Passenger Rail, Signalling & Communications

Melbourne Metro performance dips in May

Melbourne Metro Train. Photo: Creative Commons / Zed Fitzhume

Melbourne’s metropolitan passenger rail network was at its least punctual in at least 12 months in May.

91.7% of all metro services were on time, according to the latest statistics from Public Transport Victoria. While this meant the network achieved its 38th consecutive month of over 90% punctuality, it was also the lowest figure so far in the 2014/15 financial year.

The figure was only slightly worse than that of the month prior (April 2015), when 91.8% of trains were recorded ‘on-time’.

With no clear explanation offered for the punctuality dip from public transport director of performance and contract management Jereon Weimar, one possibility is that the decline in timeliness is linked to the improvement in another area of Melbourne Metro’s performance: the reduction of unplanned station skipping.

Station-skipping trains, known by PTV as “unplanned express” services, are those which go right through a station where they were supposed to stop, often because they are running late.

Looking to fix a pet peeve for many rail customers, Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan pushed for Melbourne Metro to reduce the practice. Her campaign looks to have paid off, with station skipping reduced from a peak of 0.5% of services in May 2014, to just 0.1% in January, February and May this year, and just 0.2% in March and April.

But that reduction in station skipping could logically have resulted in the slight decline in overall punctuality, and that’s suggested in the figures.

Understandably, Weimar did not mention the 12-month low for Melbourne Metro punctuality in his official statement on the May figures, instead choosing to focus on the benefits of the reduction to station-skipping.

“Of the more than 63,000 Metro services that operated in May, 48 services ran as unplanned express, representing 0.1% of Metro’s daily timetable this month,” he said.

Melbourne Metro delivered a total of 98.9% of its timetable in May, which is within the range it has delivered over the past 12 months. Service delivery peaked at 99.3% in June 2014, and has dipped as low as 98.5% in two months since then.

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