Transport Minister refuses to rule out privatising Adelaide trains and trams

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 15 May 2019 14:29
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Has not worked anywhere else in Australia but the Libs in South Australia think they know better.  has Australia not learned anything at all by failed experiments?  

Privatization of Passenger rail networks does not work.  PERIOD.

Transport Minister refuses to rule out privatising Adelaide trains and trams

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  Dangersdan707 Chief Commissioner

Location: On a Thing with Internet

Privatization of Passenger rail networks does not work.  PERIOD.
bevans
Agreed but

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Coast_Railway_(Victoria)

this run with some degrees of success, the rest have been massive failures
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
West Coast Rail was a system run  by ex Railway people and was a good example of privatisation.  It was the only example in Victoria.  V/Line arguably performs better than Metro Trains in Victoria and was returned to the government after being abandoned by National Express.

Metro Trains has been voted the worst run system in the country for the past 8 years.  That says it in spades
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

I would not be opposed to contracting out operations provided that additional expertise in managing such contracts is brought in from outside. SA already has bus operations contracted out with a reasonable degree of success (i.e. it's not great, but still better than the STA days) but should be looking to tidy up that area before repeating it with rail.

When done well (e.g. London Overground) you end up with a situation where the system benefits from the owner and the operator having contractual mechanisms for holding each other accountable for their obligations.

Selling off ownership of the system, however, is certainly not a good idea.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
The original privatisation in the 1980s was essentially to rid the state of a huge superannuation liability by shifting the STA employed bus operators who were in the State Government Pension Superannuation Scheme to private operators thereby rendering the employees ineligible  to be members of the scheme.

Not that this was the reason given which was "the private sector can do it more efficiently" which I have some problems with.

The state superannuation scheme was very generous (not that as a superannuant I'm complaining) and involved the state paying 2/3 of the superannuation pension of 66% of final salary and the  employee 1/3 after contributing at up to 6% of salary over at least 30 years.

Not surprisingly that scheme was closed to new entrants in 1986 I think it was.

But privatisation also brought the bus operators under the TWU rather than the RBTU and a lower award, resulting in a considerable loss of wages in some cases.     So it cost the incoming operators less, and this was the only way that "efficiencies" could be found, and the cost to Government fell as operators competed for contracts.    Mind you any loss providing the service by the operators meant either they folded or handed the contract back to the Government (remember Serco?) or handed it off to an existing operator (Light City Buses?).


The irony of this, in the light of Mr Knoll stating that he wishes to have an integrated system is that that exactly what the STA was, an integrated system until it was dismantled by his colleagues 20 years ago last time they were in power.
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

Government systems aren't all rosy either. The Queensland suburban railways have gone backwards under the present government. A silent sweetheart understanding still limits driver numbers which prevents operating a more frequent service. The NGR fiasco was all government politics and management in (non)action. Either way the poor tax payer and commuter gets a raw deal.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
So the STA and govt potentiallyover paid their staff and provided unsustainable Superannuation benefits all from the pockets of the Vic taxpayer for decades and by the mid 80's the state was facing near bankruptcy with a $60B (80's $) debt and privatisation is deemed a failure?
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Has not worked anywhere else in Australia but the Libs in South Australia think they know better.  has Australia not learned anything at all by failed experiments?  

Privatization of Passenger rail networks does not work.  PERIOD.

Transport Minister refuses to rule out privatising Adelaide trains and trams
bevans
the above is a gross generalisation, PERIOD!

As for Privatisation of the Metro rail networks, there is only 1 been attempted and after 20 years and multiple changes of govt still going so we can assume both sides of govt are happy with the outcome. Melbourne Metro was not also sold, basically contracted out under a Franchise arrangement.

Of the freight networks, the situation is very different and while some freight has been lost to road and mostly was always going to happen at least the Freight Rail an industry that can lobby the govt rather than a puppet of the govt subject to political influence.

Privatisation is only as good as the govt sets it up to start with. It would be fair to say many of the true rail privatisations in Australia were set up to fail from the start and attempted by inexperienced foreign operators and therefore the same useless govt operator was responsible for the poor outcome. Potentially cluster failures forced the govts to act and lift their game. Tasrail is for example in a far better condition today than it was for decades under ANR, likewise Regional Vic freight.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE

Metro Trains has been voted the worst run system in the country for the past 8 years.  That says it in spades
x31
Says who?

If you survey the users of Mel rail and the users of Syd rail and users of Brisbane rail, how to they actually compare each other?

Mel suburban rail usage went up something like 50% or more in 20 years, yet ultimately the govt still controls the purse strings for expansion to handle this traffic. The operators just run trains!
  Dangersdan707 Chief Commissioner

Location: On a Thing with Internet

Metro Trains has been voted the worst run system in the country for the past 8 years.  That says it in spadesSays who?

If you survey the users of Mel rail and the users of Syd rail and users of Brisbane rail, how to they actually compare each other?

Mel suburban rail usage went up something like 50% or more in 20 years, yet ultimately the govt still controls the purse strings for expansion to handle this traffic. The operators just run trains!
RTT_Rules
https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/metro-trains-rated-australias-worst-20110614-1g27t.html

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/metro-ranked-worst-rail-network-in-australia--again-20160908-grc8pg.html

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/melbourne-metro-worst-rail-in-australia
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
So the STA and govt potentiallyover paid their staff and provided unsustainable Superannuation benefits all from the pockets of the Vic taxpayer for decades and by the mid 80's the state was facing near bankruptcy with a $60B (80's $) debt and privatisation is deemed a failure?
RTT_Rules
You mean the South Australian taxpayer.

The old state super pension scheme, while generous, would not be a particular problem in today's environment: none or very low inflation.   The major problem was that the government paid its contribution at pension time rather than fortnight by fortnight with the employee's contribution, and entitlements earned in a relatively low inflation period blew out with the very high inflation in the early 1980's as wages grew substantially.  Something had to give and it was the scheme which was closed to new entrants.

It was not restricted to public transport employees but to all government employees, including the State Bank, but excluding the Police who had their own fairly generous scheme.    It even extended to those ANR employees who had transferred from the SAR in 1978, but they were an exception.

It was not the superannuation liability that caused financial pain in South Australia, rather the in retrospect rather ill-advised guarantees the parliament had afforded decades before to depositors in the State Bank which basically overextended itself in the property bubble in the early 1980's and collapsed.

What franchising out the operation of the bus services did was to break up the integrated system that then existed,  albeit a rather shaky integration since the Rail Division and the Bus and Tram Division were inclined to see themselves as separate entities.    By having a number of operators they could not coordinate with each other if the occasion arose such as a passenger tranferring from one operator's service to another.   What had been easy to coordinate with a single radio call bus to bus became difficult due to different radio systems.

Whether or not the rail service is franchised I can't see how integration would work in the new regime unless the central authority steps in above the operator's controllers to provide that coordination day to day.

If the system is working, and by and large it is, and reasonably successfully, then I can't see franchising which I would hope would be the model used, would bring any benefits.
  potatoinmymouth Chief Commissioner

If the system is working, and by and large it is, and reasonably successfully, then I can't see franchising which I would hope would be the model used, would bring any benefits.
kipioneer

This is a very sensible observation. There are no glaring issues with the network (as an outsider). Compared to the late 90s Victorian network which was on the point of total collapse, it’s a dream. That suggests any motive for privatisation would be more, shall we say, political.

The strong evidence out of Melbourne is that the state will not save a cent. But it will put a layer of accountability between ministers and the performance of the network. And it will go some way to busting unions.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
So the STA and govt potentiallyover paid their staff and provided unsustainable Superannuation benefits all from the pockets of the Vic taxpayer for decades and by the mid 80's the state was facing near bankruptcy with a $60B (80's $) debt and privatisation is deemed a failure?
You mean the South Australian taxpayer.

The old state super pension scheme, while generous, would not be a particular problem in today's environment: none or very low inflation.   The major problem was that the government paid its contribution at pension time rather than fortnight by fortnight with the employee's contribution, and entitlements earned in a relatively low inflation period blew out with the very high inflation in the early 1980's as wages grew substantially.  Something had to give and it was the scheme which was closed to new entrants.

It was not restricted to public transport employees but to all government employees, including the State Bank, but excluding the Police who had their own fairly generous scheme.    It even extended to those ANR employees who had transferred from the SAR in 1978, but they were an exception.

It was not the superannuation liability that caused financial pain in South Australia, rather the in retrospect rather ill-advised guarantees the parliament had afforded decades before to depositors in the State Bank which basically overextended itself in the property bubble in the early 1980's and collapsed.

What franchising out the operation of the bus services did was to break up the integrated system that then existed,  albeit a rather shaky integration since the Rail Division and the Bus and Tram Division were inclined to see themselves as separate entities.    By having a number of operators they could not coordinate with each other if the occasion arose such as a passenger transferring from one operator's service to another.   What had been easy to coordinate with a single radio call bus to bus became difficult due to different radio systems.

Whether or not the rail service is franchised I can't see how integration would work in the new regime unless the central authority steps in above the operator's controllers to provide that coordination day to day.

If the system is working, and by and large it is, and reasonably successfully, then I can't see franchising which I would hope would be the model used, would bring any benefits.
kipioneer
My comment is this

All investment funds for pension/retirement schemes must be sustainable. I think we all know most of the state run Super schemes were not funded, Tasmania being the worst at $0 put away at one stage and Qld being the best actually having too much money (until taken by govt 3 years back). The Feds were somewhere in the middle and hence the Future Fund to resolve and the Feds supported the states for a decade or so by not forcing them to allow employees resigning to roll their super into their new private employee fund.

The state govt employees were yes better off than the private sector which mostly until the 90's had zip, but in many regards the state employees had a taxpayer funded retirement plan and didn't actual contribute much themselves. BTW, 66% of final salary is a comfortable retirement wage (no mortgage, work or kids to fund, its probably better standard of living than when working) and I support that, but the employee should also contribute their fair share.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
If the system is working, and by and large it is, and reasonably successfully, then I can't see franchising which I would hope would be the model used, would bring any benefits.

This is a very sensible observation. There are no glaring issues with the network (as an outsider). Compared to the late 90s Victorian network which was on the point of total collapse, it’s a dream. That suggests any motive for privatisation would be more, shall we say, political.

The strong evidence out of Melbourne is that the state will not save a cent. But it will put a layer of accountability between ministers and the performance of the network. And it will go some way to busting unions.
potatoinmymouth
Agree, however we should acknowledge that he govt like any private operation, always look at all options to reduce costs and hence why the govt should never rule out privatisation as an option. Do the feasibility study, if it doesn't stack up then all good!, at least hey are being transparent.

I also suspect the Privatisation of Mel Rail network also enabled the remaining govt operators to achieve productivity improvements alot easier and faster than had Melbourne remained in govt hands.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I also suspect the Privatisation of Mel Rail network also enabled the remaining govt operators to achieve productivity improvements a lot easier and faster than had Melbourne remained in govt hands.
RTT_Rules
You are, of course, allowed to suspect whatever you like, but for those of us who actually live in Melbourne, the performance of Metro is abysmal.
The suburban network has grown a little since I used trains five days a week to get to school. I cannot remember those years having services failing to arrive, train faults, signal faults et al which are now standard practice. We made it to school on time, and there would have been hell to pay if we didn't. For a while, I tried having a lift with my father as he drove to work, and it was so unreliable a/c traffic, that I went back to the railway which could be trusted.
Once you have a private operator, whose sole  raison d'etre is profit, routine preventative maintenance is pared to the bone because it costs money. Instead of proactive maintenance, we now have reactive "Oh bloody hell."
The latest fiasco is overhead collapsing onto a train. There used to be a dedicated overhead inspection train which was out and about all the time. Where is it now?
Where are the Signals Branch blokes checking and /or repairing cabling before it fails? We recently had a massive power failure because a one metre length of cable broke. Where was the back up piece?  One could go on.
The privatisation of Melbourne's suburban rail network is an unmitigated disaster.
  Heath Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, SA
The strong evidence out of Melbourne is that the state will not save a cent. But it will put a layer of accountability between ministers and the performance of the network. And it will go some way to busting unions.
potatoinmymouth
What benefit does union busting provide to society ?
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

If the system is working, and by and large it is, and reasonably successfully, then I can't see franchising which I would hope would be the model used, would bring any benefits.
This is a very sensible observation. There are no glaring issues with the network (as an outsider). Compared to the late 90s Victorian network which was on the point of total collapse, it’s a dream.
potatoinmymouth
I would agree. It's a pretty bare bones system, but they do a reasonable job of operating what they have most days.

I'd like to see a bit more focus on service resilience (e.g. open the Elizabeth turn back siding, add a turn back option for Seaford line trains around Edwardstown) and a better flow of information to passengers.

I would hope that a concession would be the model considered, not franchising.

That suggests any motive for privatisation would be more, shall we say, political.
potatoinmymouth
I'm not sure there is actually a motive at all.

I reckon Stephen Knoll is way out of his depth, and is saying things like 'all options are on the table' or 'won't rule out xyz' just to make it look like he's actually doing something.

He made similar grandiose statements about massive reforms of the bus network, but so far it looks like the only changes will be the reorganisation of some desks at DPTI, hiring some extra managers and trialling a couple more on demand minibus services.

The default tendency of this government so far has been to do nothing, and I reckon that's where Knoll will eventually wind up on rail. At least by making noises about something Knoll is reminding us that he still exists, the same can't be said for the Premier who is about to have his face printed on milk cartons.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I also suspect the Privatisation of Mel Rail network also enabled the remaining govt operators to achieve productivity improvements a lot easier and faster than had Melbourne remained in govt hands.
You are, of course, allowed to suspect whatever you like, but for those of us who actually live in Melbourne, the performance of Metro is abysmal.
The suburban network has grown a little since I used trains five days a week to get to school. I cannot remember those years having services failing to arrive, train faults, signal faults et al which are now standard practice. We made it to school on time, and there would have been hell to pay if we didn't. For a while, I tried having a lift with my father as he drove to work, and it was so unreliable a/c traffic, that I went back to the railway which could be trusted.
Once you have a private operator, whose sole  raison d'etre is profit, routine preventative maintenance is pared to the bone because it costs money. Instead of proactive maintenance, we now have reactive "Oh bloody hell."
The latest fiasco is overhead collapsing onto a train. There used to be a dedicated overhead inspection train which was out and about all the time. Where is it now?
Where are the Signals Branch blokes checking and /or repairing cabling before it fails? We recently had a massive power failure because a one metre length of cable broke. Where was the back up piece?  One could go on.
The privatisation of Melbourne's suburban rail network is an unmitigated disaster.
Valvegear
Hard to argue against that, there's simply no redundancy in systems or with people any longer. Compared to the fifties when frequencies were even tighter than today you have to wonder why they seem to stuff it up so regularly.

The Met was also pretty much a paradigm of how it should have been kept from what I've read - it was running extremely efficiently and within budgets before Kennett punished the unions for going on strike during Grand Prix by chopping up the whole thing into those stupid 'competing' franchises. In the United States nearly every system is run like the Met with an overseeing statutory body owning the infrastructure (not always actually delivering the services) but usually with an arms-length board - you'd think in the home of capitalism that if there were any cost savings to be made with privatisation that the various cities would have already done it.

I'd be less cynical about Stephen Marshall's privatisation brain fart if they actually had an idea what they were doing - why don't we have a state-wide body here like PTV in Victoria - a single ticketing authority? Country buses provided by Premiers and Link SA are too expensive, not well integrated into the overall transport system and are under-used from my experience - if Marshall was really trying to convince me he was governing for the whole state he'd do something like that for SA.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Hard to argue against that, there's simply no redundancy in systems or with people any longer. Compared to the fifties when frequencies were even tighter than today you have to wonder why they seem to stuff it up so regularly.

The Met was also pretty much a paradigm of how it should have been kept from what I've read - it was running extremely efficiently and within budgets before Kennett punished the unions for going on strike during Grand Prix by chopping up the whole thing into those stupid 'competing' franchises. In the United States nearly every system is run like the Met with an overseeing statutory body owning the infrastructure (not always actually delivering the services) but usually with an arms-length board - you'd think in the home of capitalism that if there were any cost savings to be made with privatisation that the various cities would have already done it.

I'd be less cynical about Stephen Marshall's privatisation brain fart if they actually had an idea what they were doing - why don't we have a state-wide body here like PTV in Victoria - a single ticketing authority? Country buses provided by Premiers and Link SA are too expensive, not well integrated into the overall transport system and are under-used from my experience - if Marshall was really trying to convince me he was governing for the whole state he'd do something like that for SA.
don_dunstan
The Met was burning money, passengers and punctuality if they were not on strike.

Kennet raised fares and solved many other issues prior to privatisation and saw ridership start to improve for first time in decades, however the theory was the trends in cost reduction would be linear, but the were mostly not. The improvement trends that followed privatisation are difficult to isolate as a result of privatisation, apart from never going on strike before a GP again!

Going on strike before the GP ad filling the streets with parked trams, I don't care how bad their deal was, the whole lot deserved to have been sacked for that and had they pulled that stunt in the USA, they likely would have.  

Overall, I think the days of govts's running suburban railways at the day to day level should be over and just focus on the big picture projects and funding.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
The strong evidence out of Melbourne is that the state will not save a cent. But it will put a layer of accountability between ministers and the performance of the network. And it will go some way to busting unions.
What benefit does union busting provide to society ?
Heath Loxton
Depending on what sort of union they are?

If like some of the CFEMU and other militant ones and other calling strikes at critical times like Xmas and GP's, alot!
  Heath Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, SA
The strong evidence out of Melbourne is that the state will not save a cent. But it will put a layer of accountability between ministers and the performance of the network. And it will go some way to busting unions.
What benefit does union busting provide to society ?
Depending on what sort of union they are?

If like some of the CFEMU and other militant ones and other calling strikes at critical times like Xmas and GP's, alot!
RTT_Rules
How is Christmas a critical time ?

Isnt Xmas all about going out and buying consumerist gifts for people we dont really like and nothing more ?
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
The strong evidence out of Melbourne is that the state will not save a cent. But it will put a layer of accountability between ministers and the performance of the network. And it will go some way to busting unions.
What benefit does union busting provide to society ?
Depending on what sort of union they are?

If like some of the CFEMU and other militant ones and other calling strikes at critical times like Xmas and GP's, alot!
How is Christmas a critical time ?

Isnt Xmas all about going out and buying consumerist gifts for people we dont really like and nothing more ?
Heath Loxton
If you don't think Xmas is a critical time of the year not to be interrupted by fuel, beer, PT etc, then you have blinkers on.

I tend to like my kids and wife!
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The Met was burning money, passengers and punctuality if they were not on strike.

...
RTT_Rules
The rest of this was just a blatant troll Shane, why not answer the question of what benefits the people of SA will see from a fully privatised rail and tram network?

Also the single public authority overseen by a board is the way they go in the USA but you have no idea why it supposedly won't work in Australia because you're overtly against any forms of public ownership and operation... I get that. But it's not best practice.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Yes Heath, your parents go out and buy you Christmas presents because they don’t like you.

I think your confusion results from potentially your own experience of you going out and buying presents for people you like, to discover they actually do not like you.
  potatoinmymouth Chief Commissioner

The strong evidence out of Melbourne is that the state will not save a cent. But it will put a layer of accountability between ministers and the performance of the network. And it will go some way to busting unions.
What benefit does union busting provide to society ?
Heath Loxton
Sorry, I could have worded that more clearly. In the context of the previous sentences it was meant to show that I didn't think it was a good thing, but a minister certainly might.

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