Peak-hour train cancellations have left Sydney commuters facing lengthy delays across the city with wet weather and a slew of sickies to blame.
Commuters travelling during morning and evening peak hours on Monday experienced disruptions and cancellations to several services across the city’s rail network with transport authorities blaming the weather and staff sickness.
Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins apologised after the morning rail chaos and said Monday’s spike in sick leave was accompanied by the loss of drivers who were forced to take time off after witnessing recent upsetting incidents.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said more than 110 workers were sick or absent for other reasons.
“No one should be blaming any staff here, this is just obviously a little bit of a blip,” Mr Constance told reporters.
He said Sydney Trains had been expecting 76 workers to call in sick.
“There is nothing industrial in this, there is nothing untoward, it’s just unfortunate.”
Mr Constance says figures show Sydney’s train network is “bursting at the seams” and congratulated rail staff for their ability to usually deliver an efficient system.
But Rail, Tram and Bus Union secretary Alex Claassens said the government had spread staff so thin that “a few” workers off sick meant big delays for the network.
“If you’re running a service that completely crashes whenever there is an incident or a few workers are off, you’ve got serious problems,” he said in a statement.
“The NSW government closed down one of our major train lines last week, and they’re running a timetable that relies on workers doing overtime to keep it running.”
Mr Collins dismissed this claim, saying recent timetable changes at Chatswood meant there were more train drivers available for rostering.
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley weighed in on the chaos promising a Labor government would refund the Opal fares of passengers whose trains were delayed more than 30 minutes.
But Mr Constance labelled the proposal “stupid”.
“Nice gimmick mate … quite frankly he can’t do it,” he told 2GB radio.
“You can’t measure a passenger who taps on at Central and then work out where they’re going. We actually have the Opal set up based on stations not on trains.”
Monday’s delays affected services on the T1 North Shore, T2 Inner West and Leppington, T3 Bankstown, T5 Cumberland and T8 Airport South lines, with buses called in to assist passengers.
A Sydney Trains spokesperson said authorities were working towards providing a normal service for Tuesday morning’s peak commute.