Manning the frontline

Results the key: Blue Mountains Commuter and Transport Users Association president Michael Paag says the State Government must follow through on its
Results the key: Blue Mountains Commuter and Transport Users Association president Michael Paag says the State Government must follow through on its

Massive cuts to management announced last week as part of the State Government’s rail shake-up cannot be allowed to extend to frontline staff, according to a Mountains commuter group.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has stressed the reforms, which will see the break-up of RailCorp into two separate bodies and an overhaul of customer service, were designed to redirect resources to frontline staff.

But Blue Mountains Commuter and Transport Users Association (BMCTUA) president Michael Paag said there were fears frontline staff could eventually be targeted.

“I think it’s good that they’re streamlining middle management but we are very worried about station staff and other frontline staff,” he said. “We need to ensure that the frontline staff levels are maintained as they are.”

The previous government came under fire for slashing staffing on Mountains stations, and Mr Paag said the community would not tolerate further cuts.

Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage said she was “very confident” frontline staff on the Mountains line would not end up in the government’s cross-hairs.

“Every area will be looked at but it’s very unlikely that frontline staff will be [cut]. It’s all about the back room bureaucracy, it’s not about slashing station staff at all,” said Mrs Sage.

The government has argued the $3.7 billion spent each year on RailCorp is unsustainable, and it will begin to slash costs by offering 750 voluntary redundancies to middle management.

Cleaning operations are also set for an overhaul to address run-down carriages and a new customer service division will be created.

The government will disband RailCorp to pave the way for the creation of NSW Trains and Sydney Trains over the next 12 to 18 months.

While Sydney Trains will focus on suburban services, NSW Trains will serve regional, country and intercity customers, including those using the Blue Mountains line.

Mrs Sage said the formation of a body dedicated to long-haul services would benefit Mountains commuters.

NSW Trains would be better placed to address complaints about comfort, toilets and the lack of technological options including wi-fi on Mountains services, she said.

“We’ll get a better quality of service,” she said.

But Mr Paag said the government’s announcements would count for little if fundamental requirements including adequate seating and replacement of out-of-date carriages were not met.

The break-up of RailCorp appeared a positive step but results would be the ultimate judge, he said.

“There is some recognition that long distance commuters have different requirements to short distance commuters. That’s good to say that, but it needs to be reflected,” said Mr Paag.

“It’s good to say these things, and that’s welcome, but let’s see it flow through to actual implementation.”