Lithgow’s rail future in the spotlight

Bathurst MP Paul Toole stated this week that funding investments were being made for the long-term future of Lithgow’s rail service.

His statement came in response to a call from Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle to the NSW Government to release suppressed documents about future plans for the rail service to Lithgow when the new intercity fleet is introduced on the Blue Mountains line in 2021.

A freedom of information request was lodged with Transport for NSW requesting any government documentation which considered the cutbacks of electric passenger services between Lithgow as a consequence of modifications needed for the new train carriages to fit through the narrow Ten Tunnels Deviation between Bell and Lithgow.

While the government’s response to the FOI request acknowledged the document exists, the department refused to release it citing cabinet-in-confidence protections and an “overriding public interest against disclosure”.

Ms Doyle, who has been campaigning for the full details and costs of the new intercity fleet to be made public since November 2016, slammed the government’s refusal to release the documents. Transport for NSW has declined to comment. 

Bathust MP Paul Toole has hit back at the claims. 

“Train services will continue to operate for the people of Lithgow and the wider Central West and I’ll continue to put the customer first,” he said. 

“This just proves that Labor has nothing to offer Lithgow except baseless claims and Trish Doyle should apologise to the community.”

Mr Toole said Lithgow train services have been expanded, including a new weekday Sydney to Lithgow return express service and an additional stop at Westmead Hospital.

A representative from Transport for NSW has previously met with Lithgow City Council and reassured its members that the ten tunnels project would be carried out and allow trains to reach Lithgow. 

The tunnels need to be widened in order to make way for new city trains and Ms Doyle has speculated that the huge costs of this project may lead to the project being scrapped altogether. 

“I have no reason not to believe what we were told by Transport NSW,” Lithgow City Council Mayor Stephen Lesslie said. 

“The railway is our lifeline to Sydney and the wider world and it has been for 149 years.”