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Australia Social distancing squad armed with 11,000 cameras monitoring Sydney's trains

12:57  29 may  2020
12:57  29 may  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

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A woman with protective face mask sits on a Sydney train. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire) © 2020 Icon Sportswire (A Division of XML Team Solutions) All Rights Reserved A woman with protective face mask sits on a Sydney train. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire) A new social distancing squad armed with thousands of CCTV cameras will be the eyes and ears of the NSW government, monitoring passengers across Sydney's rail network.

The 80-strong team will work to ensure strict new physical distancing measures are maintained on trains, with a quarter of staff accessing up to 11,000 cameras across the city's stations.

The challenges of maintaining social distancing on public transport were underlined on Tuesday afternoon when real-time traffic monitoring website Anytrip estimated about 400 bus and train services were at capacity.

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Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the squad would form the "eyes and ears" of Sydney's train network. He said the team members will request people adhere to physical distancing on the train network but would not be "COVID cops" issuing fines.

"Complacency is going to kill us, if we're complacent with COVID across our community people are going to get sick and we're going to lose lives," Mr Constance said.

"What we want to do, certainly in terms of our transport system, is use every available resource to make sure people retain that 1.5 metres, don't get crowded services and don't risk their lives."

While 20 of the team will be based at the Rail Operations Centre in Alexandria, another 60 will be deployed across 30 of Sydney's busiest train stations.

On Tuesday, preliminary data suggested more than 267,000 trips were made in the morning peak hour, down a few thousand from Monday, but the network appeared to be filling up by the afternoon.

Real-time traffic monitoring website Anytrip estimated there were close to 400 bus and train services that were at capacity across Sydney close to 4pm.

About 380 buses, 27 of them dedicated school services, were at capacity at close to 3.45pm on Tuesday, while the T8 train line also had full carriages. The government was contacted for comment regarding the afternoon figures.

Mr Constance highlighted the T8 as an area of "concern" during Tuesday's press conference, adding that it was a line which people may need to consider spacing out their journey.

He said the government was attempting to balance re-opening the economy without accelerating the spread of coronavirus.

"We are not here to hinder the opening up of our economy, we're trying to facilitate it but as the Premier has said, let's take a cautious approach," Mr Constance said.

He said while roads were still about 16 per cent less busy than pre-lockdown, there had been an increase in traffic around schools, and warned drivers to be vigilant.

"Around schools there has been the obvious road congestion," Mr Constance said.

"We really need vigilance in those school zones, you're going to have increased cars, kids are going to be excited to be back at school, they don't concentrate, it's a recipe for a kid to get hit."

Sydney Trains chief customer officer Suzanne Holden said the specialist team had experience working on and monitoring the transport network.

"We've had some success here where individuals have been identified through CCTV cameras and obviously with the $5000 fines now we have been able to press charges against those people, so we're active," she said.

"This new team has been put together not to look at security issues but to look at social distancing, so a very different focus for COVID-19."

Click here for up-to-date coverage of the COVID-19 crisis on the Microsoft News app — available on Windows 10, iOS and Android

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