26 September 2023

Trains and trams to be public owners again

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South Australia’s train and tram services are on the way to returning into public hands with the Government signing a deal to ensure a smooth transition back to ownership by the people while avoiding any termination costs.

According to the Government it made an election pledge to bring train and tram services back into public hands after the Liberal ministry had sold them.

The Government said the new agreement would see train operator Keolis Downer Adelaide and tram operator Torrens Connect hand back operational functions by January 2025 and July 2025 respectively, “ensuring a safe and efficient transition”.

It said this would mean passengers will not see any impacts to services during the transition period with Adelaide Metro operations continuing to run normally.

The Premier, Peter Malinauskas said the Labor party went to last year’s election with a clear policy to end the former privatisation of train and tram services.

“We are delivering on that election commitment with a deal to return train and tram operations to public ownership,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“This is a rare and historic achievement – returning a privatised service to public hands,” he said.

“Since we came to the office, we’ve been working steadfastly to see a smooth transition of our train and tram operations back where they belong.”

The Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Tom Koutsantonis said that despite potential payout clauses set to make South Australian taxpayers liable for nearly $100 million in termination payments, the Government negotiated a deal that would see rail services brought back into public hands with no break fees and with minimal transition costs to deliver a smooth transition to return the trained and skilled workforce.

“Passengers will not be impacted as these changes roll out but will benefit from an increased security presence as we seek to rectify the savings measures imposed by the former Liberal government,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“Today’s outcome is not a reflection on the companies involved, but of our firm belief that public transport belongs to the public,” he said.

“It should be run for the benefit of all South Australians, rather than for private profit or in a bid to impose budget savings that never materialise,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

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