POLICE will take over from transit officers and patrol buses, trains and ferries under a new police transport command that the state government will establish.
Nanjing Night Net

Only 150 of the state’s 600 RailCorp transit officers would be retained, and would instead focus on fare evasion and minor offences across all three modes of transport.

The state government announced yesterday it would recruit 309 extra police by 2014, who would combine with the 301 officers attached to the current crime commuter unit to form the new command.

Premier Barry O’Farrell said the changes would improve security, with police trained to patrol in pairs compared to the groups of four or five transit officers needed.

‘‘Passenger safety is the number one concern of many people, particularly those that travel into the evening,’’ Mr O’Farrell said.

‘‘This will address that concern by ensuring that uniformed police officers with all the powers available to them are on our public transport system across all three transport modes.’’

But the NSW Rail Tram and Bus Union said the move was a cost-cutting measure and police may be called away to emergencies elsewhere leaving passengers vulnerable.

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the new police would be added to the authorised strength of the force.

He said it was expected the new command officers would operate from three Sydney hubs, and three ‘‘satellite hubs’’ in the Illawarra, Central Coast and Newcastle.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said transit officers would be able to apply for the 150 remaining jobs, apply to become a police officer, request to be redeployed elsewhere in the transport network or apply for a voluntary redundancy.

Ms Berejiklian said the new arrangement would be ‘‘cost neutral’’ to the government.

Union NSW secretary Alex Claassens said previous governments had tried handing over transport security to police but the measure had failed.