Rail union’s industrial action to go ahead as planned on Friday as talks end without a deal

The rail union has confirmed industrial action will go ahead as planned on Friday after it failed to resolve its long-running dispute with the state government over the safety of new trains.

Commuters and people travelling to Sydney Airport ahead at the start of the school holidays are being warned to expect delays, with trains running on a weekend timetable and many services cancelled.

Sydney Trains chief executive Matthew Longland urged people to avoid non-essential travel.

“Trips will take longer, trains will be more crowded and they’ll certainly be much less frequent,” Mr Longland said.

“We are expecting increased demand at the Sydney Airport as a result of the school holidays.

“Please look for alternative ways to travel if you’re going to the airport.”

People crowd into a train carriage.
Major disruption to train services is expected as staff press ahead with industrial action.(Twitter: @rx4kid)

On Wednesday, Transport Minister David Elliott made an offer to spend $264 million dollars on modifications to the new trains, which have stood idle for two years.

Union leaders met with transport officials on Thursday to discuss the government’s latest offer but the meeting ended with no deal being reached.

RTBU Secretary Alex Claassens described the meeting as “disappointing”, saying the government failed to put its offer in writing.

“We still don’t have any signed documents that we can go out to our members with and have a conversation about reducing any sort of industrial action,” he said.

“What we’ve got today is some back-pedalling.

“[The government is] saying we’ll give you this money to fix the trains but we want it to come at the expense of your wages and conditions.

“We’ve been here twice before … they’ve made promises and then they walk away from it.”

Mr Longland said it was “disappointing” that industrial action would go ahead on Friday.

“There’s been no walking back from any of the commitments that the New South Wales Government provided,” he said.

“The offer has been provided, in writing, we also took the opportunity to work through the details of the offer, line by line, with the RTBU and the rail unions.

“The unions have asked for a legal deed in addition to the offer and we’re working through that process at the moment.”

Mr Claassens said the union remained open to negotiations.

“We need signed documents, we need an agreement before we can go to our delegates,” he said.

On Friday, drivers will refuse to operate foreign-made trains which, Mr Longland said, would result in train services being slashed by 70 per cent.

The Rail Tram and Bus Union claims the new trains are unsafe because they do not allow guards to check whether platforms and gaps are clear.

However, the government has maintained the trains are safe, with the fleet receiving accreditation from the National Rail Safety Regulator.

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