Rail union fears QR cutbacks

THE QR share float fails to guarantee regional Queensland will be safe from freight service cutbacks, job losses or price increases, a union organiser said.

RTBU state secretary Owen Doogan said the current $186 million sales campaign provided plenty of slick images, but no reassurances that regional freight services and jobs would remain.

Mr Doogan called on the Bligh government to answer concerns, including whether it would guarantee a privatised QR would not transfer most of its non-coal freight from rail to road or close rail workshops.

“In early 2008, the government had to quash a plan (the Rebus Project) by current QR management which would have decimated the QR regional freight business,” Mr Doogan said.

“Now the government is ultimately allowing this plan to proceed through the privatisation of QR.

“This government knows that a private operator will think of its shareholders first, and if that means thousands more trucks on the road carrying QR’s current regional freight cargoes, then it will not care.”

He said union research showed one railway freight car could carry as much freight as three B-doubles.

“If regional rail is cut back any further, there will be more pressure on regional highways to carry the economic production of regional Queensland,” Mr Doogan said.

“It will mean our school buses will have to deal with more heavy traffic, and have to negotiate roads that require more maintenance, especially in areas around major centres like Rockhampton.

“Already QR has put the livestock haulage section on notice, saying that the regional business is losing money.”

He said QR employees in the railway workshop at Rockhampton, and others across the state, had received no guarantees that these facility would not be eventually closed.

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