Queensland Rail spends $65 million on overtime, replacement buses in 18 months
Queensland Rail (QR) has forked out $65 million for crew overtime and replacement buses during the last 18 months, a figure the State Opposition has described as “obscene”.
But the Government has blamed the LNP for cutting the number of drivers when it was in office.
The LNP’s calculations put the cost of overtime for train drivers and guards at $41.6 million since October 2016, the start of the so-called “rail fail” which sparked the Strachan Inquiry.
Another $23 million was spent on buses and taxis when trains were out of service for track maintenance
“It is staggering that almost a million dollars in taxpayer’s money is being spent every fortnight in overtime,” Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said.
“Queenslanders are paying an obscene amount for overtime but services aren’t improving.
“I will keep saying it until I am blue in the face, ‘Annastacia Palaszczuk must sack Transport Minister Mark Bailey’.”
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington claims more drivers were hired under the LNP’s watch. (AAP: Samantha Manchee)
The most recent figures show $485,000 was paid in overtime to drivers in one April fortnight, and $312,000 to guards.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Bailey said the overtime bill was on the way down because more drivers were being hired.
“It is heartening to see a trend over these six months of reducing levels of overtime for both drivers and guards which reflects the increases of new drivers and guards entering the train system as they finish their training and commence work,” he said.
Mr Bailey revealed on Monday that there had been a net increase of 38 drivers since QR began a recruitment campaign last year.
Acting Premier Jackie Trad said the Strachan Inquiry had identified the issue of overtime.
“We wouldn’t have a blow out in overtime if the LNP hadn’t sacked tutor drivers in Queensland Rail and hadn’t stopped recruiting new drivers back when they were in government,” Ms Trad said.
“Unfortunately because the LNP were only concerned with cutting, sacking and selling we have been left with a significant problem that will take a while to resolve.
“Phillip Strachan made that clear in his report.”
The LNP said there were more drivers when it left office in 2015 than when it was elected in 2012.