Federal Labor’s commitment to renewing the Australian rail manufacturing industry is not only good for jobs, it’s also good for the safety and reliability of public transport and rail freight, according to the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU).
RTBU National Secretary Bob Nanva today said rail workers had found a range of defects and safety issues with overseas-built locomotives, wagons and carriages in recent years.
“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.”
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.”