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Shutdown Of Sydney Train Network Leaves Thousands Stranded

The sudden shutdown of Sydney's train network that has stranded hundreds of thousands of commuters on their morning commute has been labelled "terrorist-like" by the NSW government.

No passenger trains are operating across Sydney, Newcastle, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and the Illawarra on Monday after state transport authorities sensationally suspended services, leaving commuters in limbo at peak hour.

The action is the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between the government and the union over safety guarantees, hygiene and privatisation concerns.

Transport Minister David Elliott said the government isn't to blame, saying the union failed to turn up to an industrial conciliation meeting on Sunday night.

"I think we're going to have a large standoff right now because they cannot use Sydney's transport system for some sort of terrorist-like activity," Mr Elliott told 2GB radio on Monday.

"They think that they're going to be able to get their way because the government is going to fold, this is all about them damaging the government 12 months before an election."

Transport for NSW said the matter was before the industrial umpire on the weekend and the decision was taken to cancel trains about midnight on Sunday after union action made it impossible to safely operate services.

But RTBU NSW Secretary Alex Claassens insists rail workers are not on strike and are ready to get trains back moving "at a minute's notice".

The union had only walked off the job twice during the current round of industrial action, citing one eight-hour and one four-hour work stoppage since September, Mr Claassens said.

"It's not about money. It's always been about safety issues, about protections against privatisation," he said at Sydney's Central Station.

"It's also been about protections for the commuters, to make sure we maintain a safe and clean network."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the rail union for leaving commuters stranded, saying it was disrespectful to fellow Sydneysiders trying to get children to school.

"This is just not how you behave and this is not how you treat your fellow citizens," Mr Morrison told 2GB.

"This is not how this should be done and I feel for those Sydneysiders today who are affected by this strike.

"The union movement has decided to really pull the rug out from under that on our first day back."

Commuters are being urged to use alternative modes of transport, and allow extra time for trips.

The government and the union are due back at the Fair Work Commission on Monday in a bid to resolve the dispute.