Jilalan Rail Depot Photo Tony Martin / Daily Mercury
Jilalan Rail Depot Photo Tony Martin / Daily Mercury Tony Martin

Aurizon to slash more than 300 jobs, including managers

WHEN it comes to being trusted by the public, politicians and used-car salesmen are usually on equal footing.

And although the sell-off of Queensland Rail arguably led to the demise of former premier Anna Bligh, is it fair to say she got away with selling a lemon?

She might have a case to answer as the latest announcement from Aurizon indicated it was axing more than 300 jobs and writing off $73 million from a takeover of Western Australian mining company Aquila.

The announcement comes off the back of proposed job cuts at its Callemondah, Jilalan and Pring depots.

 Aurizon was proposing to cut 49 positions at the Callemondah depot, targeting train drivers and maintenance personnel. 

But it's not just blue-collar workers who will be affected by the latest round of cuts. Aurizon says it will reduce "leadership positions in operations, representing approximately 20% of management roles".

Rumours have been circulating among workers that more detail on managerial job cuts will be forthcoming today.

The hits Aurizon has taken and the decision to cut jobs in its network reflect the overall difficulty of operating in these tough economic times.

Not only will the freighting company write off $73 million from its ill-conceived Aquila acquisition of mining company Aquila, it will also write off $29 million from its "rolling stock", such as trains and carriages.

"Clearly we're operating in a tough and volatile market with lower growth conditions for our customers," managing director and chief executive officer Lance Hockridge said yesterday.

"In this environment, we are targeting further reductions in our cost base and finding new ways to drive asset and labour productivity."

"Work is underway across the company, in reducing management roles, in driving down corporate and support costs and ensuring workforce numbers are aligned to forecast customer demand," Mr Hockridge said.

Although Aurizon's underlying earnings were within guidance at $871million, it had $528 million worth of impairments in 2016.

With the downturn in full effect, Aurizon reported the amount of coal, iron ore and freight it hauled would be down on last year's tonnage of 211 million tonnes.

The company expects to haul 206.8 million tonnes of coal this year. compared to which is down on last year's 211 million tonnes last year.