Mobile phone reception problems on the South Coast rail line are hampering commuters’ ability to complete work and keep in contact with loved ones, Labor says.
Federal and state Labor MPs have called on the state and federal Liberals to work together to fix the mobile phone reception problems between Thirroul and Helensburgh.
According to Labor, a mobile base station in Coalcliff was approved for funding under a previous round of the federal government’s Mobile Black Spot Program in June 2015.
Ms Bird said the federal government allocation was about $26,000, although the bulk of the funding is allocated by Telstra.
Federal Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, Shadow Minister for the Illawarra and State Member for Keira Ryan Park, and State Member for Wollongong Paul Scully visited Thirroul train station on Monday.
“We understand that the proposed base station has not been built due to indecision or refusal from NSW State Rail,” the MPs said in a statement.
Ms Bird said she had approached Mr Park and Mr Scully about helping to reach a resolution regarding selecting a site for the base station.
“It’s been three years – enough’s enough,” she said.
Mr Scully said after overcrowded afternoon services, intermittent mobile phone reception on the South Coast Line is the issue that most commuters are frustrated by.
“Part of the frustration is landing an agreement between State Rail and Telstra on a suitable location,” Mr Scully said.
“The new tower is funded so there is no excuse why everyone involved cannot just sit down and work out where it should go and when it can be installed.
“Just fix the problem, because it’s not just commuters – it’s also the residents of the northern Illawarra who face this on a daily basis.”
Mr Park said Illawarra commuters spend a lot of time on a train, “and more than most commuters in NSW”.
“These are people who spend upwards of four hours a day travelling just to get to and from their place of employment,” he said.
“To have a service that is not operating, that the vast majority of other people particularly in and around Sydney get, who don’t commute as long as this… You’ve got an understanding that commuters have every right to be frustrated.”
A Sydney Trains spokesperson said the Mobile Black Spot Program is a federal government program.
“Sydney Trains is continuing to work closely with Telstra to find a suitable location to construct the telecommunications tower that will provide the necessary mobile coverage for our South Coast Line customers.
“Some of the sites that were proposed earlier were found to be unsuitable.”
This follows recent appeals to increase the number of carriages on overcrowded South Coast train services.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance recently confirmed the overcrowded 3.24pm and 3.54pm service from Central will be converted from four carriages to eight.
Both the State Opposition and Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast, Kiama MP Gareth Ward had lobbied for the additional carriages.
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