Govt plea over Thirroul, Helensburgh parking chaos

Northern suburbs residents have renewed a plea to the state government to change its new timetable to ease parking pressures at Thirroul station.

The timetable was introduced last October with the aim of providing faster services to Sydney but has created parking chaos at Thirroul and Helensburgh stations.

The problems were created when the new express services eliminated a number of stops in the northern suburbs.

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At present, the morning express services stop at only two stations between  North Wollongong and Sutherland – Thirroul and Helensburgh.

As a result, both those stations have seen a sharp rise in the number of commuters driving there, filling limited car parking areas and spilling into surrounding streets.

Meantime, car parks at stations such as Austinmer remain empty.

The Thirroul area’s Neighbourhood Forum this week asked the government to make some changes to the timetable to reduce congestion in Thirroul.

‘‘We asked if the rail timetable could be improved so [express trains] stop again at Austinmer and Bulli,’’ forum convener Stephen Kennard said.

‘‘It would mean that Thirroul wouldn’t be as overcrowded as it has become with the new timetable.

‘‘It would just be on the express trains, which is what they used to have but they cut them all out. Not on all of them but just on some of them - to make it so that people don’t all want to park at Thirroul.’’

But any adjustment to the timetable seems unlikely, with a Transport for NSW spokesman saying it had achieved its aim of improving travel times for many Illawarra commuters.

‘‘This has been achieved by revising services and stopping patterns at smaller stations between North Wollongong and Helensburgh, such as Bulli and Austinmer,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘Many services now operate to an express pattern, with services only stopping at North Wollongong, Thirroul and Helensburgh before entering the suburban area.

‘‘At smaller intermediate stations between North Wollongong and Helensburgh, customers may catch all-stations services to connect to express services at Thirroul and Helensburgh.’'

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