Words || Tess Connery
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has launched a petition protesting the closure of the Epping to Chatswood train line, which includes the Macquarie University train station. The line is due for closure in late 2018 and is expected to remain closed for at least seven months as part of the Berejiklian Government’s plan to upgrade the stations along the line to make them suitable for use by metro – and eventually driverless – trains.
At present, Macquarie University employs almost 3 000 staff members, and there are roughly 38 000 students enrolled – a great many of which have used rail for the commute to the University ever since the train line opened in 2009.
The NTEU argues that the removal of this line will create a public transport nightmare, due to a “high reliance on rail, too few campus parking options and typically a major traffic gridlock on Epping road during peak hours”.
The petition is addressed to the NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance. Details surrounding the closure and upgrade are scarce, despite planning for the project beginning as far back as 2014. The NTEU is calling upon the minister to publicly announce the specific date when the Epping to Chatswood Line will close, and how long it will remain closed for. They also are calling for the release of details regarding additional transport infrastructure and contingencies which will be put in place to deal with the congestion that will be caused by the line closing.
Back in July, Andrew Constance asked commuters to “bear with us” as the closure took place.
“It is going to be a challenge, which is why we are urging people to plan their trips,” he said. “There is very significant congestion out there [on the roads] but we will run the buses at the same time as we are investing in the infrastructure to try to assist bus movements.”
The government has promised to supply more than 120 new buses to run between the stations on the Epping to Chatswood line, however commuters will still face a journey that is at least 10 minutes longer than the current rail trip.
The NTEU petition is aiming to gain 600 signatures before it is passed on to Andrew Constance.
The NTEU are also holding a forum this Friday, to discuss the issue with Jodi McKay (Shadow Transport Minister), and Jerome Laxale (Mayor of the City Of Ryde).