28 November 2012

Mitcham's train meeting, 26th November 2012


A report from the meeting from organiser Mark Parnell.
Last night, in a very powerful act, around 300 people crammed into the Blackwood High School Auditorium to push for better community transport services.

I would first like to say a very big thank you to all of you who managed to get there. Many thanks also for the many of you who couldn’t make it but sent me your feedback and suggestions.

I must admit I have very mixed feelings about last night’s meeting.  In many ways we achieved a lot.  There were some wonderfully practical and eminently sensible suggestions from you for doing things better. Because of your public pressure, and the fact that so many of you attended last night’s meeting, the Minister was forced to offer express buses – and your forceful advocacy of this option on the night forced them to go further to  guarantee a new timetable with scheduled express buses.

That is a great result that wouldn’t have happened without such strong community pressure.

However, I’m sure you share my frustration at the attitude of the Transport Department representatives present on the night.  It’s just so disappointing that they didn’t come and speak to the community months ago to find out what would actually work.

I also recognise that express buses do not suit everybody, and although raised last night, there is no guarantee of extra G30 or 195/6 services.  Also, it was very clear from the discussion last night the location of the Eden Hills alternative bus service is not adequate.

Some of the other issues raised included:
-          The need to ‘trial’ services well beyond January, as this time will not provide an accurate guide to commuter behaviour
-          Disability and limited mobility access on the alternative buses
-          Concerns about the length of the bicycle trailer trial, and the number of places provided
-          Concerns for patrons who get nauseous on buses, especially on steep and windy roads
-          A need for much better integration between train services, and between train and bus services
-          Continued, extreme late running of regular scheduled buses
-          Major fears about the increase in traffic congestion
-          Concern about the increase in buses and extra traffic during the major period of fire risk
-          A request for free parking near the city for those who won’t be able to rely on the alternative bus and will be forced to drive instead

Clearly there is much work required yet from the Transport Department.

Last night we received confirmation that keeping the train running from Belair to Mitcham was not only technically possible, but was comparable on cost to the proposed alternative bus service, and would provide a better service for commuters.  Yet, because of a failure to properly consult with the community the Department has unwisely dismissed that option.

This afternoon I introduced the following Motion into State Parliament:

I.        That this Council notes:

a)      The packed public meeting on Monday night at the Blackwood High School called by the Greens to discuss alternative services for commuters on the Belair train when the train line is closed from 2013 for up to 8 months.
b)      The serious concerns expressed at the meeting about the impact of the closure of the Belair line (along with the Noarlunga and Tonsley lines) on traffic congestion on Southern arterial roads and the subsequent reliability of the substitute bus timetable.
c)       The range of positive alternative solutions proposed by the community, including boosting existing regular bus services along Shepherds Hill and Unley Roads,  more scheduled express bus services, and improved siting of the Eden Hills bus stop.   
d)      The deep disappointment expressed at the meeting that the Transport Department had failed to adequately talk to the community first about what alternative services would work best for commuters
e)      That keeping the train running between Belair and Mitcham is not only technically viable, but cost comparable and delivers many benefits for commuters, and that this option, not surprisingly, remains the most popular alternative for Mitcham Hills residents.

II.      Calls on the Transport Services Minister to deliver on a range of options canvassed at the Meeting, including:

a)      More scheduled express bus services in a revised timetable that is both credible and reliable
b)      An increase in the number of scheduled existing bus services, including the G30 and 195/196 services
c)      A review of the location of the proposed Eden Hills station substitute bus stop
d)      A commitment to consult better with affected commuters before, during and after the proposed rail closure

This follows an earlier Parliamentary Motion calling for the ‘Belair to Mitcham’ train option, which you can read about here.

I can assure I will continue to strongly push the Minister and the Department to ensure the best possible options for you all.  I will try and keep you informed of developments as they occur over the coming weeks.

Thank you once again for coming last night.

Best wishes


  1. What the Eastern Courier had to say about the same meeting.

    Freight trains a big problem
    Eastern Courier Messenger, Adelaide by Michael Milnes 28 Nov 2012
    General News - page 26 - 418 words - ID 172193804 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 314.83cm2

    THE Federal Government must revisit plans to route freight trains out of the Hills, the Mitcham Rail Freight committee says.

    Committee member Mark Ward said with the impending opening of the Ambleside Crossing Loop it was more important than ever for the government to revisit the issue.

    It has to be done now because it makes common sense,’’ Mr Ward, also a Mitcham councillor, said.

    It is not just the residents living along the line who are affected, it is the thousands of people that get held up every day by the trains (at level crossings).

    It is the loss in productivity in time getting to work and home, sitting idly at lights and the environmental impacts.’’

    Lower Mitcham residents Andrew and Marie Vidale backed Mr Ward’s calls.

    They said in recent years the length and frequency of freight trains rumbling past their Pitfour Rd house had increased.

    They feared the problem would only get worse.

    There was nowhere near the number of freight trains then that there are now,’’ Mr Vidale said.

    Now, of course, they have become longer, noisier and more frequent.

    This year, for the first time, we have felt the house vibrating.

    It has got to affect the value of your property and that is not good.’’

    Westbourne Park resident John Doley has lived in Llanfair Tce, which backs on to the railway line, for more than 20 years.

    He said the number of trains had increased significantly over the years. We had pretty much got used to it but about two to three years ago we started to notice more noise, a more intrusive noise, there was a lot more squealing on the rails,’’ Mr Doley said.

    We were never particularly worried by the locomotives because the noise always stays the same but one thing that always drives us nuts is the horn they use and they blast it just outside here.’’

    The opening of the Ambleside Crossing Loop will pave the way for 1.8km-long freight trains to use the Hills freight line.

    It is due to open near Balhannah and Verdun by the end of the year.

    A proposed $2 billion freight railway deviation from Murray Bridge via Truro to Two Wells and Mallala was rejected by the Federal Government in 2010 because it was not cost effective.

    A spokesman for Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese would not comment on calls for the trains to be re-routed.

  2. I will be attending the Rail&Transport Committe established by Mitcham Council again this evening.