PREMIER Barry O’Farrell breezed into Bathurst yesterday and delivered the city with a daily Bathurst to Sydney and return commuter rail service.
It was a heaven sent announcement from the state government for local rail action group front man John Hollis.
WHAT: Daily commuter rail service, Bathurst to Sydney and return.
WHEN: Due to start October.
COST: Initial $7 million, $1 million a year to run.
TIME TABLE: Depart Bathurst 5.40am, arrive Central 9.25am; depart Sydney 5.55pm, arrive Bathurst 9.30pm.
CAPACITY: 200 seats.
The news also delivered on an election promise by the Premier as well as backing comments he made last week that he would use yesterday’s community cabinet meeting at Mt Panorama to make a major announcement.
Due to come into operation in October, the initiative is being made possible thanks to a $7 million upgrade of a diesel Endeavour train.
It is expected the service will cost $1 million a year to run and will provide 200 seats with carriages fitted with toilets and a dedicated space for luggage.
Current CityRail ticket prices and concessions will apply to the service, including pensioner excursion tickets.
For John Hollis the announcement was the culmination of years of lobbying.
He said he was elated the government had made a commitment for the daily service the city has been crying out for.
“I pay tribute to our committee’s hard and work and thank our local MP Paul Toole for his efforts to deliver an election promise,” Mr Hollis said.
“This is indeed a milestone in the history of modern Bathurst. It demonstrates the government’s recognition of the importance of our region and fits in perfectly with council’s 2036 strategy for the future.
“It makes Bathurst much more accessible for everyone and is also important in that it makes the city more appeal for people to do business here.
“There is also the opportunity for increased freight movements from Sydney and lends hope the government will now look favourable at the Bells Line Expressway project.”
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said the rail service would be an express one with stops planned for Lithgow, Mt Victoria and Katoomba and encouraged local residents to make use of it.
“The introduction of this service is part of the government’s Fixing the Trains program,” he said. “We’re getting on with the job of delivering quality services for regional areas such as Bathurst.”
Premier O’Farrell said the people of Bathurst and surrounding areas have been very clear about how important this service is to them.
“Today the government is delivering on its commitment,” he said.
“Providing effective public transport is so crucial and I very pleased to be able to announce this new service while visiting Bathurst today.”
Bathurst MP Paul Toole said Rail Action Bathurst has been calling on successive governments to do this for more than 10 years and now looks forward to the community embracing the service to Sydney for business and leisure activities.
“This is a key election promise the government has delivered,” he said.