Today, Transdev’s Managing Director, Michel Ladrak apologised to Aucklanders for the disruption to their normal peak services tomorrow and said: "We believe Aucklanders want the safest and most enjoyable train journey and we are working with Auckland Transport to achieve this. Transdev is also working to end the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) industrial action as swiftly as possible."
Jon Baxter, Transdev Manager – People & Culture, said: "Following some very constructive conversations with the RMTU last week, it is disappointing the RMTU has chosen industrial action, particularly when good progress was made last Friday using interest based bargaining facilitated by an independent mediator."
Mr. Ladrak added: "It is regrettable the RMTU has chosen the 'March Madness' period for its industrial action as it has targeted commuters and the many thousands of tertiary students returning from summer break."
Transdev has asked the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to consider a Safety Case Variation to implement Driver Door Operation (DDO) which forms part of a wider Auckland Transport (AT) programme of security, fare enforcement and customer experience improvements. The RMTU is opposed to the introduction of DDO.
Through consultation, stringent project controls, evidence based research and risk controls, Transdev has addressed any identified concerns. This has informed its Safety Case Variation which will be scrutinised by independent rail regulator, the NZTA.
Michel Ladrak also responded to a recent statement by John Kerr, RMTU Organiser. Mr. Ladrak said: "It is incorrect for John to suggest that Train Drivers will be solely responsible for passenger assistance and security. There are many other facets to the safe operation of a rail network. Closing train doors is only one part of a very comprehensive series of safety controls."
Mr. Ladrak reinforced Transdev's commitment to effective solutions that properly address security concerns and added: "Antisocial behaviour can be experienced by anyone, anywhere, at any time. On board, it cannot be effectively targeted by a lone Train Manager, who is trained in conflict avoidance and who must stay on board to close the doors in order to keep the train moving. It is also impossible for one Train Manager to be in two three-car units (in a six-car consist) at once and monitor customers in every carriage, and those moving between the platform and train, and offer individual assistance.”
Proposed network improvements include AT introducing up to 230 Transport Officers (TOs), 70 more staff than Train Managers today. AT TOs are trained First Responders to incidents on the Metro network, and hold warranted powers for fare enforcement. AT TOs may be rostered onto every train service and be deployed in larger patrols to focus on trains that need additional assistance.
AT TOs are trained to engage with customers and effectively respond to anti-social behaviour, security and medical incidents. They have the flexibility to move any antisocial behaviour off the train onto the platform where additional assistance can be accessed, without stopping the train service.