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Initial RTBU Response to NIF Proposal by NSW Trains

Jun 20, 2019Bulletins

Bulletin 38/19

Members are advised that the RTBU has met with NSW Trains and representatives from Transport for NSW (TfNSW) to be provided with their proposed operating model for the NIF train. As members will recall, NSW Trains advised the Fair Work Commission at the recent report back that they would be in a position to supply this proposal in late May or early June with Deputy President Sams present. On 3 June, NSW Trains presented an updated train design package to the RTBU and Deputy President Sams. It was only after DP Sams left that the real detail emerged regarding the operating model.

Not unexpectedly, NSW Trains proposed an operating model that greatly reduces the current role of the Guard to what is now being termed a Customer Service Guard (CSG), not a great divergence from the previous Customer Experience Officer (CXO) position touted in 2018. This unimaginative CSG position plays little to no role in the platform train interface except when required for boarding assistance etc. and “assists” the driver by viewing CCTV images of the external cameras at departure whilst being “locked” in the crew cab owing to the inexplicable introduction of traction interlocking to all crew compartment doors.

The application of traction interlocking to crew cab doors was the subject of a contract variation review to assess its viability and necessity for NIF operations however, we were advised that its removal was “not feasible” during departure owing to “engineering constraints” with the crew cab doors operating capability “at speed” owing to the “wind”.

The second, yet more telling point about the removal of traction interlocking is that NSW Trains say there is a risk of a guards standing at an open door whilst the train is in motion with the risk of them falling out. They say that the risk transfers from RailConnect (the train supplier) to TfNSW as the Government owner of the asset and they are not willing to accept that risk. However, the risk to passengers seems to be a secondary consideration.

What this translates to is that traction interlocking is applied to the active crew cab door, thereby negating the guard’s ability to visually and audibly assess the Platform Train Interface (PTI) during the crucial departure process on the justification that it’s too much risk for the guard.

This so called risk is minimal and when weighed against the greater risk to hundreds, if not thousands of passengers, does not add up.

Members will see for themselves that these weak arguments about traction interlocking on crew cab doors are nothing but an engineered solution to remove the guard’s current roles and duties, especially when weighed against the latest Sydney Trains “B” Set introduction without crew cab door traction interlocking.

Passengers on NIF services will face a dramatic change in how the PTI will be managed compared to Sydney Train’s operations. It is their proposal that a NIF train will arrive and depart without any train crew member being visible. The entire process will be conducted via CCTV alone.

The NSW Trains proposed operating model has the driver assuming responsibility for:

  • passenger door operations,
  • boarding assistance requirements,
  • all safe working duties; and
  • non-revenue services, meaning full driver-only operation on empty cars including all yard movements.

The CSG will perform no tasks in relation to train preparation, stable etc and will sign on for duty and assist station staff until the service arrives from the yard or maintenance centre where they will then perform a “more customer focused role” including “roaming throughout the train”.

Pay and conditions for drivers and guards under the NSW Trains proposal remain unclear.

The RTBU will be conducting a rigorous review of the proposal and will be seeking delegate releases to go through the 100 page document presented over the coming weeks and will continue to meet with NSW Trains in an effort to reach a safe outcome for our members and the travelling public.

NSW Trains and TfNSW advised that even though they had only provided the RTBU with their 100 page preferred operating model yesterday (3 June) they intend to start employee briefings and distribute employee information sheets as early as this afternoon without providing the RTBU with adequate time to review the proposal.

Members are advised that whatever NSW Trains or TfNSW say has neither been agreed to nor endorsed by the RTBU.

The RTBU will continue to provide updates and more details as your delegates and officials work through the detail of the proposal. A further report back to the Fair Work Commission is scheduled for early in July.


Issued & Authorised by:

Alex Claassens

Branch Secretary

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