CEO of Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) John Fullerton announced it would be bringing the majority of its asset maintenance requirements in house once current contracts with two alliance partners (Transfield Services and Downer Rail) expire in December 2012.
“The change will involve bringing planning, inspection and reactive maintenance directly under the control and delivery of ARTC.
“ARTC also intends to bring signalling maintenance in Victoria back in house consistent with the model it runs for the rest of Australia.
“We are reaching the end of a huge period of investment in rebuilding and modernising our interstate rail network.
“Our network is now safer and more reliable than ever before, so our focus has shifted from growing the network to maintaining our modern asset and continuing to improve the service we offer to our customers.
“The decision to bring our maintenance requirements in house means we will be better placed to take control of asset condition and have the ability to respond quickly to incidents when they occur.
“ARTC will continue to enter into specialised contracts for major works to build new sections of track or grow our existing infrastructure asset base as we currently do.
“A consistent approach and system for managing the condition of our assets is critical.
“While the Interstate and Hunter Valley rail networks are very different, our stringent standards, risk based approach and reliability performance targets will be consistent.”
Mr Fullerton said the changes were not a response to the performance of the alliance partners as they have provided high quality services to us over many years.
“The decision to bring maintenance in house is a reflection of the condition of our assets and the need to have a consistent approach across our network.
“They’ve grown, and they’re in great shape. Our focus now is keeping them that way.”
The changes are expected to create around 200 new jobs within ARTC and maintain the regional base for work depots as well as creating new regional work centres.
“It is important to us that where possible, we keep the highly skilled and experienced staff who have been working on our tracks – in the same place.
“We need to work through the details with our Alliance partners and the unions but our aim is to be able to give preference to existing Alliance partner employees when it comes to filling the new positions.”
The new arrangements will start in December 2012, with the exception of works planned to be complete in 2013 which include signalling works for the Metropolitan Freight Network in Sydney, and the Broken Hill to Whyalla rerailing project.