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Article: One in 10 trains either cancelled or delayed
« on: December 28, 2008, 10:46:51 AM »
From the Melbourne Age click here!

One in 10 trains either cancelled or delayed

Quote
One in 10 trains either cancelled or delayed

    * Reid Sexton
    * December 28, 2008

THOUSANDS of long-suffering Melbourne rail passengers were delayed every day in 2008 ? due to a daily average of 18 train service cancellations during the year.

And waiting for a replacement would not have made frustrated commuters much happier ? an average of more than 120 services a day were at least six minutes late, according to Connex. Any less than six minutes' delay was not officially deemed "late".

Lilydale-line passengers have been hit the most by cancellations, with 686 services pulled to the end of November. This is followed by the Sandringham line with 630 and Frankston with 517.

A Connex spokesman said the length and frequency of services on the three lines made them more exposed to problems.

But over the past year, the figures show, nearly one in 10 suburban services across the network have either been substantially delayed ? or have not shown up.

Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said many of the cancellations occurred during peak times when the network was stretched to capacity. "There are good days and bad days for cancellation," he said. "And if the average is 18 a day, then there must be some very bad days."

"A peak-hour train can easily carry 1000 people ? that's thousands of people a day who could be affected by this. But it's also a huge disruption to everyone on the following trains as people try to squeeze on board."

But if there is any consolation, it is better than last year. The current total of yearly cancellations stands at just over 6500, a slight improvement on last year's final count of 7330.

Connex's record was slowly improving until this month when the operator was hit with maintenance problems and a pay dispute with workers that led to more cancellations.

But Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the 2007 figures included January, when severe storms caused havoc across the network and forced the cancellation of more than 2000 trains. This made the 2008 figures look better by comparison ? and reflected what he said was the ongoing neglect of the network.

"The No. 1 reason for these failures is lack of investment in vital projects," he said. "Premier John Brumby is reluctant to allocate any funding to public transport." Earlier this month, the State Government unveiled its fourth strategy to deal with Melbourne's transport woes since 2002 when it released the Victorian Transport Plan.

But lack of federal funding and the Government's poor record on delivering major transport upgrades has left experts predicting that the rail system would suffer more before a solution was found.

In 1999, Labor promised to deliver rail extensions to the growth areas of South Morang and Cranbourne East but construction has not begun on either. In the same year, plans were made to upgrade the 27-year-old Metrol nerve centre that controls Melbourne trains but, despite a second pledge in 2006, the project was still out to tender.

A Government spokeswoman said Victoria was experiencing record levels of growth in patronage and this had placed increased demand on services.

A total of 433 new and extended weekly services on the network in 2008 had been provided to meet this demand, she said, adding that, as part of the Victorian Transport Plan, 38 new trains would be put into the system in 2009, increasing the train fleet by 40 per cent.
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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