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Wed.2.6.21 Metro Twitter
Aircraft: No ramp access to platforms until late 2021 (pedestrian-underpass works).
Flinders St: still with a lane closed for tunnel works.
17.47 Mernda line: Major delays (police near South Morang). Trains will remain at platforms. Trains may terminate/originate at Epping.
- 18.13 Consider alternative transport Epping - Mernda for local trips.
- 18.22 Delays clearing. Trains may terminate/originate at Reservoir or Epping.
18.03 Lilydale/Belgrave/Alamein/Glen Waverley lines: Major delays (an ill passenger requiring medical assistance at Parliament). Trains will run direct to Richmond.
- 18.12 Clearing. Trains may still run direct to Richmond.
Pakenham/Cranbourne lines: Buses replace trains Caulfield - Dandenong from 20.40 until the last train (maintenance works).
22.19 Pakenham line: Major delays (police attending to vandalism near Cardinia Road).
- 22.27 clearing.
- Noone on the trains, yet you still can’t run on time
Public transport fares to rise as $850m coronavirus black hole is revealed Tom Rabe June 2, 2021
Public transport fares will be increased next month as the NSW government faces an $850 million black hole in lost revenue from coronavirus restrictions.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance on Wednesday announced the government would increase fares by 1.5 per cent from July 5, which he said was in line with inflation expectations.
Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance makes an announcement on public transport fares in Martin Place on Wednesday. CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY
Mr Constance revealed the transport agency had lost $850 million in fare revenue during the pandemic as patronage plummeted from lockdowns and social distancing measures on the network.
He added that, while the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal had recommended a 5 per cent increase to fares, the government had decided to peg the rise to inflation.
“That $850 million we were expecting and didn’t come in because of the pandemic, that’s obviously a substantial contribution that we’ve got to maintain in terms of running the network, but we’re not going to sting commuters, particularly at this time,” Mr Constance said.
“We’re not going to go and recoup that out of the community. That’s why we’re going to have to continue to obviously have this slight increase in line with inflation, so we can also continue to pay our staff and maintain the network.”
Mr Constance said patronage remained lower than during pre-COVID levels, with close to 1.5 million trips taken each day in NSW recently, compared with 2.3 million in 2019. He said IPART’s suggestion of a 5 per cent increase was “ridiculous”.
Both the Gold Opal card $2.50 travel cap and the general $50 weekly cap will remain.
The changes mean a one-way peak-hour train trip from Penrith to Circular Quay will increase from $6.89 to $6.99, while a journey from Wollongong to Central will increase from $8.86 to $8.99.
A ferry trip from Rydalmere Wharf to Circular Quay will increase from $7.65 to $7.76 at peak hour.
Transport for NSW documents obtained by the Herald last year under freedom of information laws revealed the agency was initially expecting to lose more than $400 million in the three months to June.
Mr Constance at the time ruled out any cuts to public transport as a result of the lost revenue, which ended up amounting to $360 million in the three months to June 2020.
The minister said that, for the majority of Sydney’s public transport customers, the adjustment would mean an increase of less than $1 a week.
“The off-peak discounts and weekend caps introduced in 2020 will remain in place and continue to benefit customers and encourage off-peak travel as we work more flexibly,” he said.
EDITOR'S PICK Seven people were killed and dozens injured when a Tangara train derailed near Waterfall station, south of Sydney, in January 2003. The cover-up of a ‘financial mirage’ that has inflated the NSW budget and may put rail safety at risk
RELATED ARTICLE More than 20 bus services will be cut under an overhaul of eastern suburbs public transport. Dozens of Sydney bus services cut in eastern suburbs transport overhaul
* that'll encourage me to stop wfh and head back to the office.
* I have thought for many years that if you made public transport free, then we wouldn’t have to spend so much on roads. Just a thought, no empirical evidence to back the case up, but it would be an interesting study to conduct.
* It won't affect me, I clog up the roads.
* What about the businesses that have lost millions from Corona virus . With the CPI so low I dont see them putting their prices up - just the NSW Government.
* Only a 5% rise - a mere piffle. Why my wage rise will more than cover that...hang on.
* What about the huge increase in Stamp Duty as Sydney prices go crazy again?
* Great way to entice people back to public transport, put the prices up. Aah, the party of business.
* I guess they'll have to argue they need to sell everything now....oh hang on they were already arguing that anyway!
* Increase fares, sure. But to get people back to the office, why not Fare Free Fridays for the next month or two. People start getting back into the office, have drinks on Friday nights and reinvigorate the economy.
* So slashing services in the east whilst raising the price of fares. Why am I not surprised?
* NSW gets what it votes for.
* Off peak periods are only available now to pensioners. Not aware of employees who can start work after 10am or leave before 3pm.
* Please don't cut the bus services in Sydney's South-East to save money - we need them
* What about the increased revenue from the tolls because everyone is driving?
* Still, better than the sky-high rail fares you need to pay in UK. Rumour has it that new ticket machines there will also include a slot in which you insert your home mortgage documents.
* Increasing fares won't increase patronage
* Another staple of the LNP, targeting people of lower income to make up for poor policy.
* Can't TAHE contribute?
* So the logic is that lower patronage has caused a budget gap. But these Einsteins can’t work out that higher fares is going to drive lower patronage, especially as people are happy to work from home.
* So the Liberal Govt will be raising taxes The liberals are only ever good at spending other people's money
* How about revising the absolutely ridiculous evening peak time period now that there is no longer a need to reduce (and spread out) the number of commuters at any given time as was done before due to COVID restrictions?
* The Liberal Party way: spend big on private toll ways and slash funding / increase fares for public transport.
* Service gets worse- price goes up. The NSW government has cut services on the northern beaches, privatised other services, dumped the Manly Ferries, and stuffed up the light rail which is veeeeerrrry slooooowww and yet we have to pay more for this declining service.
* Is it from the virus or the TAHE scandal or both?
* replace it with the wasted infrastructure spending spree this LNP are wallowing in. Brilliant idea just increase public transport costs to consumers then force people back into there motor vehicles so the private toll road owners can also make even more money of the NSW public. Vote these clowns out !
* "In line with inflation expectations" would be no rises for quite a few years, after the massive hikes we've already had in the term of this government, especially the 12.5% hike from 9th and subsequent trips in a week being half price instead of free.
* we can have stadiums But not decent hospitals or effective public transport? If only they'd told us that before the last election !
* Last week the weekend track work in Blue Mountains wasn't completed in time, so on Monday morning there were no trains till about 7 a.m. and every 2 out of 3 services got cancelled all day. No buses to plug the holes either. No mention in the media, so I found out only when I got to the station. Could I have compensation for being 2 hours late for work, please? And wasting 2.5 hours catching multiple buses and trains on my way back. Increasing fares when the train service is this bad is just wrong.
* toll operators get mandated 4% increase each year, now transport fares up 1.5% and yet the LNP fought against a front line public service pay rise which resulted in 0.3%. No wonder I feel like I'm going backwards.
* the State Government squanders almost $1billion on demolishing & rebuilding the Sydney Football Stadium, $34m on the Bridge to Nowhere over ANZAC Parade...now lets put up the price of public transport!
* The cost of fares would have gone up regardless of whether the stadium was rebuilt or if that pedestrian bridge was constructed. It's not from the same pool of funding.
* It’s not really an increase - it’s an inflation adjustment (keeping the real price constant).
* I’ll keep working from home
* Not much of an increase. A cup of coffee.
* have you read The cover-up of a ‘financial mirage’ that has inflated the NSW budget and may put rail safety at risk..
* A cup of coffee? A cup of coffee a day, for 200 working days a year (ie 365 less weekends, public holidays and other leave), that is still $600. Of course, insignificant.
* Why would you increase public transport costs if you are trying to get more people "into the office"? Wouldn't it make more sense to reduce the cost of Public Transport to entice people to go back into the City?
* Make it free until Christmas is over!
* It’s not a real increase, it’s adjusting for inflation. The headline is highly misleading.
* After reading the Herald report this morning on the Transport Asset Holding Entity that won’t be the half of it. More rises to come in the very near future I imagine.
* I am 73 and work 12 hour days and still buy the black, standard Opal card. I use public transport every day and take my hat off to railway workers and bus drivers. I think the Opal card is fantastic so am loyal to it and don't use credit cards. When I do retire, I will make the most of the Gold Opal. Smug? Not really. Any minute, I could fall ill and/or pop my clogs, without getting my Gold Opal. Never mind. That's life.
* Good for you mate. I wish more people would reflect your work ethic and positivity. Every morning I think of where people are really doing it tough and then I get on with it. We should be thankful for what we have.
* check out the transport asset holding entity article first. this fares rise article is to run interference on the entity news. i live in the illawarra, a safe labor seat where nothing gets done to rail; trains often late lots of weekend trackwork entire line to moss vale shut down. 40 year old freight line unfinished
trains still take the same time to sydney central as they did 50 years ago, give or take disabled access to unanderra station promised 10 years ago ( when challenged on this constance called us a "bunch of pixies") you can call it anything you like, i call it keeping the government to account
* You don't expect us to just "cop it" whilst it is already expensive as it is, don't you ? It put a lot of people OFF public transport.
The cover-up of a ‘financial mirage’ that has inflated the NSW budget and may put rail safety at risk Adele Ferguson and Matt O'Sullivan JUNE 2, 2021
The NSW government has attempted to cover up how it artificially inflated the state’s budgets by tens of billions of dollars after it shifted the rail network’s costs onto a corporation that still hasn’t been able to properly operate six years after it was launched.
A trove of highly confidential documents and testimony of whistleblowers reveals NSW Treasury pressured accounting giant KPMG to delete or amend aspects of a report commissioned by Transport for NSW that found the plan could end up costing the state’s coffers more than it saved.
Whistleblowers fear the new structure will fragment accountability and could eventually lead to train disasters on the scale of the Waterfall or Glenbrook tragedies, which claimed the lives of 14 passengers.
The corporation, known as the Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE), was part of a plan hatched in 2014 to set up a shell corporation to shift billions of dollars of expenses off the state budget and into a new rail body.
Seven people were killed and dozens injured when a Tangara train derailed near Waterfall station, south of Sydney, in January 2003.CREDIT:ANDREW MEARES
NSW Treasury was able to use the corporation, with the approval of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to inflate the budget to help mask the government slipping into deficit in 2018.
The KPMG report last year caused a deep rift between Treasury and Transport for NSW. On November 17, Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples was sacked “for no cause” after 15 years in the department.
Former NSW auditor-general Tony Harris estimates the entity’s reclassification from a government body to a commercial entity meant the government’s operating result has been bolstered by more than $30 billion over the last six years.
“It’s a financial mirage because you are seeing something that isn’t there,” Mr Harris said. “It was designed to avert the prospect of the state losing its AAA credit rating by creating an apparent surplus through an accounting gimmick.”
The ABS, which sets the rules on classifying government entities, agreed to allow the government to gain the benefits upfront on the proviso the new entity would meet key milestones in the “transition” to a commercial government-owned corporation by July 2018, according to a document marked “Cabinet in confidence” in 2016.
Until that happened it would be classified as a commercial entity in name only as it didn’t have a board or CEO and was not booking any revenue. That revenue would eventually come from requiring Sydney Trains and NSW Trains to pay access fees for the use of tracks and other assets it owned, which would be charged to the state budget.
The highly confidential analysis by KPMG for Transport last November found once TAHE started earning revenue by charging the government-owned Sydney Trains and NSW Trains access fees, the costs to the budget would far outweigh the benefits.
The Herald can reveal the Auditor-General had been denied access to the controversial KPMG report in helping it audit the state’s finances.
Despite multiple warnings about the long-term safety and financial implications, including in cabinet papers dating back to 2016, Treasury pushed ahead to preserve what has been described by a whistleblower as a “public sector Enron”.
“Enron was all about using accounting profits to mask cash losses and TAHE is the same, the only difference is it is owned by taxpayers who will pick up the costs when it’s wound up,” said another whistleblower who had expertise in finance and who sought anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Former counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption Geoffrey Watson, SC, who is a director of the Centre for Public Integrity, said the watchdog needed to investigate the attempted cover-up and dismissal of Mr Staples as Transport secretary.
“This is disturbing on so many levels. This is a crude accounting technique to pretend that billions of dollars don’t get reported into the budget,” he said. “This needs to go to ICAC. It is a bad practice to obtain an opinion from an external consultancy then try to get them to alter it.”
Labor MP and leadership contender Michael Daley, who has been raising concerns about TAHE in Parliament for years, said he didn’t realise how fraudulent it was until he received the KPMG report from whistleblowers.
“The Auditor-General must examine this rort. TAHE is the most dishonest budgetary fraud ever concocted by a NSW state government and it goes all the way to the top ... [Dominic] Perrottet and [Andrew] Constance are all in the gun here,” he said.
Mr Daley said the budget that would be handed down later this month would be based on lies.
The Herald can also reveal senior transport officials feared the new structure could repeat the 1990s carve-up of NSW railways and the resulting gaps in safety and investment accountabilities; key factors in the 1999 Glenbrook and 2003 Waterfall rail disasters.
“It creates an environment of competing priorities and a lack of clarity of who is truly accountable, and in doing so it seeds the possibility of poor decisions that will lead to safety incidents unnecessarily,” a whistleblower who worked inside the state bureaucracy said.
Treasury said measures would be put in place to mitigate the safety risks including an operating licence, ministerial power of direction and providing Transport with a seat on the TAHE board.
But former NSW rail executive Dick Day said those safeguards could prove not enough. “Divided responsibility can often compromise safety. There will be risks in terms of diverging views on the level of maintenance done,” he said. “They are putting an artificial divide right through the core of railway management.”
Fears about the for-profit rail corporation reached a flashpoint for the NSW government last year when NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford grew concerned TAHE had earlier missed a key deadline in its transition to a fully fledged commercial entity.
With a new deadline looming to appoint a board and chief executive, Transport and Treasury scrambled to agree on an operating model for TAHE, which would control $40 billion of the state’s rail assets, including trains, tracks and stations after they were shifted from the transport agency. The government had already missed multiple deadlines to gain classification by the ABS.
A confidential cabinet document in February 2020 reveals Treasury was warning cabinet that “unwinding” TAHE would cost the budget $2.5 billion in 2019-2020 and almost $5 billion over four years. These figures didn’t include the cost to the budget of TAHE eventually charging access fees for use of its rail assets.
In May 2020, weeks out from a cabinet meeting, Transport commissioned KPMG to urgently assess different models and “resolve key organisational and operational challenges” facing TAHE as part of a joint submission with Treasury to cabinet.
Despite the misgivings, on June 1 last year cabinet endorsed the next stage of TAHE as a state-owned corporation, on the proviso Transport and Treasury returned to cabinet later that year with a proposed long-term operating model for TAHE.
But by last September the crisis enveloping the agencies worsened when KPMG released a preliminary report that concluded a fully operational TAHE didn’t work financially.
KPMG flagged for the first time the likely costs to the budget once TAHE became operational and started collecting revenue. This included charging the government access fees at a commercial rate for the use of the rail network now under its control if it was to continue to be classified as a commercial entity.
It calculated TAHE would cost the budget $5.3 billion over 10 years, which was vastly different from Treasury forecasts of a $4.7 billion budget benefit over a similar period.
Despite KPMG’s modest assumptions, a government whistleblower said everything changed suddenly. “There was now a set of numbers telling us that what had been booked in the future budget was inappropriate,” the whistleblower said.
Internal documents reveal Treasury instructed KPMG to urgently change the numbers and assumptions to clarify the hole in the budget.
It was told to assume access fees would not be ramped up to commercial levels until after 2025 - or as the report says, “beyond the next election” to push “most of TAHE’s budget costs beyond the forward estimates”.
The author of the report, KPMG partner Brendan Lyon, elected not to accept some requests, instead identifying key areas of difference from Treasury.
It was then Treasury engaged Heather Watson, another partner within KPMG, for different advice based on different assumptions that would contradict the work done by KPMG for Transport.
Her 95-page confidential report – obtained by the Herald – is filled with disclaimers and assumptions but backs Treasury’s numbers of “zero budget costs” because “NSW Treasury has to use its judgment when developing its accounting estimates in relation to access fees and in determining its assumption that existing provisions are sufficient”.
Treasury wrote to Mr Staples on November 11 last year in an attempt to kill Mr Lyon’s report for Transport in favour of the report Treasury had commissioned. In taking aim at Mr Lyon for over-reaching, Treasury said his report could not be taken as fiscal advice, as it “does not address accounting considerations” and contained “persistent errors”.
“In the absence of Mr Lyon amending his report and deleting all references to Treasury and fiscal advice (and we have requested him to do so) we will provide advice to accompany the submission that supports our forward estimates,” Treasury wrote.
KPMG’s national managing partner, David Heathcote, wrote to Mr Staples on November 15 supporting the numbers and conclusions in Mr Lyon’s report, saying the firm “stands by the modelled results in the operating and financial model report, which provide the most detailed estimates of TAHE’s impacts”.
He made it clear the Watson report for Treasury didn’t include a “longer-term consideration as to TAHE’s operating model and commerciality”.
Two days later – on November 17, 2020 – Mr Staples was sacked as Transport secretary without cause.
In a statement, Mr Staples said TAHE was a policy developed solely by Treasury. “My role was the leadership of Transport for NSW, which was tasked with NSW Treasury in implementing that policy,” he said.
In response to detailed questions, Treasury said it was confident it had “always accurately reflected the impacts of TAHE in its financial statements”, adding that government financial statements were audited on an annual basis. “It is the responsibility of NSW Treasury to provide fiscal and economic advice to the government. It stands by the advice in this matter,” it said.
A spokesperson for Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the complexities of setting up TAHE had taken longer than originally forecast, but the expectation was that a final operating model would “deliver both a safe and cost effective result”.
A spokesperson for Transport Minister Andrew Constance said “safety has and always will remain the minister’s top priority”, and maintenance budgets would remain set centrally through Transport for NSW, in conjunction with Treasury.
The Auditor-General said TAHE would be an area of audit focus in 2020-21, and referred to concerns it raised in Parliament that TAHE’s operating model and corporate intent had not been created.
ABS said it provided a final determination to NSW Treasury in May 2015 that TAHE would be classified as a public non-financial corporation. It said it had “not been made aware of any changes that would require a review of TAHE”.
In March, cabinet ratified TAHE’s new operating model, months out from the state budget on June 22.
“When they created this construct, they did it knowing there were safety risks, and they did it anyway in the hope they could find a way to manage it,” one of the whistleblowers said. “The fact now that the numbers don’t stack up, and they try to cover that up, just makes the whole thing wrong.”
TIMELINE The Rail Deal
2004 NSW Labor government reintegrates all rail functions that were split in 1996 into RailCorp to resolve ongoing safety issues after the Glenbrook and Waterfall train crashes, which resulted in deaths and injuries.
July 1, 2015 NSW Coalition government sets up Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) as a shell corporation responsible for managing rail assets separately from passenger services in a move which inflates state budget that year by billions of dollars.
May 2016 Confidential Cabinet submission warns of a “number of significant risks relating to the creation of TAHE”, including safety risks if maintenance is separated from operations.
Dec 2019 Mounting concerns about TAHE within Transport for NSW as it scrambles to devise a model that doesn’t compromise safety.
May 2020 NSW Auditor-General grows impatient with progress of TAHE after the government misses a key milestone in its “transition” to a for-profit corporation.
Late May 2020 Cabinet submission from Treasury and Transport flags unresolved issues, including risks to safety. It warns that if TAHE is canned it will hit the state budget by $2.66 billion in 2019-2020.
June 1, 2020 Cabinet proceeds to endorse standing up TAHE on 1 July for fear of losing the financial benefits if they didn’t show progress. It agrees to re-evaluate TAHE later in the year after in-depth modelling by KPMG.
July 1, 2020 TAHE officially becomes a state-owned corporation with board and CEO.
Sept 30, 2020 KPMG draft review for Transport for NSW warns TAHE has no real financial benefit once it starts charging rail access fees to generate revenue. Treasury attacks the report’s credibility and commissions a separate review with narrow scope.
Nov 8, 2020 KPMG final report warns TAHE will cost the state budget billions of dollars in the longer term.
Nov 11, 2020 Treasury tells Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples that the KPMG report has “persistent errors”. Treasury demands amendments and all references to Treasury and fiscal advice be deleted.
Nov 15, 2020 KPMG’s national managing partner writes to Staples defending the report following Treasury criticism, saying “KPMG stands by the modelled results in the operating and financial model report”.
Nov 16, 2020 Transport and Treasury in stalemate over TAHE’s long-term model.
Nov 17, 2020 NSW's top public servant Tim Reardon emails Transport secretary Rodd Staples to terminate him without reason.
Dec 10, 2020 NSW Audit Office warns of a "high risk" with TAHE due to significance of financial reporting impacts and business risks.
June 22, 2021 State budget will be scrutinised over how benefits from TAHE are disclosed.
* If only it was compulsory to read these articles in the SMH to be entitled to vote. The average punter will get their news from the commercial TV where this story will be bumped off by pictures of the royal family or a phone footage of a car crash somewhere in the USA.
* Lucrative accounting by Treasury. The Treasurer should be held accountable.
* Perrottet has now won the Liberal Quinella. He showed mean with iCare and now tricky with this.
* New South Wales - the 'gold standard' state. Thanks for this gem of investigative journalism.
* It’s probably worth adding here that the Treasurer in July 2015, one of the key dates for implementing this, was our current Premier Gladys Berejiklian. She’ll probably claim to know nothing about this.
* If only we had a Labor leader who wasn't as weak as water the Premiership would be a lay down misere.
* I never had much respect for Perrottet. A well oiled, slick pollie who oozes plain speakin'! What's the excuse this time Gladys? BS baffles brains!
* Great investigative journalism from great journalists. Adele Ferguson is a national treasure. Thank you. What you reveal often saddens me but I know I need to know if democracy is to be any more than a facade. You give us the power of knowledge but I wonder whether we have the sense to use it.
* So the MSM hounded the former Opposition Leader, Jodi McKay, out of office for not winning a seat the Nationals have held forever while Teflon Gladys, on the other hand, can continue to walk on water as she does no wrong.
* Common theme flowing through NSW of where Perrottet gets involved ala ICare, disasters soon follow.
* Come on now are we truly shocked and surprised by this? Don't worry it will be ignored, excused, overlooked, brushed aside and filed with all the other dodgy dealings. Tomorrow it will be back to Labor are bad.
* And we the people pay for all this. Time to get a government that can govern, time to get rid of this mob of incompetents, Perrotet, the worst treasurer in NSW history.
* Excellent reporting. Sadly, none of this will make in to the Murdoch rags, and the Libs will be left feeling smug.
* The "miracle" of the NSW government finances finally exposed as lies and deception. The LNP are certainly the best managers of the economy as long as that involves tricky accounting, smoke and mirrors.
* in summary, the NSW government is insolvent and the Liberals are using every sneaky trick possible to hide it from the public. Shameless.
* Separating asset management from operational management is fairly common. As the article points out the challenge becomes that the operator has to ensure the asset management company meets their standards for safety etc etc. When it comes to a Government, the bigger issue is it is simply the first step to flog off the assets and privatise the railway network and associated land.
* This is bad enough to bring the government down. This NSW Government is becoming more arrogant by the day.
* How much more will it take for this government's reputation to suffer?
* So the VFT between Sydney and Canberra idea Gladys has been banging on about was just the usual furphy...might have known.
* I imagine there are many countries around the globe whose pollies love to drag out pie in the sky ideas around election time.
* And once again no one will be held accountable or suffer any serious consequences from these actions. One day when we wake up to find that we are indeed living in a third world country, we will wonder - how did we get here?
* probably by keeping the same governments in too long , I think its called jerry or something .
* who would have thought that this would happen? Trains that don’t fit through tunnels. Ferries that don’t fit under bridges or go astern.
* For that matter, nor camels fitting through the eye of a needle
* “The Herald can reveal the Auditor-General had been denied access to the controversial KPMG report in helping it audit the state’s finances.” I am gobsmacked about such audacious subjugation of accountability. When does the state governor step in and sack the government? There has been precedent at national level for a lot less!
* Keep voting 'em in! She's doing a great job our Gladys isn't she? Best in the world! And with Constance at her side, what a team!
* Will we see a headline in the daily telegraph about this? Once again we are swindled by a state gov't that we are still told is just perfect. Treasurer, premier, who will avoid responsibility this time ? All of them I guess, just like all the others.
* Whatever it takes eh Gladys.
* Why was this not published before the Upper Hunter by- election?
* The electorate there has coal dust in their eyes, they would never have noticed.
* ICare, TAHE: treasury magic? Or treasury tragic for the taxpayers and future governments? Rail safety is a great concern.
* Yet again, we the public, are being swindled by a government interested only in its own survival.
* When you look at the rorts, land deals, over cost and inferior infrastructure, sell off of public assets, and now this - how would the media have treated an ALP government had a fraction of this occurred under its watch? Yet, we are expected to ignore all the above and vote for Gladys, because she is so nice.
* What’s the saying? I’m disappointed but not surprised.
* Alarmed but not alert!
* Expecting Sky and the FTA stations news and current affair programs to go hard on this in attacking the NSW Premier and her cabinet over the next week. No?
* Why does this not surprise me? I now have a better grasp of the term " superior economic managers" ... Another phrase for smoke and mirrors!
* Is ethical training given to all LNP Parliamentarians?
* The smartest guys in the room. Err, can we get a second opinion? Sure, which one would you like?
* To paraphrase Groucho Marx: “These are my principles... if you don’t like them, I have others...”
* and yet this government is unassailable apparently.
* Words are not enough...
* If it was a Labor government the media shouting, and protests from the LNP cult would be deafening.
Queensland Rail cuts staff surplus targets to save cash Felicity Caldwell June 2, 2021
Queensland Rail has cut a key target to hire extra drivers to ensure trains turn up on time because it costs too much money.
The Strachan Inquiry, launched after hundreds of cancellations marred the network in 2016, recommended Queensland Rail maintain a “structural surplus” of train crew to avoid a systemic reliance on overtime.
Queensland Rail has changed its targets for maintaining a structural surplus of staff to ensure timetable reliability.CREDIT:ALAMY
The inquiry found the over-reliance on overtime and a shortage of train drivers contributed to rolling cancellations that followed the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula Line.
However, the final report of the Citytrain Response Unit, which has now been disbanded, reveals targets for a staff surplus have since been reviewed.
“The initial (structural surplus) target set in the Strachan Inquiry, to deliver the timetable without the systemic reliance on overtime, would significantly increase train crew cost through increases in unproductive shifts for train crew,” the report reads.
“The target set by Queensland Rail is consistent with other jurisdictions and maintains the reliability of the service, thus meeting the intent of the recommendation.
“This approach minimises the overall train crew cost.”
On Wednesday, Transport Minister Mark Bailey confirmed the network had hired the number of new train drivers and guards recommended in the report – more than 200 net each – and said that had reduced the overtime bill “considerably”.
“We’ll continue to do that because with Cross River Rail opening in 2025, we’ll need the train drivers and guards to operate the system,” he said.
“Recruitment has been very strong, and we’ve seen the overtime [bill] come down over the last couple of years as we’ve had more drivers into the system.”
Queensland Rail chief executive Nick Easy said certain levels of overtime were a normal part of standard working patterns, which allowed flexibility to meet demand changes, such as for special events.
“For Queensland Rail to reduce its overtime expenditure to zero, we would need to recruit substantially more train crew, which would lead to significant impacts to both costs and productivity,” he said.
Mr Easy said in gross terms, 408 new drivers and 641 guards had started work on the network.
When taking into account natural attrition, such as retirements and promotions, this represents a net increase of 218 drivers and 245 guards from October 2016 to May 23 this year.
Queensland Rail did not answer a question asking how much money would be saved by changing the staff surplus target.
In 2019, it was revealed the overtime bill for train drivers and guards would blow out to $28 million, an increase of almost 9 per cent.
The budgeted overtime was attributed to the recruitment of extra staff, a 3 per cent wage increase as a result of the latest enterprise bargaining agreement, and an extra 430 weekly services.
However, Mr Easy said average hours of overtime worked by Citytrain drivers was down 23.4 per cent in 2019-20 compared with 2016-17 when the Redcliffe Peninsula line opened.
The Citytrain report states 35 of the 36 recommendations from the Strachan Inquiry have been completed.
Recommendation 36a-c remains open after the Citytrain Response Unit recommended a review of how greater integration across public transport agencies could be achieved.
“Further work is required to ensure Queensland’s public transport arrangements are suitable for supporting the successful delivery and operation of forthcoming network changes, including Cross River Rail, the European Train Control System, the Brisbane Metro and a possible Olympic bid,” the report states.
RELATED ARTICLE Queensland Rail has hired 200 new drivers and 200 new train guards, net, more than four years after “rail fail”. Queensland Rail finally hits target of 200 new drivers
* I ‘d like to see government to impose congestion charge for private car to enter Brisbane city, and to substantially subsidize the Queensland Rail. We need to Queensland Rail a world class level and to lower its fares. Then more commuters will take rail to CBD, we also got a healthier environment and smooth highways.
* Qld Rail's first first priority is to appease the Rail Union, everything else comes a distant second.
* So if they want to know how greater integration across public transport agencies could be achieved, ask those who travel on the network. I can tell them next time they change timetables on both buses and trains talk to each other and get both transport systems aligned with each other the last time that happened was over 10 years ago because we used to be able to get off a train and straight onto a bus now it is a 20 minute wait or 40 minutes if you only have hourly buses and the train comes in just after one leaves. Better still introduce half hourly buses in areas that they only run hourly. Public Transport is a service industry and SHOULD NOT make a profit you serve the public not the Govt or those who see dollar signs instead off more people using the network.
* Rail Fail still rolls on. You can imagine the rage if this happened under Newman's watch. Yet here we are and its all "meh...labor...add it to the list..."
* A whole new rail line could be opened up simply by allowing the 24/7 City-Petrie express to stop at ALL stations. Not just the two stations it does stop at between the City and Petrie, which are Northgate and Eagle Junction.
Queensland Rail finally hits target of 200 new drivers. Felicity Caldwell June 2, 2021
Years after rostering shortfalls ground Queensland Rail services to a halt, the operator has finally overcome a major hurdle to prevent mass cancellations and ensure the network runs smoothly.
Queensland Rail has hired 214 train drivers and 241 guards, with the net figures taking into account workers who retire or quit.
Queensland Rail has hired hundreds of new drivers and train guards.CREDIT:MICHELLE SMITH
A target of 200 drivers and 200 guards was a key recommendation from the Strachan Inquiry in 2017, which was launched after the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula Line in October 2016 uncovered a shortage of drivers and an unsustainable reliance on overtime.
The resulting crunch led to the cancellation of hundreds of services, including on Christmas Day, before Queensland Rail cut 462 services under a new timetable in an attempt to restore reliability.
Queensland Rail previously anticipated it would reach its target of 200 new drivers by the end of 2019 but that date was revised to late 2020.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the overtime bill had “dropped considerably” as more guards and drivers were hired.
“Overtime is a normal part of a 24-7 system,” he said.
In December, it was revealed train drivers and guards pocketed more than half a million dollars in overtime each week last financial year, despite patronage falling due to the pandemic.
Mr Bailey said Queensland Rail had hired more than 300 new train drivers and 500 guards, but conceded those figures were gross, not net.
“Recruitment has been very strong and we’ve seen the overtime [bill] come down over the last couple of years as we’ve had more drivers into the system,” he said.
“The recruitment has certainly been fixed and there is a strong pipeline going forward.”
If considering “gross” new train guards trained, that target was met in October 2018, with drivers in December 2019.
But that does not take into account employees who leave Queensland Rail, reducing the overall number of staff available.
As at April 18, 324 new drivers had qualified and were working on the network, while 547 new guards had qualified.
LNP transport spokesman Steve Minnikin said the government had finally fixed 2017’s problem.
“Now it’s time to get moving on today’s problems,” he said.
“Mainly, why is red light running from train drivers at a record high, why are more trains blatantly skipping stations and why are train drivers not meeting their KPIs for on-time running?”
On Wednesday, Mr Bailey welcomed the newest cohort of train control trainees.
With 54 per cent female representation, it was the most gender-balanced group of trainee controllers the organisation had welcomed to date, with six female students in the current intake of 11.
Mr Bailey said Queensland Rail did not have gender targets but had strong policies around equality.
“We’re seeing women in increasing numbers become train drivers themselves, those numbers have been increasing considerably over time,” he said.
The Crime and Corruption Commission last month lambasted the Queensland Police Service for “discriminating” against men with its poorly executed 50 per cent gender hiring target.
RELATED ARTICLE There will be an extra 11 morning train services and 10 extra afternoon train services around the CBD. (File image) Minister says Queensland Rail's $28 million overtime bill 'normal'
JUNE 2 2021 Canberra light rail near misses [actual misses; near collisions] caught on camera Kathryn Lewis
Transport Canberra has released footage of near misses with the light rail. Picture: Transport Canberra
Canberrans have been caught on camera narrowly avoiding collisions with the tram.
Drivers were caught on camera driving along the tracks, one hit the side of the tram, and several drivers were caught crossing the tracks, narrowly avoiding a major collision.
Transport Canberra released the video on Tuesday labelling it a "chilling reminder" for motorists to pay attention and look out for the tram.
"Look and listen out for the light rail - because road safety is everyone's responsibility," it said in a tweet.
The video showed several drivers taking the tracks rather than the road and one driver who did a U-turn on the tracks after driving on the wrong side.
Several drivers were caught trying to cross the tracks dashing ahead of the tram and narrowly avoiding a crash.
One motorist was seen hitting the side of the tram.
The collation of dangerous driving is regularly released by Transport Canberra to remind Canberrans to drive safely.
The last video was released in August, Canberra metro operations general manager Tilo Franz said at the time, safety around the large vehicles was critical.
"Light rail vehicles can travel at up to 70km/h through an intersection and it needs longer to brake because it has steel wheels on a steel track, and it needs a longer distance than a car," he said.
"We're seeing lots of people ignoring red lights and traffic crossings and walking in front of the light rail. We see lots of people not being aware of the situation."
Light rail to Commonwealth Park virtual trip offered
Next stage of Canberra light rail work under way before the end of the year
Canberra light rail near misses captured on new video for Rail Safety Week
* go to any other city in the world with light rail. Barriers, gardens, rails, walls, 400 signs, bollards etc etc.....they don't have them. How do you expect people to have any common sense in regards to trafficwhen you don't allow them to learn any? Traffic in canberra is micromanaged to such a degree people are like lost puppies.
* A quick image search shows most modern light rail in other cities being separated from other traffic by some sort of barrier, raised gutters, etc., other than at intersections.
* "Light rail vehicles can travel at up to 70km/h through an intersection" Which intersections are those?
* Not along Commonwealth and Adelaide Ave by a long shot. Try 30 km/h with a tailwind.
* Any on a straight section of track, I've seen them doing that sort of speed through intersections along Northbourne.
* How that's reconciled with road speed limits, at intersection , is anybody's guess. No wonder level crossings are being eliminated in Melbourne. Blaming it all on bad car driving and showing a photo which clearly documents bad intersection design doesn't help much either. It's almost as though the intersection was designed by the team from WorkUnSafe.
* They are not driving on the road.
* Nothing can stop morons driving through red lights.
* There's a green light in the headline image and the tram and car are about to cross the tramway-road at the intersection.
* Rainbows and Trams. No Canberrian can complain, as we get the government we deserve.
* ...or the government we want.
* One crash by a brain dead driver into a tram shuts the entire system down. That is where a bus system wins hands down over the tram. Oh, and what will Transport Canberra deploy to continue services? Here's a clue, it's not a tram.
* How often does the entire system shutting down impact your travel?
* What's the problem? Go along any street in canberra. The nature strips, parks and footpaths are blocked by cars and trucks. It's a wonder these safe passage areas haven't also got trams on them to bowl over pedestrians or force them onto the road. We've even got a ex police commish-wallah parking his cars in a public laneway. Good fun for anyone who wants a safe view of street traffic. Particularly kids travelling to school. Of course nobody in the ACT government knows or cares about those hazards. The focus is on a trainset albatross around our neck that nobody needed or wanted.
* Do folks remember the Muppets? I recon we could do our very own Muppet Show with the numbties driving in these clips.
* I guess that most people who espouse buses don't use them. Unfortunately, Australian engineers have mismanaged the introduction of light rail, creating unnecessary negativity. When covid 19 allows, do sample the systems in Europe: what we could have had.
JUNE 2 2021 Old Bus Depot stallholders to be reimbursed for lost equipment. Lucy Bladen
Lead dust was discovered at the former transport depot earlier this year. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
The ACT government will reimburse stallholders at Kingston's Old Bus Depot Markets for equipment that has been affected by lead dust contamination.
* Why? Victims of Mr Fluffy didn't get compensation - why is it that these people do?
Wed.2.6.21 Melbourne 'Herald Sun' Coal exit warning: It could get messy. PERRY WILLIAMS with ATN
Wed.2.6.21 Melbourne 'Herald Sun' China may ban coal for ‘years’. PERRY WILLIAMS with ATN