State Government tipped to offer Metro fresh contract to run rail network

 

News article: State Government tipped to offer Metro fresh contract to run rail network

METRO Trains looks set to be awarded another contract by the Andrews Government to run Melbourne’s rail network, just days after Thursday’s crippling peak hour shutdown.

  x31 Deputy Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
You would never proceed with a renewal at this point, the entire network should be bought back into the government or re-tendered.

I would suggest back into public hands because I cannot identify any benefits of having the network operation outsourced.  Can others?

State Government tipped to offer Metro fresh contract to run rail network

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  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I would suggest back into public hands because I cannot identify any benefits of having the network operation outsourced.  Can others?
"x31"
Absolutely not. In a long life in Melbourne, I have never seen such an abysmal Melbourne suburban rail performance as the one we have now.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Grytviken
Okay if we take a cold hard rational look at the situation (and ignore things like emotion or political ideology), no pragmatic state government will nationalise suburban train operation in Melbourne. I can think of two main reasons, but I invite others to add more.
  • Things will always go wrong, there will always be software crashes, incompetent employees, natural disasters, etc. Having an independent company running the trains deflects the blame and angst from passengers onto the operating company, meaning there is less political damage to the state government. Even things that the government is mostly responsible for such as persistent late running on over capacity lines with inadequate signalling will have most of the blame deflected to the operating company in the minds of the voting public. So companies like Connex and Metro have acted as political scapegoats taking the blame for both avoidable and unavoidable things from the state government and deflecting it onto themselves.

  • To win a competitive tender to run suburban trains means that the companies have to be relatively efficient to win the tender. A major part of winning a tender is to ask for a lower subsidy than other companies competing for that tender. To keep the tender they have to minimise late running, cancellations and stuff ups. All this means maximising efficiency and minimising costs. Now with the best will in the world, no bureaucracy has even been accused of being more cost effective and efficient than a private company doing the same job. The money the state government saves by having an independent company operate the system can be diverted to more worthy (and more politically popular) things like schools, police, hospitals, debt reduction, etc.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

I would suggest back into public hands because I cannot identify any benefits of having the network operation outsourced.  Can others?
x31
Yes.

If your polling numbers are dead in the water, you can sack the contractor/franchisee and hope the public doesn't find out about the early termination fee until after the next election.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

A tough call IMO. Bogong has brought up some valid points, but I'm of the view that Metro hasn't done a terribly good job at times given all the money thrown at it (of which a high percentage ends up in HK/China).

Something smells with the existing contract given what appears to be poor value for money and ongoing stuff-ups. It needs to be a better one with tougher conditions.

Bringing the network back under state control/ownership often comes with its own set of problems, especially if funding is tight. V/line is exhibit A...
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
I would suggest back into public hands because I cannot identify any benefits of having the network operation outsourced.  Can others?
Absolutely not. In a long life in Melbourne, I have never seen such an abysmal Melbourne suburban rail performance as the one we have now.
Valvegear
Problem is you don't know what will happen under govt ownership as this is no way to test this unless you actually do it and vice versa.

If you assume the funding remains the same, yes you have the money paid basically as profit to Metro as the management costs are now part of the state's running cost. This profit isn't a huge amount. What happened in the past was a completely different era, more than a generation ago so not a reference point and realistically there are plenty of skeletons in that closet as well. Strikes anyone? The system now is moving what 50% more than it did prior to contracted out? So this will obviously cause problems that ultimately the govt has to fix regardless if its private or public.

The system will only run better under govt ownership, assuming like for like funding if you can prove that Metro Management is incompetent and not spending the money as efficiently as it would under govt control. As others have said V/line anyone? Or perhaps QR? who cannot employ drivers even if they were delivered on a plate fully trained and read to go.
  mejhammers1 Assistant Commissioner

Sorry  Carnot but I do not agree. I am with Bogong on this. Metro is responsible for the Operatìon of the system. SNCF, Tfl, Japanese Rail would have trouble running the system because our commuter system is rooted. Hampered by outdated signalling, numerous level crossings and rolling stock that is not fit for purpose to name a few. It is totally outrageous for Minister Allan to lay the blame solely on Metro.The rail system has suffered through decades of under investment.Melbourne's system is years behind that of even Sydney's. The Computer system is a capital cost that is the responsibility of the state government and an obsolete system was installed in 2013 that apparently has a lot of defects.I think that anyone who takes on the running of this crap system deserves a medal, so good luck to all those who think that simply reverting back to govr control will solve problems.

Michael
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Privatised public transport services just don't work period and government know this. V/line back in government heads performed better under government until the previous liberal government pulled the pin on funding. V/line never recovered.

The Melbourne system needs to be integrated with V/line to create a single organisation to run the.entire network.

The current management  be sacked.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

It looks to me that it's largely ideological reasons behind the antipathy towards either a state or privately run metro train network.  The union will always want state control, the free-market liberals will want little or no Government control or money, and Joe-public will have to put up with the mediocrity of an ancient run-down system either way....
  x31 Deputy Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
It looks to me that it's largely ideological reasons behind the antipathy towards either a state or privately run metro train network.  The union will always want state control, the free-market liberals will want little or no Government control or money, and Joe-public will have to put up with the mediocrity of an ancient run-down system either way....
Carnot

And this is exactly why the systems needs to come back into public hands and be properly funded with some lines being JV on rolling stock etc. if required.  The situation we have today simply cannot be allowed to continue as the system is not working and productivity across the capital is affected by a poorly run system.

Could Melbourne introduce 750 new services per week if required?
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
Privatised public transport services just don't work period and government know this. V/line back in government heads performed better under government until the previous liberal government pulled the pin on funding. V/line never recovered.

The Melbourne system needs to be integrated with V/line to create a single organisation to run the.entire network.

The current management  be sacked.
freightgate
Obviously very incorrect statement and know the state govt doesn't believe this as more and more private operators are now taking over the day to day operation of numerous state run PT systems especially in EU and Nth America and in most cases the respective govts are happy with the outcome. Yes not all have worked so well but you won't have to go far to find many govt run systems that are in complete disarray either often dragged down by stagnate management with no ideas and/or hands tied by their political masters and/or uncontrolled unions. QR comes to mind right now.

V/line has had plenty of time to recovery as it was over 15 years ago that National Express departed and that's only after less than 5 years in control. It doesn't take 15 years to turn a company around, most CEO's are usually given 4 years or less and thats for organisations much larger than passenger component of V/line.


EDIT:
Why I support the private operation

At the moment the state govt doesn't get involved in day to day operations and hence get dragged down to pay disputes, industrial relations etc etc. In the past we have seen state Premiers and Transport Ministers in the nightly news managing strikes over pay rises, productivity changes such as DOO etc etc. Do we really believe this is the role of our state govt leadership who manage a $100B economy s to deal with a dispute over a pay rise of a few hundred people? Or to dispute whether or not to remove a 2nd driver or guard from the train? In the case of Qld, the Transport Minster lost their job over recruiting train drivers?

By basically contracting this level of the operation out, the state can more freely focus on the bigger picture and longer term planning which is something the system lacked for so long.

Meanwhile I think the ongoing use of the Private operation in Vic has helped keep others north of the border inline under the threat of following the same path if they play up too much.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
It looks to me that it's largely ideological reasons behind the antipathy towards either a state or privately run metro train network.  The union will always want state control, the free-market liberals will want little or no Government control or money, and Joe-public will have to put up with the mediocrity of an ancient run-down system either way....

And this is exactly why the systems needs to come back into public hands and be properly funded with some lines being JV on rolling stock etc. if required.  The situation we have today simply cannot be allowed to continue as the system is not working and productivity across the capital is affected by a poorly run system.

Could Melbourne introduce 750 new services per week if required?
x31
Yes - just not in peak hour (at least until additional capacity is created).
  x31 Deputy Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Would Metro have the track capacity to add services within peak hour?
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Grytviken
Well the London Tube has trains pulling into platforms at 1 minute intervals between a train departing and another arriving on some lines. BUT they have a decent signalling system with reliable software.

I guess Melbourne could buy their software and slightly rejig it for our stations. But we all know the answer to that proposal, like our Myki-Mouse ticketing system, we will develop a vastly inferior system at great expense to taxpayers and then claim the lines are at absolute maximum capacity. Rolling Eyes
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
It is instructive to have a look at Black Thursday ( the day before Good Friday ) in 1976.
The much maligned Victorian Railways handled 71 country/interstate departures and 62 country/interstate arrivals (Werribee was classed as country) in about 19 hours. A total of 23 of these departures took place in the two hours from 1700 to 1900.
During that time, they also contrived to keep the suburban service operating properly.

I can visualise the operators today having a serious fit of the conniptions at the very idea.
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
It looks to me that it's largely ideological reasons behind the antipathy towards either a state or privately run metro train network.  The union will always want state control, the free-market liberals will want little or no Government control or money, and Joe-public will have to put up with the mediocrity of an ancient run-down system either way....

And this is exactly why the systems needs to come back into public hands and be properly funded with some lines being JV on rolling stock etc. if required.  The situation we have today simply cannot be allowed to continue as the system is not working and productivity across the capital is affected by a poorly run system.

Could Melbourne introduce 750 new services per week if required?
x31
So what is the problem, you stated two fixed above

Is it Private mismanagement?

Or is it lack of funding?

If its lack of funding then fix the problem, not throw the business into a full corporate restructure which is what will happen with govt take over which alone will take 1-2 years to complete. If its solely mismanagement then change the management but no need to change the budget. Doing both at the same time just confuses the issue.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
It looks to me that it's largely ideological reasons behind the antipathy towards either a state or privately run metro train network.  The union will always want state control, the free-market liberals will want little or no Government control or money, and Joe-public will have to put up with the mediocrity of an ancient run-down system either way....

And this is exactly why the systems needs to come back into public hands and be properly funded with some lines being JV on rolling stock etc. if required.  The situation we have today simply cannot be allowed to continue as the system is not working and productivity across the capital is affected by a poorly run system.

Could Melbourne introduce 750 new services per week if required?
So what is the problem, you stated two fixed above

Is it Private mismanagement?

Or is it lack of funding?

If its lack of funding then fix the problem, not throw the business into a full corporate restructure which is what will happen with govt take over which alone will take 1-2 years to complete. If its solely mismanagement then change the management but no need to change the budget. Doing both at the same time just confuses the issue.
RTT_Rules
It's a combination of both.

Metro are doing what the State Government tell them to do in terms of number of services, along with doing everything they can to make passengers' lives a misery for the sake of profit.

If the State Government had total control of the network they would be able to fix it pronto - not bound by a contract that prevents them from doing what is necessary.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
If the funding metro receives is only partially being spent with a percentage going off shore in profits how can this be good ?
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Grytviken
If the funding metro receives is only partially being spent with a percentage going off shore in profits how can this be good ?
freightgate
Okay, this is how a business taking over from a bureaucracy works in theory.

Business are usually more efficient than public service departments, so they should be able to do more things with less money. In this case lets say a company tendering to run the trains thinks it could run the same services as the government ran for only 90% of the cost. They structure their tender to ask for say... 94% of the subsidy. Half that 4% difference (2%) goes to improving services and the other 2% becomes profit. The state government is happy because they can spend the 6% of the subsidy for suburban trains it saved on other stuff that is popular with voters like more teachers, police and nurses.

Of course in the real world it's vastly more complex than that, but the simplified model I described hopefully makes it easy to grasp and understand. Theoretically everyone wins.
  mejhammers1 Assistant Commissioner

It looks to me that it's largely ideological reasons behind the antipathy towards either a state or privately run metro train network.  The union will always want state control, the free-market liberals will want little or no Government control or money, and Joe-public will have to put up with the mediocrity of an ancient run-down system either way....

And this is exactly why the systems needs to come back into public hands and be properly funded with some lines being JV on rolling stock etc. if required.  The situation we have today simply cannot be allowed to continue as the system is not working and productivity across the capital is affected by a poorly run system.

Could Melbourne introduce 750 new services per week if required?
x31
x31 if you think that simply reverting the system back into Public hands is going to fix things than you are mistaken. The system was underfunded and has been for decades, long before privatisation. Remember only the operation has been franchised. The signalling, permanent way, stations all belong to the state. And there is not a chance that our crap rail system can handle another 750 per week!

Michael
  mejhammers1 Assistant Commissioner

It looks to me that it's largely ideological reasons behind the antipathy towards either a state or privately run metro train network.  The union will always want state control, the free-market liberals will want little or no Government control or money, and Joe-public will have to put up with the mediocrity of an ancient run-down system either way....

And this is exactly why the systems needs to come back into public hands and be properly funded with some lines being JV on rolling stock etc. if required.  The situation we have today simply cannot be allowed to continue as the system is not working and productivity across the capital is affected by a poorly run system.

Could Melbourne introduce 750 new services per week if required?
So what is the problem, you stated two fixed above

Is it Private mismanagement?

Or is it lack of funding?

If its lack of funding then fix the problem, not throw the business into a full corporate restructure which is what will happen with govt take over which alone will take 1-2 years to complete. If its solely mismanagement then change the management but no need to change the budget. Doing both at the same time just confuses the issue.
It's a combination of both.

Metro are doing what the State Government tell them to do in terms of number of services, along with doing everything they can to make passengers' lives a misery for the sake of profit.

If the State Government had total control of the network they would be able to fix it pronto - not bound by a contract that prevents them from doing what is necessary.
railblogger
That is the most ridiculous argument put forward. It is the Government who issues the contract not Metro. Secondly Metro is only responsible for the Operation of the network, it is the Governments responsibility to make sure that the infrastructure is up to scratch.

Michael
  mejhammers1 Assistant Commissioner

Well the London Tube has trains pulling into platforms at 1 minute intervals between a train departing and another arriving on some lines. BUT they have a decent signalling system with reliable software.

I guess Melbourne could buy their software and slightly rejig it for our stations. But we all know the answer to that proposal, like our Myki-Mouse ticketing system, we will develop a vastly inferior system at great expense to taxpayers and then claim the lines are at absolute maximum capacity. Rolling Eyes
Bogong
And of course self contained lines full grade separated, which is needed for high capacity metro services.

Michael
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
It looks to me that it's largely ideological reasons behind the antipathy towards either a state or privately run metro train network.  The union will always want state control, the free-market liberals will want little or no Government control or money, and Joe-public will have to put up with the mediocrity of an ancient run-down system either way....

And this is exactly why the systems needs to come back into public hands and be properly funded with some lines being JV on rolling stock etc. if required.  The situation we have today simply cannot be allowed to continue as the system is not working and productivity across the capital is affected by a poorly run system.

Could Melbourne introduce 750 new services per week if required?
So what is the problem, you stated two fixed above

Is it Private mismanagement?

Or is it lack of funding?

If its lack of funding then fix the problem, not throw the business into a full corporate restructure which is what will happen with govt take over which alone will take 1-2 years to complete. If its solely mismanagement then change the management but no need to change the budget. Doing both at the same time just confuses the issue.
It's a combination of both.

Metro are doing what the State Government tell them to do in terms of number of services, along with doing everything they can to make passengers' lives a misery for the sake of profit.

If the State Government had total control of the network they would be able to fix it pronto - not bound by a contract that prevents them from doing what is necessary.
That is the most ridiculous argument put forward. It is the Government who issues the contract not Metro. Secondly Metro is only responsible for the Operation of the network, it is the Governments responsibility to make sure that the infrastructure is up to scratch.

Michael
mejhammers1
Granted, but as with any contract once it is signed both parties are bound by it.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Grytviken
Valid point Michael, but that still doesn't explain why the city loop trains are spaced at such wide distances in peak times, where several suburban lines are joined into a grade separated track around the loop. Closely spaced trains are very rare in the loop.

However I am encouraged at the announcement a few hours ago, that Melbourne will be buying Madrid's signalling software and adopting it's system. If it is as good as most European suburban rail systems, if will speed up our trains hugely. Very Happy
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
It's a combination of both.

Metro are doing what the State Government tell them to do in terms of number of services, along with doing everything they can to make passengers' lives a misery for the sake of profit.

If the State Government had total control of the network they would be able to fix it pronto - not bound by a contract that prevents them from doing what is necessary.
railblogger
..and this worked so well for V/line and QR which has never seen the lights of private....There is simply no proof that this will happen. If the govt wanted a better network, they would invest, but until the Metro line announcement they didn't.

Metro are running the system with the money they are given. The profit which is actually a management fee they make is a minor number compared to the total budget for the network.

The state govt is not bound by any contract that prevents them from investing in the network as evident by the Metro Project.

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