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Hundreds of train guards in firing line of NSW’s $2.3 billion intercity fleet, public safety at risk

Sep 26, 2016Media releases

The NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) is opposing the loss of hundreds train guards in NSW, with the arrival of a New Intercity Fleet (NIF) trains from South Korea that is planned to be operated solely by drivers.

The RTBU expects up to 300 of the 380 guards employed on NSW’s intercity network are at risk of losing their jobs, risking public safety.

RTBU NSW Secretary, Alex Claassens, said the removal of guards is cause for serious concern as they performed a multitude of safety roles, especially on curved platforms at stations where drivers could not see the full length of trains.

“There is absolutely no way they can operate the new intercity fleet trains safely in the current network configuration they have today without guards,” said Mr Claassens.

“I have been working on the railway since 1977, I am a qualified driver, and I can’t see how you can do this safely, unless you spend lots and lots of money,” he said.

“There are problems on the network every single day – deaths, violent assaults, floods, trees on the tracks – and if there isn’t someone there to help the driver it could be a disaster.

“Guards also play an invaluable role in assisting commuters with mobility issues, such as the elderly, those with a disability and parents with prams access public transport safely. Removing guards from trains will make rail travel impossible for a whole range of people who rely on public transport everyday.”

The NSW Government stipulates that trains must support driver-only operation, leaving drivers “responsible for monitoring the train-platform interface using the CCTV system, responding to passenger intercoms, passenger information and passenger assistance”.

“There’s only so much a train driver can do – you can’t expect them to watch the platform and the whole train, whilst driving it as well.”

The first of the new trains for the state’s intercity fleet are due to arrive in 2019.

The proposal to shed guards highlights an increasing automation of the state’s train network, a trend that will intensify when the first driverless metro trains begin running between Sydney’s north-west and Chatswood in 2019.


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