Metro derailment article at The Age - lack of maintenance

 
  shutterbug Station Staff

Location: Melbourne
"Metro has admitted in leaked correspondence that maintenance failures on its part caused two derailments on the same bend within five days last summer."
Link to The Age article here

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  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
I don;t believe the Victorian commuter is getting value for their maintenance money.  Billions have been handed over across years to Metro and we still have a network which fails in weather events including heat and cold.
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
Not to mention the millions in profits which go offshore to their foreign owners, funded by taxpayers and fare payers.  That money should stay here, and be spent on maintenance, among other things.
  davesvline Chief Commissioner

Location: 1983-1998
Maybe the govt should create an organisation called Melbourne Trains (or whatever) based on Metro's structure.
Then, they dont renew Metro's contract when it expires, but offer everyone their jobs back on less money in the new organisation. (Except the union workforce pay stays the same as we know what happens with public transport when you upset them).
Sacking and re hiring is the in thing currently, so surely this is the way to go?
The new organisation would have exactly the same money to do the job as Metro, but its back publicly run. Then we'll have no money going off shore and no excuses.

Let's roll the dice. Bet you the idiots in Spring St don't have the balls??

Regards
  davesvline Chief Commissioner

Location: 1983-1998
Oh, and in the current climate, I doubt everyone working for Metro would decline moving across to the new organisation, even on slightly less money (hey, pay them the same even I don't care). Its not like most would walk into a job short notice (some might) but you advertise a job if you have to.

But to do it, or not to do it is the question. What is the government scared of?? Must have something to lose I'd they don't want to?

Thoughts.
  TOQ-1 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Power Trainger
Oh, and in the current climate, I doubt everyone working for Metro would decline moving across to the new organisation, even on slightly less money (hey, pay them the same even I don't care). Its not like most would walk into a job short notice (some might) but you advertise a job if you have to.

But to do it, or not to do it is the question. What is the government scared of?? Must have something to lose I'd they don't want to?

Thoughts.
davesvline
The 'Metro' brand is owned by the state, not MTR, so you wouldn't even need to change the name.

And hiring people back for less money isn't going to happen.
  prwise Locomotive Driver

Not to mention the millions in profits which go offshore to their foreign owners, funded by taxpayers and fare payers.  That money should stay here, and be spent on maintenance, among other things.
Lad_Porter
There is nothing wrong with profits going overseas. It is simply a return on funds invested and/or risks taken. No different than BHP repatriating money back to Australia for money it has invested in ventures overseas. Has nothing to do with what is 'spent on maintenance'. That is subject to the contract specifications.
There was nothing to stop any Australian company having a crack and likewise making profits on money invested.
  hot-axle-box Junior Train Controller

Not to mention the millions in profits which go offshore to their foreign owners, funded by taxpayers and fare payers.  That money should stay here, and be spent on maintenance, among other things.
There is nothing wrong with profits going overseas. It is simply a return on funds invested and/or risks taken. No different than BHP repatriating money back to Australia for money it has invested in ventures overseas. Has nothing to do with what is 'spent on maintenance'. That is subject to the contract specifications.
There was nothing to stop any Australian company having a crack and likewise making profits on money invested.
prwise
Public transport isn't a business, we pay our taxes and fares for a public service to be run and what did jeff kennett do ? But John Brumby takes the cake as the coque that let MTR in, and I distinctly saw a thread in Railpage where someone warned us about MTR and what they are like. We shouldn't have to pay a third party to run our railway.
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

There is nothing wrong with profits going overseas. It is simply a return on funds invested and/or risks taken. No different than BHP repatriating money back to Australia for money it has invested in ventures overseas. Has nothing to do with what is 'spent on maintenance'. That is subject to the contract specifications.
There was nothing to stop any Australian company having a crack and likewise making profits on money invested.
prwise
Funds invested and risks taken?
There were none.

There was originally a clause that prevented Australian companies from being the lead bidder.  This was done to prevent Queensland Rail from bidding back when Connex and National Express won the franchises.  The reason being that it would be too embarrassing to have another Australian Government entity take over a privatised Victorian Government service.  The fact that France is far away seemed to make it okay for the partially Government owned Connex to win and now, the partially China Government owned MTR to be the operator.
  Madjikthise Assistant Commissioner

Not to mention the millions in profits which go offshore to their foreign owners, funded by taxpayers and fare payers.  That money should stay here, and be spent on maintenance, among other things.
There is nothing wrong with profits going overseas. It is simply a return on funds invested and/or risks taken. No different than BHP repatriating money back to Australia for money it has invested in ventures overseas. Has nothing to do with what is 'spent on maintenance'. That is subject to the contract specifications.
There was nothing to stop any Australian company having a crack and likewise making profits on money invested.
prwise
And where do you think that money going overseas is coming from? It is coming out of money that would have been spent on the network if the system was still operated by the government. As a taxpayer I want to see 100% of the money handed over used to improve things, especially since it is a business run at a loss.
  Crossover Train Controller

Location: St. Albans Victoria
Not to mention the millions in profits which go offshore to their foreign owners, funded by taxpayers and fare payers.  That money should stay here, and be spent on maintenance, among other things.
There is nothing wrong with profits going overseas. It is simply a return on funds invested and/or risks taken. No different than BHP repatriating money back to Australia for money it has invested in ventures overseas. Has nothing to do with what is 'spent on maintenance'. That is subject to the contract specifications.
There was nothing to stop any Australian company having a crack and likewise making profits on money invested.
And where do you think that money going overseas is coming from? It is coming out of money that would have been spent on the network if the system was still operated by the government. As a taxpayer I want to see 100% of the money handed over used to improve things, especially since it is a business run at a loss.
Madjikthise
I am NO fan of privatisation in general and the way our suburban system was privatised and split up ; Remember M-Train ? was a scandal . However I remember multiple disputes & disruptions galore when the system was previously directly in government hands and political interference was rife .Do we really think those days were better ?
  prwise Locomotive Driver

Not to mention the millions in profits which go offshore to their foreign owners, funded by taxpayers and fare payers.  That money should stay here, and be spent on maintenance, among other things.
There is nothing wrong with profits going overseas. It is simply a return on funds invested and/or risks taken. No different than BHP repatriating money back to Australia for money it has invested in ventures overseas. Has nothing to do with what is 'spent on maintenance'. That is subject to the contract specifications.
There was nothing to stop any Australian company having a crack and likewise making profits on money invested.
Public transport isn't a business, we pay our taxes and fares for a public service to be run and what did jeff kennett do ? But John Brumby takes the cake as the coque that let MTR in, and I distinctly saw a thread in Railpage where someone warned us about MTR and what they are like. We shouldn't have to pay a third party to run our railway.
hot-axle-box
From Business Dictionary. Definition of a Business
"An organization or economic system where goods and services are exchanged for one another or for money.

Every business requires some form of investment and enough customers to whom its output can be sold on a consistent basis in order to make a profit.

Businesses can be privately owned, not-for-profit or state-owned............"

PT seems to fit the bill

The format of contract used for running Metro would a standard B2B contract for provision of services.  Anything outside of this would no doubt lead to mayhem and confusion with precedents and the like if things don't work out down the track.
  prwise Locomotive Driver

Not to mention the millions in profits which go offshore to their foreign owners, funded by taxpayers and fare payers.  That money should stay here, and be spent on maintenance, among other things.
There is nothing wrong with profits going overseas. It is simply a return on funds invested and/or risks taken. No different than BHP repatriating money back to Australia for money it has invested in ventinures overseas. Has nothing to do with what is 'spent on maintenance'. That is subject to the contract specifications.
There was nothing to stop any Australian company having a crack and likewise making profits on money invested.
And where do you think that money going overseas is coming from? It is coming out of money that would have been spent on the network if the system was still operated by the government. As a taxpayer I want to see 100% of the money handed over used to improve things, especially since it is a business run at a loss.
Madjikthise
We don't know whether or not we would have a 'better' system if it was government run. There are no benchmarks available so we are really just guessing. Eastern seaboard states have similar sized metro rail networks, but we have absolutely no data  about efficiencies for each state such as maintenance or operational costs per passenger kilometre, safety KPI's or in fact any sort of KPI. Could be that the deal Victoria is actually great. Who knows?
Worked for a national company once. Cost of operating/maintaining every piece of mobile plant known down to last cent. Maintenance was outsourced to a different company in every state. Over time the weakest were dropped off (nowhere to hide as everything was measured). Eventually there was a single company doing maintenance in all states is it was the one that outperformed the others so was rewarded with extra work.
From what I see in Victoria every time we have a PT tender it's a bit like a 'prize for everyone - just wait your turn', intermingled with some good old pork barrelling to keep the voters happy.
  prwise Locomotive Driver

Not to mention the millions in profits which go offshore to their foreign owners, funded by taxpayers and fare payers.  That money should stay here, and be spent on maintenance, among other things.
There is nothing wrong with profits going overseas. It is simply a return on funds invested and/or risks taken. No different than BHP repatriating money back to Australia for money it has invested in ventures overseas. Has nothing to do with what is 'spent on maintenance'. That is subject to the contract specifications.
There was nothing to stop any Australian company having a crack and likewise making profits on money invested.
And where do you think that money going overseas is coming from? It is coming out of money that would have been spent on the network if the system was still operated by the government. As a taxpayer I want to see 100% of the money handed over used to improve things, especially since it is a business run at a loss.
I am NO fan of privatisation in general and the way our suburban system was privatised and split up ; Remember M-Train ? was a scandal . However I remember multiple disputes & disruptions galore when the system was previously directly in government hands and political interference was rife .Do we really think those days were better ?
Crossover
Yep - Not only Government Interference but the waste we get with reinventing the wheel
We now have at least 3 smart cards in 3 states , all developed at great cost, but all do exactly the same thing.
Compare this with private enterprise where with a single 'card' in my car I can travel on any toll freeway in any state (and there are at least 5 different operators as far as I know), and it all comes back to me as a single bill. Not rocket science this stuff.
If the states can be so profligate and wasteful in this small area, why do many think there are so much better than private enterprise at running a rail system?
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
Not to mention the millions in profits which go offshore to their foreign owners, funded by taxpayers and fare payers.  That money should stay here, and be spent on maintenance, among other things.
There is nothing wrong with profits going overseas. It is simply a return on funds invested and/or risks taken. No different than BHP repatriating money back to Australia for money it has invested in ventures overseas. Has nothing to do with what is 'spent on maintenance'. That is subject to the contract specifications.
There was nothing to stop any Australian company having a crack and likewise making profits on money invested.
prwise
Then in view of the reality, surely the contract specifications are inadequate, or are being ignored, and need to be looked at?

In the old VR days, the suburban system regularly made large losses which had to be subsidised by taxpayers, but at least it was all local money.  Now, we have a commercial operator which does not run at a loss but makes profits to send offshore.  Much of those profits are again subsidised by taxpayers.
  prwise Locomotive Driver

Then in view of the reality, surely the contract specifications are inadequate, or are being ignored, and need to be looked at?
Lad_Porter
Most probably all of the above. Have been involved in contracting out government services and it is just as easy to get it totally wrong as it is totally right.

But as a starting point users need to make pollies aware that level of service is important, likewise an efficient and cost effective one. We don't want yet more taxes spent inefficiently. Getting it on the radar is first step. In Vic not easy as we have an ego filled premier who will not listen to anyone.

Without seeing the contract not easy to judge, but the derailments are clearly a safety related incident, and in something like a mining contract, events of this nature would see significant loss of profit claims for the quarter, if not all of them for two incidents.
Having powerful clauses like this in a contract clearly focuses minds on what is important

But importantly would be great to see real data on relative costs of running suburban trains in Melb, Syd and Bris.
  prwise Locomotive Driver


In the old VR days, the suburban system regularly made large losses which had to be subsidised by taxpayers, but at least it was all local money.  Now, we have a commercial operator which does not run at a loss but makes profits to send offshore.  Much of those profits are again subsidised by taxpayers.
Lad_Porter
I suspect the old VR ALWAYS run at a loss but happy to be corrected.

But competition is what drives prices down. Back at before the turn of the century I commuted near weekly on and off on an assignment to Sydney. HAd to factor into my charges airfares of $450 a week as that was the cheapest return 30 day advance purchase (remember them?) that I could get.

Then Compass and Virgin appeared and over a 6 month period I could get one way tickets for $70. Even now after 50% inflation since this time there is still no need to spend more than a $100

The challenge is how to get competition into a natural monopoly operation?  Only way I see is to work with other states to get some benchmarks established then use these to attempt to drive costs down

If you can't measure it you can't control it
  Lockspike Assistant Commissioner

But competition is what drives prices down.
prwise
Only for a limited time.
The robust businesses buy out the weaker ones or just wait for them to go bust (maybe with a little help). Private enterprise does not tolerate sustained healthy competition, it is an anathema and contrary to the mindset.
  prwise Locomotive Driver

But competition is what drives prices down.
Only for a limited time.
The robust businesses buy out the weaker ones or just wait for them to go bust (maybe with a little help). Private enterprise does not tolerate sustained healthy competition, it is an anathema and contrary to the mindset.
Lockspike
Still having no problems getting sub $100 fares to Sydney, and Aldi showing no signs of going anywhere as the Duopoly constantly drop prices to compete. Coles or WOW buyout of Aldi?. Can't see it.
  prwise Locomotive Driver

But competition is what drives prices down.
Only for a limited time.
The robust businesses buy out the weaker ones or just wait for them to go bust (maybe with a little help). Private enterprise does not tolerate sustained healthy competition, it is an anathema and contrary to the mindset.
Lockspike
You are right to a degree though. However businesses that grow too big become inflexible and slow to respond. What happens then is smaller players start to niggle at big ones heels again. This is more so these days where cheap plant, equipment and materials to some extent have lowered barriers to entry.

Another problem arises where a business grows away from it's core business. Witness downfall of Pacific Dunlop. You can't be good at everything.
  ElliotProvis Junior Train Controller

Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Prwise, I understand what you're saying, but I hardly think we can see smaller businesses taking on multinational corporations.

As a comparison point, could you see a small localised producer of technology hardware/software ever being able to effectively compete with Apple or Microsoft? I suspect not. We live in a time in which gigantic multinational corporations have more power than even sovereign states.

Philip Morris tying to sue the Australian Government over future losses of income due to a change in our legislation banning cigarette box branding. That is the ultimate outcome of the same ideology you are pushing.

Somewhere along the way, people started believing that letting the market correct things, would result in a natural state of equilibrium. That was a lie and it was wrong.

The problem is, economics as a 'science' (I don't think we can even call it that) has not had to adapt to change. The economy doesn't disappear overnight like species can. Why do we have climate science? Because people started recognising that animal species were declining. The economy isn't the same as a rare species of frog.

Anyway the long and the short of it, is that economic modelling has been off for a long time, and it has let ideology take it over. How can we ever see competition between corporations if only one of them is running the railway network? It's not like customers have a choice either? There are six companies running the same commuters services into the city, all competing with each other. Even using your idea that competition naturally draws down prices, there is no competition!
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

Yep - Not only Government Interference but the waste we get with reinventing the wheel
We now have at least 3 smart cards in 3 states , all developed at great cost, but all do exactly the same thing.
Compare this with private enterprise where with a single 'card' in my car I can travel on any toll freeway in any state (and there are at least 5 different operators as far as I know), and it all comes back to me as a single bill. Not rocket science this stuff.
If the states can be so profligate and wasteful in this small area, why do many think there are so much better than private enterprise at running a rail system?
prwise
The single "card" is not so much due to private enterprise but the lack of co-ordination of it to encompass all transport is due to Government lack of vision.

The ultimate answer to this is seen in Singapore.  They started with two different cards appearing to do much the same thing.  The Government there quickly halted these before they got too entrenched.  The Singapore Government then created the EZ-Link card which covers public transport, road tolls, car parking and cash free purchases.  

There is no reason why our Federal Government shoudn't have stepped in and done the same here.  That would have been far more efficient than each state contracting a private enterprise, at vast taxpayer expense, to build each incompatible, propriety smartcard system.
  TOQ-1 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Power Trainger
Yep - Not only Government Interference but the waste we get with reinventing the wheel
We now have at least 3 smart cards in 3 states , all developed at great cost, but all do exactly the same thing.
Compare this with private enterprise where with a single 'card' in my car I can travel on any toll freeway in any state (and there are at least 5 different operators as far as I know), and it all comes back to me as a single bill. Not rocket science this stuff.
If the states can be so profligate and wasteful in this small area, why do many think there are so much better than private enterprise at running a rail system?
The single "card" is not so much due to private enterprise but the lack of co-ordination of it to encompass all transport is due to Government lack of vision.

The ultimate answer to this is seen in Singapore.  They started with two different cards appearing to do much the same thing.  The Government there quickly halted these before they got too entrenched.  The Singapore Government then created the EZ-Link card which covers public transport, road tolls, car parking and cash free purchases.  

There is no reason why our Federal Government shoudn't have stepped in and done the same here.  That would have been far more efficient than each state contracting a private enterprise, at vast taxpayer expense, to build each incompatible, propriety smartcard system.
DalyWaters
There is a reason, and that is because the Australian Constitution divides powers between the States and the Commonwealth, and one of the powers the States got was transport. The Australian Government can't suddenly legislate or demand that States do something different.

While an Australian-wide smart card would have been nice, trying to get 8 different governments to work together just does not happen.
  prwise Locomotive Driver

Anyway the long and the short of it, is that economic modelling has been off for a long time, and it has let ideology take it over. How can we ever see competition between corporations if only one of them is running the railway network? It's not like customers have a choice either? There are six companies running the same commuters services into the city, all competing with each other. Even using your idea that competition naturally draws down prices, there is no competition!
ElliotProvis
But where you have a natural monopoly it does not mean you throw out all options and say 'too hard'. In the absence of competition you need to establish benchmarks as I mentioned in one of my posts.

Starting point would be a simple $/passenger KM for the eastern states that all have similar sized systems. You can also go offshore to similar jurisdictions with similar sized systems. This stuff is not rocker science.  Then use these figures to drive change.

There are heaps of other benchmarks that can be usefully used to drive change. So far as I know no state has even had a crack at trying to do anything in this area for pass rail.  I mentioned in another post that a national company I worked for benchmarked fleet performance across 5 states and over a decade sliced over 30% off maintenance costs and enjoyed an increase in plant availability. I can't see how this would not translate to a rail fleet.
  kuldalai Chief Commissioner

Getting back to the original issue of maintenance .

The franchise agreement should stipulate track and rollingstock standards to be maintained etc, graffiti to be removed within time limits,  Speed restrictions within time limits  etc .  At the same time Government gives franchisee $  to subsidize the operation, $ to maintain the network to the standards specified in the franchise, plus extra funds for an agree capex program .

One would suspect that the franchise monitoring by PTV or whoever is thin on the ground or barely existant . So what does the franchisee probably do  ?  Lets things slip outside the time limits as then the expenditure is deferred and the money saved goes to the bottom line .  So we end up with those sort of track defects,  longstanding SR's and mud spots , poorly maintained stations  etc  until someone in Government picks it up, or Franchisee is impacted by late running fines. Franchisee then hollers to government for more $, which government dutifully provides to fix the whell that is squeaking publically .

The new franchise agreements need to be much tighter, and much better monitored by PTV , T f V or whoever to ensure that  franchisees are complying with franchise agreement, and taxpayers are getting value for money .

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