Operators terminate contracts with Transclean

Metro Trains Melbourne and Yarra Trams have terminated their contracts with services provider Transclean.

Transclean has been at the centre of the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission’s (IBAC) Operation Esperance, which has heard that Transclean boss George Haritos gave cash to V/Line CEO James Pinder and Metro Trains fleet operational manager Peter Bollas in return for favourable treatment.

There has been no allegations of any corrupt behaviour between Transclean and Yarra Trams.

On Friday, November 6, Metro Trains CEO Raymond O’Flaherty said that Transclean would no longer provide cleaning services to the Melbourne rail operator.

“A rigorous tender process is already underway to appoint a long-term cleaning supplier to provide the highest standard of daily cleaning for Metro’s train fleet,” he said.

“We will make further announcements regarding this ongoing tender process at the appropriate time.”

Metro Trains had already suspended and subsequently terminated the employment of Peter Bollas, with an auditor to review procurement and probity processes.

“Metro remains committed to the highest standards of integrity across our organisation.”

Transclean had been providing after-hours depot security services to Yarra Trams since 2017, however the operator will now be looking for a new contractor.

“Yarra Trams is terminating its contract with Transclean for after-hours depot security, and has provided the company 30 days’ notice,” said a Yarra Trams spokesperson.

A routine audit of Transclean found that there was procedure and performance issues with Transclean’s security services for Yarra Trams. These were raised with the company but were not responded to.

A separate company has provided cleaning services to Yarra Trams, including COVID-19 deep cleans.

O’Flaherty said that Metro was ensuring cleaning met community standards.

“I again want to reassure our passengers that we have a range of measures in place to ensure the daily cleaning and sanitisation of our trains meets the standards they expect. These measures include audit teams regularly checking the standard of this work.”

Metro Trains improves on performance figures in September

Metro Trains Melbourne has once again beat performance target records during September.

During the month, 99.4 per cent of scheduled services were delivered, and 97.6 per cent were on time.

A spokesperson for Metro said the operator was continuing to provide services during Melbourne’s lockdown for essential workers.

“The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t changed our commitment to delivering the best service for our passengers. We are always striving to improve our performance and run the safe and efficient services that Melburnians deserve.”

Performance figures were helped by fewer trespassers in September than in previous months and fewer weather-related incidents. Strong winds caused a tree to fall across rail lines on September 2, however, which delayed 81 trains.

Performance figures for Yarra Trams were also above target, with 98.5 per cent of services delivered and 95.7 per cent on time.

During September, renewal project on the tram network included upgrades to Glenferrie and Malvern roads and upgrade works along St Kilda light rail began.

During Melbourne’s second lockdown, beginning in August, night tram services were suspended, however Yarra Trams stated that the operator was working towards the resumption of these services while prioritising passenger and staff safety as restrictions begin to be lifted.

For regional operator V/Line, punctuality in September dipped from a high in August. 96.2 per cent of services were on time while 96.4 were on time in August. Reliability figures improved however, with 96.8 per cent of services delivered in September, compared to 96.6 per cent in August.

These figures were partly impacted by the closure of the Albury-Wodonga line where coaches have replaced trains since July.

Across the short distance network, services on the Seymour Line were the most reliable, while services on the Geelong Line were the most punctual. On the long distance lines, the Bairnsdale Line was the most reliable and the Swan Hill & Echuca line was the most punctual.

Upgrades underway to keep Melbourne trains exceeding punctuality and reliability targets

Metro Trains Melbourne is working to improve the reliability of the network to continue to record some of the highest ever punctuality and reliability targets.

Punctuality and reliability figures for June for Victoria’s public transport network saw all operators meet or beat their targets, continuing the run of above target figures.

While not as high as May, 95.7 per cent of metropolitan trains ran on time, and Metro Trains Melbourne delivered 99 per cent of scheduled services. These services included extra trains to manage social-distanced demand.

“This makes it easier for passengers to stagger travel times and physically distance while travelling for one of the four essential reasons to leave home,” said a Metro spokesperson.

With patronage levels low and fewer disruptions to the network due to crowding and delays due to people getting on and off services, Metro is hoping to ensure the months of above target figures continue.

“To ensure we’re delivering the best possible service, we invest $12 million in our network every week to maintain our infrastructure, trains and technology,” said the Metro spokesperson.

These works include efforts to minimise delays due to trespassing, emergency services requests, equipment faults, external power outages, infrastructure upgrades, and extreme weather. Maintenance has also been determined based on data from last year of where common faults occur to rectify issues before they cause a disruption to services. Critical components such as points, track circuits, and signals are of particular focus.

Yarra Trams has also been completing upgrade works during June to increase reliability. Infrastructure upgrades in St Kilda and renewed tram tracks on Spring and Nicholson Streets were completed during the month.

Yarra Trams delivered 98.5 per cent of services, equal to its target, and 93.1 per cent of services were on time, well above the 82 per cent target.

Regional services also met their targets of 96 per cent of scheduled services and 92 per cent of services on time. In June 93.3 per cent of regional trains were on time and V/Line delivered 97.5 per cent of scheduled services.

The Seymour line was the most reliable of the short distance lines, with the Geelong line being the most punctual, while the Shepparton line was the most reliable of the long distance lines, with the Swan Hill and Echuca line the most punctual. Services on the Albury line however were often delayed, with only 42.7 per cent of services delivered on time.

E-Class Melbourne tram. Photo: Liam Davies

Major boost to train and tram services in Victoria

Victoria is adding hundreds of train and tram services across major train lines and key tram routes from Monday, July 13.

10 extra services per week will be added to the Sunbury, Craigieburn, Werribee, Mernda, Dandenong, Ringwood, and Glen Waverly lines, with an extra five services a week on the Hurstbridge line.

Once level crossing removal works on the Frankston line are complete on Monday, July 27, an extra 10 services a week will run on the Frankston and Sandringham lines.

On the tram network, two new peak period routes will be added. One will run during weekday peaks along St George’s Road, Brunswick Street, and Collins Street, while another will run for up to 19 hours every day between Victoria Harbour and St Vincent’s Plaza, also via Collins Street.

Route 30 will be replaced with route 12 to alleviate congestion on Collins Street, and will instead run on La Trobe Street.

The extra services are in part to reduce the chance of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) for those who do need to use the public transport system to travel, said Victorian Minister for Public Transport and Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll.

“We’re adding hundreds of new train and tram services every week – giving Victorians the options to travel outside of the traditional peak hours and practice better physical distancing, keeping us all safer.”

In addition to the extra services, boarding via all doors on buses will be implemented over the next 18 months, to reduce crowding at bus stops, and contact will also be reduced with the end of cash payments on board buses from July 13.

Extra cleaners have also been deployed to the network to reduce the chance of the spread of infection.

“We’re grateful to our frontline public transport staff for keeping Victoria moving during the pandemic – these changes will keep them safer as they do their essential work,” said Carroll.

Melbourne Metro Train. Photo: Creative Commons / Zed Fitzhume

Performance figures in May outstrip April records in Victoria

The performance and punctuality of Victoria’s rail transport network improved again in May.

With April seeing some of the highest figures for on-time running and availability, May’s results were a step further.

Across all metrics except for tram reliability figures were higher in May than in April.

According to Metro Trains Melbourne, these figures were the result of a quieter network in May due to work from home restrictions imposed due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Patronage across the network decreased in May.

“We’re always striving to do better and this focus will support us as trains return to more normal patronage levels,” said a Metro spokesperson.

Train services in May were on time 96.2 per cent of the time, while 94.3 per cent of trams were on time and 92.8 per cent of regional trains were on time.

For reliability, 99.1 per cent of scheduled train services were delivered in May, while 98.6 tram services were delivered and 97.4 per cent of regional trains were delivered.

For V/Line services, the most reliable short distance line was the Seymour line, while the most punctual were services on the Geelong line. On the long distance lines, all Swan Hill & Echuca and Bairnsdale services were delivered, while services on the Warrnambool line were the most punctual.

Delays caused by people getting on and off services dropped due to fewer people on the Melbourne network, while trespassing and vandalism also fell.

With some restrictions in Victoria beginning to ease, transport operators are asking passengers to keep each other safe.

“Our priority is improving performance and delivering a reliable service for those who depend on our trains, so they can get to where they need to go,” said a Metro spokesperson.

trams

Melbourne trams get extra cleaning through Victorian government scheme

Yarra Trams is utilising the Victorian government’s Working for Victoria scheme to clean trams, depots, and high-volume stops.

The $500 million initiative aims to get Victorian jobseekers into work as the state recovers from coronavirus (COVID-19) mandated lockdowns.

300 jobseekers have been deployed around the Melbourne tram network to boost cleaning and allow commuters and passengers to travel safely, said Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne.

“Our trams are seeing more cleaning than ever before, and passengers should be assured that we are doing everything we can to keep the network clean.”

Workers are cleaning the network between 7am and 6pm and high patronage stops such as Federation Square and Melbourne University and getting an extra deep clean. On busy corridors such as St Kilda Road, teams will be jumping on and off trams to increase cleaning frequency.

Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade Martin Pakula said the scheme benefited both the workers and the community.

“This is creating opportunities for people who have lost their job through no fault of their own and providing a crucial community service into the bargain.”

The extra cleaning is in addition to standard cleaning that occurs at the beginning and end of each service. High touch areas such as handrails and grab straps are cleaned at the beginning of each run.

Minister Horne acknowledged the important role that the extra cleaning was doing.

“I want to thank our hard-working team who are working around the clock cleaning, providing advice to passengers and keeping our transport network moving.”

Route 58

Tram route 58 gets track uplift

Tram route 58 is getting a major upgrade to improve services in Melbourne’s inner north, said Victorian Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne.

“We’re getting on with these works so we can give passengers better services and get them where they need to go.”

$3.7 million in funding is going towards the replacement of 1.2km of tram tracks, upgrades of overhead wires, and work on underground cables.

The work will begin on Friday, May 22, and continue until Monday, June 1.

While work is underway, buses will replace trams from Royal Park to the Bell Street and Melville Road terminus. Road closures in the area will also be implemented.

Route 58 runs from Pascoe Vale South via the Melbourne CBD and on to South Yarra and Toorak. Services from Royal Park to Toorak will continue while work is underway.

Horne said that the vital works will help the route cope with increased demand.

“Route 58 is one of our busiest tram routes and these upgrades will mean the system can cope with that demand.”

Measures are in place so that work crews and those in the surrounds do not come into contact and limit any chance of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Physical distancing requirements are in place at all worksites.

The work on route 58, although previously scheduled, comes after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that tram revitalisation works would be part of the state’s Building Works program, to get Victorians back into jobs and the economy moving again.