The final day of RailCorp (CityRail and Countrylink) - June 30, 2013

 
  craigd Deputy Commissioner

Location: A Thinktank near you
Today is the final day of existence for RailCorp (the Rail Corporation of NSW) before it becomes Sydney Trains and NSW Trains from midnight tonight, ending the chapter of NSW government-owned railways in the CityRail and CountryLink business units of RailCorp. Thankyou to Mike "the Goose" Baird, Barry O'Feral, and Gladys Bejerkinyouaround - NOT!

From July 1, 2013, each of the new entities will have a seperate CEO and management/financial/operational structure while (for now) remaining as wholly NSW-government owned businesses.

From July 1, 2013, Sydney Trains is set up to be almost immediately offered to a private consortium as a single-piece operation (should the NSW Liberal 'machine' wish to do that) and NSW Trains (effectively CountryLink) is set up to be gradually downgraded and whittled down to the point where the government can close it down or taken over by a private operator such as Virgin, etc.

Seems to be the folly of governments in railway administration (especially in NSW) that with each successive 'mandate' government (ie. government governing with a clear majority of seats in parliament) there is this big push to 'change' from a fully-integrated single-unit operation to seperate business units, or the other way. And so the cycle repeats. Each time the major structure is changed, something gets spat out - ie. parts of the network, or organisational functions - and becomes part of the non-government run private industry transport sector.

When the government decides that the only 'core business' it has left is actually operating the trains and privatises that, Sydney and surrounding regions will have no reliable heavy-rail transport services though there are no shortage of 'circling vultures' outside government circles wanting to have a bite at what is until the end of day something called CityRail.

Do we really want to have a mob such as CDC Trains (Comfort Delgro Cabcharge Trains) running Sydney's suburban/intercity rail system 'in competition' to their own existing bus lines (ie. what used to be Westbus, etc.)?

Craig.

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  Roadmaster Locomotive Driver

Today is the final day of existence for RailCorp (the Rail Corporation of NSW) before it becomes Sydney Trains and NSW Trains from midnight tonight, ending the chapter of NSW government-owned railways in the CityRail and CountryLink business units of RailCorp. Thankyou to Mike "the Goose" Baird, Barry O'Feral, and Gladys Bejerkinyouaround - NOT!

From July 1, 2013, each of the new entities will have a seperate CEO and management/financial/operational structure while (for now) remaining as wholly NSW-government owned businesses.

From July 1, 2013, Sydney Trains is set up to be almost immediately offered to a private consortium as a single-piece operation (should the NSW Liberal 'machine' wish to do that) and NSW Trains (effectively CountryLink) is set up to be gradually downgraded and whittled down to the point where the government can close it down or taken over by a private operator such as Virgin, etc.

Seems to be the folly of governments in railway administration (especially in NSW) that with each successive 'mandate' government (ie. government governing with a clear majority of seats in parliament) there is this big push to 'change' from a fully-integrated single-unit operation to seperate business units, or the other way. And so the cycle repeats. Each time the major structure is changed, something gets spat out - ie. parts of the network, or organisational functions - and becomes part of the non-government run private industry transport sector.

When the government decides that the only 'core business' it has left is actually operating the trains and privatises that, Sydney and surrounding regions will have no reliable heavy-rail transport services though there are no shortage of 'circling vultures' outside government circles wanting to have a bite at what is until the end of day something called CityRail.

Do we really want to have a mob such as CDC Trains (Comfort Delgro Cabcharge Trains) running Sydney's suburban/intercity rail system 'in competition' to their own existing bus lines (ie. what used to be Westbus, etc.)?

Craig.
craigd
That is a rather pessimistic view of the future, although I know where you are coming from. Don't forget that NSW Trains also includes the intercity (electric) services, so the division is not as simple as city v country.

Another argument is that RailCorp, in its current form, is trying to be all things to all people and not succeeding particularly well at doing so. By reducing the size of the respective businesses, more attention can be paid to the performance within each business, perhaps better enabling improvements. If there is one thing that CityRail lacked, it was a true 'customer focus' (hate that phrase) combined with a 'performance culture'. Maybe Sydney Trains will better meet that challenge?

I am not so sure about the prospects of privatisation. I am not convinced the current NSW government really wants to go down that path (and there is no real evidence that such a direction would yield better results) but even if it does occur, it won't be the end of the world. In the case of (the existing) CountryLink, I think privatisation might actually help. Neither the last state government nor the current one seems to have much interest in running it so why not let someone else have a go? Although after the Victorian experience with selling and then having to take back V/Line, there may not be much of an appetite for that option.

I, for one, will reserve judgment on how the new structures will work until we see some evidence of future directions, but simplistically - no real change in the immediate future for Sydney Trains and perhaps a renewed emphasis on intercity travel under NSW Trains is possibly how things will look in 6 - 12 months from now.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
Can't they fix anything without spending millions on new signage, sick of these pollies trying to stamp their own brand on everything trying to take the credit for a new image furthering their own political careers.
  craigd Deputy Commissioner

Location: A Thinktank near you
It's an interesting topic - on the one hand we have the NSW gov fully re-structuring RailCorp, yet on the other hand we have the NSW gov closing down one of the most important parts of the Hunter Valley rail network because the gov is trying to appease it's property developer mates who are complaining that Newcastle property prices are 'undervalued' because of the presence of the heavy-rail line into Newcastle station.

Craig.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

From July 1, 2013, each of the new entities will have a seperate CEO
craigd
That's CE... no "Officer" on the end, lol... the head of the SRA was always the Chief Executive, derived directly from British Rail like many other aspects of the SRA. For a time the term CEO was used in RailCorp but that has also reverted back to CE. The new separate management structures are still very big as I have said several times already. I have doubts that they will provide value for money to the taxpayer.



From July 1, 2013, Sydney Trains is set up to be almost immediately offered to a private consortium as a single-piece operation (should the NSW Liberal 'machine' wish to do that) and NSW Trains (effectively CountryLink) is set up to be gradually downgraded and whittled down to the point where the government can close it down or taken over by a private operator such as Virgin, etc.
craigd
It would seem to fit, especially with NSW Trains. The former CountryLink fleet is almost certainly going to be run into the ground and I don't think it has a bright future although I hope I'm wrong. As for Sydney Trains, we already have recommendations for privatising sector 1/ES-Illawarra, but I'm not sure if it will be broken up like that or the whole thing will be offered out. It's hard to imagine any all-new lines except for pissy little things like the SWRL being under public operation.



with each successive 'mandate' government there is this big push to 'change' from a fully-integrated single-unit operation to seperate business units, or the other way. And so the cycle repeats.
craigd
The game of appearances vs reality, "this time it's really different", "we're moving forward", blaa blaa they always have a justification for their division or amalgamation of the entities. We're supposed to forget the spin they used in the last part of the repetitive cycle. It is important to remember that an awful lot of our money is spent on these restructures, usually with dubious results. Watson374 recently provided a detailed examination of the general political appearances process.



Each time the major structure is changed, something gets spat out and becomes part of the non-government run private industry transport sector.
craigd
Important point. They are quietly, incrementally restructuring the economy.



there are no shortage of 'circling vultures' outside government circles wanting to have a bite
craigd
There will always be someone willing to vacuum up the State subsidies on offer for private operation/franchising, and to push the government in that direction through lobby groups and "independent" reports.



Do we really want to have a mob such as CDC Trains (Comfort Delgro Cabcharge Trains) running Sydney's suburban/intercity rail system 'in competition' to their own existing bus lines?
craigd
Governments listening to what we want sounds a bit too much like democracy to have anything to do with Australian politics.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
What happens to Railcorps non rail functions , such as its property division or its commercial operations such as the Bathurst Rail Fabrication centre as of tomorrow?
  ivahri Train Controller

Having traveled on the Veolia run public transport system in San Diego I'm not overly concerned if change took place in Sydney. Veolia runs San Diego a whole lot better than Railcorp/Cityrail/Countrylink ever have functioned in NSW. What concerns me more is the ability of any Australian state government to properly structure a contract that provides for a service commensurate to the return to the private operator (the Melbourne post-Kennett experience firmly in my mind).

Cheers


Richard
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Cityrail and Countrylink started in the same year as the Sydney Monorail.

Curiously Cityrail and Countrylink were formed when the treasurer's father Bruce Baird was Transport Minister.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
What a shame (but not a surprise) that this threads first post was heavily editorialized. Heaven forbid we have one thread in which one outlines the facts without personal bias, and permits an honest and open discussion about the changes.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

Having traveled on the Veolia run public transport system in San Diego I'm not overly concerned if change took place in Sydney. Veolia runs San Diego a whole lot better than Railcorp/Cityrail/Countrylink ever have functioned in NSW. What concerns me more is the ability of any Australian state government to properly structure a contract that provides for a service commensurate to the return to the private operator (the Melbourne post-Kennett experience firmly in my mind).

Cheers


Richard
ivahri
Wait until Sydney's population has quadrupled and/or the average income has been quartered, along with expectations. Then you might get an operation that can be properly privatised without subsidies, run at a profit and satisfy the public. Until then, I think whatever arrangement the government comes up with, including the one that starts tomorrow, will be problematic in one way or another. I look forward to the first lot of annual reports and similar material on the new operators.
  ivahri Train Controller

Wait until Sydney's population has quadrupled and/or the average income has been quartered, along with expectations. Then you might get an operation that can be properly privatised without subsidies, run at a profit and satisfy the public. Until then, I think whatever arrangement the government comes up with, including the one that starts tomorrow, will be problematic in one way or another. I look forward to the first lot of annual reports and similar material on the new operators.
HeadShunt
First, I'm not sure how you think average income will ever be quartered... but if you have ever been to San Diego you would find that it has much the same challenges as Sydney particularly with low incomes being very common. The thing is that they have designed a network that does what the people need- and the cost is kept to a level where it is competitive with the motor vehicle. The service has not been sacrificed but maybe some of the work practices may not be appealing to our local union... personally I would prefer to see Sydney services improve even if that means the odd vested interest suffers.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

First, I'm not sure how you think average income will ever be quartered...
ivahri
Real wages can fall quite easily, although not painlessly... it's happening now. I'll reserve that discussion for The Lounge.
  ivahri Train Controller

And I'm not all that sure how you think Sydney's population is going to quadruple... my maths tell me that is 16 million plus... at that stage nothing about Sydney would resemble what there is today, in particular public transport.

The fact that a company such as Veolia can very successfully manage rail, tram & bus networks in major global cities suggests that private management is not an issue preventing good service, but political interference (something the railways has worked with for 150 years) IS.
  fullboost Chief Train Controller

Looks like they are in for an awesome first day with what just happened at Harris Park ... lol
that wont be fixed by morning
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller


And I'm not all that sure how you think Sydney's population is going to quadruple... my maths tell me that is 16 million plus...
"ivahri"


Lol umm yeah, exactly. Had you not spent so much time focusing on quadrupling and quartering and looked at the overall message, you may have seen my point, which was something to do with a pessimistic view of the future. Never mind...
  ivahri Train Controller

Lol umm yeah, exactly. Had you not spent so much time focusing on quadrupling and quartering and looked at the overall message, you may have seen my point, which was something to do with a pessimistic view of the future. Never mind...
HeadShunt
Your message was received loud & clear but maybe you failed to substantiate why anyone else should feel the same way. I respect your pessimism but I don't see any reason to agree. People fear change but you have pointed out that Sydney is going to change dramatically and the management of the rail network is going to have to be able to deal with that. Whether that management is public or private isn't the issue for me but whether government continues to provide the capital to allow it to grow.

Cheers


Richard
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

you failed to substantiate why anyone else should feel the same way. I respect your pessimism but I don't see any reason to agree.
ivahri
I don't think you have to agree, so please don't feel any pressure to do so. The future of Sydney's railways, a matter relating to my pessimism, has already been discusaed at length by so many people elsewhere in the forum and I didn't feel the need to go into detail, but maybe I should have.


you have pointed out that Sydney is going to change dramatically and the management of the rail network is going to have to be able to deal with that
ivahri
I never actually said I thought Sydney's population would quadruple; I was indulging in my usual cynicism when I said "wait until it quadruples"... sorry. Since you mentioned it, I do believe Sydney will change dramatically, but not in isolation.


The fact that a company such as Veolia can very successfully manage rail, tram & bus networks in major global cities suggests that private management is not an issue preventing good service, but political interference (something the railways has worked with for 150 years) IS.
ivahri
Well let's take a look at that. How does Veolia's alleged success mean that "political interference" is an issue preventing good service? And what exactly is "good service"? In Sydney, "political interference" is the very reason why the railway survived, because the private Sydney Railway Company went under. I don't know if that was "good service" but it was a service versus no service...

And this might be stretching it a bit in the eyes of some, but since "political interference" tends to be a subjective term, what about all those "private" railway companies who receive subsidies - aren't those subsidies a form of "political interference" in the free market? If the subsidies weren't there the trains wouldn't run. It's hard to imagine any hypothetical "private" (franchised) railway in Sydney really running its own show when it would most likely be on the take under contract to TfNSW and using government owned infrastructure. In other words, still subject to "political interference" and probably quite a lot of it.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
Today is the final day of existence for RailCorp (Rail Corporation NSW)
craigd
Following organ harvesting and cremation, her ashes will be interred in an unmarked public refuse receptacle on Macquarie Street, Sydney, prior to their removal to the local waste processing facility.
  Braddo Deputy Commissioner

Location: Narre Warren
Does anyone actually like the new logos/brand names?
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
Does anyone actually like the new logos/brand names?
Braddo
Yes.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

Does anyone actually like the new logos/brand names?
Braddo
I agree with Raichase. Gladys loves them.
  Braddo Deputy Commissioner

Location: Narre Warren
I agree with Raichase. Gladys loves them.
HeadShunt
There would have to be very few people (not including those involved in their "design") who actually like them. I'm not too bothered about Countrylink changing to NSW Trainlink, but I always thought CityRail was a great brand name and I quite liked the logo too. "Sydney Trains" is just lame and unoriginal, and the logo sucks as does the uniform.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

There would have to be very few people (not including those involved in their "design") who actually like them. "Sydney Trains" is just lame and unoriginal, and the logo sucks as does the uniform.
Braddo
The names, logos, liveries and uniforms are all awful in my opinion, too, but we might be in luck and not have to put up with this iteration of the "Sydney Railway Company" for too long before the next restructure, especially since Gladys says she is "not focused on the cost" of such changes... Confused
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
especially since Gladys says she is "not focused on the cost" of such changes... Confused
HeadShunt
I notice enthusiasts are quick to point out politcal spin when it suits them, but this is some of the best "taking words out of context" that I've seen in a while...

The quote that you're quite quick to isolate is part of a press conference in which The Minister downplayed the cost of the re-branding as it is part of an overall initiative to fix the railway system and improve reliability, customer service and image. The quote, when read in context is that the individual costing of the exercise is unimportant when it comes to fixing the network, as it is part of a raft of changes.

The overall negativity on these and similar forums to the changes are staggering, especially when the results of the initiative won't be known for months or even years. The new CE of Sydney Trains says himself that it will not be fixed overnight, but in the long term.

You should go work for the Daily Telegraph...
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

I notice enthusiasts are quick to point out politcal spin when it suits them, but this is some of the best "taking words out of context" that I've seen in a while...

The quote that you're quite quick to isolate is part of a press conference in which The Minister downplayed the cost of the re-branding as it is part of an overall initiative to fix the railway system and improve reliability, customer service and image. The quote, when read in context is that the individual costing of the exercise is unimportant when it comes to fixing the network, as it is part of a raft of changes.

The overall negativity on these and similar forums to the changes are staggering, especially when the results of the initiative won't be known for months or even years. The new CE of Sydney Trains says himself that it will not be fixed overnight, but in the long term.

You should go work for the Daily Telegraph...
Raichase
It's certainly not positivity from me, but spin is spin and it's hard to be positive about it when I haven't seen the figures for the rebranding.

We surely have a right to know how much is being spent on cosmetic changes - uniforms, logos, station signs, paint jobs, and Gladys surely knew questions like that would be asked. Are the figures available? If they are available, they are low relative to the benefits they confer on society and I have missed them, my apologies.

Whenever restructures like this take place we are told of the great improvements we are to receive, and obviously those in power feel the costs, including those associated with cosmetics, are justified in pursuit of their goals, whatever they really are, because governments never waste money, do they? There are some pretty good arguments about the real reasons for the changes, and I feel they are in some ways closer to reality than the spin about "customer experience" coming from Gladys et al. Then again, I suppose experiences can be greatly influenced by superficial changes.

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