Sydney Rail System Stoppage and Commuter Chaos – Stakeholder Communication


Transport NSW saw its Sydney Digital Train Radio System (DTRS) fail, resulting in the Sydney Trains network shutting down immediately and all trains halting for safety reasons. This, of course, caused extreme commuter chaos for the evening peak hour.

Sydney Trains chief executive, Matthew Longland, is obviously a strong graduate of media training and stakeholder communications and was quick off the mark to communicate with his stakeholders.

His communication and key messages were clear and to the point. He relayed the services that had been affected – nearly 3,000 of them – and ruled out any thoughts of a scary infrastructure cyber attack.

He expressed the need to shut down for commuter safety, communicated that most passengers were safely moved to platforms, and he put the incident into perspective, saying that the Sydney train network had never been affected by this system’s failure before.

Then Sydney Trains was on the front foot when the trains started running a couple of hours later, using social media and news media to get the message out.

The key to good executive communication and reputation protection is fast, factual information that stakeholders need; not corporate weasel words.

In this case, people needed to know if and when they could to get to where they needed to go. Particularly, for some, for the all-important commute home after work.

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