Supplied  Queensland Rail New Generation Rollingstock NGR trains
Supplied Queensland Rail New Generation Rollingstock NGR trains

Problem with QR’s new train timetable

THE Palaszczuk Government won't have enough train drivers to run their new timetable without a huge overtime bill until December next year, according to a new report.

It comes as Queensland Rail attempts today to restore 430 services which were cut from the network after it spectacularly collapsed during the 2016 Rail Fail.

QLD Transport Minster Mark Bailey will be closely monitoring southeast Queensland’s rail network today to see if it can handle the restoration of 430 services to the timetable.
QLD Transport Minster Mark Bailey will be closely monitoring southeast Queensland’s rail network today to see if it can handle the restoration of 430 services to the timetable.

However the latest Fixing the Trains progress report shows QR will not reach a driver surplus, which would allow it to operate at standard overtime levels, until December 2020, a year later than expected.

The Strachan inquiry into the rail fail found unsustainable driver overtime had been propping up the timetable before it collapsed.

The Courier-Mail revealed in April that QR was still paying drivers more than $440,000 a week in overtime.

And new QR figures have shown that drivers are earning up to $69,000 a year in overtime with a total wage of more than $225,000.

LNP Deputy Leader Tim Mander called on Transport Minister Mark Bailey to release overtime budgets for the restored timetable and accused the government of "running express into Rail Fail 2.0".

"Queensland taxpayers will pay the price because the restored timetable introduced today can only be viable with massive amounts of train driver overtime," Mr Mander said.

 

 

"The Palaszczuk Labor Government is nowhere near the 200 net new train drivers recommended by the Strachan Report.

"Labor are repeating the mistakes that led to Rail Fail by increasing the number of services without the proper number of train drivers, which severely compromises reliability."

Rail Back on Track Spokesman Robert Dow said every rail system required some overtime to work efficiently however levels in Queensland still remained too high.

"Where (QR) got into trouble last time was running overtime to sustain the normal timetable which they are probably doing at the moment," he said.

Rail Back On Track spokesman Robert Dow welcomes the return to the October 2016 timetable from today but says overtime payments to drivers are still too high. (APP / Josh Woning)
Rail Back On Track spokesman Robert Dow welcomes the return to the October 2016 timetable from today but says overtime payments to drivers are still too high. (APP / Josh Woning)

Mr Dow said after 1032 days of Rail Fail, he welcomed the return to the full October 2016 timetable, and that the 108 net new drivers trained meant QR was better positioned to run the schedule.

"They'll probably get away with it and limp over the line and they'd want to because if we have rail fail 2.0 all hell will break loose," he said.

QR chief executive Nick Easy said train crew overtime had dropped nearly 9 per cent from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

"Our planning for the delivery of this timetable reflects a managed approach towards train crew overtime, with our unprecedented train crew recruitment campaign ensuring we have enough drivers to reliably and sustainably increase services," he said.

Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy say there will be enough train drivers to handle the increase of services today. Pic Annette Dew
Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy say there will be enough train drivers to handle the increase of services today. Pic Annette Dew

QR has repeatedly refused to say how much overtime is optimal for the system or the total number of drivers required to reach a surplus.

"The number of drivers required to run all services fluctuates at different times throughout the year, due to activities such as track work when altered running is required and extra services to support special events," Mr Easy said.