Maintenance backlog means ‘year of pain’ ahead for Sydney rail commuters

Sydney rail commuters have endured delays and outages - and that's not about to change..

Sydney rail commuters have endured delays and outages - and that's not about to change.. Photo: AAP

The NSW transport minister is warning of “massive disruptions” every weekend for at least a year for long-suffering rail commuters across Sydney.

Jo Haylen said on Sunday the state Labor government was launching a $97 million maintenance backlog blitz on the beleaguered system, with plans to cram several years’ worth of work into the next 12 months.

Ms Haylen was at Croydon railway station in Sydney’s inner west to inspect track-work already under way and to announce details of the Minns government’s Sydney rail repair plan.

“We need to do this critical maintenance backlog of jobs, or things will just get worse,” she said.

“Anyone in Sydney will tell you the train network isn’t working as it should.”

Ms Haylen warned anyone who took trains on the weekend across Sydney will be using buses instead on Saturdays and Sundays for at least a year and probably more.

“I want to be totally honest with everyone – for the next year or so we are going to massively disrupt the network on weekends while our crews get in and fix it,” she said.

“The work will be around the clock from midnight Friday to midnight Sunday.”

A new timetable introduced in 2017 was found to be responsible for the huge backlog on work and repairs because it left very little time for workers to gain access to tracks.

The sped-up maintenance plan is in response to recent interim recommendations made by a review of the Sydney rail network.

The review made 12 recommendations for restoring reliability to the network, which has suffered repeated meltdowns.

The report found poor weather and industrial action also played a part in the failures of maintenance, but the 2017 timetable change was the main culprit.

Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said clearing the maintenance backlog was the first and most important recommendation to come from the review.

“Signalling, overhead wiring, these will be among the priorities … and the impact of the rain. This year is about spending the money,” he said.

Ms Haylen said Sydney deserved a world-class rail network.

“People have lost faith in the system, they’ve been burnt too many times,” she said.

“It’s a year or more of pain but it will deliver the huge, world-class train system Sydney needs and deserves.”

The money for the rail repair drive will come from existing unspent maintenance budgets.


Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter.
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.