Sydney commuters told to prepare for major train delays on Thursday
Trains will be extensively delayed on Thursday as industrial action continues despite the New South Wales Government conceding to the union’s demands.
Transport for NSW has confirmed services will be slashed by up to 70 per cent on Thursday with trains running on a reduced timetable.
“This could see Sydney Trains services reduced by as much as 70 per cent during peak periods and customers should expect disruption including delays, altered stopping patterns and cancellations,” Transport for NSW said.
The department aims to have trains running every 30 minutes on suburban city lines.
NSW Transport Minister David Elliott announced earlier on Wednesday the government will meet one of the union’s demands to improve the safety of a new fleet of trains, as he doesn’t want major strike action to occur again.
However, Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) Secretary Alex Claassens said the industrial action is set to continue despite the government meeting the union’s demand.
The government has agreed to spend $264 million on safety upgrades to the New Intercity Fleet (NIF) which has been at the heart of the controversy.
The union has been concerned about crucial blind spots in surveillance on the new fleet due to it relying solely on monitoring from CCTV cameras mounted on the sides of the trains, which have no audio and restricted line of sight because of the design of the carriages.
“Am I happy about spending millions of dollars to modify what the safety regulators have said are perfectly good trains? Absolutely not,” he said. “But the cost of this industrial action, the cost to the NSW economy, the inconvenience to the commuters has to be front of mind.”
The money will go towards moving control screens to increase the surveillance on the new fleet.
Claassens said the union wants written confirmation of the funding for safety upgrades and another meeting will occur on Thursday once that is received to discuss ending the industrial action.
“They have said verbally they are prepared to sort out our safety demands on the New Intercity Fleet,” Claassens said.
“As always, we wait on some proper documentation that has some legal standing.”
Elliott warned there may still be some disruptions to trains on Thursday but hopes Friday will return to normal.
“They have no reason for industrial action right now,” he said.
“The government expects the union to act in good faith.”
He maintained that the new NIF trains were safe despite pledging the millions the union demanded extra safety measures.
“I’m quite happy for mum and the kids to take the trains tomorrow,” he said, on Wednesday.
“This money is being spent because the union has said if we don’t spend it, it’s going to cost a hell of a lot more than running the NIF.”
Train drivers began a four-day strike on Tuesday, keeping trains under 60km/h.
Delays of up to an hour saw stations packed with commuters caught in the middle of the dispute.
Sydney has experienced a week of strike actions with nurses and midwives also striking on Tuesdayn Tuesday.
On Thursday – the second-last day of term – will also see thousands of teachers from the public and Catholic school sectors walk off the job demanding a pay rise.
Rallies will be held in 14 locations across NSW with the biggest one held in Sydney’s CBD.
A group of climate change activists who have protested in Sydney for the past two days are calling a temporary hiatus before action resumes on Thursday and Friday.
About 20 people from Blockade Australia have been arrested since the start of a week of action on Monday.
Some have been kicked out of New South Wales as part of their bail conditions.