Govt plan to cut off-peak trains to help peak services

Cutbacks: Rail Tram and Bus Union's Alex Claassens is in favour of government plans to cut off-peak services and turn them into standby trains for peak periods. Picture: Adam McLean
Cutbacks: Rail Tram and Bus Union's Alex Claassens is in favour of government plans to cut off-peak services and turn them into standby trains for peak periods. Picture: Adam McLean

The rail union is in favour of cutting off-peak train services to bolster the morning and evening peaks.

This is one of eight recommendations from a government review on how to avoid a recurrence of the chaos hit the rail network in early January.

On January 8 and 9, network was hit with a raft of cancelled trains due to a shortage of available staff and damage to rail infrastructure caused by lightning strikes.

Compounding the problem was last year’s introduction of the government’s More Trains More Services scheme on what Transport Secretary Rodd Staples referred to as a “complex and tangled” rail network.

The South Coast line was not hit as hard as Sydney lines, partially due to the fact the scheme saw no extra services added last year.

On Thursday, the government released a four-page report detailing how to make the network more resilient.

Among the eight recommendations there was a plan to cut some midday services so as to have trains on standby to deal with possible issues in the morning and evening peaks.

“Minor adjustments to scheduled services should be considered, aimed at reallocating crew resources from services with very low patronage levels during off peak periods to provide extra capacity for incident recovery during peak periods,” the report stated.

Rail Tram and Bus Union NSW secretary Alex Claassens was in favour of the move, which would create some “flexibility” in the network.

Off-peak train services will be cut to ensure there are enough standby trains during the peak periods to avoid a repeat of last month's rail chaos. Picture: Robert Peet

Off-peak train services will be cut to ensure there are enough standby trains during the peak periods to avoid a repeat of last month's rail chaos. Picture: Robert Peet

“We need to get some standby trains back,’ Mr Claassens said.

“We were running so many services and some of those services weren’t even fully used. We need to stop and think about how many people we’ve got and the resources we have available and make some distinct cuts until we’ve got more trains and more train drivers.”

He suggested Opal card data could be used to determine the least popular services.

The report also recommended speeding up the recruitment process for train drivers, improving communications between the network management centre and crews and transferring responsibility for sourcing replacement buses from Sydney Trains to Transport for NSW.

Mr Claassens said the network needed as many as 150 extra drivers – “today”.

“We’re losing train crew to other states. We’ve again called on the minister to work out how we’re going to fix that.”

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said he would work with Transport for NSW and Sydney Trains “to enact all the recommendations of this report”.

Comments

Discuss "Union supports government plan to cut off-peak trains"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.