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CALLS for a freight train bypass to improve passenger services on the underperforming Belair rail line have been rejected by the State Government as too expensive.
The Belair line is Adelaide’s worst-performing train service, ranking as least punctual five out of six weeks since Adelaide Metro started releasing weekly figures in April.
Local residents and politicians have called for freight trains to be removed from the Hills to improve the service, but Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said a freight train bypass would “cost in excess of $2.5 billion and cannot be justified”.
Only 87.3 per cent of passenger trains on the Belair line met the standard of being “no more than 5 minutes and 59 seconds after the timetabled arrival time”.
This compared to 92 per cent of trains on the three other rail lines in the metropolitan area.
Blackwood resident Geoff Bartlett said commuters accepted short delays, but said the Belair line’s reliability needed to be improved.
“You wait and they make an announcement about the delay, but when you wait five or six minutes that’s not acceptable,” Mr Bartlett said.
He said freight trains needed to be removed from the Hills, and the track used to make the Belair line a dual carriageway.
“The Belair line is restricted with the single line and having to wait until another train passes,” Mr Bartlett said.
Mitcham councillor Karen Hockley said the Belair train service had declined since two lines were merged in 1995.
“Two tracks would alleviate the problem where if an early morning train is late, the problem only gets worse from there because they have to wait,” Cr Hockley said.
“There is no capacity to make up lost time.”
Liberal member for Davenport Sam Duluk said Hills train services needed to be improved.
“Hills’ commuters depend on a reliable public transport service to take pressure off local roads such as Old Belair Rd and Shepherds Hill Rd — they are not getting one,” Mr Duluk said.
He supported calls for freight trains to be removed from the area.
“Interstate freight trains are very long and cause significant traffic jams when they pass Glenalta, Blackwood and Coromandel boom gates,” Mr Duluk said.
“Passenger trains need to run on time and rail freight needs to be moved out of the Hills.”
He said the freight route was one of the busiest in the nation and would only get busier.
Mr Mullighan said the transport department was working with train drivers and controllers to improve the performance of the Belair line.
“The Belair passenger line is a single track which means that trains travelling in opposing directions must share the single line and pull into crossover loops to pass one another,” Mr Mullighan said.
“Any delay in reaching these crossover points causes delays to trains and can also cause on-flow delays to other services.”
He said electrification of the Belair line was a medium to long-term priority.
This article first appeared on www.adelaidenow.com.au
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