Happy New Year, indeed!

In a classic case of too little, too late, Queensland Rail has run newspaper advertisements wishing everyone a Happy New Year. They want to thank their customers for continued support and patronage during 2009. Whatever!

Unfortunately, most of those standing on platforms today are probably still waiting for a service that never arrived or is so late that it cancelled itself. To say QR’s performance over the past year has been a little sub-standard would be remarkable understatement. Time and again thousands of passengers were left stranded due to breakdowns and equipment failures that seemed all too insignificant given the chaos they created.

The most shameful aspect of this sorry performance was Transport Minister Rachel Nolan who, in a moment of blind panic, suggested it might have been QR staff themselves who sabotaged the rail network. Just as well you’ve got a chauffeur-driven limousine, Ms Nolan, because you wouldn’t want to be stranded at a darkened station like the poor patrons of this substandard service you preside over.

You have to wonder just how things will improve. If the Bligh government proceeds with its asset sell-off and flogs QR to the highest bidder, what can we expect? Does anyone honestly believe a profit-motivated private sector owner will not cut costs without delay? Will they outlay the untold hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to provide a rail service that meets contemporary global best standards? Will they reduce fares to encourage patronage? Yeah, right.

As night follows day, fares will rise and cost-cutting will be implemented. How many QR workers can kiss their jobs goodbye? It will take more than a few shares to provide an income for them and their families.

Oh, but if you had been naively expecting some Christmas cheer from Premier Bligh or her incompetent Minister or the incomparable QR itself, you should be blushing furiously by now. You see, the new year will start with major fare increases for trains, buses and ferries. That’s possibly why MPs were given substantial pay rises to start the new year, too. Oh, they get cars. As well as a pay rise. Now I’m blushing. But it’s from anger not naivety. Please, Santa, give me an election for next Christmas.