Shellharbour rail commuters can finally celebrate today, with plans for a railway station at Flinders back on track.
Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian, and Kiama MP Gareth Ward, will this morning announce plans to spend $39million building the long-awaited station, improving access to train services for Flinders, Shell Cove and Shellharbour residents.
‘‘You’ve got a growing population in Shell Cove, particularly with young families and they need access to public transport to get to work, to get to school,’’ Mr Ward said yesterday.
‘‘I have been fighting for this since I was elected.’’
The new station, due to be completed in 2014, will be built about 400m north of Shellharbour Anglican College and eventually will replace Dunmore railway station.
It will have two covered platforms, an elevated footbridge, stairs, lift access and CCTV security camera surveillance.
Two bus bays, taxi stands, a commuter car park and passenger drop-off facilities will also be built, in the hope of easing parking pressure at nearby Oak Flats railway station.
The project is expected to create several construction jobs and stimulate the local economy.
Albion Park, Dapto and Gerringong railway stations will also undergo improvements, which are expected to begin in the second half of this year.
Today’s announcement comes after what Ms Berejiklian and Mr Ward described as ‘‘a decade of inaction’’ from the previous NSW Labor government, which failed to deliver the new station, although it budgeted for the project and began work on the station foundations in 2010.
‘‘Labor left NSW with a $5.2billion financial black hole and never did the proper planning or homework required to deliver Flinders [railway] station,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘‘Unlike Labor... the NSW Government is doing the proper planning to deliver the transport infrastructure Illawarra residents need now and into the future.’’
Shellharbour MP Anna Watson said it was ‘‘great’’ the Government had recognised the need to continue construction of the station, but slammed criticism the Labor government was slow to act.
‘‘We had already started building it - the money was budgeted for and it was in treasury documents - so for the Liberal government to say that, it is just ridiculous and untrue,’’ Ms Watson said.
‘‘We had begun work on the Flinders railway station six or seven months out from the election.
‘‘It’s disappointing that it’s 12 months down the track and we’re only now discussing this, but I think it’s great for the people of Flinders, Blackbutt, Shell Cove and Shellharbour.’’
The Labor government began considering the Flinders station proposal in 2003.
Announcing the project in February last year, former Kiama MP, Labor’s Matt Brown, said ‘‘thousands of hours’’ had been spent designing the station, buying land and preparing for earthworks.