’BLOODY ATROCIOUS’ were the words chosen by New South Wales Premier Bob Carr to describe suburban rail services in Sydney on November 22. On that day, Carr had been goaded into arranging a day of free travel on the extensive CityRail network, in an attempt to mollify commuters enraged by late and cancelled trains.

CityRail has a two-pronged approach to tackle its difficulties. First comes a new timetable from September that will take into account ’significant change in CityRail’s operational and safety environment’. This includes ’slower trains due to new enhanced safety procedures’, following the Waterfall accident on January 31 2003 when seven died as a Tangara EMU derailed on a 50 km/h curve at 117 km/h (RG 2.04 p61).

CityRail also mentions ’the introduction of data loggers preventing speeding to make up lost time’, and ’longer station dwell times for safer boarding and alighting’. Needless to say, ’to increase reliability of the CityRail network, the new timetable will have some longer journey times’.

CityRail also claims that the new timings are needed as part of the A$1bn Rail Clearways plan due to be implemented by 2010 (RG 5.04 p253).