The Rail, Tram and Bus Union stated that the reforms could result in drivers working for over 10 hours at a time. These new national rail safety laws will reportedly replace state-based laws. States have accepted the new laws, although Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian succeeded in her attempts to retain stronger fatigue management provisions in NSW.
Both Transport for NSW and the Federal Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese state that fatigue management systems will not be weakened under the new laws. However, national secretary of the RTBU, Bob Nanva stated that semantically, the draft federal laws threatens stronger provisions in NSW.
The union submitted a report clarifying the ways in which state’s regulations could be weakened. Both long distance and inter-urban drivers, fall under the current NSW regulations, but only apply to “long distance” trains.
“This proposed wording clearly changes the current NSW arrangement by leaving sufficient ambiguity to argue that inter-urban services are not long distance trains – and therefore not subject to the shift limits that currently apply to those services,” the union’s submission states.
According to the union’s submission, in NSW train drivers are required to have a minimum break of 30 minutes between the third and fifth hours of each shift.
The draft national laws, however, required a “maximum” 30-minute break only to be “scheduled”.
But this has since been changed to “scheduled and taken”.