The headache for commuters on the Sydney train network has eased for the time being, but the pressure is now on Sydney Trains to make amends for two days of cancellations and lengthy delays, and potentially reconsider its timetable.
Bad weather, staff shortages and the new timetable have all been blamed for yesterday’s chaos, which affected eight lines, saw commuters turned away at some stations and was still causing problems across the network this morning.
Some travellers reported hours-long trips home, many venting their frustrations on social media and posting photos of packed platforms. But those hoping for a refund could be waiting a long time.
“We are not hiding from the fact it was a mess,” NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance told the media earlier today, describing the delays as a “perfect storm”.
But despite apologising for the disruptions, the government has ruled out giving refunds, saying fare revenue is needed to pay staff and, ironically, run services, which NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley described as “third world”.
"Thousands of people jammed in like sardines, held back by staff and barriers, held back by police with announcements begging people to leave the station and find another way home," he told the ABC.
Part of the problem, according to Sydney Trains, was the higher-than-usual number of drivers off sick, between 65 and 75. The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) aren’t buying it though, blaming poor planning and the new timetable for the public transport operator’s problems.
“Cancelled and late services are becoming all too common a sight on our rail network. Management is scrambling to come up with daily excuses for the mess, but the reality is it’s all to do with a poorly put together timetable,” union secretary Alex Claassens said in a statement.
Sydney Trains boss Howard Collins told media this afternoon services were 98 per cent back on track but will be looking at ways the network can better recover from major incidents over the next fortnight.
"We are going to do a review of the timetable – and will sit down with the unions," he told Nine News.
For the time being, we recommend keeping an eye on the Sydney Trains website for timetable updates.