Train delays in Sydney add salt to the wound of Matilda’s loss

The Matildas’ semifinals, a country and western concert and two men allegedly breaking into a signal box to destroy switchgear set off the perfect storm for Sydney’s trains, incapacitating thousands, nullifying a sporting moment and revealing the vulnerability of a system is not a plan B.

The men who slept outside at the station were denied bail for a reappearance at Burwood Magistrates’ Court in October. Whatever the cause of the incident, it certainly rubbed salt in the wounds of fans who had to wait hours to get home and possibly one of Australia collectively mourning the Matildas’ elimination from the World Cup.

The finale had focused the world’s attention on Sydney, and to limit the damage Prime Minister Chris Minns was quick to respond, offering a sincere apology and declaring it was “a violent act of vandalism on the transport network that has killed tens of thousands of people.” badly disturbed on the way home in the middle of the night.” The reality, of course, is that Sydney’s train network is not resilient when things go wrong.

Anyone who’s taken a train from Sydney Olympic Park Station after a sporting event or concert knows the merry-making chaos that usually ensues. But Wednesday night’s gridlock, which kept some people waiting for hours, wasn’t helped by rail staff’s lack of communication either. They knew there was a problem with the signals and that was it. They could have told the thousands to take a bus or even walk to another station. Instead, their silence betrayed a vain hope that the trains would be here soon.

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The staff probably had no better idea of ​​what was going on than the restless crowd they were trying to calm down. But that’s the point. NSW Transport provided over 300 additional services including express trains and major event buses for the Matilda’s clash with the English Lionesses. But no one had a contingency plan in case a mode of transportation went down, let alone a communications network that would provide travelers with useful up-to-date information.

The chaos following Wednesday’s game is further evidence of the need to complete the Metro West line from the CBD to Westmead. The line would have saved the day. But Minns has used the project to reassure the public for expected massive cuts in next month’s budget amid record national debt. Minns has refused to protect the $25 billion Metro West project from being delayed or even canceled while awaiting the results of a review of the entire Sydney Metro program by former senior federal bureaucrat Mike Billor.

But it turns out the review isn’t due until October, after the budget. And a final decision could likely be delayed until next year’s budget. That’s too long to put a question mark over such an important piece of infrastructure for urban development, which is not only a vital transport solution for western Sydney, but also a crucial backbone for the government’s housing policy.

With perhaps 100,000 people trying to leave the Olympic Park at the same time late Wednesday, the ensuing chaos not only clouded the World Cup but also called into question Sydney’s claim to be a cosmopolitan city with smoothly functioning infrastructure. Angry foreign visitor Deva Mallika’s Facebook comments reflect the potential cost to tourism: “Unbelievably bad. It took me over 3 hours to get back to the CBD. The flight leaves at 6am and I never want to come back.”

Minns immediately announced an urgent review of the security of critical rail infrastructure. Of course, Wednesday night’s chaos needs to be cleaned up, but it will be hard to forget: one can hardly blame the fans for skipping the train and watching Spain v England at the stadium on Sunday for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 final driving Australia.

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Justin Scaccy

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