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Media Release – NIF welcomed, but accessibility still a concern

Aug 18, 2016Media releases

 

Despite customer comfort at the centre of the government’s proposed New InterCity Fleet, concern is being raised about accessibility and safety on the new regional trains.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW Branch Secretary Alex Claassens welcomed the announcement, but said there were still a number of questions that needed to be answered.

“The construction of a purpose-built fleet for our intercity services is welcomed, and a good step to delivering a better customer experience for those commuters who can spend three hours or more a day on our trains,” Mr Claassens said.

“While I acknowledge the effort that the government has gone into selecting a customer focussed fleet with extra amenities, customer service needs to go further than just putting cup holders and charging points onto trains.”

With still no word from the government on crewing arrangements for the NIF, Mr Claassens said that if the customer experience was really at the heart of the NIF then the government needed to retain guards on trains.

“The union will continue to meet with the government in good faith to ensure that each train is properly staffed and passengers have access to assistance when they need it,” Mr Claassens said.

“Without guards, even more stations will become inaccessible for people in wheelchairs, people with prams, or older passengers.

“As the government cuts more staff from frontline customer service roles, fewer and fewer regional stations are staffed at all, leaving guards as the only rail employee able to help passengers on our stations.

“Taking them away will leave vulnerable people worse off on our rail network.”

Mr Claassens said the selective door control technology included in this train raised questions about the governments plans on crewing the NIF, leaving open the possibility that long intercity routes would be driver only services.

“While more modern CCTV is a welcome inclusion on the proposed NIF, it doesn’t replace the comfort and security of knowing that passengers can get assistance from a guard right there on the train.

The union criticised the government’s decision to choose a foreign bidder for the major project saying it would strip jobs from the regions in New South Wales that already have the experience to build rolling stock locally.

“The Baird Government has made a decision to back jobs in South Korea, not in the Hunter or Illawarra, and local manufacturing workers in those areas should not forget this snub,” Mr Claassens said.

“Just last week the Federal Government blocked the Baird Government from selling our electricity network to foreign investors in China, yet here they are sending more money to overseas interests.”

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