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Commuters and their councillors are in the same mind about the region’s “outdated” rail network.
Wollondilly and Wingecarribee councils have teamed up to lobby the state government for improved rail services in the regions.
Wingecarribee Shire Mayor Ken Halstead met with Wollondilly Mayor Judith Hannan recently to discuss the issue, which residents have been unhappy with for years.
The meeting was prompted by feedback from local rail users, who reported missing connections due to late running trains and recent timetable changes, such as the cancellation of the 6.19pm train from Campbelltown to Goulburn.
Mayor Hannan said a united front between the two local government’s would serve a better outcome for Wollondilly and Highlands commuters.
“My fellow councillors and I are astounded that the state government can implement timetabling decisions that reduce service levels,” she said.
“They [the state government] say they are committed to better transport and the principles of connectivity, but timetabling decisions such as this are a step backwards.”
Mayor Halstead said he supported the issue because it impacted Southern Highlands residents every single day.
“There are many residents from our area who rely on the Southern Highlands line to commute to the Wollondilly shire and further afield for work,” he said.
“I would have serious concerns if any changes were implemented that adversely impacted travel times.”
Community rail advocacy group, 80by20 co-founder Adam Jacobson said he was pleased to hear commuters’ concerns were being taken seriously.
“It is a positive step. We've been really hoping to see Wollondilly, Wingecarribee and Goulburn-Mulwaree councils join forces on this issue, even politicians in Canberra want to see improved services,” he said.
“It is encouraging to see more councillors becoming involved.”
Mr Jacobson said he looked forward to the mayors continuing to work together in future, but hoped consultation could also include residents.
“A round table discussion between councils and community groups to provide a unified message to state government [would be the most appropriate next step],” Mr Jacobson said.
“Often elected representatives claim to be working towards 'more trains', but we'd prefer to see better timetabled, faster direct services.
“Last year Transport for NSW announced they would perform community research. We have seen no evidence of that and it needs to happen.”
The mayors look forward to working together on advocacy issues and strengthening the relationship between the two Councils in the future
This article first appeared on www.wollondillyadvertiser.com.au
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