The Queensland government has announced that, starting next month, train driver positions will be made available to all those looking for jobs.
Queensland Rail had previously only considered those with train driving experience for the positions, 200 of which it has been attempting to fill since the Strachan Inquiry’s findings earlier in the year.
The Inquiry’s 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 drivers— to reduce the risk of service cancellation and enable a fully-operational and regularly timetabled system.
Also revealed in the report was evidence that Queensland’s train driver shortage — which lead to a mass cancellation of services after the Redcliffe-Peninsula line opened last year — was to a great extent caused by the excessively long training period undergone by the trainees.
According to state transport minister, Jackie Trad, the recruitment of experienced drivers was a way of responding to this very issue.
“Queensland Rail has been focused on recruiting trainees with prior rail experience, to speed up training and get more drivers onto the network sooner, which is the key to increasing future service levels,” Trad said.
“Targeting internal employees and former Queensland Rail drivers in the first stage of recruitment has resulted in shorter training timeframes.”
Moreover, Trad claimed that the upskilling of 80 current drivers to mentor roles was also playing an important role in getting recruitment up to speed.
“The appointment of mentors has provided greater capacity for on-track training and has freed up driver trainers, who provide initial classroom training of new trainees,” the minister said.
With these conditions in place, Trad said, it was now time to open-up driver positions to anyone looking for a job, thus bolstering the current supply of drivers and ensuring “a steady stream of high quality recruits, which will eventually allow us to increase services to the timetable”.
However, while Trad said that 100 of the 200 drivers required had so far been hired, the latest report from the Citytrain Response Unit indicates that only 28 of those hired have actually received their full training.
Queensland Rail expects the driver recruitment will be complete by 2018, with training of those recruited to be complete by 2018.