Fw: Tues.6.9.22 daily digest
  Roderick Smith

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220818Th-Melbourne'HeraldSun'-SRL-electorates-foratn.jpg [adding to Thurs.18.8.22 daily digest]

Tues.6.9.22 Metro Twitter
Flinders St: still with a lane closed for tunnel works.
Because of tunnel works, Degraves St subway at Flinders St is closed until 2024. No platform transfer via Degraves St subway. Passengers should use Elizabeth & Swanston St entry/exits.  Campbell Arcade remains closed to 2024. Platform  interchange via that subway was available until mid 2022.
Bell: No lift access to platforms until Oct 2022, while works continue around the station precinct. A shuttle bus will run from Bell to Preston and Thornbury during this time.
16.16 Pakenham/Cranbourne lines: Major delays (equipment faults in the Murrumbeena area) . Trains may terminate/originate at intermediate locations. Consider alternative transport options via  ptv_official journey planner.
- 16.26 Clearing.
- Come back to this full time you reckon?
17.27 Craigieburn line: Major citybound delays clearing after a train fault near Roxburgh Park.
18.59 Buses replace trains Coburg-Upfield (a level-crossing fault). Buses ordered, but will take over 60 mins to arrive. consider local alternative transport.
- 19.40 & 20.40 Buses in operation, more en route, adding travel time.
- 21.40 Trains resuming First trains: 21.11  ex Flinders St; 22.05 ex Upfield.  
Buses replace trains North Melbourne - Sunbury from 20.25 until the last train (maintenance works).
20.27 We are aware of an issue currently impacting the red and green buttons on some platforms across the network. Our technical teams are investigating. If you need assistance, please speak to staff or PSOs.
- 23.26 The issue is now resolved.
- So your phone network is operational again now? Metrol is contactable? Your business runs a safety-critical Titanic!
Buses replace trains Macleod - Hurstbridge from 20.30 until the last train of Mon 19 Sep (works).
Pakenham/Cranbourne lines: Buses replace trains Caulfield - Westall from 20.30 until the last train (works).
22.34 Werribee / Williamstown lines: Major delays (police near Newport).
- 22.44 clearing

Sydney train strikes: Union boss hopes federal intervention puts ‘go slow’ on NSW government action.  Michael McGowan Tue 6 Sep 2022
RTBU is seeking to force the state government back to the bargaining table on Tuesday
The national head of the rail union hopes a recent federal intervention will put the “go slow” on any attempt by the New South Wales government to terminate the enterprise agreement of thousands of rail workers in the state.
The federal employment minister, Tony Burke, has faced a wave of criticism from the NSW government and the federal opposition for a letter he sent to the Fair Work Commission’s president last week. In the letter, Burke flagged Labor’s plans to change the laws covering the termination of enterprise agreements.
On Monday Burke defended sending the letter, saying it was “not unusual … to update the commission on what’s happening with legislation”.
The letter came just days after the NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, said he would seek to launch a termination application against the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) if it undertook more strike action amid a prolonged and hostile industrial dispute in the state.
Burke said he wanted the laws to be “fit for purpose and fair” and expressed concern at “some employers threatening to terminate agreements as a bargaining tactic”.
The timing of the letter has infuriated the NSW Coalition government, with the industrial relations minister, Damien Tudehope, to seek advice on whether Burke may have breached the Fair Work Act by allegedly seeking to influence the commission improperly.
On Monday Perrottet joined the criticism, calling the intervention “highly unusual” and saying he believed the timing was “hardly a coincidence”.
Burke has denied that, pointing out that he did not mention the case by name in the letter and saying it would have been “irresponsible” to not flag potential changes to the Fair Work Act.
But RTBU’s leadership said they had lobbied Burke on the issue, with the national secretary, Mark Diamond, telling the Guardian he hoped the letter could put a “go slow” on the commission if it did hear a termination application.
“What I’m hoping the letter does is maybe it encourage the Fair Work Commission not just to consider the fact the legislation is going to change, but [also] to potentially go slow on such an application,” Diamond said.
RTBU will seek to force the government back to the bargaining table at a hearing in the commission on Tuesday, after the combined rail unions accused the government of failing to bargain in good faith, and warned that the industrial strife that has plagued Sydney’s transport network may continue even if the government went ahead with the termination application.
The state government on Monday backed down on an ultimatum for the union to drop all industrial action to instead say it would put those events in motion if the union “inconveniences the people of NSW”.
While the state secretary of the RTBU, Alex Claassens, said on Monday he believed it was an “empty threat” from the government, Diamond said the letter would probably be used by the union if the case went ahead.
“There’s a public interest test here when you go to terminate an agreement [and] why wouldn’t we argue [that] this [power] is going to disappear anyway?” he said.
Diamond said it was “entirely appropriate” for Burke to have sent the letter.
“Why wouldn’t he tell the commission the world is changing or about to change? It’s a consideration the Fair Work Commission should know about. This is a clear-cut issue and Burke laid down that principle on terminations the first day of the jobs summit,” he said.
Diamond said he had not requested such a letter, but had spoken to Burke about the issue of termination powers when he was in opposition.
“I wish I could take ownership. I have been advocating for this [change] from day one, it’s been something that of course I’ve spoken to Tony Burke about when he was the shadow, but the whole union movement has spoken to him about it,” he said.
* NSW premier Dominic Perrottet speaks to the media during a press conference Train strike dispute: NSW government threats won’t stop further disruptions, unions say Read more
* Rail, Tram and Bus Union’s NSW secretary Alex Claassens speaking to the media.  Railroaded: the drastic actions to redefine victory in the Sydney train dispute Read more

Opinion: Want to avoid the peak-hour commute? Stop being a TWAT..  James Ward 6 September 2022.  11 comments
The new commute is causing even more pain than the old commute, so why not mix it up?
A whole raft of new acronyms have entered our vernacular these past few years.
I can’t say too many of us shopped for PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), listened to a CHO (Chief Health Officer) or even spent the majority of our time WFH (Working From Home) before the onset of COVID-19 (itself an acronym of COronaVIrus Disease 2019).
But now, as the world returns to a somewhat ‘normal’ pattern, we’ve adapted en masse from a WFH society to a bunch of TWATs.
That is to say, ongoing flexible working hours see people commuting on Tuesday, Wednesday And Thursday. And as far as acronyms go, it couldn’t be more apt.
The new start to the commuting week is Tuesday morning, which is somehow more hellish than Monday ever seemed to be. A swarm of drivers avoiding PT and opting for the SUV quickly choke roads that are either perpetually under construction or have been slimmed to accommodate the odd BMX and MTB.
It feels like there are more cars than before, and there probably are.
Most workplaces are still offering staff the flexibility to work remotely as needed, but the general consensus among employers is that team members should head into the office a couple of days each week.
Moving to a two or three-day commute cycle makes buying a weekly train ticketless economical, so the option to take the car is more appealing. Blend this with early-bird parking deals and a comfortable peak-hour commute makes sense.
The outcome of this common sense approach is that everyone has the same idea, and thus a legion of TWATs descend on urban commuter arteries on the same days at the same time.
No one likes it. It’s not relaxing, it’s not efficient.
So why not disrupt things a bit?
Flexible working environments allow you to adapt. Rather than work a traditional 9-to-5, try a 7-to-3 or even stagger the day and work 8-12 at home, then 1-5 in the office. Sure you get the back end of the commute, but it tends to be the lesser of the two evils.
Change the cycle. Stop being a TWAT every week and try on some other combinations. If more people mixed it up to WTAF then the reduction in traffic would elicit a legitimate WTAF in response.
Even if we can’t adapt to that level, imagine if the PT operators recognised the new behaviour and offered a TWAT pass? Even stuck in traffic it would always be a joy to see a bus full of TWATs pass you, knowing they have all made the commute a better place.
Even better, keep it random and avoid being an acronym at all!
Bottom line, peak hour is always a slog, so if you can mix it up and shift it around, it’s worth it for your own sake. But if you do have to grind at typically peak times, be alert, be courteous, and most importantly, don’t be a twat.

90pc of Sydney commuters tap on (even when the gates are open).  Samantha Hutchinson Sep 6, 2022
Amid widespread transport chaos, diligent Sydney commuters have continued to pay their train fares despite industrial action that enabled them to pass through lowered barriers for free.
The move by striking rail workers to lower barriers – where commuters tap Opal cards or credit cards on and off to pay fares – is estimated to have cost the taxpayer more than $3 million over the past three weeks, according to Transport for NSW.
Transport for NSW has revealed that collections from Opal and credit card payments through turnstiles dropped by about 10 per cent over last week. Edwina Pickles
But the cost could have been much higher if not for the compliance of commuters. About 90 per cent of passengers who travelled on Sydney's rail network last week paid their fares even as industrial action by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union intensified.
Transport for NSW has revealed that collections from Opal and credit card payments through turnstiles dropped by about 10 per cent over last week, as the union entered its third week of an action which enabled commuters to board trains without paying.
Based on the most recent operating data for Sydney Trains, this equates to a revenue hit of about $1 million for the week alone.
The data comes as the NSW government faces off against Unions NSW and the RTBU in the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday, after reaching an impasse over a new enterprise agreement for rail workers sparked by industrial action and union claims of government backflips.
Unions NSW's application to the Fair Work Commission expressed a belief that the "substantive matters in dispute ... are readily capable of being agreed" but has hit out at the government for stalling negotiations.
"Progress toward agreement has repeatedly been stultified and reversed by Trains' disorganised, inconsistent and highly politicised approach to bargaining," the Fair Work application read.
Premier's ultimatum
The dispute sensationally boiled over last week after the union triggered strikes on Monday and Wednesday which plunged the city's rail network into chaos, prompting NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to hand the union an ultimatum urging them to accept an agreement or have it torn up.
The union's mid-week strike last week put 70 per cent of the city's rolling stock out of action and affected more than half a million passengers.
The union slapped bans on operating the state's Waratah, Millennium, and OSCAR trains, which represent around 70 per cent of the rail fleet and 75 per cent of services. The strike resulted in heavy traffic across Sydney and on highways leading into the city as commuters ditched public transport in favour of their cars. Commuters who persisted catching trains endured long waits at stations and an average gap of 30 minutes between services across Greater Sydney.
Commuters at Central Station during a day of disruptions last week.  Louise Kennerlet
As part of the industrial action, the union has lowered ticket barriers across train stations since August 17.
Passengers have still been required to tap on and off, but lowering the barriers makes it more difficult for staff to make sure people have paid their fare. In response, NSW Trains have put displays on all barrier gates instructing passengers to pay.
NSW train commuters paid about $480 million in ticket fares in the last year, which breaks down to about $9.2 million a week. Ticket revenues for last week are understood to have come in just under $8 million.
The premier's last Wednesday said the union should pause all industrial action and put an enterprise agreement to members for a vote, or risk having the agreement torn up. Within that ultimatum was a threat to take a $64 million pledge to upgrade the state's new inner city fleet off the table.
The move was countered by Unions NSW's application to the industrial umpire in a bid to force the government back to the negotiating table, arguing that it had not been negotiating in good faith.
As the union and rail officials appeared before the industrial relations umpire on Tuesday, a raft of less disruptive action is still proceeding across the network.
While the Opal barrier action is expected to end on Tuesday afternoon, other actions still in place include a ban on "switching duties" which stops trains from being powered down when they aren't running.
This puts a block on performing essential maintenance. Cleaning schedules have also been stripped back with cleaners banned from clearing hazardous waste, clearing windows and all other tasks bar removing hard rubbish.

Construction giants short-listed for Suburban Rail Loop tunnel build revealed.  Matt Johnston September 6, 2022
Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan has revealed the three construction giants short-listed to build the tunnels for the early stages of the Suburban Rail Loop.
video: Victorian political parties clash on rail loop project The Victorian government has declared it will continue to build the Suburban Rail Loop, despite the Opposition's pledge to shelve it in favour of funding health projects. The state's Shadow Treasurer is asking for caretaker conventions to be installed so no new major contracts can be signed before November 26.
THREE groups of global construction giants have been short-listed to build the tunnels for a new $34.5 billion rail line under Melbourne’s middle suburbs, if Labor is re-elected.
The Andrews Government has vowed to continue planning the Suburban Rail Loop East, which connects Cheltenham to Box Hill via a 26km tunnel, despite the Coalition saying it would shelve the link and redirect saved money to health if it wins the November election.
Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan on Tuesday announced that three consortia had been short-listed to build the tunnels for the new line, if Labor was re-elected.
The tunnelling will be split into two packages, meaning two of the three groups are on track to get contracts if Labor wins the election.
Premier Daniel Andrews meets workers at the site of the suburban rail loop at Clayton. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
They include:
CPB, Ghella, and Acciona Construction Australia, which have experience building Brisbane’s Cross City Rail and Sydney Metro.
JOHN Holland and Gamuda Berhad, which are involved in Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel and Sydney Metro Northwest Tunnel.
WEBUILD and GS Engineering and Construction Australia Pty Ltd, which recently won a contract to build the North East Link road tunnels.
“SRL East is a project Victoria needs, and we’re getting on with delivering this city-shaping network and the many thousands of jobs during construction – this is an exciting day as we move closer to the start of tunnelling,” Ms Allan said.
Suburban Rail Loop CEO Frankie Carroll said the competitive process was a vote of confidence in the project with “construction giants from around the world vying to partner with us to deliver this city-shaping project”.
State Opposition Leader Matt Guy has pledged to ditch the planned loop if he wins the November election, and instead plough saved money into the struggling health sector.
His promise came after a Parliamentary Budget Office report showed that the cost of building and operate the first two stages of the link – from Cheltenham to Tullamarine – would be about $125 billion over the next 60 years.
More Coverage
Twist in Libs’ promise to axe rail loop
PM won’t put Suburban Rail Loop funds to health

Minister grilled over plans to charge drivers to enter Sydney CBD.  Madeleine Achenza September 6, 2022 NCA NewsWire with atn

Tues.6.9.22 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'.  Letters.
* I TOTALLY agree that the extensive and unsightly paving at Southbank must not be replicated in the Northbank Greenline project (Editorial, 5/9). Gravel, grasses and boulders underneath native species - as in the Birrarung Marr playground - are the way to go. Cool, shaded habitat for birds, insects and humans.
* ASIDE from the societal benefits arising from the decentralisation of the workforce in the past two years — less congestion, less pollution, less productivity lost to traffic snarls, more trade for suburban and regional cafes, more time for healthy pursuits — the push to get workers back to city offices five days a week is like trying to unscramble an egg.
So many people have reinvented their domestic arrangements while working from home. By juggling our work arrangements, my husband and I can look after a granddaughter one day a week so my daughter, a teacher, can return to work. It’s a win for everyone, and a plus in all respects for our family’s health and wellbeing. We even treat ourselves to the odd night out in the city.
Summoning everyone back to city offices full-time — for the sake of a few carpark operators and struggling sandwich bars — will have an immediate flow-on effect for every family that has done this — and their communities.
It seems incredibly shortsighted and backwards-looking. We apparently have a dire shortage of workers in this country. Surely employers needing to attract and retain them should be offering more flexibility, not less?
The world has changed, the city has changed. We should forget about trying to reconstitute that rotten egg.

NSW govt's electric bus fleet is off track.  Phoebe Loomes Tue, 6 September 2022
Former minister Andrew Constance's electric bus plan for NSW has been pushed out by five years. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP
A "castles in the sky" plan by the NSW government to convert 8000 diesel-fueled buses in Sydney to electric power has been delayed by five years.
After the ambitious idea was proposed by former transport minister Andrew Constance in 2019, the government began work to transition diesel and gas buses by 2030.
The project now has a revised completion date of 2035 for all buses in Sydney, Infrastructure Minister Rob Stokes told a budget estimates hearing on Tuesday.
"It's good to build castles in the sky then go about building foundations underneath them," Mr Stokes said, when asked about the plan's viability.
"That's exactly what we're doing in the final business case."
Once the Sydney bus changes are completed the government will move on to regional buses and expects all of the state's buses to be electric by 2047.
There are 103 electric buses in NSW, and another 100 have been ordered, Transport for NSW Secretary Rob Sharpe said.
The government's most recent electric bus purchases came at a cost of $70 million for 79 buses.
Asked if the plan was now to have a fleet of about 1100 electric buses - 6900 fewer than originally anticipated - Mr Stokes said details were still being determined.
"Certainly, my aspiration would be to do everything we can to get there even quicker than (2035)," he said.
Decisions would be made after the business case was completed, he said.
Transport Minister David Elliott recently criticised his predecessor for setting such an ambitious target.
"There's no way in the world we're going to meet that timetable, so I don't know why he (Mr Constance) said it," Mr Elliott told budget estimates last month.
"I'm committed to it .... (but) I'm not committed to the time frame that my predecessor offered up."
Mr Stokes said he would choose a more charitable form of words.
"I certainly think he put out a bold goal," he said.
"We're going to reach their target a little later than he suggested."
The government is committed to replacing the buses in inner Sydney by 2035, in the regions by 2040 and the remainder of the fleet by 2047, Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary of Infrastructure and Place Camilla Drover told the hearing.
The department was using its current budget allocation of $218.9 million over seven years to purchase buses and build electricity infrastructure, she said.
Further assurances about the program's completion could not be made until the business case was finished.
Mr Stokes also addressed the government's apparent interest in flying cars - referred to in a draft version of a 50-year blueprint for the state's future transport strategy.
The final document made reference to emerging technologies allowing electric and hydrogen vehicles a vertical takeoff, which it said could potentially form a more personalised, faster form of transport.
"I certainly think we need to be open to what the technology of the future could offer," Mr Stokes said.
"I don't anticipate that we'll be flying around in cars anytime soon."
Mr Stokes also affirmed the government's commitment to fast rail but said he understood there was public scepticism around the issue.
The government committed $500 million to upgrade the rail line between Newcastle and Sydney via the Central Coast in its last budget, and is hoping for further investment from the Commonwealth.
Mr Stokes said the upgrades were needed to enable possible fast rail in NSW in the future.
"That's the first piece of the puzzle," Mr Stokes said.

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