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Queensland Rail still hasn't advertised externally for new train drivers, a week and a half after a shortage caused widespread cancellations on the network.
Acting QR CEO Neil Scales said that would begin next week, after the internal hiring process was exhausted.
Speaking to ABC Radio in a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday morning, he couldn't give a timeline for when train services would be back to normal but urged commuters to have confidence in the interim timetable, installed after an emergency meeting.
"I don't think it's our finest hour but we are working very hard to fix it," he said.
Customers were urged to keep an eye on the Translink website as their "single source of truth" for rail updates.
Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe is under pressure to resign following the emergence of several reports from as far back as January warning senior QR staff of an impending driver shortage.
He blamed the government-owned company for not passing the information on and maintained he had not been made aware of the reports until Monday.
Mr Scales, who was drafted in on Thursday from his position as Department of Transport and Main Roads director-general to fix the problem, said he didn't see the reports until Monday night either.
Queensland Rail is yet to look for new drivers from outside the company. Photo: Glenn Hunt"But bear in mind at that time, which is before the timetable change on the 4th of October ... QR was consistently operating at 96 per cent which is probably the best operating railway in Australia," he said.
Mr Scales addressed claims drivers from Australia, New Zealand and even private rail freight operator Aurizon had been unable to apply for the 100 extra driver jobs the government has asked for.
"Even if they're suitably qualified, we bring them into the system, it could take months to train them on our safety systems," he said.
"You can't risk safety.
"(Aurizon drivers) need to be accredited on the passenger rails because they're freight and by the time they've done all the route knowledge and gone through all the systems it could still be months but that's something we're actively pursuing now."
But he said newspaper ads and inquiries with Aurizon wouldn't be done until next week.
On Tuesday, Mr Hinchliffe sought to deflect blame for the problem, saying 66 QR training staff were let go under the LNP's watch and the organisation shed 1773 full-time equivalent staff over the course of its term in power.
"The seeds of this issue were sown long ago and we need to get to the bottom of this," he said.
He also highlighted problems with the cabs of 75 new generation trains ordered by the LNP, which the Opposition labelled a "red herring".
Mr Scales said he'd been aware of those problems, met with the unions last year and "fixed them".
"I'm not going to go where the minister's gone but all I can say is that as far as the new generation rollingstock trains are concerned, all the issues in the cabs in the trains have been ironed out," he said.
There were more unexpected cancellations on Tuesday afternoon as QR tried to juggle driver rosters running to 24 per cent overtime with delivering services on the new Redcliffe Peninsula rail line.
QR paid out almost $579,000 in overtime in the fortnight after the October 4 launch, up 24 per cent from the previous period.
It also paid out a little more than $158,000 to departed CEO Helen Gluer, who resigned as the corporation struggled with a shortage of drivers trained to operate on the new line.
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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