SYDNEY, AAP – NSW trains will again hit the tracks with a reduced capacity of 25 per cent as the showdown between the rail union and the government continues, leaving commuters frustrated.
After nearly 48 hours of rail turmoil in Sydney, the NSW government on Tuesday afternoon backed down in its fight with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, withdrawing proceedings against it at the Fair Work Commission.
Trains on Tuesday operated at limited capacity, with buses supplementing some services. The same limited service will continue on Wednesday and for the rest of the week, Transport for NSW confirmed to AAP.
“As a minimum, the rail timetable being operated today will continue for the remainder of this week to ensure a basic level of frequency for customers who rely on our services while protected industrial action continues,” it said.
In a bid to keep peace talks moving, the government is set to meet the union later this week to discuss the city’s train fleet, wages and safety.
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Transport Minister David Elliott told reporters at a press conference the government’s withdrawal was “in the interest of transparency and goodwill”.
RTBU Secretary Alex Claassens described the union’s industrial position as “vindicated”, and reiterated that the shuttering of the network this week was ordered by NSW transport officials.
With the stoush at the industrial umpire now put aside, Mr Claassens said the challenge was to get the system “back up and running properly”, and pointed to Monday for a possible resumption of regular services.
“We’re fairly confident we can do that, even with our protected action in place,” he said.
The system shutdown on Monday blindsided about half a million commuters, with many left stranded across Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Illawarra.
The union at the time insisted limited industrial action planned for the day would not have affected safety and workers were ready to run the trains.
The RTBU has been at loggerheads with the government since 2021 over a new enterprise agreement, with concerns regarding safety guarantees, hygiene and privatisation resulting in two work stoppages since September.