Australia Train pain: Figures reveal City Loop’s chronic cancellation problem

01:22  10 january  2018
01:22  10 january  2018 Source:   9News.com.au

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If you’ve been turfed off your City Loop train at Richmond or North Melbourne, or left waiting on an underground platform for a service that never arrives, you’re not alone.

Figures obtained by 9NEWS show that last year alone, 4032 City Loop trains were altered to skip the City Loop.

That’s despite Parliament, Melbourne Central and Flagstaff being amongst the busiest stations on Melbourne’s suburban network.

The worst affected passengers were those on the Pakenham line, with 757 services altered throughout the course of the year.

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647 trains skipped the loop on the Cranbourne line, 646 on the Frankston line and 590 on the Lilydale line.

Sunbury trains were the least likely to be diverted, with just 62 altered to run direct from Flinders Street.

Spokesman for the Public Transport Users Association, Daniel Bowen, said it was a constant source of frustration for passengers.

“Passengers do deserve better, and Metro and the government need to do more to ensure the infrastructure is reliable”, he said.

“To be kicked off the train at Richmond or North Melbourne, and have to find another train to get to where you’re going; it results in crowding and delays, and they really need to do what they can to minimise that.”

The worst month for City Loop cancellations was July, when 524 trains were altered to run direct to or from Flinders Street.

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Metro Trains’ Executive Director Raymond O’Flaherty said the yearly figure represented roughly half of one percent of all trains scheduled to run, and said the diversions could be caused by anything from sick passengers to broken infrastructure.

“The tunnels are congested, so when an incident does occur, congestion can happen very quickly in the loop”, he said.

“The number of bypasses has started to reduce, and we’re working really hard to continue that downward trend”.

In each of the last four months of 2017, around 260 trains skipped the loop, suggesting Metro is making headway.

But Opposition Transport Spokesman David Davis accused the Andrews government of letting commuters down.

“This is mismanagement of our rail system, and the government ought to be doing much better at it”, he said.

Acting Transport Minister Philip Dalidakis says the government has asked Public Transport Victoria to review Metro’s loop skipping record, and defended the government’s investment in rail infrastructure.

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“We’re seeing a huge investment in signal and line upgrades right across our network, and of course that includes fixing faults wherever they occur”, he said.

Under Metro’s new contract, which took effect at the end of last year, station skipping is factored into reliability calculations, which is used to determine whether the operator is paid a bonus or fined.

The train operator says it’s also working to address station skipping in the city’s west, where trains frequently bypass stops on the Westona loop to Werribee.

But the PTUA’s Daniel Bowen said the problem is unlikely to be fixed without significant government investment.

“They really need to duplicate that line, it’s a single track that causes delays”, he said.

“Single track causes a lot of delays around the network, and the Altona loop is one of the worst”.

Watch the full news bulletin on 9Now

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