Commuters squeeze onto the Gawler to Adelaide train at Mawson Lakes train station. Picture: Campbell Brodie. Source: News Corp Australia
TRAIN travel on one of Adelaide’s key public transport services is so popular people are being turned away, prompting urgent calls for more trains and increased carriages to meet demand.
The State Government — which has invested heavily in the public transport system it champions — is now being challenged to provide places for commuters on the Gawler line or see them hit the roads and compound the city’s peak-hour traffic deadlock.
Numerous commuters complained about carriages being so crowded they were unable to board trains this week.
Jessica Parker — waiting at Dudley Park station with two young children and a pram — had to catch a bus into the city on Tuesday because of overcrowding on the Gawler train during morning peak hour.
She said the train service in the morning was “getting worse’’ and having to catch the bus made her daughter 30 minutes late for school.
“You’d think they’d have an extra carriage by now, especially at this time of day,’’ the 27-year-old said.
“I’m just lucky I have the option of a bus as well or else I would have been later.’’
Commuters at the Mawson Lakes station also missed trains due to overcrowding this week.
Parafield Gardens residents Amy Mackay, 19, and Timita Tape, 20, along with Renee Seccafien, 19, from Two Wells, said that due to a lack of space they could not board the first two trains which arrived at the station.
“I was late for work yesterday,” Ms Tape said.
Mawson Lakes is particularly popular with commuters because of the modern station and ample carparking.
Office worker Ms Mackay said overcrowding was “usually bad’’ on the 8.01 express train, “and especially when they only put two carriages on and there are so many people trying to get on”.
Lobby group Passengers for Public Transport said a lack of capacity “would turn people off using trains’’.
“Any lack of capacity is not good enough ,’’ the group’s spokeswoman Margaret Dingle said.
“There is obviously a need for more trains and more carriages.’’
Ms Dingle also suggested temporarily extending rail platforms at Mawson Lakes to accommodated extra carriages, with a long-term view to making them permanent.
After contacting the Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan about the overcrowding problem on Thursday, transport department staff were counting passengers entering trains at Mawson Lakes station on Friday morning.
Salisbury Mayor Gillian Aldridge said action needed to be taken to deal with a lack of capacity on the train service which runs through her council district.
“If we have a young mum who can’t get on a train with a pusher then that’s not good enough and something needs to be done,’’ she said.
“I know there has been a lot of trouble parking in regards to train commuters in Mawson Lakes.”
Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said the number of railcars will increase over the next 12 months from 99 to 136.
“During peak periods all available railcars are in service across the rail network,” he said.
“These are allocated to meet the greatest need at different stations at different times of the day, with the allocation reviewed regularly.
‘We are aware that since recommencement of rail services on the Gawler line patronage has grown; with the introduction of our new electric trains on the Seaford line, we will be able to increase services elsewhere using our existing railcars.”
Commuters, from left, Tamika Taube, Renee Seccafien and Amy Mackay on the crowded Gawler to Adelaide train. Picture: Campbell Brodie. Source: News Corp Australia
BATTLING THE EARLY MORNING CRUSH
By VICKY EDWARDS
IT’S just past 8am and there’s a rush for the door. A sea of bodies surge into a tiny space, standing shoulder to shoulder like upright sardines in a tin.
Along the platform this is being repeated as people scramble to get on to a train to the city.
It’s jam-packed as the doors of the three carriages slide shut leaving people behind, me included, on the platform.
Welcome to Tuesday’s commuter crush at Mawson Interchange. We are advised over the loud speaker that problems out of Gawler have delayed services but overcrowding on trains is a daily occurrence on this line.
I normally catch the 8.10 service but today I’m not sure when it will turn up.
When the next train arrives it is just as crowded and people again cram into the opening and spill into the aisle. Again, not everyone can get on.
An announcement reminds people to validate their tickets on the train before arriving at Adelaide Railway Station. Fat chance if you’re wedged between bodies and can’t reach the validation machine.
I can’t remember the last time I got a seat on a train into the city. Even before 8am the trains are full. Catching a train after 8.30am is not an option as I’d be late for work.
Today I don’t have a choice. It’s third time lucky as I finally get on to a train, but this one only has two carriages. The 8.10 normally has two carriages. Maybe this is it.
On Wednesday, the service is again overcrowded but I’m thankful I no longer have to struggle with a pram and children in tow like Jessica, from Dudley Park.
She told me she couldn’t get on the train on Tuesday and had to catch a bus into the city to get her daughter to school, arriving half an hour late. Waiting for the next train was not an option as she only has a half-hour service. She’d welcome more frequent services and longer trains.
Other commuters agreed extra carriages would solve the problem.
On Thursday, while waiting for the train, I had a good look at the length of the platform at Mawson Interchange. I reckon four carriages would fit. How about a trial Minister Mullighan?
As more people move into new housing developments in the northern suburbs the popularity of the service is increasing as it’s quicker, and more frequent, than catching a bus. And it’s less expensive than driving into the city and paying for parking.