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SYDNEY’S transport bosses have floated the possibility of making alterations to controversial new timetables as commuters continued to lash out on the second weekday morning of the biggest ever change to the city’s trains, buses and ferries.
On social media, passenger Tina Evans summed up the thoughts of many: “Day 2 of the new timetable and it’s still diabolical,” she protested. “Cutting services, no seats, train packed. Total fail”
One passenger branded the change the “Sydney rail disaster”, another that a parliamentary inquiry should be held into the changes. “Not Happy Jan” was a common refrain.
Some commuters remain grump about the new train timetable. Picture Craig GreenhillSource:News Corp Australia
Undoubtedly, services for some passengers have improved. The Parramatta hub now has express trains every few minutes to the city while western Sydney and inner west stations have — in some cases — seen a doubling of trains.
But complaints from Sydney commuters appear to be crystallising into three areas:
- Longer journey times due to express services now being concentrated on fewer stations;
- Forced train changes with some direct services to the city and Parramatta cut;
- Older non-air conditioned trains being forced back into service.
Angry commuters have said they are leaving earlier but getting to work later and have branded the changes a “massive fail”.
On Monday, Sydney Trains CEO Howard Collins defended the timetable changes, even going so far as to say many customers were “delighted’ with their new trip.
The first commute had gone to plan, he said, with only a few delays caused by an ill passenger and a car blocking vehicles on the new B-line double decker bus service to the northern beaches.
Almost 99 per cent of trains ran on time.
Nevertheless, he left the door open to timetable changes. “We’ll continue to receive feedback on services and adjust where necessary”.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance reiterated that train times could be modified as “wrinkles are ironed out”.
But he pushed back against criticism of longer journeys and more changes, essentially telling commuters to get used to it.
“In the past people have been used to catching one train across the network but you can’t have 11 per cent patronage increase without encouraging people to interchange,” Mr Constance said.
A big gripe has been the apparent sudden upsurge in old, non-air conditioned trains. Passengers who had travelled to work on modern trains were now relegated to “tin cans” and “sweat boxes” from the 1970s, they said.
Transport minister Andrew Constance has defended the transport changes. Picture: Jason McCawley.Source:Supplied
“This is 2017, Sydney summer heat can literally be a killer especially in these non aircon’d ovens,” one annoyed commuter wrote on Twitter.
Biondi Lay, who travels from Fairfield in Sydney’s west, told news.com.au all but one of her evening peak trains was now of older stock.
“The lack of air conditioned and newer trains on the T2, T3 and T5 lines is discriminating behaviour,” she said.
Passengers are unhappy about old trains appearing on their lines all of a sudden. Picture: Instagram.Source:Instagram
“With trains in much more affluent suburbs bearing a much more minimal effect, is this a coincidence or is it promoting socio-economic inequality and injustice?”
In a reply to another passenger, Mr Collins said older trains had been brought back into service.
“With a massive increase in customers we had to run more trains and could not wait for new aircon trains,” he apparently wrote in an email.
The oldest trains would start to be replaced by newer models during 2019, he said, and the older trains were “on most lines”.
News.com.au has contacted Transport for NSW (TfNSW) to confirm Mr Collins’ remarks.
There have been some gripes with new B-line double deckers but riders seem to love the view up top. AAP Image / Julian Andrews.Source:News Corp Australia
Passengers on the B-line double deckers, which have been introduced on the northern beaches to serve a rail starved corner of Sydney, appear to have fared better.
While some services were busy, many commuters seemed to like the novelty of the view from the top deck as the bus crossed the Harbour Bridge.
One even quipped that the buses were “so high, we can see into people’s homes in Mosman”.
TfNSW has said the transport revamp has brought 1500 extra train services, 7000 bus trips and 140 new ferry services that had been added to the network.
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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