QUEENSLAND'S top-paid train driver took home nearly $76,000 in overtime alone last financial year, nearly an entire full-time Australian salary.

The eye-watering pay packets of Queensland Rail drivers have been revealed by the State Government as it scrambles to fill 200 positions to avoid a repeat of the October 2016 timetable disaster.

In 2016-17, the median base salary for full-time drivers was $95,351.32, with the total pay rising to $130,022.05 including overtime and allowances - nearly 60 per cent higher than the Australian average of $81,531.

Citytrain drivers clocked an average of 6.45 hours of overtime per week, amounting to an extra $511.98, according to the figures released by Transport Minister Mark Bailey in response to a question on notice from the opposition in the Queensland Parliament.

The top-earning driver worked 952.65 hours of overtime last year and was paid a total of $193,507.59. The top five drivers each took home total pay packets of greater than $180,000 for collectively working a total of 4061.34 hours of overtime - more than 169 days between them.

"Queensland Rail's first priority is safety and all rostering arrangements are in accordance with relevant fatigue management requirements," Mr Bailey said.


Queensland’s top earning train drivers.
Queensland’s top earning train drivers.

The Strachan Commission of Inquiry into the 2016 fiasco, which resulted in network-wide delays and the cancellation of 167 services over several days following the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula Line line, recommended Queensland Rail hire an additional 200 drivers and 200 guards to ensure a structural surplus of crew to reduce the reliance on overtime.

Mr Bailey said since October 2016, 69 drivers had been added with another 77 in training, while 168 guards had been added and a further 51 were in training.

"Queensland Rail is working hard to recruit additional train crew and has already reduced the level of overtime for train crew," he said. "In addition, Queensland Rail has opened train crew recruitment to external applicants, which is critical to boosting train crew numbers and increasing Queensland Rail's services."

Mr Bailey said more drivers would commence training this year alone, than under the entire term of the previous LNP government.

"Train drivers and guards are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of up to 1000 customers at any one time," he said.

"They are required to work weekends, public holidays and shift work and are remunerated accordingly for this time away from family, when most people are at home or enjoying time off.

"There is an expectation that they are resilient and adaptive, with the ability to problem solve during unplanned disruptions, critical incidents and emergency situations, however it is not mandatory to work overtime."

Opposition MP Steve Minnikin told the ABC the figures were unacceptable. "Whilst commuters are cramming into packed trains or being left stranded on the platform, Queensland Rail drivers are counting their cash," he said.

"Some drivers are earning more than $65,000 a year in overtime alone with their total remuneration almost reaching $200,000 a year. Labor's train driver shortage means more overtime for union drivers, paid for by taxpayers."

Earlier this month, the Queensland government was left red-faced after it emerged that it may have to pull $4 billion worth of new trains off the tracks because they were basically illegal.

The Canadian-designed, Indian-built fleet of New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains failed to meet minimum legal standards, with multiple problems including failing air conditioning, issues with braking and disabled toilets inaccessible by wheelchair.

At the time they were ordered, the former LNP government boasted that the trains were about half the price of similar designs.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads said "some compliance issues have been identified" with the trains, saying the fix would take 18 to 24 months and would involve removing toilets from some trains, adding extra toilets to others and rearranging the seats.



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