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Sydney Trains will cut about 94 services a week from Monday as part of what it describes as a tweak to the rail timetable after the network suffered a major meltdown two months ago.
The changes – representing fewer than 1 per cent of the thousands of services each week –will mainly affect the Northern, North Shore, Bankstown, Cumberland and Carlingford lines.
Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins said the services to be cut were mostly late at night or early in the morning, and Opal data showed them to have low patronage levels.
“We are re-using the train resources and the driver resources. We don't want to run trains when people are not using them,” he said.
“Some of these services are at 4.30 in the morning or after midnight.”
A high-level report, released last month, into the rail network’s ability to recover from major incidents following the meltdown on January 8 and 9, found it remained vulnerable to disruption because it was ‘‘complex and tangled’’ due to multiple branches of lines, cross overs and junctions.
The short-term measures recommended included reducing services with “very low patronage” during off-peak periods to improve incident recovery during the morning and evening peaks, recruiting more drivers and upgrading old communication systems.
A new timetable introduced on November 26 was blamed by Labor and rail unions for reducing the ability of the system to recover from delays caused by major incidents.
Labor's transport spokeswoman, Jodi McKay, said the government needed to be “up front and tell people” what services would be cut and where, rather than wait to find out on Monday.
On Wednesday morning, passengers experienced delays on the Western, Northern and North Shore lines after a train broke down near Broadmeadow and signal equipment needed urgent repairs. About 20 passengers on the train had to be helped off and transferred to other services.
The operational challenges come as about 11,500 rail workers decide on whether to accept a new enterprise agreement in a ballot that begins on Thursday.
The proposed deal includes a 3 per cent annual pay increase for three years, a one-off $1000 payment, 64 weeks paid redundancy, and an extended travel pass on public transport.
Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins says the services to be cut are mostly late at night or early in the morning.
Photo: Nick Moir
The proposed annual pay rise is 0.5 percentage points above the cap on NSW public sector wages of 2.5 per cent. The government said the pay deal for rail workers did not breach the cap because it was offset by “employee-related savings”.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance urged rail workers to “support the deal” which he said was a “very attractive proposition” for staff.
“We are not getting too much negative feedback,” he said.
The ballot closes on March 23.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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