Seeing Red on Rail

Have you had a train experience which made you see red? What improvements would you like to see on our rail network?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you had a train experience which made you see red? What improvements would you like to see on our rail network?

A couple of weeks ago staff at NRMA’s Wynyard office were astounded by the scenes outside the office. A sea of people spilling onto York St, police marshalling the crowds, total chaos. Was it a natural disaster, a security threat?

No. Overhead power lines entangled with a branch at Waverton train station had disrupted services on the North Shore Line. The butterfly effect of this minor fault rippled through the network, affecting an estimated 50,000 people who travel between Central and Chatswood on a Monday morning.

Two weeks later, NRMA staff in North Strathfield got an early Valentine’s Day present while traveling home, when smoke emerged from the air conditioner at RailCorp’s Strathfield signal box, forcing the evacuation of the entire station and having knock-on effects throughout the CityRail network. With frustrated commuters piling on to buses and phoning a friend for a lift out of there, Strathfield’s peak hour congestion became even worse.

From our research, the frustrations that our staff are feeling are shared by our Members. Nearly half of NRMA’s 2.5 million Members use public transport regularly, many catching a train to and from work every day.

From our Member survey in July 2012, 70 per cent of Members want better public transport to give them an alternative to the car.

We are now asking commuters to have their say on Sydney’s rail network by participating in NRMA’s first ever Seeing Red on Rail survey.

Have you had a train experience which made you see red? What improvements would you like to see on our rail network? 


74 thoughts on “Seeing Red on Rail

  1. The plan to run metro-style trains to Rouse Hill is crazy. These trains work best with about 1km between stops. The average separation on the NW line will be 3km. Given that we already have a substantial double-deck system, we will be the laughing stock of similar cities around the world.

    If we must have metro trains, we should run them around the inner suburbs like other cities do, e.g. Paris.

    • I agree with this comment. I have never heard of a more crazy idea that that mooted by the State Government in relation to metro-style trains to Rouse Hill. Your comment is spot on.

      • North West Rail Link – I’ve been hearing about since I started working for the Railway in 1957. Silliest part about it – in my opinion? That the line is being built from the city end first rather than from the Richmond line end. The plan is to end the line at Rouse Hill for now and then later (how much later?) extend it to Schofields or Riverstone (Richmond line) then to Marsden Park. If they started at the Richmond line end there would be no tunnelling until after the line progressed well towards the city end. The way from the Richmond line to Rouse Hill is (so far) almost all open paddocks. This would mean that commuters from Rouse Hill etc would have a train service many (MANY) years earlier – albeit a longer one – via the Richmond line – Blacktown – Parramatta. However, where governments of any persuasion are concerned, the simple way never seems to be the way to do it!

    • The sillier thing is that the Epping-Chatswood link will be downgraded to single-deck trains to suit the new ‘smaller’ tunnel to Rouse Hill so that there will be no chance for future expansion to have double-deck trains to run a NW loop from Richmond to the city via Chatswood and a second Harbour crossing, and then back to Richmond via Parramatta. BTW the NWRL is likely to be privately run and therefore not accountable to the paying public and taxpayers as CityRail is, so how they run the service and how much they charge will ultimately be determined by the profit they can extract. At least now if enough people complain to the govt about the rail services, they would be obligated to do something about it or get kicked out at the next election. It would be all too hard to get a private company to care as much.

      • Now one sees that not spending 9billion on a substandard metro line is better than spending the money and cutting all city services for the north west and forcing commuters to change at chatswood.
        I know everyone was frustrated but this pathetic ideological bodgy job of the north west will be detrimental for the north west for decades to come.
        Then again we do get the governments we deserve.

  2. I don’t see red about CityRail: I think this survey should allow respondents to state what is good about the business, not just channel them into selecting check boxes for carping, bleating and venting. For example, I think the staff of CityRail with whom I interact are friendly, helpful and efficient but the survey does not allow positive responses. It is a shame to use social media in this negative and unconstructive manner; I thought the NRMA could show better leadership than to endorse a PR stunt to ambush CityRail.

    • Hi Steve, thanks for your feedback. If you don’t see red, you can simply tick the box “There is nothing wrong with this station”, or select “other” and type a comment. It’s at the bottom of the list.
      Hope this helps,

      • I agree with Steve. There is no opportunity to comment on some of the real reasons why we have public transport problems. You never take into account the real reasons many trains are delayed, commuter attitudes and behaviour, graffiti, vandalism, littering, medical emergencies, wheelchairs, etc. You should open your eyes and actually see what the real problems on the network are!

    • Like Steve, I was hoping to have the opportunity to say something more than the survey allowed. Living on the Mid North Coast, I would like the opportunity to travel between the larger towns for work purposes, however the timetable for Countrylink trains and the slow speed of the trains on the network makes it totally unworkable. I would like nothing better than to get on a train at Port Macquarie and to be able to do my work whilst I traveled up to Coffs Harbour for my meetings. I imagine that lots of people working in regional positions would take advantage of a well timed and efficient train service to make better use of their travel time and to reduce their green house gas emissions too.

    • I agree with Steve,
      I see and meet alot of Cityrail staff and also work with them every day!
      Most front line staff will do all they can to provide good customer service and help with info or whatever when needed, sometimes not receiving any thanks.
      The problems with the rail network and services is largely a beaurocracy and lack of real hands on people with the practical vision needed to face present and future demand.But as well as this we have to remember that most of the rail network was built for the early 1900′s. That’s why there has been lots of infrastucture and rail works going on recently and at present. However this has been too little too late!
      Because Railcorp has mostly been government controlled, over the years various govt’s lack of constant investment in the network has resulted in the problems we have today.
      When I say we need hands on practical people involved with solving the problems we face with rail travel, there are too many high end directors etc. that have no idea what is actually needed in a practical sense.For example an interim measure to help timely rail travel would be to create more express services to and from major hubs while still keeping all stops and limited stop services.Many travelling from Campbelltown,Penrith,Liverpool etc. could catch express services with minimal stops in peak hours straight to the city!!Too easy.
      There is a major problem that the general public does not see or will ever hear about though inside the corridors and govt. about the operation of Cityrail. You see this present govt. had a golden opportunity to be responsible and implement some real change for the better and future generations by seriously and sensibly reforming the system. But what we are getting however, is just another beaurocratic nightmare that will do nothing to fix the real problems people are facing.
      Splitting up Railcorp into Sydney trains and NSW trains will do nothing to fix any problems.Instead what it is doing is creating more management at more cost to the public while at the same time cutting frontline jobs and station hours! Yes you heard right that’s what’s happening under the current system to be implemented from July 1st. There are directors and deputy directors then their cohorts etc. etc. etc. Station managers are being cut in turn losing some of the most knowledgable people the railways have! They alone have adequate experience to help solve the problems but instead are never consulted for their input! They are being done away with.
      Next it will be ticket office salespersons when the opal card is up and running, then most likely duty managers will go eventually. So we will end up with little practical experience at all.
      It seems to me we are attacking the whole problem from the wrong end of the to speak.
      Hope this has awakened some to the problems we face….and thought provoking too for the NRMA.We don’t need wingers, we need real positive action where the rubber meets the road…or should I say rail!

      • Insightful letter,Craig. We need people like you I who understand the whole to manage the changes needed to make Citirail what it should be in our wonderful country.Keep striving for us Craig.

  3. Can someone tell me why the tickets are so bloody expensive??????? I pay all this money to get on a dirty, unsafe, hot, late, slow trains and all you have got to improve it is a survey. You guys must know what the problems are, its on current affair shows every second week. OHH and one more thing why cant the trains run after midnight. People do like to travel after the hours of midnight you know!

    • Fares too dear Richard? The easy solution for you: don’t travel by train. Then you’ll find out just what expensive REALLY means.

    • I’m always amused when people complain about the trains being dirty and hot, as if CityRail staff were the ones who leave the rubbish behind, and cradle-to-grave aircon was a birthright…

  4. I agree with Steve.The survey does seem an unfair bagging of Cityrail. I use Cityrail every day to travel to my work at Sydney Airport from Campbelltown & the trains run mostly on time and are clean from the start of the journey.It is the passengers that leave there mess & filth in the carriages.The staff are always friendly & helpfull.My only complaint is with the lack of security/police at the stations & on the trains.

    • Where is the spot in the survey to complain about poorly trained and aggressive transport security officers? They are supposed to protect the public but I have heard of them assaulting people, and seeming to be intoxicated on the job.

    • Hi Steven, thanks for getting in touch. We checked thoroughly and Central is definitely on there. We’ve changed it to Central Station though, so it should be easier to see. Best wishes, Daniel, NRMA Social Media Community Manager

  5. I was unable to fill in the survey because I haven’t caught a train for over a year. The reason that I was keen to do the survey was exactly that – in the Upper Hunter, we get an enormous total of two trains per day between here and Newcastle. And that’s why I don’t catch the train – when the choice is of leaving at 6am or 10am, and returning at 2am or 6pm (the trip is two hours) there is little incentive for catching one.

    Not to mention the opportunity you have for being abused on the train. There is no way we’d ever let our kids catch the train alone, despite them being in their teens.

    • I was also unable to respond to survey questions because the survey was designed poorly by excluding people who don’t use trains BECAUSE they are so bad!

      I don’t use trains any more because the total economic cost (time, energy and money; inlcuding frequently inevitable transfers to other forms of transport) is so much higher than other transport; even flying is cheaper if you’re travelling long distance. Ten years ago, I submitted a personal case study analysis to government of how ridiculously unviable train travel was for me. Since then I’ve used a train about five times; twice for the educational purpose of teaching with my kids about it, on the only affordable ticket available for a family = ‘funday sunday’.

      My Conclusion: change the way we live. Remove all passenger railways (keep freight), or replace them with roads. Stop 1-4 hour commutes which is fourth worst human life investment choice in all of history (after war, slavery and concentration camps). Make EVs the standard urban transport (including wider range and increased quantity of small & medium sized buses/taxis), reserving Ethanol/oil for heavy industry, rail freight and air transport.

  6. Not enough room in the survey for this…
    Sydney commuters need:
    - fold down tables with power sockets
    - barriers at edge of platform. It is mad that in this day and age we still have conductors with whistles and flags etc…
    - more lines out of Winyard instead of changing in town hall
    - wide seating and more leg room
    - mobile phone scanners at ticket barriers

    We definitely need a metro similar to most Asian cities. An underground metro is frequent and unaffected by weather conditions. When it rains there are delays, when it is hot, the tracks expand and there are delays… Getting out of the city becomes impossible and the entire city is affected. Keep heavy rail out in the burbs with a connecting metro in the CBD.

    • I agree with Yanif. Just one more thing they need
      -like Tokyo- No TALKING on mobile phones while on the train-(texting should be allowed)

  7. My issue besides trains being constantly late and over crowded is the price of tickets!! I used to be able to justify catching the train to work over driving with fuel costs but now it works out to be around the same price. Surely the running of trains does not cost that much as they are never clean and the aircon never seems to be on or working.

    Also better notice for delays and issues. Most afternoons Facebook warns me of the train delays before the conductors do.

  8. We need an affordable second rail crossing of the harbour (i.e. not a tunnel). Bradfield designed the SHB for 4 rail lines, and built the extra tunnels to Wynyard, just waiting to be used. However it seems adding 2 rail lines at the expense of 2 road lanes on the SH Bridge is “off limits” for both Labor and Liberal. Has no one considered that 2 rail lines would have far greater capacity than 2 road lanes, and would bring much needed mode shift? The cost of a rail tunnel will soak up the public transport budget for a decade, leaving plenty of other necessary public transport projects in Sydney on hold. We need an independent cost review of the options for a second harbour rail crossing.

    • Those tunnels and the track space on the bridge were used by trams – until the trams were replaced by (surface) buses and the tracks converted to road lanes in the name of progress in the ’60s!

  9. The worst thing this morning is the announcement for the next departing train. So a freight train at Corrimal causes a delays, but we expected Hurstville staff on duty to be able to give commuter a better services then this? First, we have to catch the train to the city at platform 1 , then being told “train departing on platform 3″? There is no information on the indicator board either, travel at City rail becomes a real challenges these date.

  10. This survey leaves a lot to be desired. A problem for many people is lack of shelter on platforms but there was no obvious item to check for this. “Overcrowding” occurs whenever it is raining as everyone tries to keep dry.

    Also, the ? on which station is most frustrating I could not simply tick the box which said ‘no station’. I was forced to nominate a station and uncheck the box for ‘none’.

  11. When you do some maths you find out the rail line between Strathfield and the city is running at 100% capacity in peak hour. More trains can leave Strathfiled, but when they pass through Rdfern and Central there is nowhere for them to go. At Town Hall we simply cannot run trains closer together, can’t reduce the dwell time at the station, can’t run the trains faster. The ONLY solution is more platforms. We have a 100 years investment in the city circle, but the foresight shown by those that built the city circle has run it’s course. Circular Quay with 2 platforms, that’s horse and buggy era stuff!!! Fine in the 1930′s, but in 21st century the city circle should be at least 6 tracks and 4 tracks across the bridge, plus the Eastern Suburbs line making Town Hall 12 platforms in all. We are now paying the price for 50 years of lack of investment. Population growth has never stopped, building railway lines shouldn’t have stopped either. We keep adding to the outside of the network without increasing capacity at the central hub. And after 90 years why is there no railway station at Moore Park??!!! Ludicrous and stupid to get a bus to the cricket or footy; whatever code you follow.

  12. A simple step to take at Town Hall is to enter trains through the left side of the doors & have in/out doors with a clear path with lines to the escalators . Now when you arrive it is not clear whicch way to turn & walk out. Make commuters keep left & pass each other , not bang into commuters.

  13. I do think Sydney’s rail system needs attention, but not all commuters use trains. I used to commute from the inner west to North Sydney, and I had to catch 2 buses – one into the CBD and then another out of the CBD to North Sydney. I often wondered how many others, like myself, were travelling into the city, just to connect with another bus/train and leave it again. If the buses into the city were too crowded to stop at my stop, I would miss my connecting bus and be late for work (result: lots of stress). What if we had buses that avoided the CBD? For example, one that went from Ryde to Chatswood via North Sydney, without going through the CBD? Judging by the numbers of people clogging North Sydney station in peak hour, I think there might be quite a few people who would opt for a way of avoiding the CBD hub.

  14. Our biggest problem with trains is overcrowding. Next is overcrowding on the road (traffic jambs etc).
    The only way to resolve this problem is to have a government with ‘balls’. The only solution is to have trains running in circles (in both directions) mostly underground and if possible above ground. These trains would naturally connect with all the major stations and to cover areas that are now not covered by rail. How much is all this going to cost???? I would hate to think how much all this is going to cost. We must start now to look into the future.
    Fail to plan, plan to fail.

  15. is there an issue with the question regarding ‘i have no issues with any station’ ?

    i clicked the ‘if no station frustrates you, tick this box’, but it says that one or more questions needs my input. So I had to pick a station.

    I’m fine with the staff, and Im OK with the ticket prices if the money stays with state rail, but parking can be an issue. And one accident seems to cause delays on all the tines – even if the issue is on an line that i’m not going on.


  16. If they built the missing link between Parramatta and Epping then lots of folks out west would have the option of travelling to work and uni at Macquarie Park and North Ryde. That would have a dramatic impact on reducing cars on the road.
    I don’t understand why the NSW govt doesn’t spend the promised federal government money. That funding will just disappear when Tony Abbott gets in.

  17. i found the survey interesting to complete, but it did miss a couple of key points that do not relate to just a single station
    1. smoking – people still continue to smoke all over the platforms – under cover, round stairs or entrances – yet it is now illegal – no signs – no nothing except annoying smoke
    2. lack of uniformed people patrolling the trains and enforcing the rules – whether it be police, revenue officers or just other rail people
    3. all the homeless people and beggers around the city stations
    4. dickheads on trains and platforms

    • Im not a non smoker, but I have no issues with people smoking at the far ends of the station, and not having another smoke till they get off the train.

      I can never smell the smoke, and I generally catch one of the front carriages of the train.

      • michael, do you take 1/2 an hour out of your day to pick up all the butts left behind, may not be just the smoke that is a concern, what about the litter??

  18. The stations are a major issue for those of us catching the train home from Wynyard or Town Hall.
    The amount of people on the platforms as the trains come in is just frightening and it’s surprising there hasnt been more accidents. Its all very well for the staff to broadcast for us to stand away from the edge but sometimes there isnt any option. I have stayed on the stairs at Wynyard on occasion rather than go onto the platform. Also Wynyard station is almost intolerably hot. Down on the station is hotter & more humid than outside sometimes. I hear that the Government decided not to put in air ventilation ducts a few years back. Great decision!!!!
    Another great decision is to keep the old non air conditioned trains. Are we in a third world country? After the summer we just had I would think that air conditioning in our trains would be a priority.

  19. All public transport should be for free. Just add a few cents a litter on fuel. This would reduce the cars on the road big time !!! & not having to have ticket machines & their maitance & production, plus not having to make tickets, plus not having ticket sales people, plus not having entry & exit machines & thier maitance & production costs would save a fortune. The few cents a litter on fuel would compensate the difference on costs & make the system run smoother.
    Hope ya like my idea, all the best, hope all’s well, keep smiling, regards, Glenn.

  20. A train trip to Sydney from any outlying suburb will attest to the ineffecient way in which our rail system runs.
    Recently whilst in Hong Kong I marvelled at the public transport system, particulary their trains.
    They run every few minutes, they are clean and they all display their next station and the entire journey of the train.
    The reason they run so often is that they run point to point.
    If you want to travel somewhere not on the line that the particular train runs on requires you to get off and change trains.
    The notion that we can have a spiders web of trains all trying to get into Central is outdated.
    By the time a train travels from Newcastle to Sydney it cannot be used again for the peak hour.
    If you had a train going from Newcastle to Gosford it would be able to run without a timetable as there would be more frequent services and so on down the line.
    Express trains could run every 30 minutes to allow quicker travel times.
    It would require investment in more rolling stock and a re-education of the travelling public.
    I didn’t mind changing trains whilst in Hong Kong and I don’t see why passengers wouldn’t swap this form of travel to get efficient services.

  21. What happened to using the currently unused platforms at Museum and St James to move trains through the City Circle more efficiently? I can remember those platforms being used in the 1950s and into the 1960s. Why are they not used now? Then there’s the lack of express trains to the upper Blue Mountains, especially in peak hours, when it should be possible to have a few trains that only stop at the most used stations.

  22. 1. I am sick to death of people on public transport (and everywhere else for that fact) not covering their mouth and nose when sneezing, coughing and yawning. Its just basic manners we were all taught as kids and i dont want or need their germs!!
    2. What is the go with the cityrail staff sitting at the turnstiles?, they never refuse to let people thru even when they dont have a ticket so what are they being paid by cityrail to do!
    3. Why is it that unemployed people get a travel concession yet i who am working and paying tax to support them and travelling as a loyal customer every day gets nothing concession-wise??
    4. Weekly and other periodical tickets should cover a number of days rather than a date period – if i get sick later in the week i lose those unused days of travel, yes i know i can complete a form to claim but end up being sent a one day return ticket which is useless for me as a regular commuter. Which reminds me of when Cityrail have compensated travellers for foul ups in the past – again giving us a one day ticket – useless to me!!
    5. Why dont regular commuters recieve a small discount for being regular paying customers? By showing our previous weekly ticket or whatever a small discount should be available. Note to Cityrail : its called Customer Loyalty. Look it up sometime!
    6. Why do people out west at penrith, liverpool etc get non-airconditioned trains? yet I see air conditioned trains travelling the City Circle and used on rail lines on the coast where its cooler and a seabreeze helps. Surely it cant be too difficult to use only a/c trains for western station and use non a/c trains around the city etc where its always cooler.
    7. Only one line from Blacktown to richmond is a joke, the railway system in sydney is third world standard, London, tokyo and new york which have many times the population to handle have better train services than us. Why???????!!
    8. If i cant or dont do my job and meet standards and deadlines i would be sacked. Why do executives at Cityrail retain their very well-paid jobs when they are obviously incompetent and not able to make the system work as it should?

  23. One of the underlying problems is that CityRail wants to run the whole thing by computer and not intelligent human beings (not many of those in head office anyway). When something goes wrong (which it always will – it is mechanical) they get obsessed about running in ‘timetable order’ at the expense of running trains in their most optimum fashion. On the East Hills line many years ago they built two extra tracks between Wolli Creek and Berverly Hills but they are only infrequently used – they extended that to Reverby more recently and then work stopped and they sit there totally unused when in practice they could be used to run trains round problems.
    Incidentally I can’t use the trains from my local station because I am frequently in the city in the evenings – the last train to Picton leaves Central at 9:32pm! It would have been earlier if some of us had not jumped up and down at the last timetable change when they decided the Southern Highlands train could leave Campbelltown 5 minutes before the connecting train arrived. A friend who works in CityRail said that the timetable was designed to suit the staff, not the passengers.

  24. Hi All,

    Copies of previous unanswered dated correspondence to unconcerned politicians is available by request to email address
    Newcastle Morning Herald reporter Damon rang for report and has organised photographer to be at Cardiff Rail , 10am Mon 18th. March to report on the latest round of “Cardiff Station Comedy Capers”.

    Hon.Member for Wallsend has raised issues in State Parliament (19/9/12) re loss of carparking ,the motion has been agreed to, but still… no…announcements of any .. Action….!!!

    Transport for NSW gives Sutherland 300 new carparking spaces..

    Cardiff, we lose 30 spaces from the Rail and Council Car Park…with the new infrastructure footprint of the “Transport Access Program”……?????

  25. I would have loved to have seen ‘Ticketing’ included in this survey. How about the long overdue electronic ticketing system?

    Sydney’s ticketing system is still the most complex of any system which I have encountered in my travels and $22.00 for an adult day pass, are you serious!
    If I wanted to get a bus, ferry and train for a day trip I’m still cheaper to buy three tickets and deal with the hassle, what is the logic in that?

  26. Filthy grubs should get their feet off the seats. Those of us who do the right thing have to sit on those seats. Where are inspectors or police fining people for doing so. They would be very unlucky to be caught. Railcorp knows about this an all the other types of antisocial behaviour that goes on but it doesn’t care.

  27. State govt needs to keep building more carparks at stations. Good progress so far but more spaces are still required.

  28. Hey well done NRMA for getting onto this issue.

    You need to experience good public transport to realize what it can do for a city like Sydney. I live in Willoughby and still recall the days when you could walk your kids at the local public school at 8.30. Be on a bus at 8.35, be in the city at 8.45 and at sitting at your desk at 5 to 9.

    The golden days of the harbor bridge and Warringah freeway bus lane are now long gone as they have become a victim of their own success. They won’t return till both the Northwest Rail and (if ever) a second rail crossing is complete however they are not forgotten.

    Of course the bus lane came in with the Harbor tunnel but the figures speak for themselves in that the bus lane is responsible for moving most of the folk who go over the bitumen parts of the bridge leaving a smaller minority in all the other 7 lanes.

    On the up side the current Transport minister is our local member. Gladys too experienced the golden days of Willoughby-CBD transport pre politics when she worked at the bank. The recent battle between her and old Nick Griener was pretty interesting. A shame really about Nick, the idea of having an Infrastructure department picking winners was a good one, that way you build the rail where it is needed, people catch it, you get fare box revenue and then you build the next one. The fact that each side of politics has a different view of which line is the next priority indicates we are building vote winning railways instead of transport infrastructure.

    Gone are the days when men, who only drove cars, were in complete control of the transport direction of this city and went about their business of ripping up trams and turning sports fields and any available space into inner urban motorways. Who knows we could even end up with high frequency interconnecting driverless trains (like KL or Vancouver airport)

    If you want to here what a better attitude on the future of Sydney transport sounds like then have a listen to this recording of the Transport Minister at the Sydney Institute last year

    Gee it is a long journey but for once NRMA and Transport NSW are getting on the right page, Go Wendy Go Gladys

  29. There is a perfectly good train line that runs from Central to Hornsby via Strathfield. When the Epping/Chatswood line went in, all trains to Hornsby run along this line and through Epping to Hornsby. Anyone coming from the Strathfield end has to get off and change at Epping for a shuttle service to Hornsby! It’s ridiculous. It turns a short trip into a mammoth effort. Why not run services that go Hornsby to Hornsby through Epping to Strathfield, through Central, Chatswood, then Epping to Hornsby AND in reverse, as well. The infrastructure is there. I prefer to drive to any place north of Epping because changing trains is too much of a hassle! And the connections are always poorly timed so you end up waiting at least 10 minutes on Epping.

    • Hi Jen, thanks for taking the survey and making your voice heard! We will use all the feedback to try and improve our rail system. I’ve tested the privacy policy on the survey a few times and it’s working fine now. Perhaps it was a temporary server error. Here is the page again, for your perusal: Thanks again for bringing it to our attention. Have a good weekend, Daniel, NRMA Social Media Community Manager

  30. Filled in the survey, and much appreciate that NRMA is working on this. Yes trains, including country trains need investment. I am tall (180cm) and find buses extremely uncomfortable for any length of time.
    Please note that the Privacy statement link does NOT have a policy attached, just a heading. Luckily I trust the NRMA but it is needs fixing!

    • Hi Jasmine, thanks for taking the survey and making your voice heard! We will use all the feedback to try and improve our rail system. I’ve tested the privacy policy on the survey a few times and it’s working fine now. Perhaps it was a temporary server error. Here is the page again, for your perusal: Thanks again for bringing it to our attention. Have a good weekend, Daniel, NRMA Social Media Community Manager

  31. I think this survey is definitely necessary and I applaud NRMA for caring and taking the inititiatove I have noticed a steady deterioration in the timeliness and reliability of service over recent months coupled with increasing overcrowding of both trains and station platforms to concerning levels re safety and often dehumanising regarding te level of discomfort endured by passengers . Thank you NRMA for giving commuters a voice !

    • Caring? Don’t be so naive, NRMA want your business but they don’t want you driving your car. That’s the bottom line here. It’s all about them saving money. I mean ask yourself the question, Why on earth would an Insurance company seriously give a wit about you catching a train? It promotes the “improvement of rail travel” to get you out of your car and onto a train, that way there’s less chance of you being involved in “bingle” and making a claim, simple.

      • Hi Dan, we are actually a totally separate company to NRMA Insurance (IAG). The two companies demutualised in 2000. We are the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) and we have no business in insurance. We are owned by our Members so we try to represent the interests of our Members – safety and quality of transport (private and public) are two key interests of our Members. As well as our Seeing Red on Rail campaign, We also run a Seeing Red on Roads campaign:, to collect information from the public about which roads need funding or attention. We then use this information to lobby thr government on behalf of our Members. I hope this helps. If you have any campaign ideas you would like us to investigate, please add them to our Speak Out portal: Best wishes, Daniel, NRMA Social

  32. I am deeply disappointed in our rail network. This year alone there have been around six significant disruptions, starting with the infrastructure meltdown as a consequence of the January 18 heatwave. I am prepared to excuse the heatwave problems, but all the others (smoking air con, wires down, loose plates on Harbour Bridge, etc) are all avoidable, and merely indicate the very poor attitude to maintenance over many years (thanks Greiner, Carr Iemma and Rees). While the current regime is playing catchup, it simply cannot be done overnight. We are in for alot more pain and frustration, that’s for sure. Re: smaller tunnels on the North-West Link – Minister Berejiklian (and advisers) you are most decidedly wrong on this one. Forcing commuters to change at Chatswood, an already busy station, doesn’t make sense. Given the mooted proposal to eventually install a second-harbour crossing, it makes even less sense. I think the only benefit is financial (ie. short term) in the sense excluding CityRail trains makes it more attractive for private financing. We and future generations will not thank you for this incredibly short-sighted ‘political’ decision. As it happens, I don’t live in a suburb serviced by the proposed NW line. Minister, I urge you to reconsider. Michael Costa will only be remembered for canning the Epping – Parramatta link (an avowed public transport hater if ever I saw one). Proceed with the current plan at your political peril.

  33. There was recent media coverage of the massive cost of ventilating city stations that are deemed a fire risk (primarily Wynyard and Town Hall, because the tunnels are longer). Well, here a thought – knock out the fake wall at Wynyard to provide access to platforms 1 and 2 (yes, they do exist) with associated tunnels directly to the bridge (and in a southerly direction aswell?). This is existing infrastructure to get the air in, and the people out. While these unused tunnels/ platforms could conceivably be used when a second harbour crossing goes through, the glacier-like progress of anything to do with our rail network means this will be decades away. In the meantime, this suggestion is worthy of consideration.

  34. All public transport should be free. And the consequent savings used to improve the system. All members of the public should be able to be elected to a transport committee to oversee the management of public transport.

  35. I commute between Southern Highlands and the city for work and its a nightmare.
    1) only 2 trains in the morning 5:30 am and 7:40am
    2) same problem for the return journey 1 at 3:40pm – way too early and the last train at 5:20pm. Trains departing Sydney after that time terminate at Moss Vale so if you miss it at least an $70 cab ride home.
    3) Trains constantly breakdown or are held up by freight trains which have priority.
    2 weeks ago a freight train broke down somewhere near Picton and our train sat at some two bit station for 2 hours. The driver had no idea how long we would be stuck there so come on guys (I think its some control room at Junee that control this line) get a bit of communication happening we no longer rely on carrier pigeon! A a contingency plan is also needed. For example why couldn’t our train cross onto the other track for a few minutes and pass the crippled freight train, its not exactly Pitt Street.
    I would be happy to pay much more if there was a service, the single fare is only $8.40 when I drive my car the tolls alone are over $15 and lets not even talk about petrol parking costs etc
    3) Tickets should be number of trips not time period – same as the bus travel 10
    4) Quiet carriages would be lovely however on my line I would just be happy with carriages.
    My rather petty irritation – noisy passengers – I am not impressed with your latest iphone and i dont want to listen to your inane conversations so shut it! Thank you

  36. I was frustrated with the survey because there was no option for comments, it was have it our way or the highway.
    What I wanted to say was that the easiest single fix to the rail network and as a consequence to traffic in sydney is to get rid of the peak/off-peak service split we have now and run trains at peak levels all day, like they were before Greiner cuts. I have had to drive many times even when peak train services have been available because i had to return during what is classed as off peak, and I know many people do the same.
    The 9 to 5 working period has been dead for years, so why are trains still run with that mantra?

  37. I kept a diary on the trains for two years, and published the diary as a book. I contacted CityRail weekly for about three months, and was ignored. My main complaint was about the loud and too-frequent messages on the trains, and the presumption that every passenger is a criminal that was implicit in the treatment of passengers by private firm security guards and the cameras that are “trained” on passengers on platforms and in the carriages. However, perhaps the most tragic aspect of the NSW railway system is the fact that most of it is about 100 years old. When in China they are building railway systems with trains that travel at over 400 km/h, Sydney trains usually travel at 40 km/h or less. In addition, the number of kilometres of active railway line in NSW is now less than it was in the 1970s – that is correct, we have been decommissioning railway track at a faster rate than we are laying down new track. NSW and Australia in general has a commitment to backwardization, not progress. Policymakers in NSW and Australian government across all political parties and throughout the non-partisan bureaucracy are hell-bent on destroying Australian infrastructure rather than building new, better and modern infrastructure. Thanks to this zeitgeist, Australia is fast becoming more impoverished. Yes, we are lucky, but only due to the efforts of Australian 50 and more years ago. Today’s politicians, policymakers and bureaucrats would not dare build the Sydney Harbour Bridge, would not dare build the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and would not dare convert the railway system from steam to electric.

  38. At stations in Lake Macquarie and Newcastle/ Hunter, there needs to be screens displaying when trains arrive and what platforms they’re arriving on, especially at major interchanges like Broadmeadow, Hamilton and Maitland stations. The Government is WAY behind the ball here. Also within easy implementation, a Wi-Fi on the new Waratah trains would’ve been good and an integrated ticket system for use on Cityrail and State buses/ ferries would be great too. Little goals that other states can do but NSW can’t “afford” or fail for commuters.

  39. I have just completed the Seeing Red questionnaire. I wanted to say that the proposed new line from Epping to the North West should not be a metro line, but be fully integrated into the existing suburban railway. 150 years ago the States chose to use different gauges and we are still suffering form it. Lets not repeat that stupid mistake and have trains that can’t run on the new line.

  40. The only way to relieve congestion is to build another separate terminus to run suburban trains into. Most major cities have more than one main station eg Paris or London. One could be built on the North Side (Chatswood) or maybe Redfern as there are too many trains trying to get around the City Circle.

  41. the only issue i have is the bastard busses used during trackwork weekends. Why the hell they cant do this work with trains running slow or single line is beyond me. I prefer late trains to busses!!!!! Its the whole reason i ditch the service vehicle and get the train on the weekends- TO AVOID THE TRAFFIC!! I dont recall this practice when i was young…

  42. I’m actually generally happy with CityRail and its staff, the trains etc . We moved to live on the Northern Line and paid a premium for direct train access and we are very, very upset that the NWRL shuttle option will take away the direct route with at least 4 changes of trains(!!!) needed for us each trip just to get to Town Hall instead of the direct route we always have had. The train changes require platform changes and in some cases lifts and multiple escalators which is terrible as the population ages here. For me with young children and a pram it will be stressful and dangerous. Why take away something from people when it can be avoided???

  43. I spoke to my “weaker half” and he offered these comments (this largely his work via copy-paste):

    First we define the boundaries of the NSW “urban rail” network:
    Dungog, Singleton, Wallerawang, Bundanoon, Kiama.
    The entirety of Urban Passenger Rail within this area should be electrified.

    The problem with this urban rail network starts with layout, design and interface. It was perfectly appropriate in 1900, even as far as 1930 it was passable. Then came Jack Lang (ALP) and the problems started. The problem then expanded to include appropriateness of passenger rollingstock. The third leg of this trifecta came with the constant fiddling with the timetables. It was always reactive ad-hoc thereafter.

    JJ Cahill oversaw the dismantling of Sydney’s Tram network in favour of Buses.

    By the early 1970′s, with the sole exception of the Eastern Suburbs Line, it became no longer appropriate to maintain frequent heavy-railway stations within a 10km radius of the CBD – light rail (or trams) for this area was and remains the only way to go. Thus, the following stations on the following lines should have been closed to permit heavy-rail express travel for commuters further out, and tram (light rail) substituted in lieu:

    North Shore: Artarmon, St Leonards, Woolstonecraft, Waverton,
    Inner West: all stations Macdonaldtown to Croydon inclusive
    Airport: Green Square, Mascot,
    Bankstown: Erskineville, St Peters, Marrickville, Dulwich Hill, Hurlstone Park,
    East Hills: Tempe, Turrella, Bardwell Park, Bexley North,
    Illawarra: Arncliffe, Banksia, Rockdale.

    Also in the 1970′s came Laurie Brereton and two major, severe incompetencies in road-rail interface: both are on the M4 – one at North Strathfield, the other at Harris Park. Both should have seen the M4 go UNDER the rail, not over. These two have hamstrung rail development and efficient timetabling.

    By 1980 came the need to add Rail Stations further out:
    Wyoming (between Gosford and Narara),
    Watanobbi (between Wyong and Warnervale)
    Blue Haven (between Warnervale and Wyee)
    Oxley Park (between Mount Druitt and St Mary’s)
    Emu Heights (between Emu Plains and Lapstone)
    restoration of the line Richmond to Kurrajong
    Moorebank (between Holsworthy and Glenfield)
    Glen Alpine (between Macarthur and Menangle Park)
    restoration of the line Campbelltown to Camden.
    restoration of the loop-line Picton to Mittagong via Tahmoor

    With the heavy growth of urban passenger movements by 1990 came the utter necessity to provide for totally separate and dedicated double-track CountryLink (plus Freight) access on the following corridors:
    North: Sydney to Maitland
    West: Sydney to Mount Victoria
    South: Sydney to Bundanoon (via East Hills)
    This would have enabled the existing trackwork within these boundaries to be dedicated exclusively to passenger traffic.

    By the year 2000, with the perfecting of GPS satellite-based signalling in the Iron Ore railways in NW Western Australia, trackside signalling became passe, with GPS-based, radio-controlled, in-cab signalling the way of the future. This automatically mandates the elimination of all underground “metro” lines, because of their inability to access satellite signals. As well it mandated the demolition of all buildings (or preferably their mandated non-construction in the first place) that obstruct continuous rail-access to these satellite signals.

    Also by 2000 came the need for new lines. These below are not included in current rail planning:
    Newcastle to Williamtown Airport (branching off at Warabrook).
    Newcastle to Cessnock (branching off at Hexham and not Maitland, and including Kurri Kurri)
    Sydney to Mona Vale (branching off near Northbridge)

    Finally, Bradfield’s vision of the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge for heavy-rail usage should have been a reality by 2000. Then the following ‘clusters” of lines should have taken place:

    Cluster A – crossing by the eastern Harbour Bridge line and via Airport:
    9 minute interval.
    (a) Newcastle/Morisset, (b) Gosford (c), Mona Vale (new line) to
    (a) Southern Highlands, (b) Camden, (c) Leppington (ultimately to Badgery’s Creek)
    The northern part of this cluster has 4 tracks Chatswood to Mount Colah – one pair for the local service in Cluster B to Mount Colah, the other pair for the express beyond Mount Colah.
    The southern part of this cluster has its dedicated track Wolli Creek to Campbelltown

    Cluster B – crossing by the western Harbour Bridge line Chatswood to Strathfield:
    using the through west line – 9 minute interval.
    (a) Mount Colah via Gordon, (b) Hornsby via Epping, (c) Rouse Hill to
    (a) Epping, (b) Blue Mountains, (c) Blaxland (express to Blacktown thence St Mary’s and all stations)

    Cluster C1 – Circular Quay via Town Hall – using the Inner west Line
    interval 12 minutes
    * Carlingford (all stations Burwood to Carlingford),
    * St Mary’s (express Strathfield to Granville thence all stations)
    * Richmond (express Strathfield to Granville thence all stations)
    * Fairfield (all stations Burwood to Fairfield),
    This part of the Cluster = 4 tracks Homebush to Clyde – thus Granville becomes a 6 platform Station.

    Cluster C2 – Circular Quay via Museum to Sydenham:
    interval 12 minutes
    * Regents Park via Bankstown (all stations Canterbury to Regents Park)
    * Liverpool via Bankstown (limited stops Canterbury to Bankstown)
    * Revesby (all stations Kingsgrove to Revesby)
    * Liverpool via Moorebank (limited stops Kingsgrove to East Hills)
    This part of the Cluster = 4 tracks Kingsgrove to East Hills

    Cluster D – the Eastern Suburbs to Illawarra Line:
    interval 12 Minutes
    * Mortdale – all stations Kogarah to Mortdale
    * Cronulla – Kogarah, Mortdale thence all Stations
    * Waterfall – Kogarah, Mortdale thence all Stations
    * Long Illawarra (Kiama) – Sutherland, Waterfall thence Wollongong and Kiama
    This cluster – 3 tracks (centre bi-directional) between Mortdale and Waterfall
    Under these arrangements, most of the services from the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and Kiama would bypass Central Terminal Station.


    The light-rail restoration should follow the earlier Tram network, but with a major modification: the tracks must be in the kerbside lane to allow through traffic to bypass stationary light-rail vehicles picking up or setting down passengers. Not as at present in Melbourne where through traffic must stop at a stationary tram to allow passengers safe access to the kerb.

    There is more fine tuning within this framework, but I trust that this provides the general idea.

  44. Pingback: Opinion: what’s the s-train-gest behaviour you’ve seen on trains? | Official NRMA Blog

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