Every reason Sydney trains can be delayed, according to Sydney Trains

Trackwork is just the beginning.

There are more than 170 reasons to justify why a Sydney train can be delayed. Documents released to Honi Soit under freedom of information laws revealed over 4000 pre-recorded words and phrases used by the Sydney Trains digital voice announcement system, including dozens of pre-recorded reasons a train service may be modified or delayed.

Station and train staff mix and match words and phrases stored in this Master Audio Dictionary to produce the recorded train announcements heard on platforms and trains across the city.

We have arbitrarily grouped the 173 phrases due to which services can be affected into six broad categories: crashes and catastrophes, villains and vandals, life and limb, staff and stuff, faults and failures, and schedules and slowdowns. There are 63 phrases related to faults and failures and 49 related to crashes and catastrophes.

Of course, the range of reasons does not speak to the frequency of their use, and “wet weather conditions” is much more likely to be used than “severe thunder storms and multiple lightning strikes damaging equipment”.

Some categories are inflated by bafflingly inefficient duplication (take your pick between “a staff member being ill”, “a staff member taken ill” or “an ill staff member”). Others provide needlessly exacting detail, and it is difficult to imagine Taylor Owynns, the voice of Sydney trains, announcing that your commute home will be delayed specifically by “the derailment of an empty train”. Nevertheless, the recordings wait patiently on the Sydney Trains computer system, in case the day ever comes.

According to the Master Audio Dictionary, changes can occur due to:

Crashes and catastrophes

  • a train accident
  • the partial derailment of a train
  • the derailment of a train
  • the derailment of an empty train
  • train failing to stop at the station
  • an incident
  • an incident involving a track maintenance vehicle
  • a hazardous spill
  • back burning
  • hazard reduction
  • hazard reduction activities
  • a grass fire
  • a bushfire
  • a bushfire causing hazardous conditions
  • fire near the track
  • fire near the track causing hazardous conditions
  • a fire on a train
  • a fire on a freight train
  • a fire alarm being activated
  • a fire safety alarm being activated
  • high temperatures
  • high temperatures affecting track infrastructure
  • high temperatures affecting overhead wiring and tracks
  • storms
  • severe electrical storms
  • lightning strikes damaging equipment
  • severe thunder storms and multiple lightning strikes damaging equipment
  • strong winds
  • strong winds blowing debris on the tracks
  • an object near the track
  • an object on the track
  • a tree blocking the track
  • a tree blocking the tracks
  • an object caught in the overhead wiring
  • a tree caught in the overhead wiring
  • heavy fog
  • heavy fog affecting visibility
  • heavy rain
  • heavy rainfall activating track safety monitors
  • heavy rainfall activating safety monitors and slip detectors
  • a landslip
  • a landslip caused by heavy rainfall
  • flooding on the tracks
  • heavy snow and ice on the tracks
  • severe weather conditions
  • severe weather damaging equipment
  • wet weather conditions
  • adverse weather conditions
  • various incidents caused by weather conditions

Villains and vandals

  • a police operation
  • a customer disturbance
  • a person causing a disturbance
  • anti‐social behaviour
  • vandalism of a train
  • vandalism of equipment
  • vandalism on equipment
  • vandalism
  • an act of vandalism
  • a trespasser on the track

Life and limb

  • a fatality
  • an earlier fatality
  • station being evacuated
  • a medical emergency
  • an emergency
  • an emergency services response
  • an incident requiring emergency services
  • an incident involving emergency services
  • a person needing medical assistance
  • a person injured by a train
  • a report of a person injured by a train
  • a person threatening self‐harm
  • a person on the tracks
  • a vehicle on the tracks
  • a vehicle on the track
  • an animal on the tracks
  • a person near the tracks
  • a vehicle near the track
  • animals in the rail corridor

Staff and stuff

  • industrial action
  • a rostering issue
  • a staffing issue
  • an injured staff member
  • a staff member injury
  • a staff member being injured
  • an ill staff member
  • a staff member taken ill
  • a staff member being ill
  • staff unable to report to duty due to weather conditions
  • earlier incidents resulting in train crew being displaced

Faults and failures

  • trackwork
  • short notice trackwork
  • ongoing trackwork
  • extended trackwork
  • extended overnight trackwork
  • planned track inspection underway
  • urgent track repairs
  • track repairs
  • urgent track equipment repairs
  • track equipment repairs
  • urgent track equipment repairs caused by weather conditions
  • track equipment repairs caused by weather conditions
  • urgent equipment repairs
  • equipment repairs
  • power supply issues
  • external power supply issues affecting rail infrastructure
  • urgent power supply repairs caused by weather conditions
  • power supply repairs caused by weather conditions
  • urgent power supply repairs
  • power supply repairs
  • urgent infrastructure repairs caused by weather conditions
  • infrastructure repairs caused by weather conditions
  • urgent infrastructure repairs
  • infrastructure repairs
  • urgent level crossing repairs
  • level crossing repairs
  • urgent overhead wiring repairs caused by weather conditions
  • overhead wiring repairs caused by weather conditions
  • urgent overhead wiring repairs
  • overhead wiring repairs
  • urgent signal equipment repairs caused by weather conditions
  • signal equipment repairs caused by weather conditions
  • urgent signal equipment repairs
  • signal equipment repairs
  • urgent signal repairs
  • signal repairs
  • a mechanical fault
  • a mechanical problem
  • urgent mechanical repairs
  • a train with a mechanical issue
  • a freight train with mechanical problems
  • train requiring urgent mechanical repairs
  • a train requiring mechanical repairs
  • a freight train requiring mechanical repairs
  • a freight train requiring urgent mechanical repairs
  • essential train maintenance
  • urgent train repairs
  • an unplanned disruption
  • electrical problems
  • an issue involving track maintenance equipment
  • an operational problem
  • an operational issue
  • an issue with a freight train
  • an operational issue with a freight train
  • an external telecommunication fault affecting train operating systems
  • train communications issue
  • a train communication issue
  • a communication issue
  • a train requiring urgent cleaning
  • report of smoke on a train
  • smoke in the air conditioning of a train
  • an air‐conditioning fault
  • a broken window

Schedules and slowdowns

  • a boarding issue
  • a customer boarding issue
  • extended boarding times
  • wet weather conditions causing slower boarding times
  • a high volume of customers travelling
  • a large number of customers travelling
  • large crowds
  • large event crowd
  • large event crowds
  • slower boarding times due to large customer numbers
  • service disruptions
  • an earlier disruption
  • temporary speed restrictions
  • a slow moving freight train ahead
  • a train not at its scheduled location
  • a special event at Moore Park
  • a special event at Olympic Park
  • a special event at Randwick Racecourse
  • a special event at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse
  • a special event at the Sydney Cricket Ground
  • a special event at the Sydney Football Stadium