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.
View the full story
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.