Just two weeks after 100 people were left stranded at Wollongong railway station when their train terminated three stops early it has happened again.
A fortnight ago the 4.46pm service from Sydney that normally stops at Coniston, Unanderra and Dapto after Wollongong, where it divides into two trains of four carriages, terminated – without warning.
Romeo Cecchele was on board on April 5 and was one of dozens of passengers left waiting on the platform. They were told by a station attendant that there was a lack of trains on the network and the old Tangara was needed in Sydney. Commuters waited 20 minutes for the next service.
NSW TrainLink said the service terminated early at Wollongong but that was due to the usual Oscar train being replaced by a Tangara - which cannot be divided. A spokesperson said the eight-car train was sent north to Thirroul because there would have been a longer delay for customers on the Thirroul to Port Kembla train if it had been cancelled.
Mr Cecchele was back on the same 4.46pm service on Wednesday this week when it happened again. He said the eight carriage train from Central left on time and pulled in on time at Wollongong at 6:15pm. Staff generally take at least five minutes to separate the train so that the southern four carriages continue on to Dapto with at least 100 passengers on board. But Mr Cecchele said the carriages could not be separated. And this time it was an Oscar train not a Tangara.
“After 15 minutes..we were told at 6:30pm that the train has a mechanical malfunction and will be terminating at Wollongong. So at least 100 passengers were stranded going to Dapto,’’ he said.
Passengers waited for the train to be moved making the next train, a Kiama service, late. Commuters finally arrived at Dapto at 7pm.
“Not only do I have to put up with a 1:45 minutes ride each way to work which costs me $3328 per year in Opal Ticket fares. I have to put up with a terminated train..which strands 100 plus people at Wollongong train station until the next train. Our trains are becoming more and more faulty,” Mr Cecchele said.
NSW TrainLink said the 4.32pm Bondi Junction to Dapto service was unable to operate beyond Wollongong because the Oscar train could not be divided as a result of an unexpected technical fault. “The technical issue..was unrelated to the cancellation of the same Wollongong to Dapto service two weeks ago. Customers who were travelling to stations between Wollongong and Dapto caught the following train. NSW TrainLink apologises to customers who were affected by the cancellation of the service,” a spokesperson said.