Trains rack up $ 1.4m taxi bill

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - LINDA SILMALIS

SYD­NEY’S ram­shackle rail network is cost­ing tax­pay­ers more than $1.4 mil­lion in cab fares as stranded train driv­ers and com­muters have to be sent home in taxis.

Pas­sen­gers on their way to catch a flight or sit an exam can get a com­pli­men­tary taxi to their des­ti­na­tions if trains will fail to ar­rive.

Taxis have also been made avail­able to help train driv­ers to get home dur­ing sys­tem break­downs.

Fig­ures ob­tained by the state op­po­si­tion re­veal th­ese fares have cost hun­dreds of dol­lars, with one from Cen­tral Sta­tion to the South­ern High­lands in August hit­ting $672.

Seven stranded pas­sen­gers were given a com­pli­men­tary maxi cab to get from Camp­bell­town to Moss Vale with the fare cost­ing $590.10.

The most ex­pen­sive month was Jan­uary with more than $278,000 spent on fer­ry­ing Syd­ney Trains staff and pas­sen­gers around as can­cel­la­tions, staffing is­sues and light­ning sent the sys­tem into melt­down.

Apart from Septem­ber, taxi fare costs were con­sis­tently over $100,000 a month fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of 1500 new train ser­vices.

State op­po­si­tion WasteWatch Com­mit­tee chair Hugh McDer­mott took aim at Trans­port Min­is­ter An­drew Con­stance. “More than a mil­lion dol­lars of tax­payer dol­lars have been wasted due to a bun­gled train man­age­ment sys­tem by a com­pletely in­com­pe­tent trans­port min­is­ter,” he said.

A Syd­ney Trains spokesman said taxis were only granted when no other form of public trans­port was avail­able.

“Syd­ney Trains works hard to en­sure our ser­vices are punc­tual and cus­tomers ar­rive at their des­ti­na­tion on time,” he said. “How­ever from time to time, a num­ber of fac­tors can af­fect our ser­vices.”

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