“Spy tram” stalks Melbourne tram network

Yarra Trams has been using a specially equipped tram, dubbed “spy tram”, to monitor Melbourne’s tram network at night. Data collected by the spy tram will inform maintenance and infrastructure work.

Spy tram collects data on the condition of key tram infrastructure assets, such as tracks, wires and tram stops. It has so far travelled 500 kilometres to survey the network, according to a government statement released this weekend.

Spy tram is a B-Class tram, using the latest data capture technology from Europe, with state-of-the-art 3D lasers, sensors and cameras attached to the top, bottom, front, back, and sides. The data is mapped using GPS.

“Every tiny detail, from the smoothness of the rail, to where foliage like weeds are coming up, is captured and analysed,” according to statement.

With the levels of congestion rising in Melbourne, infrastructure upgrades are being prioritised so to limit disruption and ensure reliable journeys.

“We have the largest tram network in the world and we’re using the latest technology to keep it running safely and get passengers where they need to go,” minister for public transport Melissa Horne said.

“More than $81 million is invested in maintaining and upgrading our iconic tram network every year – the Spy Tram plays an important role in making sure we know what needs to be fixed and upgraded.”

Yarra Trams has been using spy tram since 2010, alongside conducting physical inspections to identify and assist in the prioritisation of maintenance and renewal works for network infrastructure.

Since 2017, these surveys have been conducted twice a year. There have been 25 significant maintenance and renewal works across the network since 2018.

As more data is collected, Yarra Trams will be able to better prioritise works for the next five to 15 years, according to the government’s press release.

“The team at Yarra Trams work around the clock to ensure our network is in the best condition it can be, to keep Melbourne moving,” Yarra Trams CEO Nicolas Gindt said.

“We are using ‘spy tram’ data to help prioritise upcoming works and better plan renewals along every route.”

Metro train. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

Victorian transport performance poor in September

Metro Trains, Yarra Trams and V/Line will pay compensation to Melbourne’s commuters for poor public transport performance during the month of September, according to Public Transport Victoria.

As part of the state’s contracts with transport operators, tough performance standards need to be met to operate Melbourne’s train network.

Metro Trains delivered 89.9 per cent of services on time in September, for failing to deliver 90 per cent of on time services. It also failed to meet its 98.5 per cent reliability target by 0.1 per cent.

This means the operator will pay compensation to passengers for the fourth time this year for falling short by 0.1 per cent.

Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne directed the Department of Transport to work closely with Metro Trains to improve their performance. As such, a dedicated team was created by the department to work closely with Metro’s management to improve performance.

“Metro Trains is expected to deliver a train service that Melburnians can rely on and there were a number of times during in September that did not happen,” said Department of Transport Head of Transport Services Jeroen Weimar.

Our train passengers deserve better.”

According to the government statement, several incidents impacted punctuality during the month of September, including one wherein an overhead power fault near East Richmond trains on four lines over several hours.

“There were more than 320 incidents involving police operations, trespassers on train tracks and near misses, which delayed a total of 955 trains.”

The 2019 AFL Finals series was also on in September, for which 300 extra services were delivered to help transport 250,000 fans.

Yarra Trams surpassed its 82 per cent punctuality target with 86.3 per cent, but achieved 97.9 per cent reliability which is under the 98 per cent compensation threshold and, as such, will pay compensation. Excluding an industrial action which meant work stoppages, says Public Transport Victoria, Yarra Trams averaged 98.9 per cent reliability throughout September.

Operational staff at Yarra Trams are planning another strike in October over its demands for wage increases. The Rail, Tram, and Bus Union is also engaging Metro Trains in court over the right to launch industrial action as well as seeking a new agreement with V/Line.

V/Line achieved 96.8 per cent reliability and 87.7 per cent punctuality. However, it will pay compensation to passengers for falling short of their targets on some individual lines.

“It’s pleasing to see V/Line deliver a consistent regional service this year,” Mr Weimar said. “We’re currently delivering a series of regional rail infrastructure upgrades, which will improve services across multiple regional lines.”

Yarra Trams recognised for asset management best practise

Victoria’s mass transport system operator Yarra Trams has been recognised for its asset management systems across the organisation.

Yarra Trams, which operates nine different classes of trams across a network covering 250km, has received full certification compliancy with the ISO 55001 – Asset Management standard.

It is one of 19 transport organisations in the world to be awarded the accreditation, which it received across all assets of the company’s business, including rolling stock, infrastructure, and intellectual and operational technology.

“To achieve ISO 55001 across the entire organisation is something that is unique within the transport industry, and an accomplishment we are very proud of,” said Yarra Trams CEO, Nicolas Gindt.

The certification was formalised on 4 October 2019 by British Standards Institution Australia (BSI).

“Yarra Trams should be proud of their achievement in achieving certification. They can demonstrate they have a well-structured and robust approach to asset management and are committed to driving continual improvement,” said the managing director of BSI Group ANZ, Marc Barnes.

The certification marks the successful implementation of its new Asset Management System (AMS), which began two years ago.

The AMS covers the operator’s management of infrastructure, rolling stock, operating and intellectual technologies. Implementation involved creating more than a 100 standards, procedures and guidelines, introducing life-cycle models, as well as updating and establishing 26 asset class strategies.

Upgrades to business systems were made to enable improvements to process and procedure.

Thousands of hours were spent on training, communicating, and embedding change, according to a statement from the operator.

Incidents force lower punctuality for Melbourne in June

The Victorian Department of Transport will pay compensation to passengers of Metro Trains after failing to meet its punctuality targets in June. Metro Trains delivered 88.3 per cent of its trains on time last month, which was 3.7 per cent lower than its 92 per cent target.

Department Acting Deputy Secretary Alan Fedda said that compensation would be offered as the figures fell below 90 per cent. Metro Trains and Yarra Trams can be fined up to $1.25 million and $500,000 a month respectively if they fail to significantly meet their targets.

An overhead power issues near Aircraft Station on June 3, a collision between a train and car at Mentone Station on June 12, and more than 100 incidents of passengers taking ill and requiring help onboard were cited as contributors to delays.

“Metro Trains’ contract with the state government includes tougher measures than ever before in relation to punctuality,” he said. 

“We expect them to meet these targets and deliver a service that our passengers deserve. These results are unacceptable and we will continue to work with Metro Trains to ensure its performance returns to the expected levels.” 

Yarra Trams’s punctuality rose 4.4 per cent on May figures to 84.1 per cent, presenting its best result in four months, and second highest since October 2018. V/Line also recorded its best result this year, with the Ballarat, Geelong, Warrnambool and Bendigo lines all experiencing jumps.

Melbourne Tram. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

Yarra Trams operations centre to benefit from new tech

The Yarra Trams Operation Centre is receiving a new ‘mega-wall’ of information screens that will help controllers monitor real-time data more effectively. 

The upgrade will incorporate information such as VicRoads traffic data, CCTV from the tram network and passenger tweets so that it is easily accessible on the screens.

A dedicated station for planned and unplanned disruptions has also been added, allowing controllers to switch to ‘crisis mode’ to quickly and effectively plan tram diversions should incidents such as accidents, protests or traffic occur. The staff at the centre are able to provide advice to drivers and passenger information teams should issues occur.

The upgrades come at a time when Yarra Trams is introducing its newest generation of controllers, who have undergone hundreds of hours of training involving the operations centre, including a five-week program driving E-Class trams.

“These upgrades are just another way we’re improving the reliability of our public transport system – minimising disruptions and improving the passenger experience,” said Victorian Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne.

“As our city continues to grow, we’re investing in the latest technology to get people where they need to go as quickly and safely as possible.”

The Yarra Trams Operation Centre monitors more than 5,000 journeys and receives up to 1,800 calls from drivers across Melbourne’s network every day.

Melbourne Metro Train. Photo: Creative Commons / Zed Fitzhume

Metro Trains’ May performance impacted by wire collapse

Public Transport Victoria’s reliability has suffered a drop for the month of May across its Metro Trains, Yarra Trams and V/Line services.

PTV chief executive officer Joroen Weimar called May a challenging month for Melbourne’s train network, citing an overhead power issue at Laverton Junction that impacted Werribee line services over a four-day period. A small segment of wire that fell from a corroded section of the overhead power structure became tangled in a passing train, which removed a further section of wire.

The incident led to PTV’s decision to replace all insulator connection on the Werribee line on top of its existing routine maintenance.

This incident led to Metro Trains falling short of its monthly reliability and punctuality targets, with reliability defined as the number of scheduled trains that ran and punctuality the number of trains that ran on time.

Metro Trains achieved a 90.4 per cent punctuality rate and 98.2 per cent reliability rate in May, short of the targets by 1.6 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

Yarra Trams and V/Line fared better, however. Yarra Trams exceeded its monthly reliability target in May, delivering 98.7 per cent of all scheduled services but missed on punctuality, delivering 79.2 per cent of services on time compared to an 82 per cent target.

Yarra Trams received a boost in May in the south east of the city due in part to the temporary closure of the Sandringham rail line to accommodate works on the ongoing Metro Tunnel project. Yarra Trams delivered 215 additional peak weekday services on three routes from May 22-31 to help compensate for this.

V/Line delivered 86.5 per cent of its services on time and 97.1 per cent of its scheduled services in May. In particular, the Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo lines all showed significant year-on-year improvements, according to Weimar, with Bendigo securing the biggest leap at 87.3 per cent, up 10.3 per cent from may 2018.

“We continue to work hard to deliver a service that our regional passengers can rely on while maintaining the network improvements we have seen over the past 12 months,” Weimar said.

“We’re working with all operators to improve their punctuality and reliability as well as enabling the major program of essential infrastructure upgrades to the state’s public transport network to be delivered.”

PTV posts improved performance in April despite works disruption

Public Transport Victoria (PTV) has improved its public transport reliability figures in April across its Metro Trains, Yarra Trams and V/Line services.

Metro delivered 91.4 per cent of its services on time for the month, while V/Line and Yarra Trams delivered 86.8 per cent and 81.8 per cent of their services on time, respectively.

April figures across the three services were all improved on the 88.4 per cent, 84.4 per cent and 78.1 per cent posted for the Metro, V/Line and Yarra Trams in March.

PTV CEO Jeroen Weimar said that April saw Victoria’s “biggest ever construction blitz”, including continued works on the Metro Tunnel and level crossing removal project. These works contributed to the implementation of 600 replacement buses across the state to meet commuter demand.

“The Autumn construction blitz included major track, signal and platform upgrades on the Geelong and Warrnambool lines, which will lead to more reliable trains in Victoria’s southwest,” Weimar said

Yarra Trams exceeded its reliability target in terms of running services at 98.7 per cent, while V/Line’s reliability increased by 2.6 per cent to 97.8 per cent.

Reliability figures on V/Line’s busiest line, Geelong, showed marked improvement in punctuality by 3.9 per cent to 92.1 per cent, a rise PTV attributed in part to timetabling improvements set out in March.

Metro’s reliability performance missed its target by just 0.2 per cent at 98.3 per cent, a factor PTV attributed in part to disruptions caused by a level crossing accident on the Sandringham line on April 15.

Weimar said that the April figures for Metro were a “step in the right direction” but admitted that performance was still below passenger expectation.