Giant rail overtime bill revealed
QUEENSLAND Rail forked out more than $23 million in overtime to its drivers and guards in the past year and is yet to finalise an overtime budget for the current financial year.
New figures reveal the average fortnightly overtime pay for a driver in the financial year through to April 26 was about $879, while the average overtime figure for a guard was $673 a fortnight.
The rail network paid out at least $14 million in overtime for drivers over the roughly ten month period, while about $9.92 million was spent on overtime for guards.
It means the average overtime bill for the rail operator for the first 10 months of the 2019-20 financial year was over $75,000 every day.
Queensland Rail chief executive Nick Easy insisted the network had worked "tirelessly" since October 2016 to improve the sustainability of traincrew supply and use of overtime.
He also confirmed that they were still "working to finalise" the traincrew overtime budget for the 2020-21 financial year.
"In 2019-20 we introduced 462 additional weekly train services for southeast Queensland and successfully restored the Monday to Friday timetable, with Queensland Rail now operating more weekly services than ever before," Mr Easy said.
"Like any rail network worldwide which relies on shift workers, overtime is a necessary part of working patterns for Queensland Rail's traincrew."
Queensland Rail had 693 drivers working on the network by the end of the 2019-20 financial year - an increase of 58 over 12 months. This included train operation inspectors and tutors.
Guards working for the rail operator also increased from 566 to 684 over the course of the financial year.
Mr Easy said Queensland Rail had undertaken the largest traincrew recruitment in its history.
"We will continue to take a controlled approach to overtime as we move forward to deliver reliable services in 2020-21," he said.
In 2018-19, the average hours of overtime worked by each Citytrain driver dropped by about 18 per cent when compared to 2016-17.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey defended the overtime bill, saying in response to a recent question on notice that it was not unusual for operational workforces to operate with a certain level of overtime as part of its standard working patterns.
"This enables flexibility among its workforce to meet demand changes, such as for special event services," he said.
"Queensland Rail's use of overtime and its traincrew supply is far more sustainable now - in comparison to October 2016 when the Redcliffe Peninsula line opened - despite 494 weekly services being added to the timetable between May 2019 and March 2020."
Originally published as Giant Queensland Rail overtime bill revealed