Already a central networking point on the eastern seaboard, Junee stands to increase its prominence as a historic railway town when the Australian Rail Track Corporation fills between 10 and 12 network control roles.
Currently, Junee manages freight and interstate passenger trains from Melbourne to Sydney, Stockingbal to Broken Hill.
But the new roles will accommodate operational take over as far north as Brisbane. Many of the positions will be redeployed from Broadmeadow.
“It will streamline customer service offering. Effectively it means end-to-end management from Melbourne to Brisbane on the ARTC network, with no need to split operation between two control rooms,” said Mitchell Sweeney, ARTC Junee’s project manager.
The decision constitutes a major about-face for the company that had toyed with the idea of closing Junee’s control centre entirely just three years ago.
Junee mayor Neil Smith vocally opposed that 2015 decision, that would see Junee’s operations absorbed into South Australia’s control centres.
“In the past, myself and the general manager travelled to Sydney a number of times to actively lobby ARTC to keep Junee as a control centre,” said Mayor Smith.
“Hats off to ARTC I suppose, it’s quite a turn around for a large company to recognise the pivotal role a small town can offer to the nation.”
Junee’s additional jobs will be added to the existing 39 network controllers, five train transit managers, five short term planning team members, and three operational support staff.
“We have a resource of talent in Junee as a railway town, but new people do bring new ideas, so I think it would be good if the roles were filled by a combination [of townspeople and out-of-towners],” said Mayor Smith.
With applications to close on Monday September 17, Mr Sweeney hopes the new roles will bring up the industry’s gender parity.
“In the past five years or so, there’s been a general shift,” he said.
“At our last recruitment, the female to male applicant ratio was about 50-50. That is a significant shift from, say 10 or 15 years ago, and it is fantastic to see.”