An express train from Wollongong to Central now takes 89 minutes - just six minutes faster than the diesel electric trains that ran the route in the 1960s.
That's the observation of Wollongong's Andrew Conacher, who has been catching the train to Sydney regularly since 1966.
In the 1960s he attended boarding school in Wahroonga on Sydney's North Shore and came home on school holidays and weekends on what he called the "silver slug".
"They were the great big long carriages that were no good on the bends," Mr Conacher said. "They were a single decker but the carriages were probably at least half as long again as our current carriages, with a diesel electric train.
"Everyone said it was really unsuitable for that run because the carriages were too big and heavy for the windy bit of the track in the northern suburbs, so they had to go very slowly.
"But when it got down to Thirroul, it didn't have to stop from Thirroul to Wollongong, so it really used to get along."
Mr Conacher said that trip took 95 minutes and "it was no faster on average than the steam engines that used to take us up and down the track".
He suggested the reason for the small six-minute improvement in travel time since the 1960s was because governments had tended to slow down the timetable to ensure trains ran on time.
"If you sit on the train now it doesn't go anywhere near as fast as the old silver slug did on the straight sections," he said.
"It just ambles along, because it's keeping to a slow timetable.
"After all that trackwork and all these electric trains that could go around the bends better, we're still only six minutes ahead."
The slowness of the trains has actually pushed Mr Conacher back on the road when he commutes to work.
"I started off on the train but it was just taking an insane amount of time. It takes an hour just to get to Sutherland - and it takes you 40 minutes to drive."
He said door-to-door, catching the train meant 90 minutes a day more in travelling time.
"That's an hour and a half I could be at home spending time with my family," he said.
"You multiply that by five, that's a whole working day a week, a whole working day extra time sitting on a train."
A Transport for NSW spokesman said that improved technology wasn't the only factor.
"While modern tracks and trains generate some journey time improvements, these balance against increased patronage, improved safety systems and the introduction of more stations on the line," the spokesman said.
He said the timetable review now under way was designed "to get more out of the network for customers".