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Wednesday, May 17, 2000 Home > National > Article

Ticketing shambles hits airport line By ROBERT WAINWRIGHT, Transport Writer

The new $700 million airport rail link opening on Sunday will boast the latest technology - except working ticket vending machines.

CityRail officials confirmed last night that embarrassing delays in the development of computer software meant that new vending machines on all stations across the network would not be working for months and some not until after the Olympic Games.

Instead, passengers would have to buy a ticket from a booking office at a station or wait until they reached either the domestic or international airports to pay the difference between their CityRail ticket and the price of the airport line.

The delay is one of several "teething problems" with the line - the biggest railway development for Sydney in more than 20 years.

The Rail Access Authority is still waiting for final approval by the NSW Fire Brigade of its emergency capabilities and there are continuing issues among staff about equipment and how to handle emergencies.

The Opposition leapt on the ticketing problem yesterday, saying it had left commuters "confused and bewildered".

"Commuters are now being saddled with a convoluted list of instructions involving paying station access fees," the Opposition transport spokesman, Mr Barry O'Farrell, said.

"It's a debacle. The State Government has had years to get this right. We have known for a long time that the Government is bad with on-time running - not only are trains not running on time but now projects aren't either.

"But this situation is not really surprising given that the trains running on the new rail link will not even contain luggage racks even though the link is for the airport."

A spokesman for CityRail confirmed the ticket problem, saying that new vending machines, with touch screens and capable of taking denominations including $50 notes, would be brought online "progressively" over four to five months.

But there was no guarantee on when the project, which was supposed to be completed by the opening of the line, would be finalised.

Authorities believed that only 3 per cent of travellers would be affected, mainly because they travelled from small stations that had no booking office.

"People travelling from every CityRail line, with the exception of the East Hills line, will need to change trains at Central or Wolli Creek stations for the airport line stations," the spokesman said.

"Initially, CityRail's automatic ticketing machines will not be able to sell airport line tickets. Tickets will be available from station ticket windows or booking offices.

"At stations with vending machines but no booking office machines or where the booking office window is closed, passengers will be required to purchase their rail fares to either Central or Wolli Creek.

"However, they will be required to purchase the airport line station access fee at any of the airport line stations.

"At some stations, customers will be required to purchase a magnetic Authority To Travel [ATTR] ticket that entitles them to travel through the system and purchase their ticket at their destination.

"Any customer with an ATTR arriving at an airport line station will be sold an integrated ticket that combines rail travel with the station access fee."

-- Martin Thompson (, May 16, 2000

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