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Unlike many commuters, NSW's longest serving train guard, Patrick Breen, is sad to see the last of the S-Set trains retired from service on Sydney's suburban rail network.
"They are a fantastic train. They are reliable and, if anything goes wrong with them, they are easy to fix," Mr Breen, 68, said aboard one of the oldest S-Sets in the fleet as it crossed Sydney Harbour Bridge to mark the retirement of the trains.
After 47 years of service, the last of the trains dubbed "sweat sets" by passengers due to their lack of air conditioning will officially be retired in the early hours of Saturday morning when the last timetabled service leaves from Olympic Park Station at 12.02am.
Driver Vince Vassiliou and Transport Minister Andrew Constance on S-Set 3001 as it passes over Sydney Harbour Bridge on Thursday. CREDIT:BROOK MITCHELL
Despite many passengers' feelings about them, the S-sets have a special place in the hearts of Mr Breen and wife Sandra, 65, a train driver for the past 16 years, who have worked together on the trains – him at the back and her at the front.
"The question she always asks me is, 'was I all right?' Mr Breen said. "She loves working on them because there are no issues with them. The older you get, the less technology you like."
Air-conditioning units were placed in the driver cabins of the S-Sets more than 15 years ago but not fitted in carriages because of power supply issues and a lack of suitable places to put them.
In recent years, the trains have been kept in service for much longer than the government planned because of the need for extra trains to meet a surge in patronage. Over the past five years, the number of trips taken annually has risen from 300 million to 420 million.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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