Queensland Rail has selected 250 applicants for trainee guard positions in an effort to respond to problems identified by the Strachan Inquiry earlier in the year.
Deputy premier and transport minister Jackie Trad said that by exceeding the inquiry’s recruitment target by 25%, the Labor government was on its way to delivering on the Strachan Inquiry recommendations.
“Getting recruitment back on track at Queensland Rail is central to our plan to fix the trains and we are already seeing great outcomes,” minister Trad said.
The Strachan inquiry report found that a chronic undersupply of train crew had led to a “systemic reliance” on overtime, and, moreover, that lack of staff had been a significant cause of the service cancellations that have rocked Queensland’s passenger rail lines.
The report recommended maintaining a “structural surplus” of train crew — including guards — to reduce the risk of service cancellation and enable a fully-operational and regularly timetabled system.
“The Strachan Inquiry recommended QR develop and maintain a structural surplus of train crew, so I’m delighted we’ve achieved this significant milestone,” the transport minister said.
Phillip Strachan, who is now chair of Queensland Rail, concurred with the minister’s assessment.
“Through undertaking my report, it was clear that QR should be aiming for an oversupply of train crew and they are making significant inroads to ensure they have a steady pipeline of trainees to achieve this,” Mr Strachan said.
Ms Trad said that the new intake of trainee guards, along with the increase in drivers and the improvements made to the training system (expanded class sizes, mentorship, and up-to-date simulation programs), is enabling Queensland Rail to be “better prepared for operational changes and challenges into the future”.
Forty new guards have reportedly finished their training and are servicing trains on southeast Queensland rail network.