While South Coast rail commuters complain of overcrowding on trains, the government has doubled the capacity of some Newcastle services.
This is despite the government’s own figures that show South Coast trains are more crowded than those on the Newcastle line.
Last Friday, Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced the doubling of capacity on some services, delivering 3000 extra seats a week.
“This is great news for Central Coast and Newcastle customers, who will now have a more comfortable trip to and from Sydney,” Mr Constance said.
The change affects eight trains on the Central Coast and Newcastle line – all but one of which start or end at Central station.
As of Monday, these trains have been boosted from four to eight carriages.
Ever since the train timetable was changed in October 2013, commuters on the South Coast line have complained about overcrowding, with some people forced to sit on the stairs in the carriage.
According to Sydney Trains data on train loads in the morning and evening peaks, the South Coast line carries more commuters than the Newcastle line.
A 100 per cent load means every seat on the train is taken.
In the morning peak, the South Coast’s average load (measured at Helensburgh) is 84 per cent, compared to Newcastle’s 67 per cent at Woy Woy station – a difference of 17 per cent.
It’s the same 17 per cent difference in the evening; the South Coast line at Sutherland has an average load of 71 per cent, while at Hornsby, it’s 54 per cent.
A Transport for NSW (TfNSW) spokeswoman said the doubling of carriages was because of an increase in commuters on the Newcastle line.
“An analysis on the four-car intercity services found that building up select intercity services will benefit the most customers by giving them more room and more seats,” the spokeswoman said.
“By doubling the capacity of these services this will also make these services more comfortable for customers who have a longer commute.”
The spokeswoman would not say whether the South Coast line would also get extra carriages, only stating “TfNSW continually monitors patronage across the network and adjusts the service pattern as needed.”