Twelve months on and we are still in rail mess


Twelve months on and we are still in rail mess

Henry Budd
The Daily Telegraph
May 07, 2013 12:00AM

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Subway Lane Bridge

RailCorp conducted work on the Subway Lane Bridge at Homebush over the weekend / Pic: Stephen Cooper Source: The Daily Telegraph

Emma Martins

Emma Martins was caught up in the slow-moving CityRail chaos / Pic: John Appleyard Source: The Daily Telegraph

ALMOST a year to the day since Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced her “Fixing the Trains” reforms, tens of thousands of CityRail passengers were forced to endure lengthy delays and slow journeys after weekend track work ran overtime.

Many commuters were left wondering what had changed after engineers working on a subway bridge at Homebush failed to complete repairs in time for the busy Monday morning peak travel period – causing chaos across the Sydney railway network.

RailCorp began replacing steel spans of the bridge at 2am on Saturday but “issues arose during the infrastructure works that were not apparent until the demolition works were underway,” it said in a statement.

The upgrade was supposed to be finished by 2am yesterday, but crews were still onsite at 6am, causing massive delays across much of the network that persisted right through the afternoon peak.

It took more than 30 minutes for some services to crawl through two stations on the City Circle as the backlog of trains reverberated around the network. A train breakdown on the North Shore Line and repairs to signals on the South Coast Line only exacerbated the problem.

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Student Chris Riamirez, 22, said his train from Campbelltown to the City at 8am was more than an hour late.

“Half of my class was late and we had an exam this morning so we had to wait for them,” he said.

Delays left TAFE student Emma Martins 30 minutes late to lectures and also stranded her at Central Station at midday as she waited for her train home.

Yesterday’s delays – the 12th major disruption this year – are another black mark for a government that said it wanted to be “a world-class deliverer of rail passenger services”.

Ms Berejiklian launched the Fixing the Trains reforms on May 15 last year, with CityRail set to split into Sydney Trains and NSW Trainslink on July 1.

Yesterday even she was searching for answers, calling RailCorp’s explanation for the delays as unsatisfactory.

“It’s unacceptable that weekend infrastructure upgrade work that was due to finish at 2am went over-time,” she said. Opposition Leader John Robertson called for a fare-free day for passengers to make up for the delays: “This government inherited a network where on-time performance targets were being met on every line … now it is at its worst for at least four years.”

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