A draft timetable sees all three Explorer trains between Sydney and Canberra reinstated, according to one insider studying the changes.
While the government is playing down the implications at this stage, saying it’s only a draft, Goulburn comes out ahead, local rail author and photographer Leon Oberg says.
Mr Oberg has obtained the final draft of the working timetable, which the railway works off.
“I can say we have lost no trains into Sydney Central and return and there will be faster trips into and out of Sydney on most Countrylink services thanks to the new high speed quadruplication of the line to Revesby which opened recently,” he told the Post.
From Monday, October 21, all Goulburn-Sydney-Goulburn trains including the XPTs and Explorers, will travel via East Hills with some, such as the daytime 12.12 pm Sydney to Goulburn Explorer, travelling to a 13-minute faster timetable.
Mr Oberg said he was still researching how this might affect some connections currently made at Strathfield.
He believed the significant change was the reinstatement of all three return Explorers between Sydney and Canberra.
“These were cut back during the early 2000s to two returns a day on some days and three on others which actually resulted in confusion for the travelling public and some train drivers who actually had to consult their timetables to see what they were doing on occasions,” he said.
Another important change is that the 7.14am CityRail train from Goulburn, reaching Sydney at 10am, will leave at 7.40am, arriving in Sydney at 10.34am.
This was a little late and could interfere with important business opportunities and community members wishing to attend morning functions, such as the Seniors Concert, Mr Oberg said. Under the draft timetable, CityRail’s 3.48pm ex Sydney train would leave 14 minutes later, arriving in Goulburn at 7.07pm. A slightly later train would have given people more time in the city.
However, the good news is that the 5.25pm CityRail out of Sydney on weekends and public holidays, arriving in Goulburn three hours later remains unaltered.
Likewise, the earlier morning train on these same days, leaving Goulburn at 5.54am is also unchanged.
“Passengers leaving Goulburn by road coach on weekends and weekdays will depart at 2.20pm and make a generally faster connection with a train to Campbelltown and electric to Sydney,” Mr Oberg said.
“The big winners are Moss Vale, Bowral and Mittagong people who will have trains almost on the hour during weekdays.
“This will have a considerable effect on freight trains paths, particularly with the ramp up soon of extra trains carrying Marulan and Marulan South hard rock in that corridor.”
Goulburn MP Pru Goward, who campaigned before her election for better train services to the area, repeated Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian’s statement last week that the timetable was still in draft stage and “there was plenty of work to do before it was finalised.”
“There have already been more than 300 variations in recent months and nine testing processes still to go through,” she said.
“By writing the timetable from scratch the Government is working to develop a timetable that will deliver the best possible outcome for everyone using our infrastructure and rolling stock to achieve the maximum benefit.”
Ms Goward said she had made numerous formal representations to Minister Berejiklian on better services for the Goulburn electorate and would continue to lobby on behalf of constituents.
* The Australian Railway Historical Society ACT Division has announced because of lower than expected phone bookings for the three return steam train rides from Goulburn to Medway Junction (near Marulan) this Sunday, the trains will be worked by two heritage diesel locomotives. Society general manager Alan Gardner said the high cost of running steam locomotives and the impossibility to determine how many tickets would be sold on the day reluctantly led to the Society’s decision. The trains, due to depart at 9.30, 11am and 2pm, have been put on to coincide with the arrival of rail in Goulburn exactly 144 years ago.