Snail train:http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/it8217s-just-way-too-slow-by-train/story-fni0cx12-1226697399692Since the 1960s, we've landed on the moon, flown supersonic jets and smashed the land speed record - but for suffering commuters it's even slower by train
TRAVELLING by train between Sydney's boom town of Parramatta and Central station is slower today than it was 50 years ago, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
In the time it has taken mankind to land on the moon, invent supersonic flight and set the land speed record in a jet car at more than 1200km/h, our train network has trundled along at a snail's pace.
Analysis of timetables dating back to 1929 shows the commute from the city's second CBD to Central has improved by just two minutes, falling marginally from 32 minutes to 30 minutes.
The comparison of the same journey 51 years ago is even more damning. In 1962 the trip, including four stops, took 28 minutes, the same as Sydney Trains' advertised journey time last year. But when The Daily Telegraph trialled the route at 4.35pm yesterday, also stopping four times, it took 30 minutes - two minutes longer.
The only way for passengers to get from Parramatta to the CBD in less time is to catch a train on the Blue Mountains line, which stops just once, at Strathfield, and can take as little as 23 minutes - roughly a one-minute improvement per decade on the Western Express since 1929.
The damning statistics make grim reading for Sydney's rail passengers, with trains averaging just 36.4km/h as they trundle around the suburban network.
While signalling, safety and performance may have improved dramatically over the better part of the last century, rail operators are constrained by the huge increase in passenger numbers and the number of trains required to get them to their destinations.
In 1929 there were roughly five steam trains an hour leaving Parramatta for Central. Today there are up to 20 in peak periods, while Sydney's population has swelled from 1.2 million 84 years ago to 4.67 million in 2011.
The latest figures from Sydney Trains show more than 18,000 people travel on the Western Line towards the city in the morning peak, with up to one third having to stand.
Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins has pledged to speed up the network but has warned it will take time and significant investment.
He's not the first to try and fix our slow trains. In one of the last throws of the dice by the former government, then-premier Kristina Keneally announced plans for a $4.5 billion Western Express line that would have cut journey times between the CBD and Parramatta by six minutes.
Last year Infrastructure NSW's 20 year strategy recommended the government implement turn-up-and-go express services between Parramatta and CBD throughout the day.
Committee for Sydney CEO Tim Williams said if Parramatta is to thrive as Sydney's second CBD, transport links between the two business hubs must be improved.
"There needs to be a focus on ensuring there are enough express trains between the CBD and Parramatta so people don't have to think about it,'' he said.
"Parramatta is not that far way, but is seems far away because of the transport issues.''
The NSW Government is set to implement a new timetable in early October, which is expected to standardise stopping patterns and reduce travel times from outer suburban areas.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said the government had already boosted services on the Western Line.
"This government has already added 30 extra weekly services on the Western Line in the 2011 and 2012 timetable changes, including an extra six services every weekday, and a new express service from Penrith to Central at 7.22am every morning," she said.