By Paul Hemsley
Another 690 railway workers in New South Wales Minister will be sacked under the latest sweeping changes ushered in by state Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, that will separate the operation of metropolitan and country services into the brands Sydney Trains and NSW Trains.
The return to separate rail operators for the state follows the creation of the so-called super department, Transport for NSW by the O’Farrell government that aims to centrally coordinate transport policy and services after decades of competition between rail, roads and ferry agencies.
In the latest cuts, the government will cull 450 jobs from an existing 4700 maintenance positions over the next three years. It claims the sackings will reduce the impact of track work on customers and improve efficiency.
A further 240 jobs will get the chop however the government has not said where these will come from.
According to Transport for NSW, station positions, drivers or guards will not be cut.
The latest retrenchments follow an initial cleanout in May 2012 under the ‘Fixing the Trains’ initiative that eliminated 750 administrative jobs.
Ms Berejiklian said that the separation of rail services would create a new culture and better customer service.
Unions are predictably outraged over the sackings and claim that Ms Berejiklian unfairly branded RailCorp workers as “bludgers” in October 2012.
Australian Services Union (ASU) NSW secretary Sally McManus has demanded an apology from Ms Berejiklian which has not yet been made and appears unlikely to eventuate.
RailCorp’s replacements, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains are intended to cater to separate groups of commuters travelling on the metropolitan lines and the regional and country lines beginning July 1st, 2013.
Ms Berejiklian said this is a once in a generation opportunity to fix the trains.
“We are saying good-bye to inefficient and stifling bureaucracy and introducing two modern, streamlined organisations that will put the customer first,” Ms Berejiklian said
She said RailCorp cost $10 million a day to run and costs are rising three times as fast as the number of passenger journeys.
“That is simply unsustainable and we need Sydney Trains and NSW Trains to do a better job for customers with a much more efficient back office,” Ms Berejiklian said.
In addition, RailCorp’s policy, planning, design authority and procurement functions have been moved to Transport for NSW to ensure Sydney Trains and NSW Trains can focus on service delivery.
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