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Media Release 2013-03-12 — City Rail

CityRail disruption: deferred maintenance to blame

This morning, Tuesday the 12th March 2013, the city’s railway network was brought down by a regime of underinvestment and deferred maintenance. Over the past decade Sydney ’s railway network has experienced repeated major incidents that have disrupted the lives of city’s residents and the centre of the state’s economy.

Some incidents like Strathfield’s dodgy air-conditioning fan-belt have shown that chronic underinvestment has left the city without redundant systems to ensure the continued operation of what should be a high availability network.

However, the repeated tangling of pantographs in the overhead wiring is an inexcusable example of maladministration by the NSW State Government.

“These incidents are usually very rare on the world’s railways. However, the state’s insistence on deferring essential maintenance to free funds for building motorways have left Sydney ’s most important asset in a troubled state.”

During the morning, commuters received confused and conflicting information about not only the nature of the incident but also the simple fact of its location. Ecotransit has since been told that this morning’s incident was caused when the pantograph at fault tangled in the catenary on the Northern Line.

“This morning I was standing at Chatswood, Minister Berejiklian’s local station, with hundreds of other passengers waiting for a shuttle to Macquarie Park . We were the lucky ones; others are reported to have been trapped on a train for two hours waiting for the state to respond” said EcoTransit Sydney Co-Convenor, Mat Hounsell.

“It has been two years since the Minister has taken over responsibility from John Robertson; it is her government’s decisions that are driving the state’s rail network.”

“It is the decisions by the Premier and his Ministers to cut funds and to reduce maintenance work that is causing more suffering commuters of NSW. It is time for them to take responsibility and then to take action and invest in the existing rail network.”

“The Premier of NSW, Barry O’Farrell, and his Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian have insisted that RailCorp slash its maintenance budget and reduce staff to fund the Minister’s plan to reorganise the operator and to build a smaller number of larger depots. This morning the city’s commuters saw the disruption that reduced maintenance will cause.”

“On Monday, commuters suffered replacement buses as a tree fell on the Main Western Line. With the proposed reorganisation the number of wiring workers nearby to handle the incident would be halved to just nine. Additional workers would be jumping in trucks at Blacktown to hurry the hundred minute drive to Lithgow.

“Demand for public transport has been growing strongly in NSW for the past five years, the Premier of NSW, Barry O’Farrell, and his Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian need to invest in the maintenance and expansion of Sydney ’s railway network just to cope with growing demand”

“The NSW Government’s insistence on diverting limited public funds to build ill-considered motorways and tie up the state’s rail system preparing for its privatisation is already negatively affecting the state’s harried commuters.”

“As every engineer has told the government you can not ensure a reliable transport system by cutting $126 million from the funding used to keep it running.”

Ecotransit Co-Convenor
Mathew Hounsell