SYDNEY commuters face a “year or more of pain” as the New South Wales (NSW) government fast-tracks a major $A 97m ($US 64.5m) rail maintenance blitz.

This was prompted by a major review into Sydney Trains by the chair of Australia’s National Transport Commission, Ms Carolyn Walsh, and a review team, which found a maintenance backlog that had led to equipment failures causing temporary line closures.

The report also said that the backlog posed a serious challenge to restoring a reliable network which could lead to safety issues in the future.

Commuters will be most affected at weekends from midnight Friday to midnight Sunday, with significant work to be completed on every line across the Sydney Trains network.

NSW transport minister, Ms Jo Haylen, says this is the biggest coordinated programme of rail maintenance ever undertaken in Sydney which will take a massive effort. “People have lost faith in the system,” Haylen says. “They have been burnt too many times. We simply must take this on and get it done. Continuing system failures and meltdowns are not an option.”

The network has been plagued with a series of failures over recent years, including three in March this year.

The Sydney Rail Repair Plan will see work undertaken around the clock for the next year. “I want to be totally honest with everyone,” Haylen says. “For the next year or so we are going to massively disrupt the network at weekends while our crews get in and fix it. We will keep people constantly updated, every week, with reports on how this immense repair project is progressing.”