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NSW Trains: The Ongoing Industrial Action

Our Editorial Assistant, Zoe van der Merwe, sheds light on Sydney’s hectic train schedules.


On the week beginning Monday 22 August 2022, NSW train services were again disrupted as a result of ongoing industrial action by the Rail Union against the NSW Government.


NSW Train staff refused to operate train services that did still not meet the minimum maintenance standards, causing significant delays across the majority of Sydney’s rail network. On Monday alone thirty-seven trains were taken out of service, leaving thousands of commuters stranded at railway stations across the city.


This action by train workers sits on the back of months of continuous strikes and protests across NSW transport services concerning the implementation of improved fair work and safety standards. Alex Claassens, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RBTU) secretary, stated that workers “deserve[d] better respect,” and shouldn’t “have to wait to try and get a train fixed” [8].


On Wednesday 24 August 2022, the NSW Government finalised a new deed which set out alterations to the state’s intercity trains, addressing the key areas of safety concern. Despite this significant breakthrough, on Thursday 25 August, train services on many suburban lines still ran on amended timetables. With the deed requiring 48 hours to be reviewed, this saw a reduction of much needed train services during peak hour travel periods. Commuters were advised to consider alternate travel options available but with many relying on NSW Trains to get to work, school or university, delays caused a significant inconvenience.


Damien Tudehope, the Minister for Employee Relations, said the union’s ongoing industrial action was solely for “political purpose,” and the government committed to the train alterations not because it was necessary, but because they wanted to protect the public from future disturbance [9]. Subsequently, the Regional Transport and Road Minster, Sam Farraway, agreed with this, also stating it was “Now up to the RTBU to sign on the dotted line and give peace to commuters” [10].


The RBTU however stated that they have tried to get the government to commit to a written legally binding document addressing the safety of intercity trains for “over six years” now [11]. This continuing tension, despite the headway made, leads us to ask if the NSW Government will indeed follow through with their action and implement improved measures for workers and commuters.



[8] Eldridge, Stacey. “Sydneysiders told to prepare for week of mayhem on NSW trains as ongoing industrial action significantly disrupts services.” Sky News, 22 Aug 2022, https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/sydneysiders-told-to-prepare-for-week-of-mayhem-on-nsw-trains-as-ongoing-industrial-action-significantly-disrupts-services/news-story/535354d48ca27fbcac82147213e967ce.

[9] Connell, Cecilia. “Sydney train strike to proceed despite NSW government finalising deed for changes to new fleet.” ABC News, 24 Aug 2022, https://www.abc. net.au/news/2022-08-24/sydney-strikes-going-ahead-despite-government-finalising-deed/101369038.

[10] Cockburn, Paige. “Sydney commuters battle another day of cancelled trains as union considers government deed.” ABC News, 25 Aug 2022, https://www.abc. net.au/news/2022-08-25/train-disruption-continues-as-union-considers-government-deed/101370010.

[11] Evans, Lauren. “‘We have stuck to our guns’: Chaos on NSW trains continues as RBTU Secretary Alex Claassens confirms Thursday’s strike.” Sky News, 24 Aug 2022, https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/we-have-stuck-to-our-guns-chaos-on-nsw-trains-continues-as-rbtu-secretary-alex-claassens-confirms-thursdays-strike/news-story/521136326339d2c355ef02c7db9b33b7.

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