The state government’s new intercity fleet isn’t in service yet and it’s already looking like it could end up being a white elephant.
The news about the trains hasn’t been good ever since Transport Minister Andrew Constance signed the $2.3 billion contract in August 2016.
Then there was the news there be substantially fewer seats available on the new trains as compared to the Oscars now on the line – a total of around 100 fewer seats.
Then it got worse, because it wasn’t 100 fewer seats, it was actually as many as 224. And those seats would be fixed in position, forcing some to travel backwards.
Next up was the jaw-dropper that the trains wouldn’t fit through tunnels on the Blue Mountains line, though at least that won’t be an issue on the South Coast line.
Just last week came the news Illawarra commuters told the government in a survey that reversible seating was important to them but the government ignored them and opted for fixed seats – half of which would face backwards.
In that same survey, commuters said they liked getting a seat. Despite knowing that, the government went ahead and ordered a train with fewer seats.
Sure, there are add-ons with the new fleet, like tray tables and in-arm phone chargers which some will no doubt see as a benefit.
But it’s a no brainer that the front-facing seats will fill first, forcing some to stand rather than occupy a backwards-facing seat and risk motion sickness all the way to Sydney.
It’s also a no-brainer that more people will be standing on these trains, simply because hundreds of seats have been taken away.
And you can’t help but wonder, what’s going to be the next problem with these trains?