Update on Olympic Park public transport disruption
Train services are back running to a regular timetable this morning after an Ashfield signal box was vandalised overnight, 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 overnight. Those individuals have been charged with several offences including endangering passengers on the railway and will appear in Burwood Local Court today.
Sydney Trains has over 1,000 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.
Minister 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 the Minister.
NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen said:
“Last night the system was not broken, it was broken into and destroyed in a deliberate act.
“I understand this is not the way football fans wanted to end the night, and I apologise to everyone and thank passengers for their patience.
“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.”
Sydney Trains Chief executive Matt Longland said:
“It’s disappointing something like this could occur on the rail network during one of the biggest events our city has ever seen. Our staff worked hard to communicate information to passengers and keep them safe, as they have been doing throughout this event.
“We would usually clear a massive crowd like the Matilda’s semi-final fans from Sydney Olympic Park Station within one hour, last night it took us two hours, I want to personally apologise to all our passengers impacted and thank them for their patience.”