Limited train services will be back in operation across Greater Sydney on Tuesday after trains were cancelled all through Monday.
The New South Wales government and a transport workers’ union are still at loggerheads over an industrial dispute, and further disruptions are likely over the next fortnight.
The snap train network shutdown on Monday, ordered by state government transport authorities just after midnight, blindsided rail commuters who were left stranded across Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Illawarra during the morning peak.
In a statement on Monday night Transport Minister David Elliott said reduced services would return across all lines on the Sydney Trains network from 5am on Tuesday, running at a minimum 30-minute frequency.
“Sydney Trains encourage commuters who typically rely on the rail network to find alternative travel options, if possible,” Mr Elliott said.
“These limited services are there to support essential workers and commuters who have no other options to get to where they need to go.”
To supplement train services 150 rail replacement buses will also operate.
Sydney Trains and NSW Trainlink remain before the Fair Work Commission along with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) to further resolve issues, and the government and the union continue enterprise agreement negotiations.
After an industrial meeting on Sunday night failed to result in a deal between the parties, Transport for NSW cancelled trains, saying it was impossible to safely operate services.
Sydney Trains chief executive Matthew Longland apologised to Sydney’s 600,000 commuters for Monday’s “short notice” disruption.
“This decision was based on the operation assessment of Sydney trains and that ultimately rests with me. I made the decision and I stand by the decision,” Mr Longland said.
Premier Dominic Perrottet blamed the union for the shutdown, saying it was part of a “co-ordinated, concerted attack” on the government by the union and Labor.
“This is the Labor Party in bed with the union movement to cause mass disruption … the Labor-backed unions have been working on these strikes for many many months,” he told reporters.
“The unions were intent on causing chaos, I’m incredibly disappointed with what has occurred across our city,” he said.
Mr Perrottet was angry that trains were out of action on a day when borders were opening to international arrivals, children were trying to get to school, and university students were returning to campus.
Work rosters were “at the crux” of the current dispute and meant the rail system would not have been able to run to a government timetable on Monday, sparking the network closure, the government said.
But the RTBU hit back, saying the government was at fault for the gridlock, noting that rail workers turned up for work but that the Perrottet administration used a “high-stakes tactic” to cancel services then “blamed it on industrial action”.
RTBU NSW Secretary Alex Claassens insisted rail workers were not on strike and were ready to get trains back moving “at a minute’s notice”.
“It’s not about money. It’s always been about safety issues, about protections against privatisation,” he said.
“Today’s rail shut down was a huge dummy spit by the NSW government, supported by their federal counterparts. It’s good to see they’ve now agreed to let the trains run again,” Mr Claassens said.
“To deliberately shut down the rail network on such a big day for many people, seemingly so they can run a fear campaign about unions, is quite extraordinary.”