Top QR applicants wait a year despite shortages
TOP-performing train driver job applicants have waited more than a year to find out if they can start work despite Queensland Rail's ongoing train crew shortage headache.
Emails obtained by News Queensland reveal QR has advised frustrated driver applicants of further delays in its nine-step recruitment process "due to changes in operation requirements".
The job seekers were in the top echelon of applicants who responded to QR's external recruitment campaign, according to the emails, after acing QR's tough psychometric and psychomotor testing early this year.
But QR has advised step four of the recruitment - a group exercise and information session - planned for this month has been postponed until early next year.
It referred to a "high volume of applicants for these highly sought after" positions.
The candidates had responded to a call by QR for external applications in August 2017 - 10 months after crippling driver shortages led to the collapse of the train timetable.
Hiring outsiders was recommended by the 2017 Strachan inquiry into the QR meltdown, which linked a "structural shortfall of train crew" to the "creation of overtime opportunities".
But external recruitment has been resisted by the powerful Rail Tram & Bus Union, which unsuccessfully tried to block the move, claiming existing QR staff had been overlooked.
One train driver applicant said he was ranked a top performer in January after passing testing, but had since "moved on with my life" due to the long wait.
QR chief executive officer Nick Easy said 35 external candidates without QR driving experience would enter training next year and a further 18 ex-QR drivers had also been hired.
Combined with internal recruitment efforts, an extra 103 train drivers have started work since the October 2016 "Rail Fail". But the net gain is just 50 drivers when factoring in attrition.
Mr Easy also said QR had cut the time it takes to train drivers from 18 months to 13 months and lifted the number of training schools from zero schools in 2014 to eight schools this year.