Has Metro turned the corner on punctuality?

Expect some gloating from Metro today. The Track Record monthly report for May was released yesterday, and shows a marked improvement in train punctuality.

We already knew the May average had improved to a not very spectacular 82.2%, but the detailed figures might show better the first effects of the early May timetable change.

From January’s quite decent figures (which might reflect much-reduced patronage for the first few weeks of the month), there’s been a steady decline to April, but on most lines this was arrested in May, and on some things improved markedly.

Remember that in the background, patronage continues to grow, and this could partly account for the steady decline between February and April. Siemens speed restrictions have also had a big effect on the lines those trains run on.

Taking it group by group, on the Burnley lines punctuality has stopped dropping, and on the Glen Waverley line (which started running direct on weekdays until lunchtime) punctuality went up noticeably (from 88.2 to 91.7). But none of the lines are back up at the levels seen in January and February.

Burnley group January to May

Similar story on the Clifton Hill group:

Clifton Hill group January to May

On the Northern group there’s an improvement in May, but clearly a long way to go. It’d be interesting to know if unhooking the Werribee/Williamstown lines interpeak on weekdays has helped here.

Northern group January to May

The new Cross City group shows a big jump, with Werribee up 12 percent and Frankston up 15 percent. It’s come at a cost though: the change to an impossible-to-remember 11/22 minute timetable for Werribee and Williamstown lines in peak, the much-hated Altona shuttles in off-peak, and a lot of padding in the timetables — yesterday for instance my train into the City in the morning departed South Yarra about 90 seconds early, and ended up having to wait at Richmond. There’s also the controversial removal of most trains from the City Loop.

Cross-City group January to May

The Pakenham/Cranbourne and Sandringham lines have also improved a lot. Sandringham is now run pretty much independently from other lines, and it shows. I wonder how much padding was added to Pakenham/Cranbourne line.

Caulfield group January to May

I expect these last two sets of figures to improve when the June figures are out, due to the lifting of Siemens speed restrictions. The 28 day rolling punctuality average is up at 88% now. (Update Wednesday morning: 88.1%.) But the question will be whether these figures can be sustained… after all, in most cases they’re only back at where things were in February. They’ve still got a long way to go.

Might be time for me to put my personal stats together again. What are others seeing on their travels?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

9 replies on “Has Metro turned the corner on punctuality?”

Remember the Werribee figure would include weekend services, which still run as if nothing has changed from the way the line ran 5 years ago, operating via both the City Loop and the Altona Loop, and without any updated timings.

I don’t know why they still do that except just to confuse people.

Credit where when and where credit is due.
I think my morning train has been cancelled only once this year – pretty good!

I have noticed a lot more siemens trains on the Sydenham line which is weird as they said that they would all go to Werribee and Frankston. Although it could be a scheduling coincidence that metro has rostered the times I take to always be siemens. Of course i don’t mind, they now go pretty fast between Keilor Plains and Sydenham.

Fascinating seeing the Belgrave line stats.

Of all the lines to buy a house on!

We’ve noticed daily that hardly any of the line’s trains run on time, at least in the am and pm peaks, and also that many were either cancelled, or diverted away from the loop to run to or from Flinders St (when we get on and off at Parliament).

Several weeks back, our 7.31am to the loop was diverted with no warning after leaving Richmond to terminate at Flinders St, to the annoyance of virtually everyone aboard (including hundreds who’d crammed in at Richmond as it was signed and announced as a loop train). I wrote a letter of complaint and was told, several weeks later, that the train was diverted to Flinders St because its PA system was not working. I kid you not.

So the graphic backs up our observations about service levels.

However, twice this week the 5.19pm ex Parliament has been on time, something I’ve not noted before, so, fingers crossed….

Frankston line was slowed down to accomodate Siemens brakes, which magically have been fixed just after the slow timetable was introduced! ie if you set the bar low enough, then at some point you’ll succeed in jumping over it.
– As it now that it takes 10 minutes longer to get from Bentleigh to Southern Cross at 8:06am, they haven’t turned any corners, just re-shaped them.

Also, if you look at the performance of the 6:14pm from Southern Cross over the last month, it has never once arrived on time at Bentleigh. It’s often cancelled or bypasses the loop, or runs 10 minutes late.

All they’ve done is increase the number of off-peak services which dilute the %impact of peak-hour poor performance.

What I’ve noticed on the Franskton line since the timetable changes is that evening loop services regularly get taken out of the loop – is this to meet punctuality goals? Do these count as arriving at their destination on time even though a bunch of stations were bypassed? Cos I can tell, it doesn’t help me get where I’m going on time, as by the time I know the train is bypassing the loop (usually last minute), it is too late to try and get another express service to Caulfiled and try to catch up with it there…

@Liz, as far as I know, diversions don’t count for punctuality, but do count as partial cancellations.

Sometimes diversions out of the Loop will occur when there is a fault in the train that means it can be driven in one direction but not another (eg graffiti over a driver’s cab window at one end).

But yes, when the notification comes too late for Southern Cross/loop people to catch the train at Caulfield, that’s quite irritating. I board in the PM peak normally at Flagstaff, and if I can’t see the screens saying it’s less than 4 minutes away (indicating it’s already left Flinders Street) I often will catch the first train to Caulfield (or at least Richmond), just in case.

It appears the new timetable has “worked” on the changed lines… although the Clifton Hill group had no such change…
– perhaps cold weather has turned people to cars meaning less unload/loading times? do you have any stats on this? (patronage by months?)
– perhaps lack of rain & adverse weather meant less faults & delays?
– perhaps just plain luck?


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