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1987 - July - Hancox - State Transport Authority - Re-Signalling Project - The Union Perspec 1987 - July - Hancox - State Transport Authority - Re-Signalling Project - The Union Perspective

Ray Hancox S.T.A.

In December 1981 , the Austral i an Rai lways Union received a copy of a report produced by the John Connel l Group. The report contained recomnendations regarding an upgraded Metropolitan Signalling System at a cost of approximately f23M. The ramifications of such a project and its effect on staffing levels had to be addressed.

The Union had been aware for several years of the necessity to meet the challenge of new technology, and to attempt to exercise some control over its introduction. Having. experienced a turbulent "baptism of fireH through the introduction of Centralised Train Control in the South Australian Railways, and subsequently the early years of Australian National management, it was obvious that the Union's approach needed to undergo radical change. The singular lack of success in securing the retention of employment for Signalmen in their traditional area of operations had resulted in a total loss of morale. Management's attitude to consultation to this point in time had been extremely poor. It was therefore incumbent on both parties to attempt a new approach. Lengthy periods of industrial unrest, and disruption to both passenger and freight services were of no benefit to either management or unions. Since the Union had adopted a high public profile, pointing out the deficiencies of an outdated signalling system and the resultant lower safety tandards when compared to other railway networks, extreme pressure had been placed on the State Government to rectify these problems.

Approaches to State Transport Authority management resulted in an agreement to participate in the consultative processes - to their credit, the benefits to be gained such as an improving industrial climate, access to information previously considered to be confidential, were recognised by both parties. Since those early days, the Union has been actively involved in the re-signalling project, firstly on a part time basis in the comnittee stages; more recently in my particular area on a full time basis for the last year and a half.

The State Transport Authority and the Union have together achieved considerable success through co-operation and consultation, resulting in major changes to the original philosophy and recomnendations of the consultants. Staff levels, rates of pay. changes to equipment, etc. have all been negotiated.

Additional equipment purchased includes a Main Panel display, Route control panels for two of the three work stations, and a changed concept in the inner area - i.e. Adelaide to Wye - Mile End Junction - Keswick and Goodwood. This section will have sol id-state interlocking as opposed to relay iflterlocking in all outer areas. The services of the S.A. Health Department Ergonomist have been used throughout the project, especially his expertise in correct design of the workplace, lighting positions, seating etc. His advice and suggestions have been extremely useful, especially in the crucial area of re-training.

In closing, I offer the following observation from a purely personal viewpoint. It has become increasingly obvious that the success of the Metropolitan Adelaide Re-signalling Project has been largely due to the ability of both State Transport Authority management. the Union representatives and the consultants to work towards a comnon goal. I remain confident that when complete the Control Centre will be at least equal, if not superior to similar centres throughout Australia. The only criticism I feel it necessary to note is the reduction in the number of platforms available. I remain unconvinced that nine platforms will be sufficient to cater for future traffic requirements. Also. the inflexibility of the distribution of control where required on an emergency basis at Dry Creek in particular is perhaps an error of judgement that all concerned could well regret.


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