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FURIOUS Sydney commuters say they experienced huge delays up until the early hours of this morning — which were caused by a single incident almost 12 hours earlier.
The city’s Transport Management Centre said services had returned to normal in time for peak hour this morning — but tired commuters have said the issues took too long to fix.
The T1 Northern & Western line and T8 Airport line both tweeted after midnight, advising passengers to allow extra travel time and consider using night rider bus services instead.
Disruption began on Thursday afternoon, when a track closure at Burwood due to a fatality was compounded by signalling issues at Strathfield, Petersham and Summer Hill.
One fed-up Sydneysider told news.com.au that his journey home, which usually takes around 30 minutes, was almost tripled.
“When I arrived at Kirribilli (in the city’s north) the platform sign said it was two minutes until the next train,” said Alex Grivas from Alexandria, in the city’s inner west.
“I had heard about the delays earlier in the day, so I thought I was pretty lucky to be able to jump on the train so quickly. But then, the sign stayed on two minutes and didn’t change for about 15 minutes.”
While considering jumping in a Uber because he thought the train wouldn’t arrive, he was relieved to see the heavily delayed service pull up at the platform.
However, when he boarded the carriage at around 9pm — which he says was “crazily crowded” for that time of the night — his commute was far from a smooth ride.
“The train made it to Town Hall and then it just came to a standstill,” he said. “After about 20 minutes, the train moved a little further down the track towards Central and it stopped again for another 20 minutes.
“There were a couple of announcements saying there was a backlog of trains trying to get into to Central and they kept apologising for the delays.
“I don’t understand how something that happened nine hours ago in Burwood can cause that much of a delay to a North Shore service. It’s an absolute farce.”
He sentiment was echoed on social media where hundreds of angry commuters wanted to know why the delays were so bad yesterday.
“Why is our system so sensitive that an issue at one non-major station at non-peak hour shifts the entire network for the day?” asked one commuter on Reddit.
Other commuters, however, said there were bigger issues to consider than delays for commuters.
“It is sickening that some people, knowing there was a fatality, still whinge at the inconvenience caused to them, like they are the real victims,” wrote one commenter on Twitter. “Please spare a thought for the person, their family and friends, the train crew, and those that witnessed it.”
Mehreen Faruqi, a NSW Greens MP, said what happened at Burwood was a real tragedy — but for trains to be delayed for so long points to bigger, systemic problems.
“In a global city like Sydney, an incident on Thursday midday shouldn’t be causing delays all afternoon and night,” she told news.com.au. “Our systems lacks any kind of resilience or ability to recover from incidents.”
A spokeswoman for Sydney Trains said it would like to apologise to customers who experienced delays on our network yesterday.
“When significant incidents like this occur, we do all that we can to get services running again on time,” she said.
“While we continued to provide a regular service during the evening peak period, there were some gaps as a result of the incidents.
“Some services continued to be affected late last night as we worked hard to re-position trains to allow us to run this morning’s services on time.
“On time running of services during this morning’s peak period was 94.1 percent with only a few cancelled services due to mechanical issues.”
It follows a high-level review into the rail network’s ability to recover from major incidents after passengers endured two days of delays and cancellations in early January.
The report, released in February, acknowledged the city’s “tangled” and “complex” network made it vulnerable to disruption and underlying issues with crew availability.
It made eight recommendations, including minor adjustments to scheduled off-peak services that are used by very few people, to provide extra capacity when incidents hit the peak periods.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW secretary Alex Claassens said the report showed that the new timetable was not working.
“The report vindicates rail workers and the warnings they have been giving the NSW Government for months,” he said. “We have consistently warned (Transport) Minister (Andrew) Constance that this unsustainable timetable and chronic understaffing have left the entire rail network critically vulnerable.
“We saw just how vulnerable our railway is and ... the Government’s own report proves us right.”
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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