Illawarra Senior College has been forced to change its hours to avoid an hour-long wait for students at Port Kembla station under the new train timetable.
The college has had to move its times 10 minutes earlier, with students now starting at 8.40am and finishing at 3.40pm.
Acting deputy principal Aaron Jones said the change was necessary due to the change in train times from Port Kembla station.
Previously students finishing at 3.50pm could still make it to Port Kembla for the 4.08pm train. The new timetable replaces that train with a 3.56pm service which, had the school not changed its times, would have left students with just six minutes to get to the station.
Miss that train and the next service doesn’t come until 4.56pm.
‘‘They’d be waiting just over an hour for a train to come and obviously that’s not in the best interests of the students,’’ Mr Jones said.
He said the school had spoken to the stationmaster and also local bus companies to try to come up with a solution but, in the end, the only option was changing school hours.
While a change of 10 minutes may not sound like much, Mr Jones said altering the school hours did have a ripple effect.
For that reason students and staff were consulted before any decision was made.
‘‘We consulted some of the staff here who have commitments in the morning and childcare issues, so we worked around those teachers,’’ he said.
‘‘Then we spoke to the students. Because we’re an independent school we attract students from all over the Illawarra.
‘‘We don’t have a specific drawing area, we have students that come from Shellharbour, from Dapto and from the north.
‘‘We worked with a group of students from each of those areas and ran through the issues for them.’’
The change in hours also affects students at the start of the day – even those who don’t catch the train.
‘‘The other implication is for those students who come from Dapto,’’ Mr Jones said.
‘‘With our original starting times, they’d get here at quarter to nine and that was fine.
‘‘The issue for those students now is they need to catch an earlier bus. So they actually arrive at the school at 10 past eight and have a half-hour wait for their first class whereas if they don’t catch that earlier bus they arrive late for school.’’
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said the timetable had been developed ‘‘to benefit the absolute majority of South Coast line customers’’.
“While the timetable strives to provide services to suit as many customers as possible, aligning service times to school times at each school along the entire length of every line is very difficult,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.
The new train timetable is most likely to affect those schools that draw their students from a wide area – such as selective schools.
Smith’s Hill High School principal Rae Mitchell said the new timetable was having a positive effect in the morning as it meant students were at school on time, and there were no issues in the afternoons.
A spokesman from The Illawarra Grammar School said the issue would be monitored to see if it had any impacts on the students.