Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Industry Safety, Legal Compliance, Passenger Rail, Signalling

Train services running again after Ashfield signal box damage


Train services in Sydney are back running to a regular timetable after an Ashfield signal box was vandalised this week, causing significant delays for Matilda fans and concert goers getting home from Sydney Olympic Park.

Police allege two men broke through security fencing and into a relay room at Ashfield just after 10pm, where cables were cut and critical equipment including modems were damaged.

The Ashfield signal box operates six signals on six lines between Summer Hill and Ashfield, a critical part of the network to move passengers between Olympic Park and Central Station.

Specialist engineers repaired infrastructure and brought services back online within 90 minutes, and crowds had cleared Olympic Park Station by midnight.

The signalling system is designed to be fail-safe: when there’s an issue with signalling infrastructure, all signals in the relevant area turn to a default red, meaning trains cannot move safely through that area.

NSW Police have made two arrests in relation to the incident, and those individuals have been charged with several offences.

Sydney Trains has more than 1000 signalling equipment locations across the network, typically secured by lock and key, many of which are inside the rail corridor or protected by high security fencing including barbed wire.

Sydney Trains already has a security enhancement program underway for those sites to bolster security including replacing lock and key access with secure swipe cards.

Transport minister Jo Haylen has instructed the Transport for NSW Secretary to review the security of critical rail infrastructure, including the prioritisation of security upgrades, and report back to her.

“The system was not broken, it was broken into and destroyed in a deliberate act,” she said.

“I want to make it very clear that this was not some minor act of vandalism, this act significantly damaged critical rail infrastructure.

“Tampering with critical rail infrastructure has the potential to have significant safety impacts for passengers and is an extremely serious crime.

“I want to thank all of the Sydney Trains staff who worked through the night to fix the issue and to make sure 45,000 people got home safely from the game.”