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Media Release: Sydney Metro a problem waiting to happen: rail workers

May 27, 2019Media releases

As the new Sydney Metro system gets set to face its first peak hour test today, rail workers are warning that plans to remove workers from the trains altogether are a problem waiting to happen. The peak hour test today comes after commuters experienced up to an hour of delays on the Metro’s opening day on Sunday.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW Secretary, Alex Claassens said that while initially the Metro Company is being told to run every train with a customer service representative on board, it is understood they will remove those employees from the train entirely in the very near future. The concern around all workers being removed is in addition to the union’s long-held worry about the trains being run without drivers.

“We’ve long held real concerns about the Sydney Metro system,” Mr Claassens said. “There’s a real risk of overcrowding at stations like Chatswood due to poor planning, and that’s on top of the broader safety concerns we have around the trains being run without drivers and customer service employees on board.

“These incidents are exactly why we need drivers and staff on board trains to ensure the safety of the travelling public at all times – as well as ensuring the network has the resources it needs to handle incidents without the rest of the rail network collapsing.”

The RTBU NSW is also urging commuters be respectful towards transport workers across the network today as they help to manage the first real test of the metro.

“Running driverless trains is a problem waiting to happen, but even putting aside our huge concerns around that, at the very least we should have worker on board to assist in the event of an emergency.

“The traveling public deserve to know their trains are being operated by highly trained, experienced workers who can react quickly in any emergency situation. Without these workers, there is no one to deal with a problem if something goes wrong with the train or on the tracks.

“Our members are often forced to make split second decisions to protect commuters on our network, and they’re also on board in the event of an emergency – for example if a train needs to be evacuated.

“The Transport Minister and others will point to overseas examples of where driverless trains are supposedly working well, but it’s not as simple as that. Australia’s landscapes and networks are unique, and we’ve seen many examples elsewhere of serious incidents involving driverless trains.

“We’ll be pushing to ensure that at the very minimum, rail safety workers are kept on board the Sydney Metro system into the future.

“The company behind Sydney Metro has refused to allow the union – the experts in safety – anywhere near the system. Why? We’ve got no idea, but it’s a real worry.” Mr Claassens said.

An Essential poll conducted in March 2019 found that 68 per cent of the NSW public are concerned about the safety implications of driverless trains.

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