Allow extra travel time as delays on Sydney’s train network continues

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Sydney Train
The 41-year-old man fell on Wednesday night on the tracks of the Warwick Farm Railway station and was trapped under the carriage. Facebook/Sydney Trains

Staffing issues have plagued Sydney trains, making it a challenge for commuters to travel to and from work. Travellers on the North Shore line received a fresh warning on early Monday.

“#NorthShoreLine Allow extra travel time from the city due to urgent signal equipment repairs at Milsons Point,” Sydney Trains wrote in a tweet. The advice comes after last week’s cancellations and delays on Sydney’s train network.

A Sydney Trains spokesman told AAP on Sunday that the cancellation of several trains due to “staff availability” and the opening of the new Hornsby junction can lead to disruptions on the rail network. Up to 36 mostly peak-hour services were expected to be cancelled Monday.

Ahead of the “pressure day,” rail bosses met with the Rail, Train and Bus Union last week to discuss the issues. RTBU NSW Secretary Alex Claassens on Sunday called it a “ridiculous” state of affairs that the train system was breaking at the seams from “foreseen events.”

Monday’s cancellation came after 92 services have been cancelled by the rail operator on Saturday because of “unexpected train crew changes.” It also included 44 on the T1 Northern, North Shore and Western Line.

Sydney Trains’ annual reports show that the size of its workforce jumped slightly in its first four years as an entity. The slight rise occurred amid the demands of the booming population.

The total number of train crew was at 2,469 by the end of last June. It was an increase of 22 people since its first year of existence as an entity.

For Labor leader Luke Foley, it was staggering to see how few train crew had been employed since 2013. He believes proper workforce planning was not done to ensure that the new timetable had the resources in place prior to its rollout. He added that was partly a reason for the “shambolic meltdown” of the train network.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Sydney Trains as saying that the figures under-sell the size of the rise in train crew. The number of crewmembers, excluding supervisors, trainers and line managers, jumped by 4.4 percent from mid-2014 to the end of last year to 2,461 from 2,357.

The government reportedly declared last week that 225 new staff members were added for Sydney Trains. An additional 165 would undergo training by the end of this month. The Opal card has allowed Sydney Trains to ditch ticket-selling positions.