no notice of what Southern Tablelands users need in their services,” he said. 

“Rather than running the train at an earlier time of 7am, as we had asked them to do, they are running it at a later time of 7.49am.

“That makes it even less useful to people. Why do they not lift the trains up 10 mins rather than lay them back every time?”

He said the Operator Draft was unlikely to change for the next three years. STRUG secretary John Proctor agreed. “The concrete has been poured on this and it is setting,” he said. 

“This is like a snub. It is the opposite of what we asked for.”

“We presented a timetable to Transport Minister Andrew Constance in a meeting that took into account the ARTC timetable and we never received a reply as to why that timetable would not work.”

Meanwhile, a Transport for NSW spokesperson said: “Southern Highlands customers will benefit from more than 200 extra services each week on the T8 Airport and South Line in non-peak times, as well as an extra 20 express trains per week in peak hour from Campbelltown and Macarthur to the CBD via the T8 Airport and South lines. 

“There will be more options for Southern Highlands customers who change trains at Campbelltown or Macarthur to travel to the CBD.

“The Operator Draft of the timetable is to help Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink get ready for the massive service uplift delivered through More Trains, More Services in late November. 

“There may yet be tweaks to some service times and customers should hold off on planning journeys until the final version is released in October.”

“The rail timetable must balance many competing demands –  this includes freight, regional and suburban services. This is all about meeting the needs of the majority of our customers, making the most of the infrastructure we have and gearing up for the future.”

The Goulburn Post put questions to Member for Goulburn Pru Goward about the timetable changes. 

Her office had referred the questions onto the Minister’s office for a response. ​