Planned weekly disruption across Sydney trains has been averted after the transport minister and unions agreed to free fares for commuters.
It comes after a long-running dispute between the NSW government and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union boiled over into a complete shutdown of the rail network last month.
Last week, calls from the union to implement Fare Free Fridays or face ongoing industrial action led Transport for NSW to warn commuters to expect at least two weeks of interruptions.
However, NSW Transport Minister David Elliott on Thursday said he had reached an agreement with the unions to stop industrial action over Fare Free Fridays, which had been due to begin on Friday.
“I will continue to work with the RTBU to activate a proposal that will benefit the people of NSW in the weeks ahead,” Mr Elliott said.
“The union and I are committed to offering fare-free days that see commuters, their families and small businesses get the most economic benefit from public events.
“The decision avoids any major disruption to services tomorrow.”
Some disruptions may still impact commuters including delays due to the recent weather events and staffing issues related to COVID-19.
“I look forward to working with the RTBU in good faith over the next six weeks, as we meet each week, to negotiate new enterprise agreements.”
It comes after the government issued an order to shut down all trains across Greater Sydney in February, amid a long-running dispute over their workplace agreement.
The decision inconvenienced thousands across the city on Monday morning, leading the RTBU to call for free fares to compensate commuters after the days of interruptions on the network.
“The people of NSW deserve a safe railway and some free travel as compensation for the mess the NSW government put them in,” RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens said last week.
“The NSW government has refused to deliver on basic safety asks as part of the current enterprise agreement negotiations.
“That’s why rail workers have been forced to take protected industrial action in the first place.”
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