"More flexible" train crew operations for Aurizon

Rail freight company Aurizon has announced major changes in its Queensland operations “to meet customer needs” which will see many of its full-time train crew members redeployed.
Aurizon reports that it is moving to a “more flexible” train crewing operations in Central and North Queensland and undertaking a staged closure of its rollingstock maintenance workshop in Rockhampton to address varying demand in the resources sector as well as changes to Aurizon’s operating footprint.
Carter said Aurizon would work to offset the losses of local jobs by undertaking a review of which metropolitan based roles have the potential to be relocated to Rockhampton and other regional centres.
The proposed changes will be phased through to late 2018, to allow all options to be explored for employees including retraining, redeployment and redundancy.
Mike Carter, Head of Operations, Aurizon, said the business has changed significantly in recent years in line with changing market demand.
“Aurizon needs to continue to change in line with what our customers need if we are to remain competitive,” he added.
“Historically, most of our train crew have been permanent full-time employees and we have been unable to match fluctuations in weekly and monthly demand in train haulage services from coal customers or contract wins or losses.
“As a result we are proposing to change the composition of our train crew workforce in Central and North Queensland. This will involve engaging more contractors to provide greater flexibility for our customers. This will result in reducing the number of permanent full-time train drivers.
“In addition we have also commenced consultation with employees on the staged closure of the Rockhampton rollingstock maintenance workshops by late 2018.
Carter noted that the amount of work required at the Rockhampton workshop has reduced significantly in recent years. “It is a legacy facility,” he said. “Designed for a different operating footprint in a different time – and [it] is not located close to our operations in the Central Queensland Coal Network.”
Aurizon has undertaken a review of core maintenance requirements for the Queensland rollingstock fleet and found that the company’s future maintenance task will be best delivered at newer facilities at Jilalan (Sarina), Stuart (Townsville), Willowburn (Toowoomba) and Callemondah (Gladstone), with components supply and non-core maintenance sourced from third parties.
More than 180 employees at the Rockhampton rollingstock workshop stand to be impacted by the closure, of these up to 40 are expected to have the opportunity for redeployment to Aurizon’s Jilalan facility.
Over 120 permanent train crew positions will be phased out progressively over the next 12 months at the depots of Callemondah, Bluff, and Stanwell, with approximately 70 locally based train crew contractor positions expected to be created over that period.
At the North Queensland depots of Mackay and Townsville, approximately 62 permanent positions including train crew, freight operators and leaders will be cut and the Mackay Freight train crew depot will close.
An additional 20 contractor train crew position will be created for the Coppabella depot near Moranbah in central Queensland to meet increased customer demand on the Goonyella and Newlands Coal Systems.
Carter said Aurizon would also commence discussions with local, state and federal government representatives on the opportunity for urban redevelopment in Rockhampton on land vacated by the workshops.
The Rockhampton Workshop was first established in 1870s and includes a heritage-listed and largely preserved ‘roundhouse’ previously used to move locomotives into various maintenance bays.
Aurizon’s presence in the Rockhampton region will continue, with more than 650 employees stationed across its various businesses in the area.

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