Government plans to stop North Shore line trains at Hornsby and to take guards off inter-urban services will be bad news for Woy Woy commuters, according to Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch.
“The government is not giving us any information about the new timetable and there has been no community consultation so we won’t even know what is in store for the Peninsula’s commuters until the government decides to introduce the timetable and we don’t know when that will be,” she said.
“The new trains from Korea are being rolled out first on our line, so it is a disaster on every level,” she said.
Ms Tesch said she considered any proposal to remove guards from the trains servicing the Central Coast to be a major public safety concern.
“The guards are the ones who often help elderly travellers and those with disabilities on and off our trains,” Ms Tesch said.
“They are the ones with the capacity to take action in an emergency because they are all trained in first aid and they are the ones authorised to drive the train to the next station if something happens to the driver.
“Does the government propose to make public announcements asking if there is a doctor on the train?” she said.
“And that is without considering the loss of something like 300 jobs on our line alone,” she said.
“The government needs to consult, our community can’t just be dumped with the changes,” she said.
Peninsula commuters who use Woy Woy station are likely to be the hardest hit, according to Shadow Minister for the Central Coast, Mr David Harris.
“We have real safety concerns because if there was an accident, there would only be one employee on the train, and if the driver was involved in the accident, there would be no one to take control of the situation,” Mr Harris said.
“We are also waiting for confirmation on the Government’s decision to abolish the Central Coast’s North Shore Line services,” he said.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge rail crossing, which has only one line in each direction, restricts the number of trains that can run on the North Shore Line at any one time.
When the new North-West Line between Epping and Chatswood opens, clients wishing to continue from Chatswood into the city may need to be accommodated by cuts to other North Shore Line services.
Mr Harris said he believed that the NSW Government intended to abolish the North Shore Line services that currently start and finish at Wyong.
“It will go back to how it used to be when Central Coast commuters who wanted to travel on the North Shore Line had to change trains at Hornsby,” he said.
He said he had not seen any proposals from the NSW Government as to how they would cater for the volume of commuters that would be crowding on to main north line services between Sydney and Newcastle if the Wyong-North Shore services were abolished.
He said this would be a particular concern at Woy Woy, the last Central Coast stop where carriages on both Newcastle and Wyong services were packed from early in the morning and the city-bound platform was already crowded to capacity.
“The Government is saying that when the new trains arrive from South Korea, they will have 10 cars instead of eight, and that is how they will provide the service needed.
“If that happens, they will carry 2200 people when full, potentially without a guard,” he said.
Greens council candidate Ms Kate da Costa said she believed the driverless trains that would operate on the Chatswood-Epping line were intended to disrupt the existing system and were a step towards privatisation of the whole NSW train network.
“My understanding is the platforms at Chatswood are not big enough to cope with the additional service so other services will have to be stopped,” Ms da Costa said.
“If commuters will be forced to travel via Strathfield or change at Hornsby that will be enough for some people to say ‘well, I will take my car’,” she said.
“This is another slap in the face to Coast commuters who are already spending four to five hours of their day travelling to and from work.”
Interview, 13 Jul 2017
David Harris, Shadow Minister for the Central Coast
Interview, 18 Jul 2017
Kate da Costa, The Greens
Interview, 20 Jul 2017
Liesl Tesch, Member for Gosford
Reporter: Jackie Pearson