The NSW Government’s announcement to assemble and maintain the Regional Rail Fleet is absurd and an insult to the 1 559 rail manufacturing workers that have lost their jobs under the NSW Liberal Government’s policy of building trains overseas.
These trains will be built in Spain, there will only be a limited amount of assembly work done in Dubbo. The decision to build a rail facility there is a blatant attempt to pork barrel the electorate of Dubbo, where the Nationals are under threat from a strong Independent candidate.
There are at least three other regional centres that have existing rail facilities where this fleet should be built instead:
The UGL Taree facility was closed in 2013 under the current Liberal government. It is currently mothballed and could be easily reopened to build this fleet. Even its local Nationals member, Stephen Bromhead agreed, telling the Manning River Times in 2016:
“The old UGL rail manufacturing site still exists and is in perfect condition and it still contains much of its equipment. To produce trains in Taree would be a huge boost for the Manning/Great Lakes community and economy.
“I believe that ‘trains for the bush’ should be regional trains manufactured in regional NSW. It is my submission that Taree would be the perfect location for the manufacture of those trains,”
The Goulburn Railway workshops currently perform maintenance on locomotive and wagon fleet. It could easily be converted into building the Regional Rail Fleet, as Bob Giola the former General Manager of the CFCL facility in Goulburn was quoted in the Goulburn Post in 2017, saying:
“Absolutely in my opinion – Goulburn could have done it and it would have been a better location for it,”
“It is only for political reasons that it will be located at Dubbo. There is only one train service going out there. This is to prop up Troy Grant, who copped a backlash over his stance on the greyhound ban.”
The Downer EDI facility in Bathurst closed in 2014 under the Liberal government. Again, it could be easily re-opened to build the Regional Rail Fleet. There remains a great deal of rail manufacturing capability in the area, and is also where the Bathurst Bullet – a regular service connecting the Central West to Sydney terminates.
The following quotes are attributable to Steve Murphy, Secretary of the AMWU NSW ACT Branch:
“This announcement is an insult to the 1 559 rail manufacturing workers who have lost their jobs under this government.”
“The Transport Minister and the Deputy Premier are congratulating themselves in Dubbo today, but the people of regional NSW know blatant pork-barrelling when they see them.”
“Why isn’t this fleet being built in Taree? Their local Nationals MP Stephen Bromhead suggested that the rail workshop their government closed remains in perfect condition.”
“Why isn’t this fleet being built in Gouburn? Does Pru Goward think that her local community doesn’t deserve these jobs as much as Troy Grant’s?”
“Why isn’t this fleet being built in Bathurst? There are unemployed rail workers in the area who deserve and answer from Paul Toole.”
“This government has sent $4 billion in rail manufacturing contracts overseas. They deserve no credit for assembling part of a Spanish built fleet in Dubbo. They deserve to be voted out of office in March.”