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The Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, has dismissed concerns raised by her own department that Chatswood station will not be able to cope with an influx of passengers transferring off the north-west rail link.
The Herald this morning revealed analysis showing almost half of passengers in the morning peak hour would not fit on connecting services to the city because of the need to change off the north-west rail link at Chatswood.
The analysis was conducted by consultants from the engineering firm Arup, at the request of the Transport Projects Division within Ms Berejiklian's Transport for NSW.
But speaking on 702 ABC Sydney this morning, Ms Berejiklian said the analysis was based on incomplete information.
"It did not take into consideration all the operational changes that will happen on the rail line between now and then," the minister said.
"It didn't take into consideration that we will be increasing the number of services from the north shore to the city to 24 an hour; currently we are getting about 17 or 18 across, so that will increase substantially by the time the rail line is open."
However, Ms Berejiklian has not explained in detail how she will be able to add another six services an hour to the North Shore Line.
She has said there will be a new, simpler timetable, and technology upgrades on the existing rail system.
"I have every single confidence that, once the north-west rail line opens, commuters everywhere else in Sydney will be saying 'Can I have that in my area because it will be world class.' "
The opposition transport spokeswoman, Penny Sharpe, said: "Commuters will come last under the Hills to Chatswood shuttle."
"[Premier] Barry O'Farrell promised a fully integrated direct rail link between the north-west and the CBD, but, instead, commuters will get a service slower than the bus and will be standing all the way to the city with no chance of a seat," she said.
The Greens transport spokeswoman, Cate Faehrmann, said the plans for the rail link would be a disaster.
"The government's obsession with building and privatising the link will come at the expense of improving services across the network," Ms Faehrmann said.
"A shuttle service to Chatswood simply won't provide residents in the north-west with a genuine alternative to driving," she said.
"Apart from the fact that commuters will be forced to travel long distances standing, Sydney's rail system needs a boost to capacity that can only be provided by integration with a heavy rail second harbour crossing."
At Chatswood station this morning, commuters were divided about whether the station could handle the impact of more interchange.
"It's already overcrowded; it doesn't surprise me that it could become more overcrowded in the future," one commuter, Caroline Bathje, said.
Another, Kevin Adams, said: "I think this is a brilliant station. I can't see any major issue with people disembarking ... the station is big enough. Just as long as we get this new link done, that's all that matters. I think the government are very, very proactive in finally getting things done."
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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