Sydney train passengers put at risk

Lee Jeloscek
Sydney train passengers’ safety at risk

FIRST ON 7: It is feared passenger safety on Sydney trains is at risk by an alarming shortfall in the number of transport police.

7News can reveal dozens of positions have not been filled, and officers are now being taken from other commands to fill the vacancies.

There are fears network security is decreasing.

"Absolutely no doubt, public safety is being compromised," former transit officer Adrian Catt said.

Adrian Catt is one of the hundreds of transit officers to lose their job. The 600-strong unit has been replaced by a police command, which is struggling for numbers.

It is hoped 610 officers will be on board by the end of next year. It is authorised to staff more than 400 but right now has 317.

"They're not only patrolling the trains they're also responsible for buses and ferries," Adrian Catt said.

Police documents show the difficulty attracting officers to the new command - in June, 50 positions from Wollongong to the Central Coast were advertised, and not one person applied.

"It's clear that the police command cannot recruit police officers to these positions," the shadow transport minister Penny Sharpe said.

Officers say they are at "considerable risk" because of the reduced strength, and recruiting is so difficult, positions are advertised as "hard to fill".

"If that doesn't tell you that things aren't going well then I don't what does," Ms Sharpe said.

To help make up numbers officers from other units are being seconded to the transport command, but police deny this is a major issue. They say it's just teething problems.

"The Government made a decision to get rid of transit officers and replace them with police over a period of time, and we're in the middle of that project," Police Superintendent Darren Bennett said.