Second Sydney train shutdown a possibility

Phoebe Loomes |

NSW’s Transport Minister says new threats of industrial action could shut down Sydney trains again.
NSW’s Transport Minister says new threats of industrial action could shut down Sydney trains again.

Sydney commuters catching trains should expect disruptions over the next two weeks as unions and the government duke it out again.

Transport for NSW confirmed to AAP on Tuesday the Rail, Tram and Bus Union are planning a form of protected industrial action weekend “adding to ongoing indefinite action by the Electrical Trades Union”.

“The new RTBU actions include a ban on altered working and transpositions for train crew, which will reduce the number of train services operating during the two-week period,” said a Sydney Trains spokesperson.

“At this stage customers should prepare for disruption over the two-week period”.

Earlier in the day, Transport Minister David Elliott went further saying the threats of industrial action on the city’s rail network could lead to rail operators from Transport for NSW shutting down all trains in Sydney.

“There is a strong possibility that any of this industrial action, over a long period of time, could cause the rail management to restrict services,” said Mr Elliott.

“The advice that I have got is that there is every possibility that we will not be able to run the network,” he added.

The RTBU demanded the state government offer Sydney commuters free travel on Fridays until June to say sorry for their decision to shut down all trains during its dispute with the union last month.

“You can’t just shut down a railway with no notice whatsoever, falsely accuse workers of being behind it, and then hope everyone just forgets about it,” RTBU NSW Secretary Alex Claassens said.

The NSW government previously said it would give commuters free travel days as compensation but the perk did not eventuate.

Mr Elliott said some commuters in flood affected regions had gone three weeks without services and he was not going to offer the people of Richmond free fares when there were no trains.

Asked when people might see train disruptions or a shut down, the transport minister said it was dependent on how many services required repair and what kind of disruption the industrial action could potentially cause.

The Transport Minister said decisions over when the network would be shutdown would need to be put operators at Transport for NSW.