A SHAKE-UP of the state’s train services has left regional NSW high and dry, local councils say.
Liverpool Plains Shire councillor Col Stewart is disappointed there’s been no improvement to the North West’s Xplorer service under new statewide rail timetables to be introduced from Sunday.
“The NSW TrainLink website brags about 1000 new trains a week in NSW,” Cr Stewart said.
“Well, the main north line doesn’t get a single one of those.”
He said the website cited key improvements to NSW TrainLink’s train and coach services for the North West region, including “the earlier departure of Xplorer trains from Armidale to Moree gets customers into Sydney before 5pm, making connections to other buses and trains more convenient”.
“The train gets into Sydney at 4.38pm instead of 5pm, just 22 minutes earlier and still right in the middle of Sydney’s peak hour,” Cr Stewart said.
“What difference does it make? Why not be honest and say the only changes are new signage, uniforms and paintwork?”
NSW TrainLink came into effect in July, replacing the regional train and coach services that were formerly provided by CountryLink and taking over intercity services operating from the Sydney CBD formerly operated by CityRail, now known as Sydney Trains.
Cr Stewart said councils in the region had been hopeful it would mean real reform of regional services, including the extension of the Newcastle/Scone service to provide a Tamworth/Newcastle day return service.
“Where a trip from Quirindi to Sydney return by public transport takes three days, with two nights’ accommodation, just 75km down the track, residents from Scone south can catch a train at 6.07am and arrive in Sydney at 10.56am,” he said.
“They have three hours and 15 minutes available before departing Sydney at 3.15pm, to arrive in Scone at 7.53pm.
“On top of that, they can do the return trip for $11.60. It is apparent that the further out you live in rural/regional NSW, the worse the service becomes, as well as the more expensive.”
He said the state government had to “pay more than lip service” to the region’s transport requirements.
“If they can provide Sydney with 1000 more trains a week, surely they can find one extra train a day to provide an affordable, convenient, inter-urban-style service between two of the state’s major regional centres, Newcastle and Tamworth,” Cr Stewart said.
The council, with the support of the Namoi group of councils, put a proposal to the working party set up to consider improvements to public transport and has made other representations to Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian.