It’s Not Just a Pay Dispute


Firstly, we need to correct some lies and deliberate mis-truths here.

Aleks Devic of the Herald Sun has gradually inflated a Train Drivers payrate as weeks have gone by, just as he has deflated the amount of work that Train Drivers do.

In the latest article he claims that Train Drivers earn on average $140,000, drives 124km in 3.58 hours and is able to go home, but is still paid for an eight-hour shift.  (Once again deliberately misleading the public as to the conditions applicable)

Before that he claimed that Train Drivers earn on average $120,000.

Back on the Tenth of August he mentioned one of Metro’s claims being that they want to “wind back a union rule that stops drivers riding more than 200km a day, allowing some to knock off after just five hours’ work.”

Way back in one of our first articles Fact Checking The Propaganda Machine of Metro Trains we thought that we had put paid to his 200km claim.

After all, once you publish an exert from the Train Driver’s EBA, that should be it… shouldn’t it?


Maybe Aleks can’t read, unless it’s being dictated to him by Metro Management?

We even published a ‘slip’ from a Train Drivers job book that shows a shift in excess of 8 hours and greatly in excess of 200km.


So… How about we look at Alek’s fictitious $140,000 claim?

The payrate for a LEVEL 4 SPOT (Single Person Operated Train) DRIVER as found in the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement is $89,587.
train drivers pay rate

This is what a Train Driver would earn if they worked Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Anything earned more than this figure is done so by sacrificing early mornings, late nights, weekends and days off.  To compare wages any differently than using base wage is like comparing apples and oranges.

To earn $140,000 a train driver would have to work every single day off and every single Saturday and Sunday.

So…. Are the Strikes all about money?


Ask a random Train Driver if they would be happy with a payrise in line with CPI if it meant keeping all of their conditions.

Most would say “yes”.

The Strikes by Train Drivers are about Conditions.

68 weeks training for Train Drivers

Metro want to reduce the 68 week training scheme for Train Drivers.  (They have already mismanaged a decreased training scheme that has seen some trainee drivers on their 120th week without being qualified).  Reduction of the training means a huge de-skilling of drivers and a huge saving for Metro.  Metro put forward an offer of 41 weeks training.  The RTBU responded with counter-offer that Metro have refused to respond to.

The pre-Metro training scheme saw Train Drivers come out with 1500 hours of supervised driving experience.  Metro’s bungled “shorter” scheme saw Train Drivers qualify with less than 700 hours.  This has resulted in a huge increase in the number of SPADS (Signal Passed At Danger) by newly qualified drivers and other extremely dangerous situations.

There is a reason that the training scheme is long, and that is for the safety of the traveling public.  I shudder to think what sort of mistakes would occur with Jon Faine’s 22 week training scheme.

Maybe THIS sort of incident?

Familiarity Across the Entire Network

Flexibility is the main reason. If you have a driver who is competent for the entire network than it allows them to be more greatly utilized anywhere in the system this becomes crucial in the case of emergencies as previous experience has shown.

Who knows how best to run the Melbourne Rail System:  The men and women who have worked it for the past 60 odd years, or the English CEO who ran the failed MetroNet in London (Ripping off millions of pounds from the English Government).

What do Conditions do Metro want to remove from the Agreement?

From a drivers perspective Metro has deleted all conditions of rostering and conditions that manage shift work, their position is a blank sheet of paper as a start point. There are rules in place to ensure drivers can balance work and family life.
A driver might start at 1.00am one day, and then 3.30am the next day changing daily over a fortnight. You have the added difficulty of the erratic nature of the start times for shifts which is not constant. This is a challenge to drivers health and their family responsibilities
The rules in place are there so drivers can maintain a family life and deal with ever altering shift work that is around a 24hour period . There is no static start times, it is ever changing.
These conditions that have been fought for over decades are in place so these factors can be managed. Metro was aware of these conditions when it bid for the franchise in 2009 and in 2012 Metro negotiated and agreed to have additional conditions put in place to manage train drivers and roster requirements. It’s a hollow cry that the Metro CEO makes that he can’t run the system unless we change to what he wants. If Andrew can’t run the Metropolitan system with the conditions that he was well aware of and increased and endorsed 3 years ago in the current Enterprise Agreement maybe it’s time for MTM to move on.




  1. Gorks

    I have qualified recently and had only 250 hours supervised driving during training. They had to find someone to take me for a few extra days of training so I reach the minimum hours required which is 250. I wish it was 700. This is all in record too. The whole training was just a total fiasco with rules being made on the go, standards flip flopping etc.


  2. Dave


    NEVER let it be overlooked, that Metro’s co-conspirators er, I mean ‘colleagues’ at PTV, under the hand of their pommy mate, the recently departed (and unlamented) Ian Dobbs – AUTHORISED the change from the existing, successful 74/71 Training Scheme to the current dysfunctional 38 week scheme.
    Since the tragic Ladbroke Grove smash has had a mention, maybe we should have a bit of a look at it?

    A 3 car Class 165 DMU departed from Paddington bound for Bedwyn, ran through a signal at stop and collided head on with a HST (8 cars with a Class 43 loco at each end) from Cheltenham to Paddington at a combined speed reckoned to be 130mph.

    The driver ‘in error’ at Ladbroke Grove was 31 year old Michael Hodder, a former Royal Navy Gunner & Gulf War veteran, a bloke used to following orders and procedures, who was only recently qualified (his training was roundly criticised) confronting a confused – (note that, confused) – signalling layout with poor viewing (also criticised) at a busy and complex junction.

    “24. It was concluded that the poor sighting of the signal, allied to the effect of bright sunlight at a low angle behind the driver, probably led him to believe that he had a proceed aspect. The unusual configuration of the signal not only impaired the initial sighting of its red aspect but also might well have misled an inexperienced driver such as the driver of the Turbo. He had only recently qualified as a driver and there were significant shortcomings in his training.”
    Page 193,

    The particular signal, SN109, had been involved in 8 (recorded) SPAD events in the previous six years of one magnitude or another – and God alone knows how many unrecorded ones –
    CLEARLY there was a problem – and it went un-remedied.

    Furthermore, from the accident investigation and revolving around the question of ATP – Automatic Train Protection – having NOT been fitted to Thames Trains on the basis of a Cost Benefit Analysis conducted by W S Atkins, a multinational engineering, design, planning, project management and consulting services company headquartered in Epsom, United Kingdom (and who, incidentally, were later one of the 5 shareholders in the spectacularly failed Metronet);

    “These results were reported initially to Mr Franks of Thames Trains by letter from W S Atkins on 21 April 1998. Mr Cobb put some questions of detail to Mr Cope on 6 August 1998, and the final report was submitted to Thames Trains in September 1998. Mr Cobb prepared a paper for the Thames Trains Board meeting making the following points:

    (i) following the Southall accident and regarding automatic train protection “the industry appears to be near to resolving the issues… it would appear that the currently favoured kit is Train Protection Warning System TPWS”;

    (ii) despite the likelihood that TPWS would be the adopted system, Thames Trains had contracted with W S Atkins for a cost benefit analysis on ATP;

    (iii) the results of the study showed that ATP could not be justified financially; and

    (iv) it was not intended to take the study further.

    This paper was reviewed by the Board of Thames Trains on 13 August 1998.

    8.23 The Board of Thames Trains concluded that a case had not been made for the fitting of ATP. This was based on the following:

    (i) in their belief, the cost benefit analysis was robust and did not show a cost benefit in favour of ATP;

    (ii) in November 1995 Railtrack had presented to the Secretary of State for Transport their train protection strategy which included TPWS, and this had been accepted by him;

    (iii) the HSE reported in their 1997/98 report that “TPWS forms the basis of the train protection systems being proposed under the draft regulations”;

    (iv) trials of TPWS were successfully being carried out on part of the routes operated by Thameslink, a sister company of Thames Trains, in July 1998; and

    (v) negative comments had been made regarding ATP by Mr Hellicar, the field officer for the HMRI, in regard to the Bristol to Paddington route in 1996/7, namely “The onboard equipment is not reliable”.
    p. 149-150

    and the The Rt Hon Lord Cullen PC concluded:

    “Thames Trains knew it was very likely that they would require to install TPWS, and that operating experience of ATP was poor. In the circumstances their decision not to proceed with ATP, but to install TPWS, was reasonable.”
    p. 155

    Thames Trains was eventually fined a record £2 million for violations of health and safety law in connection with this accident.
    It was also ordered to pay £75,000 in costs.

    Thames Trains was a ‘consortium’ of Victory Rail Holdings, a company owned by Go-Ahead – a bus operator! – (65%) and some ex British Rail managers (35%), with operations commencing on 13 October 1996. Go-Ahead bought the remaining shares it didn’t own in June 1998. Subsequently, Thames Trains were unsuccessful in re-bidding for their franchise in November 2003 (and they and their tarnished reputation) vanished as a corporate identity.

    Meanwhile, Network Rail (the successor body to Railtrack, formed in the wake of a subsequent train crash at Hatfield) pleaded guilty to charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to the accident. It received a fine of £4 million on 30 March 2007, and was ordered to pay £225,000 in costs.

    This would prove conclusively that it’s cheaper to have an ‘accident’ than it is to prevent one – the underlying rationale of the ‘Risk Analysis’ mindset.

    In December 2005, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction of any individual for any offences in relation to the fatal train crash at Ladbroke Grove.
    In other words, THOSE WHO WERE REALLY RESPONSIBLE were too numerous, and too Teflon coated to be nailed to the wall.

    The Standard Operating Procedure, then as now, is ‘BLAME THE DEAD GUY’ – because dead men don’t give evidence.
    It was ever thus.

    Hodder, 52yo Brian Cooper (the driver of the other train), and 29 others were killed, 227 were admitted to hospital and 296 were treated at the scene.

    Hodder was a victim, just like all the others.

    Ladbroke Grove (Oct 1999), Hatfield (Oct 2000) 4 killed 35 injured, Potters Bar (May 2002) 7 killed, 76 injured, This, less than 10 years after ‘privatisation’ – the beginning of an era characterised by lowered standards in training and maintenance, loss of experience and ‘organisational memory’, as long term staff retired, were ‘sold off’ as part of a fragmented business group, were retrenched, or gave up in disgust and disillusionment and left the industry for good; and altered procedures and operations (read, cost-cutting – because every pound or dollar not spent, i.e. ‘saved’, moved to the profit side of the ledger) often expedient, piece-meal and ad-hoc – with an eye to profit-ability first and foremost – ‘BONU$ PAYMENT$’ for ‘effective’ managers, often calculated as a percentage of ‘$AVING$’, and an industry turning away from the hard learned lessons of the past, ending with a situation which pretty much describes where we are today;

    Michael Hodder ‘qualified’ after only 250 hours – HOURS – of practical training. The minimum requirement was 200.
    This, admittedly, for only one type of train and limited routes, but it still seems to me – and was judged – to be inadequate, and the collision proves that it was.
    Is this starting to sound familiar?
    Is this ringing any bells for anyone?

    38 WEEK TRAINING? (Or 22 weeks like the utopian London Underground – just ask that noted expert on all matters railway, Jon Faine – Or 16 weeks, or 15 minutes if they think they can get away with it.)

    (AND, by way of comparison, it should be noted that VicRoads require Learner Drivers to accumulate at least 120 hours under supervision/instruction to do the driving test for a Probationary Licence to drive a car. And we all know how unskilled and clueless most P platers are, don’t we!)

    The experience of driver Hodder
    5.49 Driver Hodder accumulated a total of 230 hours training with Mr Adams and 20 hours with Mr Jacobs, giving a total of 250 practical hours under instruction. Thames Trains’ minimum training period is 200 hours. p.62

    As much as anything else, then as now, the privatised UK Rail Industry is reaping what it has sowed, as even a half-hearted trawl through the accident investigations at the RAIB will demonstrate.

    Boredom, shift patterns and repetition as possible contributing factors to accidents?
    That would be shift patterns and repetition imposed by the segmented nature of privatised rail operations and corner cutting training – not even any mention of unrealistic rostering, pressure of on time running, increasing traffic, antiquated systems and cab conditions, management by threat and intimidation, and the endless confetti of memorandums, notices and rule and operational alterations ‘delivered’ (without any certainty of receipt or comprehension) in A5 format with 6 point type.

    These are the things which have caused the number of SPADS to double and redouble in just the last 5 years.
    And SPADS, along with all the other ‘incidents’ and ‘sub-optimal outcomes’ are – or should be – ‘red flags’ as to the plummeting ‘health’ of the system under Metro’s tenure.

    PEOPLE WILL DIE on Victoria’s railways – passengers, staff and innocent bystanders, in increasing numbers – if Metro and PTV are allowed to continue to hoodwink the government and the public, cut corners, sell ‘The Big Lie’, and pocket the proceeds.
    The lessons of history are written in blood – you just have to open your eyes to see them.


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