The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is presenting incredibly challenging circumstances for us all, and it’s clear that this period of uncertainty and its effects will last long after the public health crisis is addressed.
I want to provide you with a short update on ARTC’s current business activities and actions in this environment – noting our crucial role in the supply chain and in supporting the national economy.
Significantly for ARTC, State and Federal Governments have deemed freight and logistics as an essential service, which means our role in providing a safe and reliable rail network to our customers and the country will continue. Likewise, construction on all our major infrastructure projects across Australia will continue, including Inland Rail and major projects being delivered in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
While it is positive the freight and logistics industry and the works supporting these sectors have been recognised as essential services, we also recognise that in our continued operations we have a significant responsibility to the ongoing health and safety of our people as well as the communities in which we operate. This includes a range of preventative actions to minimise risk, adjustments to existing work practices and to actively plan for the health and people effects of COVID-19, such as:
- Activation of business continuity plans and other arrangements to support and isolate critical business functions such as network control
- For maintenance and projects works – strict guidance around social distancing, working in groups, hygiene practices, interactions with the community and regular health and hygiene checks
- Working from home arrangements in place for a large sector of our staff
- Limiting all non-essential and domestic travel and delivering as much work where possible with locally based employees and contractors (rather than intra or interstate workers)
- Working with our contractor partners and suppliers to ensure appropriate standards are in place for workers and de-scoping non-essential project works.
We continue to actively work with the Government and health authorities to understand and mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus, and to guide our own decision-making.
As we are all experiencing, this issue and the implications on business and operations is changing rapidly every day – more recently this includes how we respond to the guidance and changes from Government regarding working in groups, social distancing and on traffic movements between state borders.
Finally, I’d like to thank you all for your patience and support as we manage these uncertain times. In times like these, when demand for predictable and reliable deliveries of freight is critical and our major transport arteries of trade need to keep flowing, we recognise that providing safe and dependable services to our customers is more important than ever. Already, local businesses are reaching out to us to thank us for our ongoing trade and support, and in time we will provide advice as to additional steps ARTC will take to support these communities and help local and small businesses get back on their feet.
We have a long way to go, but the ARTC team remains committed to ensuring that the rail network is managed and maintained safely, and the major projects the economy needs are delivered successfully. That remains our focus and commitment to our customers, stakeholders and the community, and we will continue to share updates and advice, so you are informed.
Please take care and stay safe, and don’t hesitate to let us know any feedback, concerns or ways that ARTC might be able to help in these challenging times.
Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director