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Rail safety standards must be maintained

May 17, 2012News

The Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian has reaffirmed the NSW Government’s view that fatigue management and drug and alcohol testing requirements currently in force in NSW for train drivers must not be relaxed when the Rail Safety National Regulator is established in January 2013.

RTBU NSW Locomotive Divisional Secretary, Robert Hayden said the union was pleased to see the NSW government reaffirm its commitment to existing NSW standards, but it was not yet clear whether maximum shift lengths would be protected and Ms Berejiklian’s support must include a firm commitment to maintain current prescribed hours of work and rest for drivers.

“The Minister’s announcement is a positive sign that the state government continues to understand the importance of maintaining existing protections for rail workers. It is a credit to NSW train drivers who have fought hard to ensure NSW’s strong rail safety laws are maintained.

“However, we are still waiting for confirmation that new national laws will not see maximum shift lengths scrapped in line with less stringent regulations in other states. The maximum shift lengths in NSW came directly out of recommendations made by the inquiries into the Glenbrook and Waterfall train disasters and drivers are very concerned about any new laws that would see safety in NSW go backwards.”

Mr Hayden said these matters would be the subject of discussion at a meeting in South Australia with state and federal transport ministers, which will decide the final design of the new laws.

“We welcome a consistent, national approach to safety in Australia but a nationwide shift in protocol should be pitched at the highest possible safety standard. Drivers would be horrified to see the excellent standards that NSW has set for rail safety watered down.

“We urge the Minister to ensure her commitment to NSW’s fatigue management requirements includes maintaining current prescribed hours of work and rest for drivers.

“These are crucial regulations that keep our drivers and passengers safe.”

Read the Transport Minister’s media release and the RTBU’s response.