An independent report that was prepared in January and warned Queensland Rail’s management of impending train driver shortages and widespread disruption to services only reached the government on Monday evening, the state’s Transport Minister for Transport Stirling Hinchliffe has said.
In a statement issued late on Monday night, Mr Hinchliffe said he had only just become aware of the document’s existence through media enquiries and that he was “deeply concerned it was not provided to me by Queensland Rail before now.”
The warnings to Queensland Rail from external consultants Indec have now been referred to independent investigator Philip Strachan who is running the official probe into how Queensland Rail’s driver numbers fell so far below what was needed. The investigation was launched last week.
“To be clear, I was only provided with a draft version of this report this evening at 9.20pm,” Mr Hinchliffe said on Monday at 10:47pm.
The revelation of the Indec report’s existence follows the sudden resignation of Queensland Rail’s chief executive, Helen Gluer, and chairman Michael Klug last Thursday, with the state’s director general of Transport, Neil Scales sent in to take direct control of the train operator.
As part of the rail intervention, a less ambitious interim timetable has been put in place to replace the previous one that became largely irrelevant to commuters because of the levels of service disruption. At the same time the Queensland government is attempting to hire and train literally hundreds of new train drivers as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, the Transport Minister is continuing to publicly sheet the external consultant’s draft report findings back to Queensland Rail management.
“The draft report clearly shows Queensland Rail personnel were aware from as early as January 2016 that there were significant risks attached to multiple projects as a consequence of a shortage of train driver resources,” Hinchliffe said.
“I am committed to addressing the challenges in Queensland Rail to ensure the continued high quality delivery of services to the travelling public,” he said.