SAFER: Coffs train station is on track for new CCTV cameras.
SAFER: Coffs train station is on track for new CCTV cameras.

New CCTV cameras condemned by transport employee

CCTV cameras at railway stations are not as important as real, live people on duty, says Rail, Tram and Bus Union organiser Mick Cartwright.

Coffs Harbour was one of 22 regional stations and coach stops listed earlier this year among those due to receive new high-definition CCTV cameras.

The 200 cameras were to be installed as part of a $2 million contract awarded by the NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance.

The Minister said the cameras would be accompanied by Customer Help Points, which would connect a customer with a 24 hour emergency support centre when he or she pressed the button.

The CCTV cameras at Coffs Harbour's railway station, which Mick Cartwright said were installed nearly 10 years ago as part of a trial program, have been out of action for some time, but Mr Cartwright said it was more important that there were staff at the station who could take action in case of an emergency.

He said both 'proper' CCTV and staff were needed at the station, especially at night.

"All it ( current CCTV) does is record to that location – it is not linked to an external network," Mr Cartwright said,

"They (Countrylink) were going to do it at other stations when they started to cut staff."

He referred to CCTV as a 'cold' tool, which only showed someone being assaulted and helped to identify the offender after the event.

Police officers were surprised to find the system out of order when they sought pictures from the cameras recently as part of an inquiry.

A successful media campaign supported by the union has seen Trainlink agree to keep a staff presence at Nambucca Heads and Macksville railway stations when trains arrive there.

Smaller stations like Sawtell and Kendall are unattended and relatively isolated and can be daunting

Mick said Coffs Harbour had seen a "slight' reduction in staffing and the office could be closed for cleaning and also closed while staff cleaned another unattended location.

The Trainlink office at the station (formerly Countrylink) is listed as open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday as well as one hour before trains are due.

Many seniors are among those who meet the XPT at Coffs Harbour at late hours, departing to Sydney after 10pm at night or alighting shortly before midnight.

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