Sydney Train Services To Be Severely Disrupted Australia Day Weekend [UPDATED]

Sydney Train Services To Be Severely Disrupted Australia Day Weekend [UPDATED]
Image: iStock

With a ban on overtime for Sydney Trains staff beginning from January 25, the flailing network will be under a lot pressure to provide services to the Sydney metropolitan area this Australia Day long weekend. An announcement late yesterday afternoon confirms that, from Thursday, train services will see major disruptions and run to a reduced timetable.

Rail services will be severely limited from January 25 onward while bus, ferry and light rail will continue service as normal.

The reason for the disruption is planned industrial action by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) as they continue their negotiations for better working conditions with Sydney Trains bosses and the Government. The Union had struck a deal with Sydney Trains bosses as of late January 23, which would see staff receive a 2.75 per cent pay rise, a one-off $1000 payment to each employee and free travel using Opal cards. The Union took the offer to its members overnight and it is to be voted on by midday, January 24, potentially cancelling any of the planned industrial action.

However, one driver told Lifehacker that the result for this offer “will be a resounding no” and what has been put to them is “a slap in the face”.

The last minute offer was rejected by members of the RTBU, meaning that planned industrial action will go ahead tomorrow, January 25.

“It will be a complete nightmare for commuters. Every train I see in the morning peak is absolutely packed, but half that capacity and it will just be impossible. Maybe worse than last Tuesday,” explains the driver. Up to 1300 services will be cancelled tomorrow, essentially running a weekend timetable on a busy week day. It is expected that the peak periods will see disruptions.

On Australia Day itself, both T5 and T6 lines will be cancelled, with shuttle buses replacing trains. After 4pm, some additional services will be available from Sydney Olympic Park. Regional trains will run to the usual Friday schedule.

On January 28, no regional train services will run. suggests that “roads are expected to be busier than normal and congestion will occur throughout the day, so you should avoid driving or allow plenty of extra travel time.”

It also recommends employers speak to staff about alternative working arrangements, suggesting working from home, taking annual leave or changing start and finish times.

All the information regarding the service interruptions, as well as information on planning your trip ahead of time, can be found here.

We’ll keep you updated as more information comes to hand.


  • “Industrial action taken by driver’s union” – Good on ’em.

    Sydney’s cost of living is absolutely ridiculous, a new timetable was approved which was warned (well in advance) would cause major issues if anything happened, there’s the potential for the train infrastructure becoming privatised and so they are looking for job/wage growth security, AND the government recorded a $4.5b surplus in the last 2016-17 year budget. All good reasons for them to take protected industrial actions – a first step in telling the Transport Minister/Premier they’re chock full of shit.

    Please tell me again, Mr Transport Minister and Ms Premier, why you’re trying to kill one of the most important pieces of infrastructure (especially when you consider we’re paying through the ass in road tolls, which are showing no possible reduction in congestion cause we have peak hour traffic at 9pm) that Sydney-siders use for the sake of a measly 3.5% a year because of a dumbass Wages Policy, which shits on not only these people, but nurses, teachers, emergency workers, hell, all public sector employees?

    • were also paying through the ass for train fare in this state. coupled with the fact that there is now advertising plastered inside 90% of the carriages.

  • Good post by @koreyjames. I, too, support the Sydney Trains staff in standing up and saying that enough is enough.

    For those who don’t know this yet, the pay levels of Sydney Trains drivers and the problems they have with staffing numbers (driver attrition) are related.

    Melbourne and Brisbane both start their drivers $20K higher in base pay than Sydney does. A 6% pay rise each year for 4 years will significantly close that gap by the end of the 4 years (although because Melbourne and Brisbane drivers are getting annual pay rises, there will still be a gap even after 4 years — but it won’t be $20K).

    People who want to become train drivers, who can get accepted into either a Melbourne or Brisbane training program, tend to prefer to do that. And those who get accepted to the Sydney training program will often leave shortly after gaining their driver credentials … and go to (bet you can’t see this coming) Melbourne or Brisbane as a fully trained driver, for an immediate $20K pa pay rise. Furthermore, existing Sydney Trains drivers who want quality of life (either in terms of cost of living, or the ability to earn a near 6-figure income without overtime) often transfer to Melbourne or Brisbane as well.

    As far as why drivers are “worth” that kind of pay increase when, say, teachers or nurses aren’t, I would say that train drivers in Sydney are in a relatively unusual situation — they have skills that are marketable in other capital cities, for $20K more than they are in Sydney. I’d guess that most teachers or nurses making a lateral move to another capital city wouldn’t be able to command that kind of pay rise, because the value of their skills is more equal across major cities. If anything, I’d expect the Sydney wage to exceed the others, for cost of living reasons. Since Sydney Trains cannot control what the other employers are willing to offer, it has to get a lot closer to matching other employers’ offers in order to build staffing levels up to a level at which the schedule can be implemented without requiring most drivers to do 12-day fortnights (that’s 1 day off a week, and it gets exhausting after a while when you’re in a job where you must constantly be alert and your shifts start and end at variable times of the day).

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