The performance of Sydney Trains in handling snowballing delays on multiple lines, called "crises", is in question. It is inevitable that crises happen from time to time. The nature of some of these crises is not always publicly known, for example when someone is hit by a train. But in some cases there is a suspicion that some details have been suppressed for improper reasons.
An example is power failures resulting from a contractor accidentally cutting a cable while working near running tracks at Central station. The suspicion is that the contractor was actually working on a Sydney Metro project and this is not acknowledged simply because the NSW government wants its flagship new infrastructure to have an unblemished record for reliability.
Another example is the major disruption on 5 April 2018 when a person was struck by a train near Burwood and subsequently "signalling issues" occurred at Strathfield, Petersham and Summer Hill. Signalling problems seem to occur on much less than 5% of weekdays (i.e., less than one weekday per four-week month). It is difficult to credit that the three incidents were unrelated yet no announcement has been made detailing what happened. On that day, severe train delays were widespread until 9 p.m. and delays persisted until after midnight. Learn more... Why, in an age where computers can do wonderful things, can't one take over running the rail network and work smoothly towards restoring a semblance of normal?
The travelling public certainly noticed the delays that afternoon. So Sydney Trains denied that recent timetable changes contributed to delays. However the writer was on a train approaching Hornsby at about 7 p.m. when the guard announced that the driver was overdue for a break. It is obvious that the increase in services comes with increased demand on crews, suggesting that long working hours are related to timetabling.
While ever the authorities are less than candid about service meltdowns, the public will continue to disbelieve. Passengers think that they should get a better deal on crisis days but they also think authorities don't seem to care.
A report entitled Joint Review on Network Recovery from Major Incidents issued early in 2018. While it is probably a step in the right direction, it is only three pages long plus the front cover. The short report does not mention the gradual removal of rail crossovers from many places on the network which seems to have accelerated in recent years with the removal of the crossovers at Wynyard lower level and Ashfield, among others. While the authorities would probably say that very few breakdowns have happened in places where the crossovers would have helped, and that maintaining crossovers is expensive, removing them from the network can't help recovery from incidents.