Sydney train commute took four times longer in ‘meltdown’

Gordon Station on Tuesday evening. Photo: Supplied by James Beauchamp It took commuter?? Anita Thorsteinsson one hour and 45 minutes to get from Wynyard Station to Campsie – a trip she says normally takes about 25 minutes. Photo:?? Anita Thorsteinsson

Commuters were left fuming on Wednesday after massive delays and cancellations across the Sydney rail network on Tuesday evening left them stranded.

Storm damage on Tuesday morning and a lack of staff led to long queues and overcrowding at major stations including Central, Wynyard and Town Hall. Commuters were advised to delay non-essential travel or take buses to ease pressure on the train network.

One commuter, Anita Thorsteinsson, said her usual 25-minute trip from Wynyard to Campsie took one hour and 45 minutes on Tuesday night.

“Yesterday was the worst, a few trains have been cancelled in the mornings and the afternoons; it seems every third or fourth one cancelled,” she said.

“On the old timetable, there was a little bit more time between trains but less were cancelled.”

While Ms Thorsteinsson said she initially thought the new train timetables looked good, the system seemed to collapse quickly when there was an issue.

“Generally the only thing doing my head in is – when there is some sort of issue – the entire system breaks down, the entire thing falls apart. It just doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley blamed Tuesday night’s “shambolic meltdown” on the new timetable, telling Seven News that six weeks into the new system these problems are not acceptable.

“Dozens of train services are being cancelled. Look at the boards and, in some cases, you are told next train, on a particular line, is hours away. This has been a catastrophic meltdown,” he said.

Another commuter, Erin Riley, said the timetable changes meant she has to leave from a different station, and spend about another hour commuting each day.

“We live in Panania, and since the shift over to the new timetable, there’ve been huge cancellations – barely a week without one,” she said.

Ms Riley said she and her partner had to race to get to their daughter’s childcare centre before 6pm to avoid the $1-a-minute after-hours fees – a fee they managed to avoid by just two minutes on Tuesday.

“I left work even earlier than normal, got on a train that was 35 minutes late when I got on it, and I got lucky it didn’t stop,” she said.

On Wednesday, some trains from Hornsby to Central, Central to Epping, Central to Gordon and Macarthur to Central were cancelled before 8am due to staff availability issues.

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