Australia

Passengers won’t be refunded for Sydney Trains 'mess'

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance wants a report within a fortnight after the train network was thrown into chaos.

The NSW transport minister has apologised to Sydney commuters and admits the train network has been a "mess" over the past two days but says passengers won't be refunded.

The network went into meltdown on Tuesday afternoon leaving thousands of frustrated passengers stranded on platforms across the city, with rail bosses blaming lightning strikes and driver sickness for the chaos.

Police were on hand to control the crowds, while Sydney Trains suggested passengers use buses instead.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance speaks to the media at Martin Place train station in Sydney, Wednesday, January 10, 2018.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance speaks to the media at Martin Place train station in Sydney, Wednesday, January 10, 2018.
AAP

On Monday the network was affected by a spike in sick leave taken by train drivers.

Passengers still faced delays on Wednesday morning with some lines cancelling services.

"What we've seen in the last 48 hours has been enormously disappointing for commuters ...I want to apologise to them," Andrew Constance told reporters on Wednesday in Sydney.

"We're not hiding from the fact that it was a mess ... the trick is now getting it back on track as quickly as we can," he said.

Despite calls from the NSW opposition, Mr Constance ruled out the government "immediately" refunding train passenger fares for Monday and Tuesday.

"We need the funding for other services and to pay the staff," he told reporters.

Mr Constance wants the head of Sydney Trains, Howard Collins, and Transport Secretary Rodd Staples to report back to him within the next two weeks on how the network can better recover from major incidents.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Collins said the new timetable introduced on November 26 would be reviewed, though he maintains it wasn't rolled out too early due to government pressures.

"My advice was that we were ready to operate the service at the end of November, I did say things would be tight," he told reporters.

Mr Collins admits the new more-intensive timetable means when things went wrong it takes longer for the system to recover - revealing Tuesday's meltdown occurred at a time when the system was only operating at 50 per cent of its usual patronage.

Head of Sydney Trains Howard Collins speaks to the media at Martin Place train station in Sydney, Wednesday, January 10, 2018.
Head of Sydney Trains Howard Collins speaks to the media at Martin Place train station in Sydney, Wednesday, January 10, 2018.
AAP

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union is blaming the new timetable for the delays.

"Management is scrambling to come up with daily excuses for the mess, but the reality is it's all to do with a poorly put together timetable," NSW secretary Alex Claassens said in a statement on Tuesday, following Monday's delays.

Mr Collins said he will sit down with the union in the timetable review, while Mr Constance said his "door is always open".

"We want you (the unions) to be part of the solution not part of the problem ... we will continue to work with union bosses," Mr Constance said.

Mr Collins said more train drivers were being recruited and by February the system would be "in a better position".

Opposition Leader Luke Foley criticised the government for not believing in public services, instead preferring to sell them off.

The government, he said, needs to fix the transport chaos before spending $2.5 billion rebuilding two stadiums.

Mr Foley, who himself was caught up in Tuesday's chaos, likened the situation at Town Hall station to that of a third world city.

He's called on the government to suspend the new timetable until more drivers and resources become available.

Meanwhile, Sydney Business Chamber executive director Patricia Forsythe said the city's reputation had taken a "big hit" following Tuesday's public transport dilemma.

"Clearly yesterday, a combination of factors came together and Sydney didn't cope, we can't afford for that to happen again," she told reporters.