Firstly. This is not the usual thing I post on this site. However, this warrants writing as a Sydney-sider, a tech head, and someone who had their hopes disappointed on the Sydney Metro line
Public transport in Sydney is not the best. Regular commuters or infrequent users of the system are subjected to delays, congestion, breakdowns, and overcrowding.
This is the well-known fact if you move to Sydney (and that is excluding the road traffic issues).
One of the pinnacle projects of the NSW Government over the last 4 years was the North West Connex, or the Sydney Metro line as it is now called, was touted not to be a full solution, but a step in the right direction for solving the North West Road Congestion and reliance on buses to travel from the likes of Rouse Hill, Kellyville and Castle Hill to the CBD & back.
Completed only a few days ago and with the tape cut so proudly by the Premier, the line was opened to minimal if no major mechanical issues, boasting close to 140,000 Sydney-siders to be the human guinea pigs for the government’s newest mechanical, conductor-less marvel; yet most new outlets rightfully commented on the truest test of the grit and stamina of this new line will be Monday morning peak time.
This was written Wednesday, the 29th of May and 3 days after the line opened, with some small issues along the way the last 2 days, the first major issue occurred upon the line at Cherrybrook, causing delays across the eastern section of the metro network. Doors not closing/opening correctly at stops caused some stations to be missed and commuters to hop off, wait “Only 5 minutes” for a train to take them one station backward and closer to home.
This, however, was not the case and due to the aforementioned congestion, the timetable did not fully return to normal around 6:30 pm (ish).
However, the largest issue with the network’s issues reared its head between Epping and Chatswood. Platforms filled with commuters at Chatswood, Macquarie University and Epping all to board the trains and people literally cramming themselves into the train in order to fit, causing more issues with doors and some folks having to hop off and wait for another train. As uncomfortable as it was for the first half of the journey, folks grinned their teeth and persevered as the crowds eventually thinned out the further west we went and by the time I arrived at my stop it felt more like stepping off a more standard T1 line peak service rather than a high-speed sardine can.
You can search through Twitter to see the annoyed travelers or the folks bashing the new metro network not working out of the box in its infancy & first exposure to the Sydney peak timetable, but being so early in its lifespan is an advantage to the network and not a fault.
Let me tell you why.
What do all the Twitter complaints, breakdowns and delays all point to? Congestion.
From the start of Day 1, Sydney Metro has had staff in Blue T-shirts gathered at every station to discuss the train network and guide new users around the stops (in my case, handy at 6:30 am this morning under caffeinated wading around Epping station like a lost puppy trying to find my connection to Central), however, one would assume these staff would function the same as the platform staff at any other T line across the Sydney trains network.
And this is where the ball really got dropped & can get picked up again.
The single carriage system of these new trains is only able to hold so many bodies onboard before it becomes a WHS issue and frankly those limits were well exceeded today.
The network being in its infancy, the T-shirt clad front line soldiers of the Sydney Metro should be policing these trains and determining a maximum capacity of the carriages, and being the educated individuals I’m sure they are, liaising with the staff on these trains (yes, we see you there, also penned in with the rest of us like sheep in a pen too small for the size of the herd) and stopping passengers from boarding these trains.
With the network working peak efficiency (trains every 4-5 minutes) this shouldn’t be necessary, however policing the platforms correctly will lead to a more comfortable, and frankly higher opinion, of the metro system itself.
We can deal with breakdowns and mechanical issues, but you are turning this wonderful new piece of technology that is no doubt a Keystone for what is to come with the Sydney rail network, and you are turning it into the what could be the worst days of some users, purely from a lack of policing the congestion.
A disappointed Sydney-sider who expected more from such a prominent service.