Trains crews will be offered cash incentives to turn up to work during the critical Commonwealth Games period.
Trains crews will be offered cash incentives to turn up to work during the critical Commonwealth Games period.

Drivers get cash $1250 bonus just for turning up

TRAIN drivers will get a $1250 one-off bonus simply for turning up to work during this April's Commonwealth Games and more than double their pay for working on days off.

The lump-sum payment will only be paid if all rostered train crew - including train guards - show up on the days they are rostered during the Games period.

Drivers will also get a 225 per cent penalty rate for shifts worked on their rostered days off.

And some other Queensland Rail frontline workers, from platform staff to network response teams, will be able to claim an extra $8 an hour if they work all their shifts during the event.

The generous Games "incentive payments" have been negotiated with the rail unions in a bid to avoid a repeat of the 2016 network meltdown.

Commuters were left stranded on Christmas Day in 2016 after a network meltdown dubbed the “rail fail”. Picture: Darren England
Commuters were left stranded on Christmas Day in 2016 after a network meltdown dubbed the “rail fail”. Picture: Darren England

Train crew, which includes drivers and guards and other frontline staff, have agreed to cap the amount of annual leave taken across the Games and Easter holidays in return.

A severe shortage of drivers caused the 2016 meltdown, with an independent inquiry in January 2017 linking a built-in shortage of train crew to the creation of overtime opportunities.

It recommended hiring a surplus of drivers, but progress has been slow with just 19 extra qualified drivers on QR's books as of last January compared to at the time of the 2016 timetable collapse.

That has put drivers under pressure during the Games, when Gold Coast services will triple.

QR chief executive officer Nick Easy said incentives were common for international events of this scale, with an extra six million trips expected across the transport network.

But Rail Back on Track spokesman Robert Dow said the payments to drivers amount to a “bribe”. Picture: Jack Tran
But Rail Back on Track spokesman Robert Dow said the payments to drivers amount to a “bribe”. Picture: Jack Tran

"Critical frontline staff including train crew, train controllers, overhead linesman, signal engineers, and station operations staff, will be going above and beyond to deliver a boost to rail services on the Gold Coast line, and we have worked closely with our employees to ensure their extra efforts and flexibility are recognised appropriately," he said.

But Rail Back on Track spokesman Robert Dow likened the payment to a bribe.

"You'd think people would want to go to work and do the right thing anyway," he said.

"We don't agree with that in principle. The train crew are pretty well compensated. They get generous overtime, conditions aren't bad, and on top of that an incentive payment?

"You've got to ask the question, are the doctors and nurses at the Gold Coast hospital going to be paid an incentive to come in and look after sick people?"

One of the New Generation Rollingstock trains which will be in operation during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April. Picture: Liam Kidston
One of the New Generation Rollingstock trains which will be in operation during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April. Picture: Liam Kidston

Train drivers earn $98,000 a year and last year won a 12 per cent pay rise over four years.

The incentive payment plans were first revealed by The Courier-Mail last November, with QR documents stating it was "aimed at maximising attendances and providing business flexibility".

The Services Union branch secretary Neil Henderson, who represents station operations staff, said yesterday the deal reflected the fact rosters might change and the leave restrictions.

"There's going to be significant pressures on the system and any prudent employer is going to make sure they have their ducks lined up for such a significant time. You only get one shot."

 

 

One of the New Generation Rollingstock trains which will be in operation during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April. Picture: Liam Kidston
One of the New Generation Rollingstock trains which will be in operation during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April. Picture: Liam Kidston

 

QR CEO Nick Easy said pay incentives are common at major events like the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Liam Kidston
QR CEO Nick Easy said pay incentives are common at major events like the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Liam Kidston
News Corp Australia

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