MP concerned new South Coast train fleet may be delayed

Transport Minister Andrew Constance's apparent reluctance to guarantee the 2021 start date for the New Intercity Fleet has Wollongong MP Paul Scully concerned. Picture: Joel Carrett
Transport Minister Andrew Constance's apparent reluctance to guarantee the 2021 start date for the New Intercity Fleet has Wollongong MP Paul Scully concerned. Picture: Joel Carrett

A new fleet of trains for the South Coast line may not come until after the 2021 timeline put forward by Transport for NSW, according to an Illawarra MP.

But a Transport for NSW spokeswoman has reiterated that timeline.

Wollongong MP Paul Scully put a question to Transport Minister Andrew Constance asking whether he could confirm the New Intercity Fleet “will not operate on the South Coast until 2021”.

Mr Constance’s one-word response was “No”, which Mr Scully claimed did not bode well for Illawarra commuters.

“My takeaway from that answer is that I would not be counting on 2021 being the starting date for the New Intercity Fleet on the South Coast line,” Mr Scully said.

“You’ve got Transport for NSW, who told the Illawarra Mercury recently that it wouldn’t be until 2021, when the minister was asked to confirm that, he said no.”

Mr Scully suggested if Mr Constance felt the New Intercity Fleet – which has been touted as the solution to issues of overcrowding on the South Coast line – was going to be delivered ahead of schedule then he “would be crowing from the rooftops”.

“It’s case of avoiding a commitment,” Mr Scully said.

“If you know a rollout is on track, on time and is going to happen, you make people aware of it,” Mr Scully said.

He said the lack of a firm guarantee from the minister may have been borne of a desire to avoid any “embarrassment” should there be delays in the delivery.

The Mercury contacted Mr Constance’s office, who passed the query over to Transport for NSW.

A Transport for NSW spokewoman said it was “committed to keeping the project on track” and stated it was still working to the 2021 delivery date.

“The New Intercity Fleet will be introduced progressively from 2019, starting with the Central Coast and Newcastle line,” the spokeswoman said.

“New trains will start operating on the Blue Mountains line in mid-2020 and the South Coast in 2021.”