Peak-hour commuters have been stranded at Wollongong station for the third time this year.
And one of those commuters is concerned it could start happening more and more often as the Oscar train fleet gets older.
On a normal day, the 4.46pm from Central stops at Wollongong and is divided into two trains of four.
One train then returns up the line to Thirroul to become an all-stations to Port Kembla service while the other carries remaining passengers onto Coniston, Unanderra and Dapto.
But last Friday around 100 commuters heading home to Coniston, Unanderra and Dapto were stuck on Wollongong station without a train.
The eight-car Oscar train could not be separated, and so the passengers found themselves on the platform, watching the entire train heading north.
“Eventually we got the ‘mechanical fault’ message come through,” said Dapto commuter Romeo Cecchele.
“That was after they tried to separate them, then said they were going to keep on trying. Eventually they failed to separate the two sets of four carriages.”
He said he had to wait around 25 minutes to catch the next train.
It is the third time these commuters have seen their trip cut short and Mr Cecchele said he expected to see it happen more frequently due to the age of the Oscar fleet and “especially with the cutback in maintenance staff and maintenance depots”.
“[The Oscars are] stating to get a bit long in the tooth – they’re around 30-35 years old,” he claimed.
“That’s when they start getting lots of maintenance issues.”
However information from Sydney Trains said Oscars first came into service in 2006.
A NSW TrainLink spokeswoman said the driver of the 4.46pm had reported a mechanical problem with a carriage at Waterfall.
The train could continue to Wollongong but did not have enough mechanical power to divide into two four-car sets.
“NSW TrainLink apologises to these customers for the delay in completing their journey,” the spokeswoman said.
“Customers travelling between Wollongong and Dapto on Friday were unfortunately delayed at Wollongong due to a train with a mechanical problem. Customers were able to catch the next train to Dapto leaving Wollongong 18 minutes later.”
The first time commuters on this service were stuck at Wollongong was on April 5, when Oscar cars had been replaced by Tangaras.
The Tangaras cannot be divided at Wollongong, so the train terminated.
It happened again on April 19, which NSW TrainLink said was caused by a “technical issue”.