Passenger Rail, Legal & Compliance, Operations & Maintenance, Signalling & Communications

Sydney Trains to investigate cause of standstill

Sydney Trains

Sydney Trains fleets operated as normal today after they completely stopped running yesterday afternoon, when a “communication issue” affected the entire network, causing traffic chaos across the city and surrounds.

The radio system failure that brought every train to a standstill will be fully investigated, officials say, after thousands of commuters were stuck on platforms or forced to cram onto buses.

This morning, Transport for NSW had warned passengers to be prepared for possible delays, with some trains running to a reduced frequency and changed timetable at stops and platforms.

Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said the issue stemmed from an “extremely rare” failure in the Digital Train Radio System (DTRS) about 2.45pm.

The DTRS is a vital safety feature for the network, being the primary communication tool between the Rail Operations Centre and train crew on the network to alert them of any unexpected issues and emergencies.

“For safety reasons that meant that we had to bring trains back to platforms so customers could safely get off those trains,” he said.

All trains were stopped at platforms for about an hour until services began running again about 4pm.

Engineers were unable to reset communication services after they failed and instead switched to a backup system, which took about an hour.

“This system is a critical communication system between our rail operations centre and our train crew,” Longland said.

“And while the rail network was fully operational, we aren’t able to operate trains safely while the train crew can’t communicate with the rail operations centre.”

The early indication was that it was system-related and not any kind of cybersecurity issue.

“The investigation has so far identified the failure of router equipment not operating correctly. While it has been replaced and the system is operating as expected, Sydney Trains is raising this in discussion with our suppliers,” Longland said.

“But we’ll fully investigate the root cause of the incident to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

“We apologise to customers for the interruption to services.”

Transport for NSW said it requested additional buses and worked with transport operators and light rail to run extra services to help with the recovery of services.