Finding a seat on a train home from Central is much harder since the new rail timetable was introduced, according to Illawarra commuter Gaetane Potard.
Ms Potard lives in Otford and travels to Central five days a week for her job as a research officer.
Before the new timetable was introduced two weeks ago she could catch the train from Otford in the morning but now she has to drive to Helensburgh station.
On the journey home in the evening she is finding the trains are arriving at Central with plenty of people already on them.
This, she said, was because the trains no longer started the journey at Central but Bondi Junction instead and stopped at four other stations before arriving at Central.
‘‘When I come home the train is crowded so sometimes I can’t find a seat where I can actually work with my laptop,’’ Ms Potard said.
‘‘I catch it at Central and the 5.26 and the 5.46 arrive already packed so me and other people have to stand 20 to 30 minutes to wait for a seat.
‘‘On Tuesday there were 20 people standing in the carriage at the top and the bottom – I went to check. That was in the middle of the train. So they’re not just standing in the vestibule, they’re standing everywhere.’’
Ms Potard has been exploring the train to see which carriage tends to have the most free seats. Also, she is considering catching the train back to Martin Place and then jumping on the South Coast service before it hits Central.
Finding a seat is quite important for Ms Potard because that one-hour trip home is effectively part of her work day.
She needs to leave work at the same time each day due to childcare commitments and was able to because she could get an hour’s work done on the way home.
If there’s no seat, then she can’t work on her laptop and has to find that extra hour somewhere else.
‘‘Now it’s more pressure, I have to work through my lunch hour,’’ she said.
‘‘I just have a sandwich and go back to work – I can’t have a break.
‘‘Years ago when I moved to Otford it was a working train, where I could sit and work on the train. Now I have less time altogether, almost an hour less. So I have to find a way to arrange this. It might even mean working on the weekend or at other times.’’
While declining to confirm or deny that evening services to the South Coast had become more crowded, a Transport for NSW spokesman said they had been monitoring the passenger loading on services since the introduction of the new timetable and would continue to do so.
The spokesman rejected the suggestion that the reported crowding was a by-product of the fact that, between 5pm to 6.30pm, the number of trains leaving Central to Wollongong had been halved from eight to four in the new timetable.
‘‘As previously advised by Transport for NSW, there has been no decrease in capacity between Sydney and the South Coast, and it is highly misleading to report the timetable changes as such,’’ the spokesman said.
He said the decision for evening services to start at Bondi Junction ‘‘improves accessibility and reduces interchange requirements for South Coast customers travelling from CBD locations.’’