More carriages but fewer seats.
That seems to be the conundrum that surrounds the new intercity rail fleet that will service the South Coast.
The government is spending $2.3 billion for 512 double-decker carriages, the first of which will roll out in 2019.
The trains will replace the Oscars that now run on the South Coast line, in configurations from four to eight carriages.
In a letter to Wollongong MP Paul Scully, Parlimentary Secretary for Transport Mark Coure said eight-car sets would be the minimum standard for the South Coast.
“I can confirm the fleet will operate as eight and 10-car sets,” Mr Coure wrote.
“Ten-car sets will have 820 seats and are designed to address increases to patronage on the South Coast line.”
Using at least an eight-car set of the new trains will improve the chronic overcrowding on some South Coast lines, particularly those leaving the city early in the afternoon peak.
Some of these are only four cars and South Coast commuters routinely complain about having to stand at least as far as Sutherland.
However, for those services already running eight cars, replacing them with 10-car sets of the new Intercity fleet will actually lead to around 100 fewer seats.
The Sydney Trains website lists the seating capacity of the various Oscar carriages.
Taking into account the reduced seating from control carriages at the front and rear and the inclusion of a carriage with a toilet, an eight-car Oscar set has 904 seats.
That’s 84 more seats than a 10-car intercity fleet service.
Transport for NSW was contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline