I watched with interest the recent visit by the Transport Minister Andrew Constance to St George where he trumpeted the new $4.3 Billion "More Trains, More Services" project. According to Constance the plan will "transform the network".
The Government was spruiking the changes that they say will mean more trains, more often, less waiting and less crowding and that there will be an additional 20 per cent increase in peak hour services.
As a commuter on the Illawarra line It sounds too good to be true. As a Member of Parliament from the Opposition Party, I have to admit I'm a bit sceptical.
I remember bitterly fighting the same Government's plans to cut 50 per cent of peak hour services and all express trains from Kingsgrove, Kogarah and Beverly Hills station just four years ago. There were meetings, petitions, rallies, debates, front pages of The Leader, anything and everything we could think of to change the Government's mind.
In the end we failed and despite increasing patronage levels and more people choosing rail over roads, the services were axed.
In the case of Kogarah with a major hospital, a major bank, four schools, a TAFE and a courthouse (since closed) it made absolutely no sense at all.
Sometimes in politics you do feel like you're in an episode of Yes Minister particularly when the Government cuts services by 50 per cent one year only to return a few years later and trumpet a 20 per cent increase.
Whatever the case, sacrificing services to growing parts of Sydney like Kogarah and Kingsgrove hurt our local communities. I'm glad that some services are returning, but if we are truly going to make Sydney less concentrated on the CBD with a more decentralised urban fringe, like in St George, our community will need infrastructure and services from the NSW Government.
Chris Minns MP, Member for Kogarah