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The biggest overhaul of Sydney's rail timetable in four years will result in more frequent trains for tens of thousands of commuters but for some it will mean longer travel times because they will have to switch services to get to their destinations.
When the timetable changes kick in next Sunday, those travelling from Campbelltown in Sydney's south-west to Parramatta, Granville, Strathfield and other stations on the Western Line will have to change trains at Glenfield. That is because T2 services will start from Leppington instead of Campbelltown.
And, while extra services will be added to the Bankstown Line quickening journeys for many, trains will skip more stations during peak hours. St Peters in the inner west, in particular, will have fewer trains on the Bankstown Line stop to pick up commuters.
People travelling on the Bankstown Line will need to change trains at Sydenham to get to St Peters. And those travelling from St Peters will have to catch trains on the T8 Line during peak hours to get to the central business district.
While Burwood will gain more services via the T2 Inner West Line, passengers at Harris Park, Granville, Clyde, Auburn and Lidcombe will have to rely on T2 services during periods of the day instead of the T1 Western Line.
That's because trains on the T1 Line will skip those stations during the peak as more express trains run between Parramatta and the CBD.
The timetable changes mean those travelling from the CBD to Richmond on the T1 Line after about 10pm will have to switch trains at Parramatta, Seven Hills or Blacktown, adding time to their journeys.
Trains on the Blue Mountains Line will also no longer stop at Redfern, which will mean commuters such as Sydney University students travelling from the west will have to switch services at Strathfield, or travel to Central and then catch a train back to Redfern.
Labor transport spokeswoman Jodi McKay said the timetable changes should mean improved services, not longer travel times and skipping of stations.
"Commuters aren't being told about any possible negative impacts of this new timetable – just the spin," she said.
T2 services will start from the new Leppington Station instead of Campbelltown in Sydney's south west. "All we hear from the government's ads is 'improved services', but that's not the case for many people – and those people aren't being told anything."
However, Transport for NSW said the 1500 extra weekly services and 750 at weekends to be introduced from next Sunday as part of the timetable changes amounted to the largest increase in capacity on Sydney's rail network at one time.
"While we recognise some customers will go through some change, we know that the majority of customers will be better off with more services more often," a spokeswoman said.
"We look to deliver improvements where and when they're needed most. It's an evidence-based approach, considering high-priority factors like customer feedback and Opal data."
The transport agency said it had fielded only about 230 complaints since it started a public campaign in mid-October about the timetable changes.
As part of those changes, the network map for Sydney's rail network has been refreshed to make it easier for commuters and tourists to understand, which includes rebadging the T2 Airport Line the T8 and extending the T5 Line to Leppington and Richmond.
Colin Schroeder, from public transport advocacy group EcoTransit, said part of the rationale for the timetable changes was to get commuters accustomed to switching train services more frequently to get to their destinations.
"Dropping St Peters out of the T3 timetable during the peak seems to be a ploy to get people used to changing trains at Sydenham in preparation for the conversion of the Bankstown Line to metro," he said.
A 13.5-kilometre stretch of track between Sydenham and Bankstownwill be closed for up to two months each year for five years from 2019 to allow for the rail line to be converted to carry driverless metro trains.
The new timetable will not result in changes to the peak-hour periods for Sydney trains of 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6.30pm on weekdays. Commuters gain a 30 per cent discount on full-price Opal fares for travelling outside the peak-hour periods.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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