Australia: Continuing chaos on Sydney’s trains


Australia: Continuing chaos on Sydney’s trains

Oscar Grenfell

16 January 2018

The dysfunction of Sydney’s railway network has continued this week, with widespread delays, service cancellations and warnings that erratic timetable changes and overcrowding will be the “new normal” in 2018.

Almost 40 peak hour services were cancelled yesterday, leaving thousands of commuters late for work, and resulting in more overcrowding and confusion. Yesterday’s disruptions followed at least 92 service cancellations on Saturday, including on the Northern, Western and North Shore lines.

The latest chaos comes after the city’s entire rail network broke down last Tuesday. Many thousands of people were left stranded amid dozens of cancellations and delays, with the bulk of train services operating without any scheduled arrival or departure times. Platforms at Central and Town Hall stations, two key hubs, were shut due to overcrowding. Passengers reported taking almost two hours on journeys that previously took 25 minutes.

Service outages continued in Australia’s largest city last Wednesday and Thursday.

The New South Wales (NSW) Liberal-National government responded to widespread public anger by labelling last Tuesday’s crisis an “act of God,” because storms contributed to the delays. The government also blamed train drivers and staff, declaring that unusually large numbers had taken approved holiday leave or called in sick.

Figures from Sydney Trains’ annual reports, published by the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, however, show that years of job cuts have forced train drivers and station staff to take on ever-greater workloads.

Sydney Trains, which began operations in 2013, was formed through the break-up of the previous state authority, Railcorp. The move…

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