Labor’s plan to see more high-tech rail manufacturing performed in Australia will create new jobs and improve safety for both rail workers and passengers, according to the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU).
RTBU National Secretary Bob Nanva today said rail workers had been exposed to unacceptable health risks from imported locomotives that contained asbestos.
“There is a serious problem with imported trains, especially from countries like China that have different standards in relation to asbestos.
“We have found examples of imported locomotives that supposedly have been ‘certified’ as asbestos-free, but still contain dangerous substances such as chrysotile asbestos.
“The fact is that when you’re sourcing high-tech infrastructure like modern locomotives and train carriages from Australian manufacturers, you know what you’re getting. This is isn’t always the case when you’re going overseas to get the cheapest possible deal.
“Governments that source trains from overseas suppliers not only sacrifice local jobs, they potentially put lives at risk through lower safety standards.”
Waratah dramas show financial risks
Mr Nanva said the experience with the NSW Government’s Waratah trains also showed that imported trains can come with a myriad of defects and operational problems.
“The Waratah trains were 18 months late, and riddled with defects like milky windscreens, loose windows and seats that weren’t properly fitted.
“The RTBU had to stand firm and demand that the trains were fixed before being let loose on the network - where they would have put passenger safety at risk.
“Given the amount of money spent fixing these dodgy imported trains, it would have been cheaper to build them here – and to keep the jobs in Australia.”
Mr Nanva said the provision of better trains for passenger rail networks was an important part of the RTBU’s national #FixMyRide campaign.
“Malcolm Turnbull loves taking selfies on trains, but he is failing to deliver when it comes to rail transport policy.
“It’s time for a Federal Government in Canberra that understands the importance of public transport and rail freight, and is prepared to invest in Australia’s transport future.”