How hundreds of train drivers were paid $300,000 in taxpayer money a WEEK to ‘do almost nothing’ for four months due to Covid
- About 230 trainees had their driving course paused during Covid lockdown
- Covid rules meant they couldn’t be in the train cabin until the past two weeks
- Instead they paid to do online learning where they claim to have not done much
- At least 40 trainees were stood-down airline staff, dozens of whom will soon quit
Hundreds of learner train drivers were paid $300,000 a week between them to do ‘close to nothing’ for four months during Sydney’s lockdown and beyond.
Covid rules banning more than one person from being in the train cabin at a time meant about 230 trainees were only able to learn theory from home.
Sydney Trains is also bracing for an exodus of trainee drivers as stood-down airline staff return to the skies, sources told Daily Mail Australia.
At least 40 airline workers were hired as trainees since March 2020 when Australia’s borders closed and they were sent on indefinite unpaid leave.
A handful have already resigned but sources claimed dozens more planned to leave when they were recalled to air crews as travel ramped up out of Sydney Airport.
Hundreds of learner train drivers were paid $300,000 a week to do ‘close to nothing’ for four months during Sydney’s lockdown and beyond
Others quit, or soon will, because they were frustrated with having no hands-on training since early July when the Covid rules came in.
Trainees were only able to study theory from home, as school and university students did, but many said they had already completed that part of the course.
They claimed in reality, most trainees did very little work during the shutdown and anything they learned was unlikely to be retained.
‘A lot of people tried hard but 17 weeks deep most people I’ve spoken to have lost so much of their knowledge because so much of the job is practical,’ one said.
The train driver program usually involves nine months of classroom learning at the facility in Petersham and nine months practical education.
‘The health and safety of our staff are always our top priority. Since the July lock down training was paused and our trainees continued learning remotely from home,’ Sydney Trains said in a statement.
‘After extensive planning Sydney Trains are thrilled to welcome our trainees back to their training program in a phased approach.’
Covid rules banning more than one person from being in the train cabin at a time meant about 230 trainees were only able to learn theory from home
Trainee drivers are paid about $2,500 a fortnight, adding up to about $300,000 a week, according to sources within Sydney Trains.
Most of the trainees returned over the past two weeks as restrictions eased across NSW, but about 100 of them will stay home until December 5.
The transport company said more than 40 airline employees affected by the Covid-19 shutdown were recruited, but sources claim there were more like 70.
‘Sydney Trains was a secondary employer for most of those employees and a small number of them have now chosen to return to their primary employer as the airline industry is returning,’ it said.
NSW scrapped quarantine for vaccinated international arrivals on November 1 and Australians were allowed to travel overseas without exemptions on the same date.
A travel bubble with Singapore began on Sunday and 200,000 skilled workers and international students will arrive from around the world from December 1.
Domestic travel is also expected to ramp up as all states besides Western Australia open their borders before Christmas.