Sydney Trains are under siege. A new timetable coupled with understaffing issues has already resulted in a Nightmare Scenario where peak hour services are being cancelled and commuters left stranded. The drivers are overworked and exhausted and commuters are angry. With the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) announcing they will be taking industrial action from Friday, January 19, the problems are likely to get worse before they get any better.
From January 25, an "indefinite ban on overtime" will begin for transport workers due to the Government's inability to negoatiate 'a fair and reasonable enterprise agreement'. Over the past few weeks, transport staff have been expected to work overtime to compensate for the major delays that have occurred due to inclement weather, staffing issues and to cover for overbooked leave.
Presumably, the indefinite ban will hit Sydney Trains hard as they are already struggling to adequately roster staff and cover any delays that arise throughout the day. With the ban on overtime, staff will clock off when they hit their allocated hours, potentially resulting in further cancelled services and lengthy delays.
At present, it isn't clear exactly what lines this will affect, but on January 15, Sydney Trains had to cancel a number of services due to a lack of available staff across almost all major suburban lines apart from the T1. On January 16, senior union leaders and top rail officials will attend a workshop to refine the new timetable to cover delays so there may be some reprieve
So how can you avoid delays? The best way is to use real-time apps and social media. Delays currently look inevitable but you can prepare yourself by routinely checking services before you travel. I know this seems obvious, but familiarise yourself with the apps that are available and you may be able to avoid (some) pain.
Since moving to Sydney, I have always used TripView which you can find on the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. TripView is handy for live service updates and allows you to set custom routes, check upcoming trackwork dates and any potential news. The service works for Sydney, but is also available in Melbourne - so if your system carks it Victorians, you can grab this app too.
Transport NSW Info
If you're travelling on the network every day and not already using the service updates page at TransportNSW.info then you're going to have a bad time. The site is also important for accessibility options - unfortunately, Sydney Trains lags a long way behind at more suburban stations, with accessibility options poor or non-existent. Use this site.
The major Sydney Trains lines all have dedicated Twitter accounts that provides line-specific updates 24/7. A general twitter account - TrainsInfo - also provides status updates across the entire service throughout the day.
If you're looking to stay up to date with a particular line, you can do so at the links below. They have low follower counts, so it seems Twitter isn't used quite enough by daily commuters - but it's a platform that is literally built for a service like this.
- T1 Line: North Shore, Northern and Western
- T2 Line: Inner West and Leppington
- T3 Line: Bankstown
- T4 Line: Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra
- T5 Line: Cumberland
- T6 Line: Carlingford
- T7 Line: Olympic Park Line
- T8 Line: Airport and South Line
Travel At Different Times
A last resort, perhaps, and not one that will suit all commuters, but if at all possible, you should really consider alternate travel times. Bringing the morning commute from 8am back to 7am drastically changes the amount of people using the service - you might even get a seat!
You don't have to make a permanent change to your schedule but if you stay on top of service updates and find that you're going to be on experiencing delays, take off earlier.