Driver shortage halts timetable plan

<p>A driver shortage has forced the New South Wales Government to postpone introduction of its new CityRail timetable.</p> <p>And introduction of Sydney’s long-awaited new-generation Millennium passenger trains has been put back.</p> <p>Transport minister Carl Scully said slower-than-expected driver recruitment and a jump in driver retirement forecasts were the reasons for putting the new schedule on hold.</p> <p>The performance of the present timetable provides &#8220breathing space&#8221 for CityRail to put in place recruitment strategies to overcome the shortfall of around 60 drivers.</p> <p>&#8220We have been running at better than 92% on time for five of the past six months, exceeding 95% for two of those months,&#8221 Mr Scully said.</p> <p>&#8220It is clear to me that the existing timetable is still operating efficiently.</p> <p>&#8220I am giving CityRail more time to recruit so that the new timetable can have a full complement of staff when it is introduced.</p> <p>&#8220Only when I am satisfied that a new timetable will work to the satisfaction of our customers, will I agree to its implementation.&#8221</p> <p>The Millennium trains face a further delay, two weeks before their scheduled appearance, to sort out a safety problem.</p> <p>The trains are causing electrical interference with the rail network’s signalling system.</p> <p>Testing of the trains is continuing while Australian manufacturer EDI works on the problem.</p> <p>Deliveries will begin in four-car units, with 80 carriages to be delivered by mid-2004.</p> <p>A further 60 have been ordered to replace aging rolling stock.</p> <br />