Thursday, 20 March 2008

Answer from Connex (excuses, excuses)

Case no: lm/08142

20 March 2008

Mr Ross Hughes

Dear Mr Hughes

We refer to your email received in this office on 5 March 2008.

Your correspondence raises a number of issues, namely:

The operation of three carriage services during peak periods on the Upfield line.
Metcard pricing.
Proposed upgrades to increase service frequency.

We welcome the opportunity to provide the following information.

Three Carriage Services – Peak Hour

By way of background, train services provided on the Melbourne metropolitan network are provided by either six or three carriage trains.

When train faults reduce the number of trains available to run services, we run out of spare trains and we have to make a decision between running three carriage trains, or cancelling services completely.

We also have instances of vandalism which can affect the availability of trains, and in many cases cancellations or the short running of services are inevitable, as significant time is required to have a carriage window refitted or graffiti removed from the driver’s window (for example).

Our records indicate that the 8:21am Anstey station departure on 3 and 5 March operated as a three carriage service due to multiple train faults reducing the number of trains available to run services.

We respectfully advise that running a three carriage service is an option we only turn to as a last resort. Cancelling a service completely would subsequently necessitate that the following service carries two services worth of passengers. In reality what usually occurs is that more passengers are unable to board their intended services. Operating a three carriage service in lieu of an outright cancellation can alleviate the demand for the following service.

We would also like to advise that when we are forced to run a three carriage train, it is more practical to operate these on the shorter train lines, such as the Alamein, Upfield or Williamstown lines.

This decision is also related to the historically lower patronage levels on these lines and the need to utilise resources, in this case carriages, in the most efficient manner possible. In effect, we are tailoring the service to the patronage demand.

With that said, however, we are aware of a continual increase in patronage levels across the network.

The unprecedented increase in patronage levels across the entire network (20% in the past two years), has contributed to overcrowding on our services. This in turn represents one factor which can cause delays due to the additional time needed for passengers to board and disembark.

Recently the State Government announced the purchase of 18 new trains, expected to be in operation by 2009, as a means to help alleviate current capacity issues affecting our ability to adequately supply services for the growing number of passengers utilising the train network.

We respectfully reiterate that the running of a three carriage train is favoured over cancelling the train all together, as a means of ensuring that passengers can still reach their destination.

Metcard Pricing

As you may be aware, a Metcard allows for travel on all forms of public transport throughout metropolitan Melbourne, as opposed to simply being just a ‘train ticket’.

The price of a Metcard ticket is regulated by the State Government. The Government raises the price every year and the average fare increase aligns with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The CPI is the measure of change over a period of time for consumer goods and services. The categories it covers include food and drink, clothing, medical care, education, recreation and transport. For further information, please refer to the Department of Infrastructure website:

Franchise Agreement – Proposed Upgrades

Your comments regarding “selling the network to someone who can operate it with some sort of competency” are noted.

Contrary to popular opinion, the metropolitan rail network is not privatised. It is a public/private partnership between Connex and the State Government, managed through the Department of Infrastructure (DoI).

Under the terms of the franchise agreement, we are required to manage the day-to-day operation of the network. All infrastructure remains an asset of the State, including trains, tracks, stations and signals, etc.

Connex is also required to maintain the infrastructure which was ‘in place’ at the time when the franchise agreement began (April 2004). We are continually working at devising strategies to utilise the infrastructure we have available, including plans to revise maintenance programs and signalling systems to increase the number of trains the frequency at which they can operate.

Any upgrade or improvement to infrastructure, service levels, staffing levels and/or hours of operation need to be approved and funded by the State.

We can further advise that in addition to projects instigated by the DoI, Connex regularly forwards submissions to the State Government for approval for funding, to upgrade the network’s infrastructure. The State Government assesses these requests based on passenger needs, urgency, congested high patronage areas and allocates in order of priority accordingly.

Full details of the franchise agreements for public transport operators are available on the Department of Infrastructure website, located at

We fully acknowledge the inconvenience experienced as a result of three carriage services operating during peak periods.
Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Yours sincerely

Luke Morrison
Customer Resolution Co-ordinator


Dikkii said...

Hope that you don't mind, Hulkster, but I edited the post to turn your email addy into a hyperlink instead.

Not sure how you're placed for spam.

Incidentally, did you follow this up with a response, or are you leaving it here for now?

The Hulk said...

Not going to respond to it. There doesn't seem to be much point. It will will just get answered with another lot of excuses.

I didn't even get offered a free ticket!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi guys - I don't regularly use the train to get to work but when I do, it's from Anstey station and it's the 8:01am train I'm heading for.
THREE times over the past month I have "been inconvenienced" (is that a euphemism, btw, for "induced to homicidal rage") by Connex and their '3 carriage solution'.
The odds are good that it's happened a great deal MORE than three times over this month and your excellent blog provides evidence of this.
My own feedback to their complaints line has not been answered yet. No I'm not surprised.
However, my point is - isn't Connex a little concerned about the potential for legal proceedings being initiated against them anytime now ... from a patron (let's say a young female, such as myself) who copped a 3 carriage peak hour train, managed to get on, but due to the extreme crowding was subjected to any of the following:
(1) she was molested by someone shoved up against her, sardine-like, between stations
(2) she was pick-pocketed by someone in the crowd, and/or
(3) she fell over and injured herself while the train was taking a corner, and she couldn't grab hold of something to steady herself without herself inadvertently committing one or both of the above crimes.

Here's little snippet from Moreland Council's archives which will make you weep:

Very Grumpy,

The Hulk said...

Thnks anon. Good to see you like our blog. I actually get on at Anstey and at that time. You are spot on.

Anonymous said...

It happened AGAIN this morning. I may weep, or spontaneously explode, or something.

Very Grumpy,