Premier ‘Furious’ Over Handling of Sydney Trains Debacle

The 205 from Northbridge into the city is just like any busy bus trip from Sydney’s north shore.

It’s full without being crowded as dozens of people make their way into work for another day on the grind.

There’s nothing all that unique about it, other than amongst the professionals and students sits The Premier of NSW.

Sydney train drivers are set to go on strike. (AAP)

Gladys Berejiklian has been catching the bus for years.

The only thing that’s changed is now, thanks to her work as transport minister, everyone uses an Opal Card.

Oh, and there’s a couple of conspicuous police officers who ride in with her.

That’s why the self-confessed “public transport premier” is so concerned with the state of our train network, because she knows it so intimately.

Ms Berejiklian was furious with how Mr Constance handled the Sydney Trains fiasco when she was on holidays.

9NEWS understands Ms Berejiklian was furious with how her transport minister has handled the Sydney Trains fiasco when she was on holidays.

Andrew Constance’s problem is he HATES  the union movement.

I don’t think that language is too strong either.

In August, at a speech to the committee for Economic Development of Australia, he crowed about a day where they will not employ train drivers.

“As a Liberal minister, I’m not going to have to deal with the rail union anymore because we’re going to have driverless trains here,” Mr Constance said.

“I have a very clear view … that, into the future, government will no longer be providing services when it comes to transport – there’s no need.”

Mr Constance speaks to the media at Martin Place train station on Wednesday last week. (AAP)

Those words in the middle of a heated pay negotiation. What do they say about hindsight?

Railway workers want a six percent annual pay increase over four years.

The government has a legislated wage cap at 2.5 percent.

The minister says he will not budge.

The union went to the Fair Work Commission and held a ballot through the Australian Electoral Commission to take industrial action.

A total of 57 percent of RTBU members voted to take action and the union has decided to ban overtime plus launch a city-wide strike on January 29.

Last week saw commuter chaos across the network.

It’s the Monday after Australia Day, the traditional date when Sydneysiders head back to work and kids go back to school.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW secretary has told commuters don’t bother going to work.

The Sydney Trains network moves 1.3 million people every day.

There aren’t enough buses in the country to move that volume if the strike goes ahead.

In the background is a controversial new timetable which increased services by 1500 but has spread the workforce so thinly it’s almost impossible to recover from any incidents.

On January 9, there was an early summer storm that caused a shambolic meltdown where eight to 10 lines were still crippled at midnight.

It became a public safety issue.

There’s a lot been said about drivers taking “sickies”- potentially industrial sabotage – but there is no evidence of this.

Besides, 70-odd drivers off sick out of 1200 should not cause the scenes we saw last week.

There is a structural problem with the new timetable.

Unions will meet with rail bosses and Minister Constance tomorrow and Friday to sort this mess out.

Trains were cancelled, delayed and overcrowded on Tuesday last week.

Workers will not get any more than a 2.5 percent pay increase.

Depending on what side of politics you sit, some will sympathise with workers, some won’t.

The problem for Mr Constance is if one million people can’t get to work on January 29 they won’t care who is to blame.

Premier Berejiklian and her government have been elected to fix this kind of thing.

If they can’t there will be no more white government cars just the 205 bus from Northbridge.