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Trains on Sydney's Cityrail network will be officially allowed to run even later from September next year, when the new timetable comes into effect.
It means peak-hour trains that run five minutes late will be regarded as running "on time".
At the moment suburban peak-hour trains are only declared late if they are four minutes or more behind their scheduled time of arrival.
But the rail safety regulator has examined the issue, and found that the benchmarks for measuring on-time running are too tight compared with other rail systems.
The regulator's head Carolyn Walsh says safety concerns, and poor maintenance are also factors slowing down the system.
She says there is a strong case for bringing in an even slower train timetable.
"This isn't about lowering the standard, it's actually about ensuring that the standards that are being put in place by the Government can actually be delivered," she said.
Shadow Transport Minister Michael Gallagher says the move to change the definition of on-time running has nothing to do with safety, but is purely designed to make the figures look better than they are.
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