Independent reliability audit for ageing Sydney Rail Network

The Sydney Business Chamber says a reliability audit is needed to pinpoint the reasons for declining punctuality and performance of the ageing Sydney heavy rail network that has been built over the past 150 years.
“Over recent years billions have been spent on new light rail with more to come, but our existing heavy rail network is struggling to support the increase in rail commuters. The reliability of the system is clearly being compromised by very old infrastructure,” said Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber.
“A minor mechanical fault on a train at Town Hall station caused an entire day of delays across Sydney's rail network on 23 August and unfortunately such incidents are happening more frequently.”
The CEO of Sydney Trains blamed the “archaic” system and “Frankenstein” infrastructure for the most recent train chaos in the city, calling it a “failure of our system that one train can stop the entire network.”
“We need to establish if the heavy rail network is being maintained and updated to keep pace with the 28% increase in passenger numbers over the past five years.  This rise in usage demands a commensurate increase in maintenance expenditure,” said Ms O’Regan.
“Given the challenges in maintaining complex and ageing rail infrastructure we are recommending an independent reliability audit to assess the condition and capability of the network, rolling stock, switching and signalling equipment, maintenance scheduling and recovery procedures with a view to improving reliability.”
“Concerning is the fact that total maintenance expenditure shrank in 2016/17 and rose less than CPI last year - during a period when passenger demand grew markedly.”
“An independent audit would help inform and justify future maintenance and investment considerations with the ultimate objective being to ensure we have a functioning and reliable Sydney rail system.”


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David Peters

Public Affairs Manager, Sydney Business Chamber