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IF YOU are currently fighting for a seat on trains from Blacktown that should change on Sunday.
Kicking in from November 26, 160 new services will be available on the T5 Cumberland Line on weekends, as well as late at night for the first time, improving connections between Western Sydney and South West Sydney.
There will also be extra trains on weekends for Blacktown and Seven Hills customers, with a service on average every 10 minutes, and Blue Mountains express trains will now stop at Blacktown.
“Blue Mountains trains already stop at Blacktown during off peak times and Opal data tells us that more Blue Mountains customers are changing trains here, so we’re adding it as a stop at peak times to provide customers with better access and connectivity to other services,” TfNSW’s spokesman told the Blacktown Advocate on Friday.
Blacktown commuters board an eight-carriage 6.52pm service to Penrith.He said changing trains was “commonplace in an expanding train system and is similar to the way other major rail networks around the world operate, like in London, Hong Kong, Paris and New York”.
The T5 Cumberland line will now also extend to Richmond late into the evening, throughout the week, and on weekends early in the morning.
But bus route 630 will stop running between Epping and Macquarie Park, “to better align with customer travel patterns and support more reliable services”, TfNSW materials say.
The timetable changes come as figures obtained by the Advocate show Blacktown has the 29th-worst figures for overcrowding in the Sydney Trains network.
A total of 342 train services from Blacktown were standing-room only for 88 days from November 2016 to February 2017, dropping to 81 and 37 for Seven Hills and Doonside stations respectively.
A total of 342 train services from Blacktown Station were standing-room only for the 88 days from November 2016 to February 2017.Yet for all that there has been a huge surge in the number of people in Blacktown local government area taking the train — 2434 more people in 2016 compared to 2011, according to the latest Census data. This was the sixth-biggest uptake nationally.
And April’s auditor-general’s report to NSW Parliament found ticket prices should reduce over time. “Sydney’s ticketing costs are currently high, but are expected to fall to be below Brisbane and similar to Melbourne,” the report stated.
TfNSW’s spokesman said more than 420,000 people had jumped on TfNSW’s “More Trains, More Services” website since the campaign started in mid-October and in that time only about 230 complaints had been received by customers, “so we know the majority of customers are looking forward to this huge uplift in services across out network”.
Deloitte’s Shaping Future Cities: Designing Western Sydney report says the region has 28 per cent more workers than jobs available, with official projections indicating by 140,000 more commuters would be using the region’s already congested transport links to the city by 2041.
To meet demand, Deloitte analysis reveals western Sydney would need 19 new freeways, six new train lines, or 1700 more buses to transport workers to jobs in the east.
The Western Sydney Rail Alliance continues to strongly advocate for a north-south rail line from the 36km Sydney Metro Northwest at Rouse Hill Station in the north, to Campbelltown in the south, to link Sydney’s south west and north west growth areas where higher buildings and more of them are already being fast-tracked.
Construction works on the future Cudgegong Road Station on the Sydney Metro Northwest line. Picture: Jonathan NgBut a joint NSW/Federal Government Western Sydney Rail Needs Scoping Study, due for to be finalised in mid-2017, remains unreleased. The study assesses if and how rail services could be operational at Badgerys Creek airport when it opens in 2026 or, if not, how soon afterwards.
Pressed to explain why it still hasn’t been made public, even as building of Sydney’s second airport forges ahead, Transport for NSW’s spokeswoman said simply: “The final report on the Western Sydney Rail Needs Study is currently being finalised for consideration by the NSW Government and the Commonwealth.”
Among six options outlined in a study discussion paper is a new north-south airport rail link between Macarthur and Schofields via St Marys and the Penrith Education and Health precinct — a rail link Deloitte and Arup studies suggest would inject $44.7 billion to the western Sydney economy from 2024 to 2040.
Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils president and Blacktown MP Stephen Bali at busy Blacktown railway station.It would take 55 minutes on the fastest train to get from the airport to Sydney CBD on this link and 35 minutes to get to Parramatta.
The paper also points to suburban double-deck services that start at the airport, travel to St Marys/Mt Druitt, and then run express to Blacktown, Parramatta and Sydney.
Blacktown Council has consistently lobbied to improve public transport in Western Sydney.
“We have been advocating for the extension of the Sydney Metro North West from Rouse Hill through Marsden Park, the northern suburbs of Mount Druitt and to Western Sydney Airport,” Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali said.
“It is also essential that public transport be established in the employment areas of Rouse Hill, Marsden Park, the Western Sydney Employment Area and the Western Sydney Priority Growth Area.”
PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN WESTERN SYDNEYBlacktown Mayor and MP Stephen Bali said public transport infrastructure in Western Sydney was “woefully inadequate”.
“There are now 350,000 people in Blacktown City and this will grow to 520,000 all being forced to queue at 1860s stations,” he said.
“Many of Blacktown’s suburbs, including suburbs to the north of Mt Druitt, don’t have convenient access to public transport services for residents to connect to places of employment, education and medical services.
“Marsden Park, which is a major residential and employment hub, also suffers from poor public transport as public transport services are either non-existent or do not offer a viable alternative to car usage.
“The shortfall in convenient public transport services is forcing commuters onto the roads, where they are being slugged by tolls and making our already clogged roads even slower.”
Commuters are exiting at Church St in Parramatta to avoid paying the tolls.Mayor Bali said residents of Willmot, Shalvey, Bidwill, Hassall Grove, Oakhurst, Blackett, Lethbridge Park Ropes Crossing, Tregear, Emerton, Dharruk, Hebersham, Plumpton, Glendenning, Dean Park, Colebee, Shanes Park, Minchinbury, Eastern Creek, Huntingwood, Arndell Park and Prospect were “especially disadvantaged” by the lack of close or convenient access to rail services.
This year the council made submissions to state and federal government inquiries into Western Sydney Rail Planning, toll roads and freight and supply chain priorities.
Council officers also met with TfNSW to discuss access improvements to Doonside, Rooty Hill and Marayong Stations.
The council’s Integrated Transport Management Plan advocates for the duplication of the Richmond Rail Line between Schofields and Vineyard stations, extending to Penrith and then on to Campbelltown via Western Sydney Airport.
An online poll by the Blacktown Advocate showed a shortage of commuter carparking was front-of-mind for many public transport users.
It’s on the radar of both the State Government and Blacktown Council. There is a parliamentary inquiry underway into commuter carparking into which Greenway MP Michelle Rowland has put a submission about the “chronic” lack of parking in Sydney’s northwest, particularly at Schofields and Quakers Hill train stations.
Greenway MP Michelle Rowland at Schofields train station. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAPI Image“Schofields Station services a rapidly expanding population in the middle of the northwest growth areas, including the new developments in the Ponds and Schofields itself,” Ms Rowland wrote in her submission. “Increasingly, commuters from new housing areas in Riverstone are also using Schofields Station.”
Dr Paul Cooper, who also put in a submission, wrote that parking was “so bad” at Schofields he now to drove to Seven Hills Station to park in the commuter car park.
■ Department of Planning forecasts 13,600 new homes will be built in Blacktown LGA in the next five years, making it the third-largest supplier of Sydney housing to 2021.
This article first appeared on www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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