THE Australian Rail Track Corporation’s (ARTC) Junee rail control centre could close in the next five years under a plan revealed by company management this week.
Management held two days of meetings with staff in Junee on Monday and Tuesday and flagged their intention to consolidate its rail operations into a single centre, signalling the end for the town’s centre.
An ARTC spokesman on Wednesday confirmed discussions took place with staff about the plan.
“As part of recent conversations with relevant staff, we did advise any consolidation would be gradual and may well take a period of three to five years to effect,” the spokesman said.
Around 50 people are currently employed at the Junee centre and their long-term futures are unclear in the wake of this week’s announcement.
The Advertiser understands the ARTC plans to make seven positions voluntarily redundant in the coming weeks across its Junee and Adelaide centres, though the spokesman declined to comment on the issue.
One ARTC Junee employee, who asked not to be named, said the announcement from management had been “very distasteful” and come as a “massive whack” to employees.
“Effectively it’s to save dollars, that’s what they’re saying,” the employee said.
The employee said those present at the meeting were told one of the reasons management was looking to close the Junee centre was because it was “overstaffed”.
Two options are being canvassed by ARTC management for its future operations should the company elect to close its Junee site.
One proposal would see Junee operations moved to Adelaide, while another idea put forward involved the closure of both Junee and Adelaide and the two centres consolidated in a new centre in Wagga.
Junee mayor Neil Smith said news one of the town’s biggest employers may be closing down was a concern.
“In terms of Junee as a township and community, it’s going to leave a hole, isn’t it,” he said.
“If we can ameliorate the effects of any redundancies then we’d certainly be looking to do that.”
The ARTC spokesman stressed no specific timeframe or formal proposal had been put forward at this stage and consultations with staff, customers and stakeholders would take place if one were to be tabled.