Concerns about longer travel times under the new rail timetable have been ‘‘inflated’’, according to a Transport for NSW spokesman.
Since its introduction two weeks ago, the new timetable has drawn criticism from rail commuters, particularly in the northern suburbs where there are now fewer direct services to Central.
The issue prompted MP Ryan Park to launch a petition calling on the government to return to the previous timetable.
‘‘The O’Farrell government has extended daily commuting times from Woonona, Corrimal and Towradgi to the Sydney CBD by an average of 40 minutes a day,’’ the petition said.
‘‘This inconvenience will force more residents to drive to better-serviced stations, which are already at parking capacity.’’
A Transport for NSW spokesman questioned the veracity of purported increases in travel times.
‘‘Suggestions of journey time increases have been inflated in many instances,’’ he said.
‘‘For example, during the morning peak, customers travelling from Woonona to Central previously had journey times ranging between 86 minutes – in one instance only – and 93 minutes.
‘‘The new timetable consistently provides journey times under 89 minutes, overall providing a faster product for the majority of services from this station.’’
The spokesman said a commuter leaving Woonona at 5.16am, 5.57am, 6.38am and 6.56am could change trains at Thirroul and end up with a journey time of 89, 88, 87 or 89 minutes respectively.
The spokesman also suggested extra time savings could be made for customers travelling to Town Hall, Martin Place or the eastern suburbs ‘‘as peak South Coast services no longer terminate at Central and proceed through to Bondi Junction’’.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian declined to say whether the petition would induce the government to change the timetable, which provided ‘‘significant improvements’’ for most people travelling on the South Coast line.
‘‘It means some changes for customers at much smaller stations but the Member for Keira is misrepresenting their situation,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘‘It’s great he’s taking such an interest now given he used to be chief of staff to a former Labor transport minister. Under Labor hundreds of services were slashed from the network.’’