Rail fatigue rules set by government

THE rail industry has 12 months to meet new fatigue safety requirements set by the State Government.

The announcement of new work standards and shift lengths for train drivers comes after the Rail, Tram and bus Union (RTBU) took a dispute with QR National to the Fair Work Australia tribunal over concerns for the safety of drivers under a proposed new contract at five CQ coal depots.

Transport Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said the regulations would set new minimum standards for fatigue management across the state's rail network and improve safety for rail staff and passengers.

She said the changes included a maximum shift of 12 hours for trains with two drivers, and nine hours maximum for single-driver locomotives.

The new rules also include a minimum 12 hours break between each shift when the driver ends a shift at a home depot, and eight hours break for those away from home.

Ms Palaszczuk said with a massive expansion in the mining sector, the government had to keep a close watch on fatigue issues.

RTBU State Secretary Owen Doogan said the union was delighted with the government's decision and referred to it as "an advancement in safety in the industry".

"Driving trains requires constant deep concentration whether hauling coal wagons over a kilometre long or carrying hundreds of commuters and tourists and therefore fatigue management is a top of the tree safety issue in our industry," he said.

Ms Palaszczuk said rail transport operators could seek to operate outside the standard hours, but had to gain prior approval from the rail safety watchdog.

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