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Gladys’ latest U-turn – driverless trains

Jun 7, 2013Hot Topic

The NSW Government has announced that trains on the North West Rail Link will be driverless.

It’s a complete U-turn on the government’s very clear position last year when Gladys Berejiklian said publically that there were absolutely no plans to introduce driverless trains in the very important rail line.

Given the travelling public’s lack of satisfaction with the current rail service, the State Government’s plan is a very interesting one. But not at all out of character.In recent years we’ve seen the government-run transport system stripped to the bone – and safety has been the biggest loser in the battle to fill the government coffers.

The number of staff keeping an eye on security cameras at stations have been cut, station manager jobs have been lost, CCTV cameras themselves have been cut back, maintenance has suffered – and that’s far from all.

One would think that having the ultimate and last line of safety on a train – experienced and qualified train drivers – would have been one area considered untouchable, even for the current O’Farrell Government. But apparently not.

But despite all the cuts and the impact on commuters, the Transport Minister stands in front of the media each time and says that it’s all for the benefit of the travelling public.

It’s hard to comprehend how cutting the staff that provide safety services can in fact improve safety, but apparently it’s crystal clear in the government’s eyes.

The idea of driverless trains is not a new one. On the London Underground there are driverless trains. However, they’ve recently reinstalled drivers on some of the previously driverless services. And to suggest that the London Underground system is anything like the North West Rail Link or any of Australia’s other long, above-ground journeys is simply unrealistic.

Drivers can watch for dangers ahead and react quickly in emergency situations and protect the travelling public. At a very minimum, drivers instil confidence in commuters currently lacking complete confidence in the government’s transport system.

The NSW Government’s plans for the future of our railways appears to be computer-run trains. What do you think about the plan? Is this government cost-cutting at the expense of jobs and the people of NSW?