FIGHTING BACK: Aurizon rail workers attend a union meeting held at the Redbank rail workshops after plans were announced to close the facility.
FIGHTING BACK: Aurizon rail workers attend a union meeting held at the Redbank rail workshops after plans were announced to close the facility. Claudia Baxter

Choat furious over Aurizon's plan to close rail workshops

A CALL has gone out from Ipswich West MP Sean Choat for a new company to set up a railway workshop at Redbank.

The QT reported earlier this month that freight company Aurizon would close its Redbank workshops permanently in 2017, leaving hundreds of workers jobless.

The winding down will begin next month with 42 staff to be axed before more follow next June when Aurizon's QR maintenance contract expires.

But Mr Choat insists that there is scope for another company to come in and do the job.

"Over 50% of the work Aurizon do at Redbank is on behalf of Queensland Rail. They have the contract to maintain their rolling stock," Mr Choat said.

"So I am asking what other companies are out there who might like to come and take advantage, because our city would love to host you.

"Aurizon is pulling out, but I want someone else to come in to take their place.

"It is still cold comfort, but we are going to have a new Wulkuraka rail facility that will keep this strong rail presence in the region.

About 450 Redbank staff face either moving to Rockhampton or losing their jobs.

"I am absolutely furious about it," Mr Choat said.

"I was given an assurance by Aurizon in 2012 that they would continue their interest at Redbank, Rockhampton and Townsville.

"But they have gone back on that and it is an absolute disgrace. There are over 40 voluntary redundancies on the table now, but I have spoken to Aurizon and there are 450 people employed there.

" There will be a phasing down of operations there over the last three years, but they have assured me that their apprentices will all be carried through on their training contracts.

"So no apprentice will be out of work and will get to finish their trade - which is small comfort, I guess."