QR boss apologises over short staffing, cancelled services

Queensland Rail boss Helen Gluer has apologised, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is furious after the public transport operator was caught out short staffed last week, resulting in over 100 cancelled services.

Gluer on Friday, October 21 offered an “unreserved apology” for the service disruptions, which she said were caused by short staffing as a result of QR underestimating the requirements of the new timetable, which incorporates services on the newly-opened Redcliffe Peninsula line.

“The performance of Queensland Rail since the new Redcliffe Peninsula line has opened has been unacceptable and from our customers’ perspective totally unacceptable,” she said, according to ABC.

“This is my fault. This is Queensland Rail’s fault and we had unrealistic expectations on what crewing we needed to actually deliver this timetable.”

Gluer said the operator would need to hire around 20 more drivers to cope with the new timetable, but said the short term focus was on finding a way to make the timetable work with the current workforce.

“At the moment our total focus is on getting a timetable out that we can deliver to which we will do in the next couple of days,” she said on Friday.

Palaszczuk on Friday slammed the operator, saying she and public transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe were furious to hear of the disruptions.

“First of all I’m absolutely furious,” she told the media. “I don’t blame commuters for being furious as well. Let me make it clear – I want answers. And my Minister wants answers.”

Palaszczuk said Hinchliffe would brief a Cabinet meeting on Monday, October 24.

Meanwhile Opposition transport spokesperson Andrew Powell jumped on the issue, saying Hinchliffe needed to “tell commuters why”.

“It’s only taken 18 months to trash the record of the country’s best rail network,” Powell said, according to ABC. “When [the LNP] left government, the rail services were running 96% on time. [Now] we are looking at 84%.”

VLocity carriage. Photo: Creative Commons / Marcus Wong

New V/Line CEO named

Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan has named a new chief executive officer of V/Line, after the former CEO resigned amid a wheel wear pandemic which took dozens of locomotives off the rails early this year.

Allan joined V/Line board chair Jenny Dawson on October 21 to name James Pinder as the new chief executive officer of V/Line.

Pinder has more than 32 years’ experience in the rail industry, including as Metro Trains Melbourne’s general manager of rolling stock.

He has also worked at Southern Railway in the UK, at Downer EDI in New South Wales, and, for the last nine months, he has worked as a consultant on the Crossrail project in London.

Pinder will officially take on his new role on November 28. Acting V/Line boss Gary Liddle will work in the role until October 28. Chief operating officer Carol-Anne Nelson will act in the role from 29 October to 27 November.

“Mr Pinder’s skills and experience will be invaluable as we expand the regional network, and deliver better infrastructure and services for regional passengers,” Allan said.

“I congratulate Mr Pinder on his appointment, and thank interim CEO Gary Liddle for his leadership throughout his time in the role.”

$414m profit, new CEO for UGL-suitor CIMIC

Infrastructure and civil engineering firm CIMIC Group – formerly Leighton Holdings – announced it will appoint a new chief executive officer as it revealed a net profit after tax of $413.7 milllion in the first nine months of the 2016 calendar year.

CIMIC, which is currently targeting a half-billion-dollar takeover of UGL, is involved in the Gold Coast light rail extension and Cranbourne-Pakenham level crossing removal project through its subsidiary CPB Contractors (formerly Leighton Contractors), and is also shortlisted for the Melbourne Metro tunnel and the Sydney Metro tunnel under Sydney Harbour.

The company said on October 18 that deputy chief executive officer Adolfo Valderas would be elevated to the role of chief executive officer.

Marcelino Fernandez Verdes, the outgoing CEO, will remain on as executive chairman.

The announcement came a day before the firm announced a 5.9% increase in net profit after tax in the first nine months of the year, compared with the same period in 2015.

The $413.7 million NPAT was despite a 26.7% decline in revenue, year-on-year, to $7.64 billion.

Verdes praised the company’s EBITDA conversion rate and free cash flow generation.

“CIMIC generated a solid result with revenue growth accelerating in the third quarter and net profit after tax and margins increasing in the nine month period, year-on-year,” he said.

“The balance sheet also strengthened further, with net cash of approximately $770 million providing the flexibility to pursue future growth opportunities.”

Those opportunities, of course, include the potential acquisition of UGL, an engineering and services firm in which CIMIC already owns a 13.84% share.

CIMIC announced on October 10 it would target an off-market takeover of UGL at a price of $3.15 a share.

Of the new CEO, Verdes said he was pleased to announce Adolfo Valderas as his successor.

“Adolfo has played an integral part in CIMIC Group’s achievements during the past three years,” Verdes said, “first as chief operating officer and then as deputy chief executive officer.”

The newly-appointed Valderas, who takes over as CEO immediately, said it was a “privilege, and a great responsibility”.

“CIMIC Group’s solid financial position, our robust pipeline and the expertise of our people in delivering complex construction, mining, mineral and concessions projects provides us with a strong future of which I am proud to be a part.”

Valderas, a civil engineer, joined CIMIC after leaving his role as chairman and chief executive officer of Spanish engineering firm Iridium.

Downer announces new rail boss, CFO

Engineering and services firm Downer has promoted its acting rail boss, and acting chief financial officer, to their respective roles on an official basis.

Downer said in an ASX and New Zealand stock exchange release Michael Miller would become the chief executive officer of its rail division, after Miller took on the role in an acting capacity in July 2015.

Miller joined Downer in 2011 and became chief financial officer of rail in 2013. Prior to his career at Downer, he worked with Hewlett Packard and Nortel Networks.

Downer also announced it would appoint Michael Ferguson as group chief financial officer.

Ferguson joined the company, which specialises in transport, rail, mining and engineering, as its deputy chief financial officer in May 2014.

He was appointed acting chief financial officer in April 2016.

“Mr Ferguson has held a range of senior finance positions in a career spanning 25 years,” Downer said.

Ferguson worked at Ernst & Young for eight years before moving to ASX-listed explosives business Dyno Nobel in mid-2006.

He became the CFO of Easternwell Group in 2008, then moved to Global Renewables as its finance director between January 2012 and December 2013.

Australasian Rail Directory 2017 closing soon. Are you listed?

New and updated listings will soon close for the sixth annual addition of The Australasian Rail Directory, which will be released by Rail Express at AusRAIL in November. Is your company listed? Click here to check.

If you’re not listed, and you’d like to be, click here to place your free listing, or risk missing out for another year.

About The Australasian Rail Directory

Produced by the Australasian Railway Association and Informa, publisher of Rail Express, The Australasian Rail Directory is an industry-driven project to provide a complete overview of all the businesses involved in the Australian, Oceanic and Asian rail industries.

By linking all facets of the rail marketplace from tenders to manufacture, supply, repair, passenger services and everything in-between, The Australasian Rail Directory is an essential reference tool with a long shelf life for sourcing new contacts, and refreshing old ones.

Would you like to stand out with an upgraded listing?

Our 2017 edition will feature more than 1000 listings over 190 pages. To stand out we have several options such as logo listings, extended text, and multiple category listings – all provided at cost-effective rates.

Please contact Margaret.Shannon@informa.com.au for more information.

Limited display advertising positions also remain

The Australasian Rail Directory is circulated to all delegates of the Asia-Pacific’s most influential rail event, AusRAIL, and to the entire membership of the Australasian Railway Association.

Please contact Patrick.Roberts@informa.com.au for more information about advertising in this year’s edition.

V/Line train going through level crossing. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

Weimar appointed PTV boss

Jeroen Weimar, who has been acting chief executive of Public Transport Victoria since January, has been announced as the organisation’s CEO on a full-time basis.

Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan and PTV chairman Patricia Faulkner announced the appointment of Weimar, who they said would during the delivery of the Metro tunnel, and the removal of 50 dangerous and congested level crossings around the network.

Weimar took over as acting PTV CEO in January 2016, and was previously PTV’s executive director of performance and contract management. In the old role, he was responsible for managing the franchise agreements and operating contracts for Metro, Yarra Trams, V/Line and all bus contracts across Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Before joining PTV, Weimar was chief operating officer at First Group plc. He has also worked at Serco Group as the managing director for UK Transport and was the chief operating officer of surface transport at Transport for London.

“Mr Weimar brings a wealth of experience to the role and has proven to be a very effective and capable leader during a time of significant investment in public transport,” Allan said last week.

“I’m confident he’s the right person to lead PTV, having overseen the introduction of the Night Network and managing the operational impacts of the level crossing removals program.”

“I’m excited to be leading PTV during a time of such significant investment in public transport,” Weimar said.

“I am a strong advocate of inclusion and accessibility and I will focus on delivering public transport which all Victorians can use.”

Bryan Nye photo Informa

Nye driven by a passion for progress

On September 12, 2016, the Australian and New Zealand rail industry was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Australasian Railway Association chief executive officer, Bryan Nye OAM.

Nye worked tirelessly towards improving the rail industry, and its contribution in both Australia and New Zealand, throughout his time at the ARA, from 2003 until his retirement in April 2015.

Upon his retirement, Nye recalled how he and his staff had built what is now the industry’s peak body from the ground up.

“We had to build a credibility within the industry,” he told Rail Express in 2015.

“First, to establish that we were an actual industry, by getting people to work together. Getting them to work with each other, and to build up that relationship, in a way, was the first challenge.

“Once we got them to work together, we were able to start doing other things.

“When the industry can do things together – AusRAIL, courses, all these things – the outcome is great.”

Driven by a passion for national prosperity, Nye bound together the RTSA, the RTAA and the IRSE to form the industry collaboration which is still evident in AusRAIL. Nye and Rail Express publisher, Informa Australia, worked together from 2003 in growing AusRAIL, and other ARA events.

“Through these events he increased the ARA’s credibility within the industry and government and established the ARA as a powerful peak body,” Informa Australia managing director Spiro Anemogiannis said on Monday.

“Bryan was a powerful ally to the rail industry, and his passion for a better Australia and New Zealand was evident through his work.”

“Bryan’s passion and advocacy was inspiring,” AusRAIL conference manager Tina Karas added.

“Throughout our partnership, his industry leadership was reflected in the diversified focus of new and evolving events that highlighted the importance of rail’s role in the national agenda. He championed the sustainability, efficiency and safety of rail at every opportunity.

“On a personal note, all who worked with him will be grateful for his encouragement in championing the team’s individual talents.”

Bryan will be greatly missed by the Informa Australia staff. Our thoughts are with his wife Claudia, his two children, and his seven grandchildren.

Vale Bryan Nye OAM

The rail industry is mourning the loss of one of its greatest champions this week, following the passing of former Australasian Railway Association chief executive, Bryan Nye OAM.

Nye headed the ARA from 2003 until his retirement in 2015. The ARA published the following on Monday afternoon:

ARA Chairman Bob Herbert AM, the ARA Board, CEO Danny Broad and staff are saddened to advise industry of the passing of former CEO, Bryan Nye OAM, who headed the ARA from 2003 until his retirement in 2015.

Bryan had been battling Motor Neuron Disease since 2014 and sadly lost his battle in the early hours of Monday 12 September 2016.

Bryan headed the ARA during a time of great change. Australia’s rail industry is the beneficiary.

He had a long and distinguished career in rail, working tirelessly to promote the industry and its role in the Australian economy. During his 12 year tenure as CEO, he was a determined advocate for transport reform; actively promoting passenger, freight, light rail and high speed rail throughout Australia and internationally.

When he joined ARA in 2003, he relocated the office to Canberra, uniting industry to work cohesively on common issues. He established the ARA’s credibility within the industry and government alike, sharing his passion and vision for rail’s long-term growth and transformation.

In 2005, Bryan established the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB), guiding the industry to harmonise practices and establish national standards. He led a long campaign for a national rail Regulator, culminating in the establishment of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator in 2013 and, through the ARA and UGL, Bryan was instrumental in establishing the TrackSAFE Foundation.

In 2014 Bryan was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in recognition for his services to the rail industry and the business sector.

Bryan was admired by the rail industry family, respected by government and bureaucrats alike and loved by the ARA staff. As well as being an inspirational leader, he was a father figure for many ARA staff members and greatly respected by all.

He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his wife Claudia, his children Aaron and Naomi and his seven grandchildren.

Condolences to Claudia and the Nye family can be sent via ara@ara.net.au.

ARTC hiring women in Hunter. Photo: Youtube / ARTC

Women a key focus of Rail Careers Week

Australasian Railway Association chief executive Danny Broad says the industry must strive to see women make up a more significant share of its workforce.

Rail Careers Week, an initiative of the ARA, takes place this week from September 12 to 18.

Transdev Auckland, Yarra Trams and Melbourne Metro are among the organisations taking part in programs and awareness campaigns throughout the week.

To open the week Broad promoted the industry as a highly attractive one for all job seekers, but was certain to highlight the ARA’s continued focus on increasing the number of women in rail.

“This industry has historically been male dominated,” Broad said.

“This must change.

“Women are already making enormous contributions to all areas of rail, however a sizeable gender imbalance still exists. This gap must be closed.”

As well as improving its male-female balance, Broad said the industry also needs to focus on attracting more young people to seek careers in rail.

“With 52% of the rail workforce aged over 45 and with the under 25’s being the largest group underrepresented at 4%, we also need to encourage more young people to enter our exciting industry,” he explained.

“Regardless of background, education or experience, I encourage all to consider a future in rail.”

The ARA published the following video to promote Rail Careers Week.

Find out more at http://www.railcareers.net.au

More drama looming in Adelaide

Adelaide’s train services are set for four hours on September 14 as many rail staff attend a stop-work meetings held by the Rail Tram and Bus Union.

The RTBU’s South Australian branch is involved in extended negotiations with the State Government over a new employment agreement for its members.

Some Adelaide rail services were disrupted recently as drivers and staff took action as part of the ongoing battle, in which the Government is said to be offering a 2.5% pay rise in exchange for the removal of a clause which blocks forced redundancies.

Trains will cease by 10am on September 14, and will return to service by 2pm.

“Importantly, peak services will not be disrupted,” SA transport minister Stephen Mullighan was quoted as saying by the ABC.

“Contingencies are currently being planned regarding substitute buses and further information will be provided in coming days.”

The Government has announced free train services will be provided the following day, September 15, to apologise to commuters for the disruption.