Queensland’s Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe is expected to come under more pressure today to resign in the face of continuing problems with the south-east train network.
About 20 more services were cancelled on Tuesday afternoon due to what Queensland Rail (QR) described as an unforeseen driver shortage of four drivers and three guards.
What the Minister promised:
- 79 drivers/74 guards recruited since last year
- 33 drivers/12 guards being trained
- Applications open for another 100 drivers/100 guards
- Internal applications to November 7, then external applications
- Recently retired drivers being re-employed
- Training process fast tracked
- Rostered breaks to be more flexible
- Timetable for rest of 2016 released this week
- Timetable for 2017 released with new fare structure
Staffing problems have continued to disrupt services since the Redcliffe Peninsula Line started operating at the beginning of October.
Mr Hinchliffe told Parliament on Tuesday it was totally unacceptable and that he was meeting with QR executives in the afternoon — but his office declined to comment last night on the outcome of the meeting, only saying it was a weekly operational meeting.
Mr Hinchliffe also tabled more reports in Parliament confirming QR had been repeatedly warned of its staffing shortfalls.
The March and October reports from software company GIRO state “QR’s current driver and guard resource levels are not sufficient”.
The Canadian company was commissioned to help QR with employee scheduling and operations-management.
Mr Hinchliffe said he only received the reports Tuesday for the first time.
“In both letters from GIRO it is again painfully clear that Queensland Rail personnel were aware of the risks of train crew shortages associated with the new timetable,” he said.
‘The Minister must do the right thing and resign’
Mr Hinchliffe said he had now asked the acting CEO of QR, Neil Scales, to provide all documents associated with this issue.
“The need to now proactively and painstakingly extract information from an agency is a highly unusual position for a minister to be in and speaks to the failure of management that I have already expressed frustration in this morning,” he said.
“Whilst these matters will be covered by the investigation announced by the Premier I am committed to providing maximum transparency on this issue and as such am making all relevant documents available to the parliament.”
Opposition Transport spokesman Andrew Powell said the minister should not keep trying to deflect blame and should resign.
“This crisis is only going to get worse and I’m sure south-east Queensland commuters are going to get more and more frustrated and clearly the Minister must hear that frustration and do the right thing and resign.”
“On a day like Melbourne Cup when people were looking to get home it was unacceptable to have that late notification that services would be cancelled.”