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QR blames Christmas timing for debacle

AAP logoAAP 4/01/2017 Jamie McKinnell

Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has again blamed management at Queensland Rail for a roster meltdown that resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of Christmas Day train services.

Mr Hinchliffe on Thursday released an internal Queensland Rail report that pointed the finger at higher than anticipated "leisure day" unavailability and limited roster flexibility for the scrapping of 235 services.

Many drivers had already worked the maximum of 18 Sundays in the year, as dictated by their agreement, when Christmas fell on a Sunday.

"There was awareness of the need to rely on drivers working designated leisure days to ensure timetabled services could be met," the report said.

Mr Hinchliffe, who released the report 20 minutes before a scheduled media conference about it, said there was a "fallacious belief" QR could work around the issues.

"Frankly, these mistakes have no excuse to ever be repeated," he said.

Several contributing aspects of the driver agreement had since been removed as part of an in-principle agreement to be voted on by staff in the near future, he added.

"What this report provides evidence of is a level of mismanagement by the QR team - those people who were involved in doing the rostering for Christmas Day," Mr Hinchliffe said.

The minister was on approved leave for the week leading up to Christmas Day.

His office was advised of the expected cancellation of 100 services on the morning of Christmas Eve.

Mr Hinchliffe was in "constant communication" while on leave and was being briefed about the unfolding cancellations through the day, a spokesman said.

On Christmas Day, he angrily took to Twitter and called the cancellations "totally unacceptable".

Acting Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington renewed calls for the "incompetent" minister to be sacked.

"What we have seen today is this minister release a report that shows there is no end in sight to Labor's train debacle," she said.

"It is obvious that this union has the Labor government over a barrel."

Mr Hinchliffe said he was committed to fixing the problems, which had "been deep in the organisation for many years".

The report said current rostering levels "heavily constrained" QR's ability to notify customers about cancellations in a timely manner.

The staffing crisis reached breaking point in October when the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula line triggered widespread service cancellations and commuter chaos.

A report from former Rio Tinto executive Philip Strachan into the origin of the staffing problems is expected by the end of January.

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