Better train services right on schedule as drivers sign up

The Marshall Government’s commitment to deliver better services for train passengers is another step closer, with experienced private service provider Keolis Downer Pty Ltd set to operate the Adelaide Metropolitan Passenger Rail Network from the end of this month.

In total, 83 train drivers have accepted an offer of employment with the private provider – with the deadline to accept a formal offer closing at midnight last night. Claims that only a handful of drivers would transfer were never accurate.

Therefore, up to approximately a further 57 train drivers will be made available to Keolis Downer for a period of up to 18 months to ensure passengers continue to have access to all existing services.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said this staffing approach was similar to the one taken by the former Labor government when then Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis privatised the Lands Titles Office in 2017 – in a $1.605 billion sugar-hit for government coffers.

Under Labor’s deal, the new private provider – Land Services SA (LSSA) – required the State Government to make a significant proportion of their existing workforce (61 out of 160 people) available for up to an initial 2 years for the processing of land transaction services.

“Our approach is entirely consistent with the one taken by the former Labor government – and then Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis and Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan – who made available an extra 61 government employees to the private provider for up to 2 years in addition to the 51 Transport Department staff who elected to move across to LSSA,” said Mr Lucas.

“In fact, Mr Koutsantonis described his privatisation as ‘an absolutely outstanding result for the state’ and promised South Australians ‘will not notice any difference to the service following the transfer’.

“In contrast, the Marshall Government still owns all the rail assets, including tracks, trains and stations and will continue to have control of fare price, revenue and standards for service levels.”

“And it should be noted, some government employees within Rail Operations will continue to be required in the public sector, for example contract managers, because the rail assets will continue to be owned by the State.”

Mr Lucas said the Government would be reimbursed by Keolis Downer the cost of utilising the additional drivers, who remain employed by the government. This contract will not only deliver better services but will also mean very significant savings to SA taxpayers. The Government’s estimate of $118 million over 12 years in savings remains.

“We are committed to ensuring South Australians enjoy better train services through an improved system that, ultimately, increases public transport patronage,” Mr Lucas said.

Background:

Following a competitive tender process, Keolis Downer Pty Ltd, signed on to operate the Adelaide Metropolitan Passenger Rail Network from the end of January 2021.

The EOI period for existing employees to indicate whether they were seeking an employment offer from the new service provider closed on Friday November 27. Employees had until midnight (December 31) to formally sign-up with Keolis Downer.

Rail employees who have accepted an offer of employment from the new service provider and resign from the public sector are eligible for a $15,000 payment and 3-year employment guarantee.

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