Poll: Sutherland Hospital rail plan aims to ease traffic

Train watcher: Bob Schroeder in front of the rail bridge near Sutherland Hospital. Picture: John Veage

Train watcher: Bob Schroeder in front of the rail bridge near Sutherland Hospital. Picture: John Veage

A PREVIOUSLY rejected proposal for a railway station behind Sutherland Hospital is receiving renewed attention as a result of ever-increasing parking problems.

Sutherland Shire Council's plan to appease residents by introducing timed parking in the area led to support for a station on the Leader website.

Public transport advocacy group EcoTransit Sydney also revealed it had prepared a design, which was simpler than previous concepts, and would cost only $20 million to build.

Sutherland Shire mayor Steve Simpson was open to revisiting the station idea, but stopped short of endorsing it.

Cr Simpson said in a statement much had changed in the 12 years since a $30,000 study, funded jointly by the the council and State Rail, rejected the proposal.

"The shire population has changed and indeed our ageing population has increased," he said.

"Therefore, the number of trips to hospital by shire residents has also increased.

"There is a greater demand for parking spaces by staff, patients and visitors, and this continues to grow.

"We must work together to find a solution to the present problem and work towards a solution for the future."

Cr Simpson said a number of options could be considered.

"A shuttle bus service from Miranda and Caringbah stations to the hospital is one option we may consider," he said.

Cr Simpson said community consultation on the council's proposed trial of a residents' parking scheme was under way.

It would involve time-limited parking, with residents in the trial areas able to apply for a permit to park their cars on-street for longer than the time limits.

Cronulla MP Mark Speakman was opposed to a new station.

New push: The plan drawn up by EcoTransit for a railway station at Sutherland Hospital.

New push: The plan drawn up by EcoTransit for a railway station at Sutherland Hospital.

He said his understanding was the previous study found the project would cost $35million which wasn’t justified.

‘‘While staff, patient and visitor numbers at Sutherland Hospital have since increased, it’s very unlikely that this patronage would now make a new station feasible,’’ he said.

‘‘A new station would also slow down travel times for users of other stations on the Cronulla line.’’

Ecotransit Sydney committee member Bob Schroeder, of  Gymea, a retired former train driver, said the group would lobby the major parties in the lead-up to the state election.

Mr Schroeder said a design prepared by the group’s co-convener Gavin Gatenby would not have costly island platforms that were on other stations on the line.

‘‘A platform could be built on either side without disrupting services, and there would be lifts, a pedestrian bridge and walkway into the centre of the hospital,’’ he said.

‘‘The Miranda to Caringbah section of the line is one of the longest between existing stations and one additional stop would add exactly one minute to the travel time.

‘‘There is enough slack in the existing timetable to reduce time at another station and make no difference to overall travel time.’’

Employees oppose new parking fees

Not fair: Community nurse Sarah Holdsworth hopes the council will rethink its plan.Picture: John Veage

Not fair: Community nurse Sarah Holdsworth hopes the council will rethink its plan.Picture: John Veage

SARAH Holdsworth is among the many Sutherland Hospital staff who are upset at the council’s move to introduce timed parking in the area.

The community nurse works two days a week and cares for her son, 16 months.

Ms Holdsworth said she believed part-time staff would be the most disadvantaged.

‘‘When the new multi-storey car park opens it will cost $21 a week,’’ she said.

‘‘That would be $10.50 a day for me to have access.

‘‘We will also be able to buy a five visits pass, which lasts three months, but I will have to go to the hospital on my day off to buy the pass and there is no guarantee of getting a space in the car park because I start later than a lot of other staff.’’

There will be a new four-level car park and extra ground-level parking spaces at the hospital, which will increase the total number of spots from about 700 to more than 1000.

Should a railway station be built at Sutherland Hospital?

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