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Queensland Rail CEO, chair decouple as Transport DG takes controls

Queensland has sent in its Transport DG to take control of the state’s rail operator after its CEO and chairman both resigned on the same day.

The director general of Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads, Neil Scales, will take over control of Queensland Rail as its interim head after the Palaszczuk government accepted the resignations of the train operator’s chief executive, Helen Gluer, and chairman chairman Michael Klug on Thursday afternoon.

The resignations of the two rail chiefs came as Queensland’s Transport Minister, Stirling Hinchliffe, announced a fresh investigation into Queensland Rail’s crewing practices and how a new timetable, combined with the opening of the new Redcliffe Peninsula line, managed to result in serious service degradation that left thousands of commuters stranded when trains failed to run because of a shortage of drivers.

The Queensland Transport Minister earlier this week intervened directly into the Queensland Rail’s operations announcing an immediate and urgent recruitment drive that aims to add another 100 train drivers on top of the 100 extra drivers and guard’s positions that were created in November 2015.

Hinchliffe also announced that the government would work with Queensland Rail’s employees “to develop more flexible working arrangements, including part-time arrangements” in a bid to staunch the ongoing staffing crisis.

Former Rio Tinto executive, Philip Strachan, has been appointed to run the latest investigation into Queensland Rail’s difficulties, with the terms of reference for the probe tasking him with determining how many extra staff will be needed immediately and for when a new generation of rolling stock begins operations.

The resources company is well known for it’s pursuit and deployment of driverless trains and remotely operated trucks on its mine sites in Australia.

The investigation will also probe when Queensland Rail’s management knew of “deficits in train crew availability” and what action was taken to address the shortage before the commissioning of the new Redcliffe Peninsula line.

The investigation will also report on how to deliver an “interim timetable” until staffing levels are brought up to sufficient number to allow for full timetable restoration.

On Friday it was announced that the head of  Queensland government-owned utility Sunwater, Nicole Hollows — a former head of Macarthur Coal — will become the interim chair of Queensland Rail.

Author Bio

Julian Bajkowski

Julian Bajkowski is an award-winning journalist, editor and adviser who specialises in explaining developments in business, technology, policy and finance. Prior to becoming managing editor of The Mandarin, he worked in senior editorial roles at the Australian Financial Review, ACP, IDG and the Intermedia Group, and has been a public policy and corporate affairs adviser at MasterCard.