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Is there any more space for trains on the South Coast rail line, or is it full?
The NSW government seems to be sending out conflicting messages to the people of the Illawarra.
On one hand, the message is “sorry, there’s no room”. Then on the other hand, infrastructure upgrades are pushed back because there’s plenty of room.
In March last year, Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey said the Maldon-Dombarton freight line was not a “high priority" for the government.
The line would take freight trains off the South Coast line, freeing it up for passenger services.
“The proposed Maldon-Dombarton rail line isn’t a high priority, as existing capacity is adequate to support passenger and freight demand on the Illawarra network,” Ms Pavey said.
Transport for NSW also has a proposal to transport rocks dug up from the WestConnex project via rail to the Illawarra.
This proposal would include six extra train movements a day – three in each direction.
However, in September last year Transport for NSW said the South Coast line was not included in the government’s $1.5 billion “More Trains, More Services” plan because there was no space for any more trains.
“Currently, adding more services onto the South Coast Line is not possible due to constraints caused by the line being single-track south of Unanderra,” a Transport for NSW spokesman said at the time.
So how can there be room and no room at the same time?
Transport for NSW said the South Coast rail line was running at capacity for passenger services during peak hours.
However, as freight services ran during the off-peak periods, there was still space for those on the network.
A Transport for NSW spokesman said there were “further enhancements” to improve capacity planned.
These would include “significant investment in new services and upgrading existing infrastructure”.
This article first appeared on www.illawarramercury.com.au
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