Contrary to what some people seem to think, in December when Connex are gone and the new operator starts, miracles will not occur.
Girl to friend on train: “I can’t wait till the Japanese take over Connex. We can then get to Frankston from the city in, like, five minutes in the bullet train. It’ll be totally awesome.”
— Overheard, MX, 19/8/2009
Once MTM (who are from Hong Kong, not Japan) take over, the trains won’t magically be on time. Cancellations will not magically stop, trains won’t be magically less crowded, station staff will not give you a hot chocolate and a five dollar note each morning, and rainbows will not appear in the sky.
The new mob will have the same trains and the same tracks — all the responsibility of the government.
And it’ll be almost all the same staff — though one wit suggested to me that MTM might give everyone new uniforms and simeltaneously shuffle them all around, so those people who board at staffed stations would see “new” people on duty.
So what will change apart from the logos?
It’s a little hard to tell, as the details of the contracts have not yet been released. Over time we should expect some operational changes, depending on how much they decide to influence future timetables, staff training and duties. The EOI documents indicated there’d be some changes to cleaning regimes and other “soft” stuff, as well as (one would hope) some improvements to the way information provided to passengers. (No, it’s not clear yet if the Connex SMS updates, which I and many others find very useful, will continue in their current form. Ditto with Tram Tracker.)
There are rumours that the new name for the trains will involve the word Metro. Given the precedent of trains every 10-ish minutes on the Werribee line, the optimist in me says that when the new contracts and name are announced, they’ll also announce a plan to introduce frequent services of at least every 10 minutes on every line, all day, every day. Like, well, a Metro.
The other coming changes are not down to the operator, but are infrastructure-based, including new and extended lines, and more trains, are all the responsibility of the government. When you tally it up, there are a surprising number of infrastructure changes coming to the rail system. Here’s a map that I’ve mentioned in passing before, which was done for the PTUA: