Metro trains skipping stations justifiable: Transport Minister Terry Mulder

 

News article: Metro trains skipping stations justifiable: Transport Minister Terry Mulder

Metro's practice of skipping stations when trains are running late is sometimes a justifiable way for the operator to improve its on-time performance, Victoria's Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said.

  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Metro's practice of skipping stations when trains are running late is sometimes a justifiable way for the operator to improve its on-time performance, Victoria's Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said.
Metro trains skipping stations justifiable: Transport Minister Terry Mulder


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Skipping station stops to achieve a performance target is NEVER acceptable. It is tantamount to cheating in an exam.
Skipping stops when there is another train within five minutes making those stops and when to run both (or all) trains as all-stations services would cause the greater level of disruption is perhaps acceptable.

The point being that the service should be provided for the convenience of the user not the operator.

Skipping stops is not uncommon. It happens most days somewhere on the network. Whether that is considered "rare" depends on your point of view. If one train on one line skips one stop to make up time then as a proportion of the whole service at all stations it might be a rare event. But if two or three trains on one line are delayed and skip 10 or 20 stops, for example running back to the City express after a delayed down trip, then it becomes less rare.

The statistics for the Frankston line have improved and that is welcome but part of the reason they have done so is the prevalence of skip-stopping for late runners. Stepping down at Frankston (where an incoming train does not form the next outbound but the one after) has helped as well. So has the unjustifiably pedestrian timetable which now requires 70 - 75 minutes with modern rolling stock to make a journey of just over 40 kms which could be completed in the level hour (though with usually three fewer stops than currently) before and with 61 - 63 minutes usually allowed.

Passenger volumes may also have fallen away from the recent peak as it is often quicker, though certainly not cheaper, to drive between Frankston and the City. Even a morning-peak trip can usually be completed in 45 - 60 minutes against the 70 - 75 of the train and with door-to-door service included.

Metro and the State Government really need to wake up and realise that the size of Melbourne requires not a high-frequency all-stops train service taking forever but for our longer lines a two-tier operation speeding longer distance travellers to and from the City in the shortest reasonable time. And punctually for at least 90% of the time which may be a more realistic target than 95% given the nature of the operation.

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  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Makes a mockery when a train skips several stops when it is only 3 or four minutes late then waits time at a the next key location a couple of stations along the line!

The late running and cancellation figures are either a complete fudge or they are made a mockery by no end of unpublished exemptions and/or excuses.

Who actually compiles these figures?
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
Fudging the figures like that makes a complete mockery of the purpose in having the KPI measure in the first place. If there are delays in the system meaning that they need to skip stations, adjusting the figures will make it look like there's no issue at all and as such, nothing to trigger some sort of action plan to remedy the issue.

In my business we get measured by our on time delivery performance and if I followed the Metro model, I would just keep changing our backorder due dates to the date we actually shipped the goods and report 100% on time performance!
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
It does depend why a train is required to skip stops.

If it it to fudge the figures then as I mentioned I find that totally unacceptable.

But there may be other factors involved. A late running train may mean that its driver would run out of permitted hours if it were to make its scheduled stops. Having it skip stops can mean the difference between the driver completing a shift within permitted hours and having to find a relief, get the relief (probably by taxi) to a suitable location to take over the train and possibly causing more delay in the process.

One delayed train will often - not always - have at least one other fairly close behind it. If that train is expected within a few minutes then since passengers have already been waiting longer than normal a few minutes more is usually of little consequence if frustrating. But to have an hourly Hurstbridge train on a Sunday night (for example) skip stops is not acceptable because there is nothing behind it to offer an alternative. Unless, of course, it is very late indeed.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
It does depend why a train is required to skip stops.

If it it to fudge the figures then as I mentioned I find that totally unacceptable.

But there may be other factors involved. A late running train may mean that its driver would run out of permitted hours if it were to make its scheduled stops. Having it skip stops can mean the difference between the driver completing a shift within permitted hours and having to find a relief, get the relief (probably by taxi) to a suitable location to take over the train and possibly causing more delay in the process.

One delayed train will often - not always - have at least one other fairly close behind it. If that train is expected within a few minutes then since passengers have already been waiting longer than normal a few minutes more is usually of little consequence if frustrating. But to have an hourly Hurstbridge train on a Sunday night (for example) skip stops is not acceptable because there is nothing behind it to offer an alternative. Unless, of course, it is very late indeed.
Gwiwer
This is the best written post in the thread - I couldn't agree more. Skipping stations to mess with figures isn't right, but when operational reasons require it, well it's a tool that operators can use to avoid costly problems.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
This is the best written post in the thread - I couldn't agree more. Skipping stations to mess with figures isn't right, but when operational reasons require it, well it's a tool that operators can use to avoid costly problems.
Raichase

Very true, but the key is in what is 'costly' in this context.

If they mean 'costly' to a minimal number of passengers to the benefit of a huge number it may be fair enough but if it is merely to avoid or minimise penalties to Metro and to hell with the passengers then that is not acceptable. Regardless, the small number of passengers still have rights and to skip stops leaving 20 minutes until the next service is not acceptable either.

The big problem is that it is damned near impossible to tell the difference without a royal commission into each occurrence.

As I have said previously/elsewhere, I have travelled on at least one train that skipped two stops including stopping just before the platform where the signal at the far end was at stop rather than stop and pick up the waiting passengers. This train then spent minutes waiting time at the next station. The whole exercise on this occasion was to maximise inconvenience and alienate the greatest number of passengers possible to absolutely no benefit.

At the outset, I admit that I don't trust either Metro or the government to present an honest picture. Collectively they do so many things badly that I have difficulty in believing that their punctuality figures are not skewed or fudged either by design, accident, spin or carelessness.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
Very true, but the key is in what is 'costly' in this context.
YM-Mundrabilla

The examples to which I refer are in the post I quoted - when the balance comes down to crew hours being blown out or other similar issues of that nature.
  Edith Chief Commissioner

Location: Line 1 from Porte de Vincennes bound for Bastille station
It seems to be a daily occurrence on the Upfield line with many trains in the morning peak expressing between North Melbourne and Coburg.  This is about half of the stops on the line.  They sometimes express going the other way as well.  On one occasion I had to wait 30 minutes for a Down train and when I came back I had to wait another 30 minutes for the Up.  This was because every second train was an express.  All this on a 20 minute service and because my home station was in the 'dead zone'.  

I once had a job as a business analyst.  In writing service contracts I sought to have the customer define the service measures, how they were to be measured, and the targets.  Then there was an exercise to see if this was affordable.  Negotiations ensured.  Why is the PT service contract and its measures a public document ?

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