The NSW Opposition has promised to hold a public transport forum in the Mountains to address issues with the new train timetable.
At Blackheath station last Friday, Opposition leader John Robertson spoke to several commuters who will lose out when the changes are introduced from Sunday.
Sally Hollis told Mr Robertson the removal of Westmead as a stop for Mountains services
on weekdays would hurt many locals including
her husband, who was not able to drive because of a medical condition.
Susan Hayes from Mt Victoria said she usually gets the 9.02am service to Leura but this will be axed, leaving her the choice of an 8am train — too early for her to drop her daughter at school — or a 10am train, which will mean she is late for work.
Mrs Hayes said Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage had promoted the new timetable as saving up to 75 minutes a week for a commute from Katoomba to the city. “She’s adding 159 minutes a week to my journey and it’s only on a 25-minute trip.”
Mrs Hayes said the changes seemed to be “about getting people to the city, not about getting people around the Mountains”.
Mr Robertson said when the last major rewrite of the timetable was conducted under then Labor transport minister John Watkins, “it came out four months before it was implemented. Fundament-ally the problem here is the arrogance of a huge rewrite with the total disregard of the impact on people’s lives.”
Blackheath businesswoman Adele Colman asked Mr Robertson whether a “yo-yo” service between Lithgow and Katoomba was a possibility, particularly as Lithgow was about to get two new university campuses.
“It wouldn’t interrupt anything that’s currently running,” she said. “The solution is there if people would just look at it.”
Regular services were also essential for tourists, said Mike Chirgwin. “Forty thousands walkers come to Blackheath a year. Where’s the concern about them?”
Duty MLC for the Blue Mountains, Helen Westwood, said commuters wanted an hourly service between Lithgow and Katoomba, which would take cars off the road.
“The new timetable has gaps so large that many commuters who wish to travel from Mt Victoria station, for example, could be able to finish Tolstoy’s War and Peace without fear of being interrupted by a train,” she said.
Labor’s spokeswoman for the Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle, said the opposition transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe would host a transport forum in the Mountains before the end of the year.
“This forum will give people a chance to voice their concerns about the new timetable. These concerns will then be taken directly to Parliament.”
Mrs Sage said Labor had allowed the network to fall into disrepair and the new timetable was “an important starting point in fixing that mess’’.
“I welcome the community’s efforts to push for more regular services to Upper Mountains townships and I’m pleased this timetable goes some way to answering that call. Upper Mountains commuters will also be the main beneficiaries of new express services in the morning and afternoon peaks,” she said.
Mrs Sage also said that passengers to Westmead “will in many cases be able to reach their destination in a shorter time than on the existing direct services. This can be done by changing at Blacktown or Parramatta, both of which are wheelchair accessible stations.”