Student safety plea: Parents say buses will ease train chaos

Parents have expressed concern about the safety of more than 400 students who crowd Helensburgh railway station each day.

The station is used by students who catch trains to high schools at Heathcote and Engadine.

‘‘It’s just crazy,’’ said Nicole Geldart, the spokeswoman for a group seeking a direct bus service. ‘‘We are not in remote NSW, we are in suburbia.’’

About 270 students travel each day from Helensburgh to Heathcote High School, while 150 attend St John Bosco High School, Engadine, with most catching the 8.11am service.

But an appeal by parents failed to convince state government transport officials.

‘‘Unfortunately, it’s not possible to provide a door-to-door service for every student in NSW,’’ a Transport for NSW spokeswoman said.

‘‘Many students across the state catch trains to school and interchanging between bus and rail services is not unusual.

‘‘Transport for NSW is monitoring services from Helensburgh and parents can be assured we’re always looking to see where improvements need to be made.’’

Ms Geldart said the station was ‘‘jam-packed each morning with kids pushing and shoving each other to get on and off the train, with no supervision’’.

‘‘A year 7 girl fell down the station steps when she was accidentally pushed,’’ she said.

‘‘Another student tripped while getting on to the train and was trampled.’’

Ms Geldart said another factor was the amount of travel time.

Because the railway station was more than four kilometres from the centre of Helensburgh, many students travelled by bus to the train. 

‘‘The trip to school takes an hour and 10 minutes instead of what would be a 15- to 20-minute drive by direct bus service,’’ she said. ‘‘You can travel to Sydney CBD quicker than the kids are getting to school.’’

ELECTION ISSUE

The campaign has become a hot state election topic.

Heathcote candidates Maryanne Stuart (Labor) and Natasha Watson (Greens) both strongly support the push by parents.

Ms Stuart said she had not realised how strongly residents felt until she attended one of their meetings.

Ms Watson said ‘‘if 200 of the 400 pupils could be bussed to the schools, the danger to students and discomfort to other passengers, particular the elderly, would be greatly lessened’’.

Parents have started a Facebook page.

Should there be a direct bus service? 

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