Rail workers strike over tech issues

NSW rail staff stopped work for several hours in a protest over network and software glitches in a new reservation system installed at Countrylink in NSW and TravelTrain in Queensland.

The Australian Services Union (ASU) imposed a work ban on Tuesday preventing Countrylink staff from using the new system, TravelLink, which has been causing customer problems for some time.

The ban was lifted on Wednesday after a considerable break to service.

TravelLink was installed at Countrylink and TravelTrain several months ago to replace its existing, non-Y2K reservation system.

It went live in New South Wales on November 1, Nicola Thompson, Countrylink spokesperson said.

According to Thompson, the system was used in conjunction with the previous system, Trains, for several months.

Software bugs and network cabling problems were causing extending delays for Countrylink customers, Thompson said and according to a spokesperson from TravelTrain, some ticketing operations have been unavailable.

"We knew there was going to be some disruption, [installing] it was something we had to do," Thompson said.

"In the long run, it will be superior."

Countrylink is expecting the problems to be solved by the end of next week, Thompson said.

TravelLink is international system developed for a Canadian rail service, Thompson said. Countrylink and TravelTrain, Queensland Rail's long distance travel provider, are working with IBM and other partners on the development and integration of the system, she said.

A spokesperson from TravelTrain said financial losses from the failure to process ticket sales were so far unknown"We're hoping that's not the case," he said.

In addition to the reservation system glitches, Thompson said Countrylink had experienced problems with its call centre system. Also new to the organisation, the system was installed several months ago to provide greater capacity and functionality as well to overcome system problems including customers delays and line dropouts.

The system is "pretty much fixed", she said.

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