News State NSW News NSW’s new trains a ‘disaster’: Union

NSW’s new trains a ‘disaster’: Union

NSW new trains
Union concerns with NSW's new train fleet include guards being unable to monitor busy platforms. Photo: AAP
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New trains in NSW are a “disaster waiting to happen” according to transport workers, who have refused to operate the fleet until their concerns are addressed.

Friday’s move follows a spectacular blow-up between the state government and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union on Thursday, when NSW Finance Minister Damien Tudehope announced in a press conference he had cancelled all talks with the transport union.

Transport Minister David Elliott recently brokered an agreement with the union that involved five weeks of intensive negotiations, after months of disharmony and a government-led shutdown of Sydney’s rail network earlier this year.

The union believes the New InterCity Fleet poses a risk to the public, and their assessment is backed by an independent review and the Federal Court.

Mr Tudehope said on Thursday he would not support any union demands delaying the NIF, and would take action in the Fair Work Commission if pushed.

“I want to commend the good work done by union and rail officials in working through more than 300 claims originally put forward by the unions over the last six weeks of intensive bargaining,” Mr Tudehope said in a statement.

“I am confident that we will soon come to a fair and reasonable offer for rail workers.”

He said the new fleet boasted safe, world-class trains and “they should be in operation today”.

“I urge the unions to consider their position carefully and not to resort to extreme industrial action while the government’s offer for rail workers is finalised,” he said.

The transport minister insisted during question time on Thursday negotiations with the unions had not been cancelled.

“I will continue to work with the unions to make sure that … the welfare of their members, and the welfare of Transport for New South Wales continues to be front of mind,” Mr Elliott said.

RTBU Secretary Alex Claassens said the claims from the finance minister showed a disregard for the safety of commuters and misrepresented the findings of the regulator.

Rail workers will happily operate the new trains as soon as their safety concerns are addressed, he said.

“These trains are a disaster waiting to happen and there is an independent safety assessment, among other things, that confirms that,” Mr Claassens said on Friday.

“Rail workers will not drive a train that we know will put the safety of the travelling public at risk.”

RTBU safety concerns with the NIF fleet include that train guards are unable to monitor platforms during departure.

The transport minister, the finance minister and NSW Treasurer Matt Kean are expected to provide an update on Friday.