Coal train safety concerns

QUEENSLAND Rail’s coal train drivers are considering whether to continue operating its locomotives after claims that safety checks are months behind schedule.
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Courtesy Queensland Rail.

Claire Svircas

The Electrical Trades Union said that maintenance works on nearly a third of the locomotives at QR’s Jilalan depot, south of Mackay, are almost eight weeks overdue.

The Callemondah locomotive depot in Gladstone is also weeks behind on safety schedules.

ETU organiser Jason Young told TIN that QR’s inability to keep electricians on staff is largely responsible for the delays.

“Our members working for QR are some of the highest skilled and lowest paid in the industry. QR is losing many of its workers because they are simply overworked, understaffed and they can earn better money elsewhere,” Young said.

At least 100 of QR’s 700 electricians are believed to have quit for pay rises at rival state-owned corporations Energex and Ergon.

“At first it was Energex and Ergon that was attracting the workers. Now they are just going anywhere, building sites, contract working, anywhere they aren’t so pressured and overworked.

“At Jilalan there are only nine electricians covering a roster designed for 21,” Young said.

“There are serious safety concerns. These are major inspections on not only the brake lines and wheel bogey sets, but also hydraulics and electronics that have not been done.

“We have concerns and have passed those onto the drivers.”

Workers at Jilalan returned to work over the weekend after stop-work meetings were held last Thursday to discuss the safety concerns.

QR has not responded the union’s allegations, but TIN reported yesterday that QR chief executive Bob Scheuber said safety work had been maintained by utilising overtime and temporary work arrangements with existing staff.

Young said that a meeting was held this morning to discuss some of the safety issues with little resolution. Another meeting is scheduled for March 21.