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Waratah wins

Feb 24, 2011Update

The RTBU Loco Division has negotiated several significant changes to the new Waratah trains’ design and safety features, which will deliver better, safer trains.

After all, this is a big purchase – 78 train sets in all – and RTBU members will be driving Waratah trains for the next 35 years. We need to get it right, not only for drivers but for all rail workers and the public.

Despite a reluctance from the private consortium building the trains to consult with us, the RTBU has made progress on a number of very important issues including:

Train preparation
The RTBU’s project reps have finally been supplied with a draft preparation document for this train, which has been considerably altered from any previous train preparation. The methodology behind this draft is a reliance on technical specification data and untested reliabilities. Excluded from this proposed preparation was any form of Brake Valve Testing or even a Continuity Test. The RTBU believed this amounted to nothing more than theory and rejected this proposal. RailCorp have since had a‘change of mind’ and re-instituted the Brake Valve and Continuity Testing aspects of the train preparation, which the RTBU believes is a significant win for safety. Further validation of this proposed preparation will be conducted “on train” as soon as practical.

Better training
Crew training for operations of the Waratah is being developed in consultation with the Loco Division’s Steering Committee, with an initial pilot course held in October 2010. It was the Union’s position that this course was unacceptable for delivery to drivers at this stage. A more suitable pilot course will be developed and held in the coming months. Training for entry and exit to the eastern end of the Auburn Maintenance Facility has been developed and has commenced with train crew receiving a “Tool Box Talk” and then a visit to the site for familiarisation, an improvement on RailCorp’s original proposal of a Tool Box Talk and distribution of a DVD only.

Longer platforms
As part of the Guard relocation to the rear of this train, RailCorp have been forced to extend nearly 40 platforms within the Waratah train’s area of operations owing to the rear cab not having platform access at these locations.

Additional infrastructure changes required also include the improvement of lighting and CCTV coverage at the rear of all platforms as well as improved sighting capabilities for the Guards indicator to coincide with their new position on this train.

These issues have been hard fought by the RTBU and should be recognised as significant victories in light of RailCorp’s original position in regards to cab/platform placement, which would have left the driver with no platform access.

Overhaul of Auburn Maintenance Facility [AMF]
Unfortunately, this facility was constructed without consultation with the RTBU and it was invited to view it only once it was completed. These inspections by signal sighting and OH&S reps raised numerous concerns over construction, signaling and procedures to name but a few.

Once consultation began into these private sidings’ proposed procedures and in con- junction with the issues already raised by its representatives, the RTBU became concerned to the point of restricting operational usage by its members in the interests of their safety.

Following correspondence stating the same to RailCorp and the RTBU’s dogged refusal to accept any lessening of the current standards, the mounting pressure to get this facility up and running prior to the Waratah train’s arrival, the RTBU has won the majority of required changes to this facility.

The RTBU has also recently achieved the construction of a crew access platform on the arrival road at this facility where crews originally were required to affect reliefs on uneven ballasted surfaces.