Why are train cancellations rising? Is it because the government skimps on signalling?

Mr Lezala also took a swipe at the State Government for failing to invest properly in signalling.

“We have new signalling systems here … with no redundancy in them so when we get a thunderstorm it fails – brand new systems – because we didn’t have enough money to build redundancy in,” he told a Metro breakfast.

“I think Treasury need to take that one, actually, because you get what you pay for.”

Herald Sun

A train approaches North Melbourne station

This might help explain why the trend for cancellations (or to be precise, percentage of the timetable not delivered) is up, not down.

Metro: Percentage of timetable not delivered (network-wide)

For all the noise the government has made about investing in upgraded rail infrastructure, it’s still common to see disruptions due to signal, track, points failures. If Lezala is right, we’re getting a lot of new equipment which isn’t being installed with the required redundancy to ensure it’s really reliable.

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.

8 replies on “Why are train cancellations rising? Is it because the government skimps on signalling?”

These sorts of stories are so frustrating. It’s hard enough getting government to find PT and yet, when they do, they find so many ways of stuffing it up in the detail/implementation. Signaling is not the only example – look at Myki and the regional fast rail.

In the meantime, the government presses on with plans to build an $11 billion roadway that will entrench car dependency in the outer suburbs and put Doncaster Rail on the back burner for another 35 years.

What can we do to stop this horrible cycle?

Speaking of government spending, and lack thereof, I’d love to know why they didn’t run any Nightrider buses last night, given that with the long weekend, it was the weekday equivalent of a Friday.

The city was full of people, but the trams and buses all finished at midnight.

And now, we have the reverse situation, where Good Friday is the deadest day of the year in Melbourne, but Nightrider buses will be running, according to the PTV timetable.

yeah, I got stuck at North Melbourne recently because the “new” signalling system wouldn’t change the path from Cragieburn to Upfield, no matter what they tried. Eventually they just had to offload everyone and make the train go that way. Meanwhile all trains behind were delayed or cancelled, because they’re squeezing three lines through one access point.

By the way, is there any actual penalty in their performance figures in running express services to make up time? By penalty, I mean is the service delivery counted on a got-to-the-end-of-the-line basis, or on “stations actually stopped at according to the timetable”? One would guess that making them express is the least worst option if things are royally messed up, but again there should be enough redundancy in the system to not make it “necessary” so often.

And it doesn’t help when it is your station that gets skipped, of course, especially if there is no way to get from the stopping station to where you want to go, and the service before you got cancelled, and it’s 20 minutes between services anyway…

It is because they are incentivised to “cancell” trains.

If you send a train out to a terminus and it turns around to start a new inbound service, then if it is 15 minutes late, it is easy to “cancell” the inbound service, and have the train which is already there form the next service.

If you do exactly the same thing, but call the inbound service as the original one, running 15 minutes late, then all the following services will also be 15 minutes late, although the customers would not even notice except for the customers of the first late service.

But it is easier to claim one “cancelled” service, than a whole bunch of services running 15 minutes late.

Well least they don’t have as much cancellations as some bus routes. Lucky bus operator are not fined

I was on a sardine can in morning peak the other week due to signalling issues and the driver quipped over the PA ‘If you were planning on making a complaint to Metro, I wouldn’t bother cos they don’t care, the signalling is the government’s fault’, Gave us all a morning giggle…

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