Queensland Rail has trained 28 of the 200 new train drivers it needs to restore reliability to the beleaguered operator.
But Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Jackie Trad announced in budget estimates that external recruitment would open next month for drivers without prior QR experience.
The Citytrain Response Unit’s latest report reveals 28 drivers had been trained and 107 selected out of a target of 200.
Seventy-seven guards had been trained and 263 selected, out of a target of 200.
QR is expected to have completed recruitment by 2018, training for drivers by 2019 and guards’ training by 2018.
The issues at QR, including a shortage of staff, an over-reliance on overtime and culture issues, came to light following hundreds of service cancellations, with an inquiry led by Phillip Strachan making 36 recommendations to fix the problems.
Setting up the Citytrain Response Unit was one of the recommendations. Another was opening up recruitment externally to people with no prior experience.
QR previously called for applications for new train drivers, with a requirement that they had worked as a QR driver in the past.
The Citytrain Response Unit’s Fixing the trains report, released on Wednesday, said the process for opening external recruitment to drivers with no previous QR experience was “ongoing”.
Ms Trad said opening recruitment to all applicants was the final step in securing 200 trainee drivers.
“Queensland Rail has been focused on recruiting trainees with prior rail experience, to speed up training and get more drivers onto the network sooner, which is the key to increasing future service levels,” she said.
She said targeting internal employees and former QR drivers resulted in shorter training time frames.
Out of the 36 recommendations, seven have been completed, one is in planning, 26 are in progress and two are partially complete.
Ms Trad said tangible progress was being made to get QR back on track.
“Customers will see this around the network in the form of stabilised reliability, improved station amenity and more proactive customer engagement,” she wrote in the report.
QR has conducted stress testing on the timetable and advised it could remain in place.
“This is a good outcome, as it means that customers can be assured that their services will continue to be operated,” Ms Trad said.
“However, the Queensland government acknowledges there will be a number of defined periods over the coming 12 months when isolated changes to the timetable may be required to ensure the availability of train crew and reliability of services.”
The report said QR had developed a model to forecast long-term train crew availability and service requirements to better predict timetable stress points over a rolling five-year period.
QR had also developed an eight-week train crew management plan.