Fairfield commuters spend more times on trains under new timetable

Increased travel times.
Increased travel times.

Six Seinfeld episodes, just over one session of a cricket Test match or a screening of the film Invictus.

No, these are not things to do on a Friday night. It is the equivalent time some Fairfield commuters have been forced to add to their regular commute to the City as part of the new train timetable.

In the first week of the biggest overhaul of the city's rail timetable since the city hosted the 2000 Olympics, the verdict is in from Fairfield commuters: “We don’t like it.”

Regular commuter, Lauren (last name withheld) travels from Yennora to St James every day.

In a travel diary kept for the Champion, it shows her morning commute under the old timetable was 50 minutes.

Now, her 7.12am train gets her into the stop at 8.15am – one hour and three minutes later.

It’s a similar story in the evening. Previously her 5.11pm train would take 45 minutes. Now that journey is taking an hour.

In total she spent 134 extra minutes on the Monday to Friday to commute on the train.

“I had trains cancelled due to mechanical issues, trains delayed every evening on the commute home and old C and K Set trains for every train on this line during peak hour,” she said of the opening week of the new train timetable.

The new 7.39am train from Fairfield to Central station.

The new 7.39am train from Fairfield to Central station.

“Trains have not been running to timetable in the evenings any night, with 5 to 15 minute delays and it has been taking me about an hour for what use to be a 40-45 minute journey and the heat this week with no air conditioning on carriages and plastic seats has been awful. The trains in the evening have also been packed with people standing from Town Hall station as it is an all stops train so more people are cramming into the trains.”

Another regular commuter Angelina Mojsovski said the added stops are forcing flow-on problems – and time –  for connecting buses at Fairfield Station.

“As it added more stops on my line I should have been able to get my previous bus but not now I missed that bus and had to wait another half an hour,” she said.

A Transport for NSW Spokesman said the new timetable has delivered the largest increase in capacity ever introduced to Sydney at one time, with 1500 extra weekly services that meet the needs of the “majority” of customers.

“While we recognise some customers will experience change, we know the majority are better off with more services, more often,” the spokesman said.

“Customers between Canley Vale and Merrylands will receive a huge boost in frequency across the week of at least 30 per cent.

“More services means less time waiting on platforms and more efficient trips to and from the Sydney CBD and places like Parramatta, Campbelltown and Liverpool.

“We’ve boosted services at Canley Vale, Yennora and Guildford so these customers receive nine trains an hour in the busy morning peak and ten in the afternoon peak, or a train every six or seven minutes instead of every 15 minutes.”

The spokesman said customers between Canley Vale and Merrylands will receive more than 160 new weekend and late night services on the T5 Cumberland Line, which will provide direct access to Parramatta.

When asked about the issue with connecting buses, the spokesman said: “Some local services run less frequently because there is lower demand and we need to put services when and where most people use them, so in these instances customers are reminded to plan their journeys to ensure connections between modes.”

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the magnitude of the timetable changes meant that "teething problems" were likely to continue over the next few weeks. He said the he changes would, on the whole, deliver an uplift in services, shorter waiting times on platforms, and more seats on trains.

However for Fairfield commuters, the upgrade has meant change to their regular travel plans and lengthening their daily trip to work.

The latest timetable changes mean trains on the T1 Western Line no longer stop at Harris Park, Granville, Clyde, Auburn and Lidcombe during periods of the day. As a result, commuters at those stops have to rely on T2 South West services and combined with additional stops for the inner west means increased travel times for those catching a train to the city from Canley Vale, Fairfield and Yennora.