RailCorp: the buck stops at the mechanic.

Compare these two stories:

1) Hamilton caught cold by lack of chassis savvy

Lewis Hamilton demonstrated a style reminiscent of Michael Schumacher by calmly coming to terms with his disappointment at failing to win Sunday’s British grand prix at Silverstone, shrugging aside the fact that he could manage no better than third place at the chequered flag. There was no rancour or obvious frustration about his post-race reaction.

Instead, displaying his instinctive feel for the situation and considerable common sense, he blamed himself for any shortfall in his performance, taking a leaf out of the seven-times world champion’s book by making it clear that little or no responsibility could be attached to his team.

2) It’s a train wreck

The boss of Sydney’s rail network has condemned his own organisation’s ability to maintain trains properly – and says the workers who look after the fleet are partly to blame.

A week after another breakdown on the Harbour Bridge left the transport system in chaos, Vince Graham delivered a withering assessment of the state of the rail system. Frustrated by revelations it was a routine maintenance job that crippled the network, Mr Graham hit out at the lack of a proper “maintenance culture” that was undermining RailCorp.

One being identifiably a good sport (if in a dumb sport – or rather, game. I think one can gamble on motor-racing), while the other is being identifiably a dickhead. To be fair, I am disinclined to favourable views of RailCorp, but Vince Graham is a dick.

One need not be Harry Truman to understand that it is the job of superiors, progressively all the way to Graham himself, to ensure that adequate maintenance is undertaken. Contracts are won and promise are won at the executive level, after all. It is his responsibility to ensure his promises are kept. Trying to make scapegoats out of workers (and their managers and unions) at a time when they are no doubt under enough pressure and suffering low-enough morale already, is not the behaviour Sydney deserves or should accept from the man responsible for their mass transit:

The president of the Rail Tram and Bus Union, Nick Lewocki, said: “It is a disgraceful exhibition for him to be pointing the finger at the workforce when the real problem is his management style.

“Morale is at an all-time low. The relationship between front-line staff and management is the worst I have ever seen.”

Another couple of pieces of this story that stood out for me were, first:

From this week quality inspectors will audit the maintenance work undertaken by both RailCorp’s in-house teams as well as the private companies that manage heavy maintenance.

From this week? So while blaming his workers, the head of RailCorp has only now taken the initiative to ensure their maintenance work was, in fact, adequate? Secondly,

Mr Graham said the wide-ranging review would include recommendations about whether to privatise all of RailCorp’s maintenance. Private companies already do 70 per cent of the work.

Ah. Privatisation and sub-contracting. Something else we’ve seen on these pages previously. One wonders how many degrees of separation currently exist between the head office and the back work-rooms of RailCorps, and when that little aspect of governance will be addressed.


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