MORE than a dozen permanent and contractor positions are set to be lost in Tamworth next January, when UGL Regional Linx takes over the Country Regional Network (CRN).
Workers at the Tamworth depot, which is currently operated by John Holland, have been told jobs will go locally despite UGL committing to increasing the number of roles available throughout the state.
The news has understandably ruffled feathers within the workforce, with those who are retaining their roles questioning how things will be done with fewer people.
Mick McCreanor is part of the maintenance crew, which is being cut from four people to three. He said they already face a tough workload.
"How are we going to do it with three blokes when one, the leading hand, will be spending most of his time in the office organising stuff - that's what UGL has told them," he said.
"So you've got two blokes looking after the track side of it, they've [UGL] said they'll supplement it with people from Bathurst, which is five and a half hours away.
"And then you've got on-call, you've got annual leave and all of that sort of stuff and that's sort of put the pressure on the people thinking 'well how are we going to run this'."
It felt like the company had come in "promising the world", and instead "given you an atlas", he said.
Transport for NSW, which owns the CRN and awarded the ten-year operating contract to UGL, has defended its commitment to rural areas, stating it will be better for the bush overall.
"Through the new contract with UGL Regional Linx, a minimum of 80 per cent of staff employed on the CRN must be based in regional NSW, and UGL is exceeding this target," a spokesperson said.
"Through the direct employment and redeployment options under the contract there will be an overall increase in regional NSW of 71 jobs achieved overall."
It also disagreed with Mr McCreanor's assertion there would not be enough people to complete maintenance jobs, and said more roles could become available as Tamworth's intermodal rail hub developed.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said he was aware of the workers' concerns, but was hopeful more jobs would become available in the future.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said he had "sought and received confirmation maintenance works will continue at the same standard and frequency by the new contractor" in his electorate.
The Australian Rail Tram and Bus Industry Union (RTBU) is not so optimistic however, and said the state government had let locals down.
"It has axed good regional jobs by dropping the minimum staffing levels across the Country Rail Network, despite the damaging impact to services and safety," RTBU NSW organiser Jay Suvaal said.
"Under the new contract Regional Transport Minister Paul Toole has awarded to UGL, 40 per cent of workers across the network will lose their jobs, including 12 jobs in Tamworth.
"But by adding a few extra positions in Orange, the government has tried to spin this as a win for our regions. It's an insult to more than 100 workers who are set to lose their jobs."
Transport for NSW has promised all those who lose their jobs will be offered "retraining and alternative employment opportunities".
UGL was approached, but refused to comment.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: