More disruption ahead for NSW commuters

NSW rail commuters can expect more disruption to services after talks between the union and government failed to resolve their long-running dispute.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has flagged it will "return to the well-trodden path of disruptive industrial action" after talks failed to secure a new industrial enterprise agreement or resolve issues regarding the safety of the mothballed Korean-made train fleet.

Union Secretary Alex Claassens vowed to fight for commuter safety, saying the $2.8 billion warehoused Intercity Fleet needed urgent modifications - which the state government has been unwilling to pay for.

"Despite our efforts, we're going to have to resort to traditional types of industrial action ... due to the fact that the government is still refusing to come to the bargaining table," he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

"We are left with no option but to resort to actions ... which will start slowly and ramp up to serious actions that will ultimately affect our commuters in approximately two weeks."

The union and government have been at loggerheads all year, frustrating commuters with repeated action, which culminated in a month of targeted strikes and bans in August.

The latest protected action will include overtime bans on working with contractors, which will escalate to staff refusing to operate foreign-made trains, compounded by workers walking off the job for a few hours towards the end of the month.

Employee Relations Minister Damien Tudehope responded by escalating the war of words, threatening to rip up previous agreements on safety modifications if industrial action resumes.

"In the event that there's industrial action which causes any inconvenience to commuters ... we will have no hesitation - and it's the premier's firm commitment - that that agreement to carry out alterations to the New InterCity Fleet will be torn up," he told reporters.

"The transport system of this state is not owned and run by the RTBU. It is owned by the people and the commuters of this state.

"We're duty bound to protect (them) and we need to run a proper rail system for their benefit."

The latest union decision comes after the government refused the union's "modest pay offer".

Mr Tudehope said the government was standing firm on its "consistent" wage cap policy because it did not want to give "preferential treatment" to the RTBU.

Mr Claassens said the government was "trying to sue (the union) out of existence", with a Fair Work Commission case pending and another case in the Federal Court.

Last week, a federal judge refused an application by the RTBU to expedite a hearing on whether its proposal to turn off Opal card readers for commuters was legal and protected.

Asked whether the union's proposed actions this month could test commuters' patience, Mr Claassens said the onus was on top government decision-makers - referring chiefly to Premier Dominic Perrottet - to show up to negotiations to prevent industrial action.

"Until we get those key decision-makers, we're going to keep going around in circles," he said.

"I hope they (the public) understand it's not us.

"This could all stop tomorrow if the government decides to sit at the table and stop playing political games."