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It is the day everything changes on Sydney's train system - or, depending on how you look at things, the day very little changes.
RailCorp is disbanded. In its place are two new organisations, with some new executives, new uniforms, and according to the minister, new approaches to moving people about and telling people how they are doing it.
''It's really two years of work that has got us to this point and we still have a lot to do,'' Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said of the operating companies, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains that, from July 1, take the place of RailCorp and its brand CityRail.
Sydney Trains will run most trains that move through Sydney and its suburbs. NSW Trains will run Countrylink and outer services to the central coast, Blue Mountains and Illawarra.
Behind the scenes, the creation of the two new agencies has been a wrenching overhaul for RailCorp's formerly 15,000-strong workforce.
About 750 middle managers have already taken redundancy, hundreds more have applied for jobs that they are still not certain of getting, and many positions remain unfilled, except by those on temporary contracts.
For people using the trains, however, the changes might be less apparent. Ms Berejiklian says there will be better use of information screens, a higher ratio of staff helping customers as back office work is rationalised and, as the Opal card spreads across the system, a new approach to ticketing.
Commuters on the Western and North Shore lines might also notice different seats. Two carriages in one Tangara have had their seats re-aligned, allowing more standing room but fewer spots to sit down.
The new chief executive of Sydney Trains, Howard Collins, who until recently had been running the London Underground, said he was keen to see the results of the seating trial, which mirrored a change he made on London's Metropolitan Line.
''We had a lot of people saying 'save our seats' … but since the trains have come in actually people have changed their minds and said, 'Actually I can get in, I can get out, it is much quicker','' Mr Collins said.
Ms Berejiklian said customers had complained about the middle seat in the current three-seat pattern. In the refashioned Tangara, the three-seater is replaced by benches and two-seaters.
To date, Ms Berejiklian has faced minimal overt union resistance to her train overhaul, in part because redundancies have been mostly voluntary.
But passenger organiser in the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, Bob Newham, said one concern was that many staff appointed to new area management positions had little rail experience but tended to have human resource backgrounds. This could lead to problems when train operations went wrong, he said.
Mr Collins, who arrived in Australia on Thursday night, will have plenty of opportunity to get abreast of problems. Now ensconced in the Sutherland Shire, he will be on the Illawarra line to and from work.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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