A last-minute round of train service cancellations today across south-east Queensland has prompted the State Opposition to label Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe the “grinch who stole Christmas”.
Last night, Queensland Rail (QR) announced 150 Christmas Day cancellations affecting all lines across the south-east.
Free train travel was offered in compensation, as well as taxis for some stranded customers.
As a further complication, QR made the changes so late they have not been added to the TransLink journey planner and are only listed as cancellations via the Translink home page.
Mr Hinchliffe was not available to comment, but vented his own frustration on Twitter this morning.
“This is a totally unacceptable performance from Queensland Rail,” he said.
“My entire focus today is on supporting our customers.”
But Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Powell said Mr Hinchliffe could not keep blaming Queensland Rail for the ongoing timetable problems.
“Clearly Queensland Rail and the rail unions are out of control and the Minister has no solution, no answers for it,” Mr Powell said.
“The Premier’s going to have to haul herself back from her Christmas Day celebrations and sack him.
“It’s just simply not good enough. Stirling Hinchliffe has had excuse after excuse after excuse as to why he shouldn’t be held responsible.
“Well I’m sorry, that’s not going to cut it on Christmas Day when commuters are stranded from their loved ones.”
‘Heads must roll from here’
Robert Dow from the lobby group Rail Back On Track called for the QR board to be sacked.
“We are now in the realm of sheer incompetence. Heads must roll from here,” he said.
“There clearly is a major issue within Queensland Rail – bloated management unable to carry out their job functions.
“Get rid of them, and the Queensland Rail Board. Clearly ineffective.”
Mr Dow said a rail commissioner “with an actual rail background” should replace the board.
“Set up a switched on management team, get union cooperation to sort this mess before it is too late. We thank Minister Hinchliffe for directing that travel be free on the rail network today,” Mr Dow said.
“We respectfully request that for the period of the summer school holiday timetable that only off-peak fares be charged.”