Fears of long delays after Sydney rail shake-up

Lee Jeloscek
Fears of long delays after Sydney rail shake-up

FIRST ON 7: Sydney's half a million rail commuters are being warned under-spending on tracks and train maintenance will only cause more frustrating delays.

7News can reveal cuts in key areas of the State Budget explain why delays are happening more often than not.

Train mechanical issues were blamed for delays on 19 days last month, and May was just as bad also with 19 days, while track problems caused delays on 14 of 20 June weekdays.

“That's an inconvenience to everyone on the network it's not one line it's four or five lines," the shadow transport minister Penny Sharpe said.

The Opposition fears funding cuts will make that worse.

Budget papers show train network spending has been slashed from $2.5 billion to $1.5 billion.

Staff costs for those who maintain the network cut from $5.2 million to $2.9 million, while spending on operations, which cover customer services, cleaning and security, will drop from $95 million to $56 million.

"There are massive underspends in projects that actually make the network run properly for passengers," Penny Sharpe said.

The transport minister refused to explain the cuts, but says money has gone up in other areas.

"Funding has been relocated where responsibility for projects has moved," Gladys Berejiklian said.

Critics welcome spending on new projects like the North West Rail Link, but say it shouldn't be at the expense of maintenance.

"They're robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that's not a good place to be at all," the Rail Tram and Bus Union’s Alex Claassens said.

It's no secret that the state government's transport priorities are new lines in Sydney's north-west and south-west.

But there are genuine concerns that the billions being spent on those lines are coming at a cost, with those maintenance cuts affecting all lines on the aging network.

We can certainly expect more maintenance issues, and more tough questions for the transport minister.