EXCLUSIVE: Aurizon's $6.4m project to bring 200 jobs to Rocky
RAIL giant Aurizon has announced a $6.4million refurbishment of its administration building in Rockhampton, with up to 200 roles to be relocated here.
The company's managing director and chief executive officer, Andrew Harding, yesterday spoke exclusively to The Morning Bulletin about his vision to invest in the regions.
The move follows the bombshell announcement earlier this year the company would close its Rockhampton rolling stock workshop by the end of 2018 as part of a major restructure.
More than 180 jobs were impacted by this, the majority at the Rockhampton site.
Mr Harding said the multi-million dollar refurbishment of the Murray Street facility would be undertaken subject to Rockhampton Regional Council approvals and would modernise the building and provide extra capacity as well as contemporary work spaces.
He said he expected up to 200 roles from Brisbane and other metropolitan areas to be relocated to Rockhampton in the next few years.
"I am a big believer in our people being close to our operations and the customers we serve," Mr Harding said.
"Approximately 75% or more than 4000 of our people already live and work in towns and shires from Cairns to Kalgoorlie.
"Over the next few years I will be focusing on locating more of our people in regional areas where it makes sense," Mr Harding said.
He said the recent decision to close the workshops in Rockhampton was a difficult one.
"The closure of our workshops was necessary due to increased competition changing requirements for the way we maintain our rolling stock of locomotives and wagons," Mr Harding said.
"It was designed for a different operating footprint in a different time and does not fit with our current coal rail operations.
"We are working closely with employees on staged closure and in the first phase - impacting 19 employees - we have redeployed five to other parts of our business, five are training to be train drivers, and nine have accepted redundancy packages.
Aurizon continues to have a large presence in the Rockhampton region, with more than 650 employees across its various businesses and about 2000 employees in Central Queensland.
"Due to the nature of some roles, we will always have a need for some people to be based in our head office in Brisbane, however there are many support services that can be co-located with our teams in the regions," Mr Harding said.
"This year we have already relocated the business heads of our coal (Ed McKeiver) and bulk (Clay McDonald) businesses to Mackay and Perth, Western Australia, respectively.
"As we embed our new business model, we will put a greater focus on locating roles closer to our operations, where so many of our people already live and work."
Mr Harding said he had an open mind and had been listening to the commentary about the future of the rolling stock Bolsover Street site.
Mr Harding added the outlook for the coal sector was looking far more positive now than one year ago.