Sydney Trains blames bungled IT upgrade for transport chaos

A weekend meltdown of Sydney’s train system was caused by an “IT upgrade” according to Transport for NSW.

A Saturday evening alert issued by Sydney Trains cited “an IT issue across all transport agencies” as a cause of major delays.

“The IT issue earlier today, affected key operating systems that provide visibility of trains and their locations,” the statement said. “All critical systems have returned to operation across the transport network.”

Transport for NSW said that “technicians were conducting an IT upgrade to increase the speed and capacity across the network on Friday evening”. However, “an issue was discovered early Saturday and resulted in some operational systems taking time to come back online,” the department said.

“The systems affected included passenger information display screens and app updates, network control and crew allocation.”

The agency said that although “upgrades are common and rarely result in disruption” it would “investigate the cause to prevent similar instances in the future”.

“Transport for NSW thanks customers for their patience and apologises to those who have been disrupted over the weekend,” the statement said.

A separate issue with overhead wiring at Wynyard on Friday caused delays on the North Shore.

The upgrade debacle came as Sydney’s transport cluster faces heightened scrutiny over its technology spending.

In March, Fairfax reported that in five years Transport for NSW’s “Making It Work For You” project had chewed through $348 million of the $425 million earmarked for it, while delivering only a third of its end-user goals.

Earlier this month the Public Service Association of NSW expressed outrage that a Roads and Maritime Services ICT request for tender required that the majority of staff used for the project be sourced from offshore.

“This is a disgraceful attack on the career prospects of ICT professionals in NSW,” the union said in a statement. “It seems that the NSW Government would prefer that work in the ICT sector is performed by off-shore workers instead of providing employment and careers to local professionals. This is a direct attack on the Australian IT profession.”

The PSA called for its members to write to their local MPs opposing the cap on local staff for the tender and calling for the RFT to be withdrawn.

In July, the RMS chief information officer departed after a little over a year in the role.

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