ABOUT 60 train drivers have been stood down without pay and another 140 face uncertain futures because of storm damage on the main north coast rail line through Dungog.
Aurizon (formerly Queensland Rail) said it had stood down affected employees for three weeks until May 18.
The company’s announcement has angered the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, as employees had only been advised of a one-week stand-down, with rosters ‘‘to be advised’’ from Sunday.
Union organiser Steve Wright said the union was trying to get the ‘‘mixed message’’ sorted.
He said the union was also hoping to convince the other main haulier, Pacific National, to keep paying its 140 affected drivers.
Aurizon signalled its intentions to the stock exchange on Wednesday, saying: ‘‘The recent severe weather in NSW has caused damage to track infrastructure north of Newcastle … Accordingly, Aurizon has stood down employees from April 26 and May 18 at the earliest.’’ AAP
Australia’s largest rail freight operator Aurizon has stood down some workers because of last week’s NSW storms has closed some rail lines.
The storms had damaged track infrastructure north of Newcastle resulting in closures in various locations, the company said on Wednesday.
‘‘All intermodal services between Sydney and Brisbane have been stopped indefinitely. Accordingly, Aurizon has stood down employees from 26th April until 18th May at the earliest,’’Aurizon said in a statement.
The severe weather has also contributed to a nine per cent decline in general freight volumes to 9.8 million tonnes for the March quarter.
Growth is now expected to be marginal for the year to June 30.
But Aurizon has reaffirmed its coal haulage expectations and increased its iron ore guidance as it continues to haul large volumes despite weak commodity prices.
Full-year guidance for coal has been retained at between 210 and 220 million tonnes after March quarter volumes were up two per cent on a year ago at 49.6 million tonnes.
Iron ore guidance was increased to 25 million tonnes from 23 million tonnes.