Despite welcoming extra express trains and more frequent peak time services for the Blue Mountains in the new draft train timetable, the Blue Mountains Commuters and Train Users Association (BMCTUA) remains concerned about gaps in off-peak services west of Katoomba.
The lobby group’s president Michael Paag said the State Government has released little detail so far about the proposed timetable for the Blue Mountains line but claimed one confirmed change is the cancellation of the weekday 9.02am Mt Victoria to Central service, which he called “a blow” for Upper Mountains rail commuters.
“Under the proposed new timetable this service will be scrapped and a new Central service will depart from Katoomba, meaning there will be a two-hour gap for users of all stations west of Katoomba.
“And there is not a corresponding bus service to fill this gap.”
Mr Paag said BMCTUA wrote to Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage’s office and to the Premier about its concerns, “none of whom have come back with a solution”.
He said based on NSW Bureau of Transport Statistics figures for daily passenger numbers at stations in 2012, “the demand is there” for extra services between Katoomba and Mt Victoria.
BMCTUA also wrote to the Lachlan Regional Transport Council — which Blue Mountains City Council is a member — for more information on an item listed for its August 17 meeting called ‘future of electric trains running between Lithgow and Mt Victoria’.
“There are now rumours spreading that the NSW government will altogether abandon running electric passenger trains between Mt Victoria and Lithgow, which will have negative consequences for the upper Blue Mountains, especially as there are two new university campuses in Lithgow,” Mr Paag said.
Blue Mountains City Council Ward 1 councillors Robert Stock, Michael Begg and Don McGregor will raise the issues at the next council meeting on August 20.
A draft motion by the trio obtained by the Gazette calls on council to “strongly support any move towards an hourly off-peak rail service between Katoomba and Lithgow” in light of improved educational and employment opportunities in the Lithgow area.
It also requests council seek a guarantee from the State Government that “there be no reduction in the current electric passenger train service between Mt Victoria and Lithgow”.
Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage said final touches are being made to the new train timetable and the NSW Government has “no plans” to reduce or cease electric-powered passenger train services between Mt Victoria and Lithgow.
“The rumour-mongering on this issue does nothing to benefit Blue Mountains commuters,” Mrs Sage said.
“Throughout the [new timetable] drafting process I have been in regular contact with the Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian, advocating for the best possible result for Blue Mountains commuters.
“I have been advised there have been several thousand changes to the draft in the past few months. Further changes can be expected between now and the release of the final timetable, which will be made public well in advance of the October 20 start date.”