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Rail commuters to suffer slower responses to emergencies

Paul Lister - Monday, December 09, 2013

Commuters will be forced to wait for longer during breakdowns and other emergencies as a result of a RailCorp restructure that will axe electrical staff and instead call in private contractors to carry out their roles.

The Electrical Trades Union said RailCorp today informed 21 electrical workers that they will no longer have a job under a proposed restructure. The job’s being axed involve essential electrical maintenance and emergency response roles, including 18 electrical substation workers, the manager of electrical, a maintenance engineer, and an electrical project officer.

ETU NSW secretary Steve Butler said that on the eve of Christmas, staff from Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle had been told that they would not have a job in 2014.

“This restructure has the potential to seriously impact on rail customers from early next year, leading to delayed response times to breakdowns and other emergency situations while a private contractor is called in,” Mr Butler said.

“Past RailCorp reviews have confirmed that retaining electrical maintenance personnel within the company was the most efficient way to maintain assets and respond to critical incidents.

“The potential impact on customers from this outsourcing of front-line jobs will be substantial, with industry insiders telling the union that response times could routinely be between six and 48 hours for major incidents that occur outside business hours including people being trapped in lifts or blackouts at underground railway stations.”

Mr Butler said a previous attempt by RailCorp to contract out electrical maintenance work in the past had failed, with the jobs eventually brought back in-house.

“This was trialled several years ago on the Hunter Line, where it proved to be seriously flawed,” he said.

“In the end RailCorp was forced to bring the service back in-house because of the deficiencies in the services capabilities and response times of private contractors.

"Commuters across the rail network can expect to suffer further reduction’s to services and poorer reliability from next year if this restructure goes ahead as planned.”


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