Is it time to stop complaining about Albury services?

 
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: I was here first. You're only visiting.
Over the years I have read plenty on these pages about the unreliability of Albury passenger services since the line was converted to standard gauge. I have no doubt that the concerns are real for some people and I am not questioning their expertise. I have learnt that issues still exist as far as track quality and train hardware are concerned, coupled with government disinterest to improve the situation.

Admittedly I have never travelled the line and see no reason to do so, but a quick glance at the May performance stats show that Albury services are more punctual than three other lines, and although they come last in reliability, 180 out of 186 train services (96.8%) still ran for the month [96.8% of all services including scheduled buses for May does not equate to a whole number so I have assumed that the stats pertain to train services only].
https://www.vline.com.au/About-V-Line/Performance

Is it time to admit that if one was to plan a trip by train to or from Albury, there is an almost excellent chance that it will run, and that it will almost certainly be close enough to being on time? So, what's the problem???

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  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Down Midday Albury was cancelled yesterday, 14th June and the 17:20 up yesterday afternoon.

I still wouldn't bet the family jewels on a train running should you decide on a day out soon... Laughing

Mike.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Over the years I have read plenty on these pages about the unreliability of Albury passenger services since the line was converted to standard gauge. I have no doubt that the concerns are real for some people and I am not questioning their expertise. I have learnt that issues still exist as far as track quality and train hardware are concerned, coupled with government disinterest to improve the situation.

Admittedly I have never travelled the line and see no reason to do so, but a quick glance at the May performance stats show that Albury services are more punctual than three other lines, and although they come last in reliability, 180 out of 186 train services (96.8%) still ran for the month [96.8% of all services including scheduled buses for May does not equate to a whole number so I have assumed that the stats pertain to train services only].
https://www.vline.com.au/About-V-Line/Performance

Is it time to admit that if one was to plan a trip by train to or from Albury, there is an almost excellent chance that it will run, and that it will almost certainly be close enough to being on time? So, what's the problem???
DirtyBallast
The service on the line has been on the whole punctual for quite a while now and any delays are often out of VLine's control. The reliability though is still unexcatable, there are two parts to this. One SHOULD be able to rely on a train service, I have been travelling from Seymour to Melbourne now for many years, there must now be a 200 trips and I have NEVER had a Seymour service cancelled, over the past couple of years of NE SG service I would have travelled on it 40 times (80 trips) of these 3 were cancelled, this is definitely unexceptable.

The second reason is the reason for the cancellations is WELL known to ALL INCULDING VLine and the governement, and that is there is no rolling spare vehicles. The current timetable takes 2 sets to run and only 3 sets are availible, if a set is undergoing ANY routine maintence at all there is no availible standby set. THis is just plain penny pinching and in the end for a railway service simply shear stupidity. This is what is making everyone so angry and upset.

woodford
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Does anyone know what the cancellation rate for the N class fleet on BG vs SG is?  

If say, the GV lines were standardised, along with a few more N sets, would this create a sufficiently large SG fleet of N Class locos and associated wagons to provide the standby set that can do both lines as required?
  Madjikthise Assistant Commissioner

Would you stop complaining if your car ran 96.8% of the time after taking it for a service?
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Does anyone know what the cancellation rate for the N class fleet on BG vs SG is?  

If say, the GV lines were standardised, along with a few more N sets, would this create a sufficiently large SG fleet of N Class locos and associated wagons to provide the standby set that can do both lines as required?
james.au
When the NE line was broad gauge in something like 25 years of using the service at least 200 times I never had a service cancelled, some very occasionally did arrive dreadfull late though.

Currently whats required is a fourth car set and loco and a decent maintence system, most cancellations would then disappear. If the GV line were regauged VLine and the government would REALLY and I do mean REALLY have to wake themselves up.

I have no real faith that the current governement will really solve the current situation. As far as I can see from the LITTLE detail they have so far released what they APPEAR to be proposing simply will not do any good. We will apparently have 4 trains each way each day and STILL NO SPARE CONSIST so the cancellations  will continue, cannot these idiots see that.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Would you stop complaining if your car ran 96.8% of the time after taking it for a service?
Madjikthise
Well said,

woodford
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
As woodford and other regular railpagers know I have written extensively on this topic.   There are systemic issues related to the maintenance regime itself, there have been extended budget cuts through the last Government in maintenance for V/Line and there has been a very significant loss in expertise and corporate memory.    I'd suggest if I may that you have a read of the numerous threads that have been posted.   There are many many railway outfits operating services using fleets of an age and configuration to that being used on the North East.   If the maintenance regime planned for the NE as I have posted here in lengthy posts before been applied as it was intended, and equally importantly a host of oother tasks like refuelling locos and power vans daily and servicing toilets daily and replenishing water tanks daily was diligently undertaken a whole host of "operational" and "Technical" delays would have been avoided.

All those issues were raised with the previous Government's Special Taskforce that was appointed to work with key community representatives and their efforts effectively can to nothing.   One undertaking provided by the ex CEO was that they would establish a target to wash windows once a week and they had the gall to announce this as some wonderful achievement.  

The Government now is in the process of doing a refurbishment of the NE sets and reconfiguring the consists to create 4 x 4 car sets plus a powervan.   That will give  1 complete standby train set for each running set.   That in itself is a further symptom of their being little accountability in terms of resources needed to support an operation.   Great Southern Rail, Trans WA passenger operations operate far greater kilometres per train set with very few spares and significantly lower breakdowns.   The Australind service in WA which undertakes a daily cycle of 800 km's 7 days per week has been running with 1 spare car and in from time to time in seasonal troughs a second spare car for 29 years.    The Prospector undertakes a a 7 day per week operation with two sets each doing 655 km's per day 7 days per week plus an additional 655km sector on a further 3 days per week plus additional runs in peak season, with 1 spare set.     We are going to have 2 complete train sets spare to support two train sets that do approximately 620/650km per day.    The bottom line is if the actual maintenance regime does not revert to the program and level of discipline needed what will be the next excuse be for.   If you were running an operation like this would you allow your spare train to sit in a siding with some minor repairs for as long as 4 or 5 days so that when a running set then has a defect it is not possible to use the standby set because it too is defective.   No more to be said.
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: I was here first. You're only visiting.
Would you stop complaining if your car ran 96.8% of the time after taking it for a service?
Madjikthise
If my car was made in the 80's and had millions of k's on the clock, I would think that it not breaking down 96.8% of the time would be quite acceptable, even if it was refurbed several years ago. Maybe!

Or are you saying that the trains always break down soon after servicing?
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: I was here first. You're only visiting.
I'd suggest if I may that you have a read of the numerous threads that have been posted.  
Trainplanner
My impression from reading those posts over the years was that the Albury train service was barely operating and it was almost expected that a cancellation would occur. It was only yesterday that I felt curious enough to check the figures for myself. Realistically, my guess was that reliability was somewhere between 50 and 70%.

Obviously that is not the case, with 96.8% of Albury trains running in May.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

I'd suggest if I may that you have a read of the numerous threads that have been posted.  
Trainplanner
My impression from reading those posts over the years was that the Albury train service was barely operating and it was almost expected that a cancellation would occur. It was only yesterday that I felt curious enough to check the figures for myself. Realistically, my guess was that reliability was somewhere between 50 and 70%.

Obviously that is not the case, with 96.8% of Albury trains running in May.
"DirtyBallast"


Most rail rolling including the N class locomotives and the N set passenger cars are made industrial strength and should do many millions of kilometres with little problem. The problem with the current maintanence setup appears to be because of the constant funding cuts most exprienced maintence workers have left and the ones left behind do not know enough to properly care for the vehicles. Look at some of the past posts about reasons for no rollings stock, toilets not pumped out, power vans not filled with diesel, rolling stock not being serviced immediately so its not availible for the next service, just plain old fashion regular maintence. This can only be described as major incompetence.

The problem of course the current administration faces is its likely that the staff that have left will be very gun shy about returning to a setup that is still faced with the same old problem.............. constant funding cuts, and I can tell you these vehicles are all complex systems which require a good deal of experience to work on them well and fix them quickly. A question for you all to illustrate the problem. How many people reading this can tell me how an airconditioning system works and  what likely situations will cause them to fail. Second question, How does the engine govenor of an EMD diesel locomotive work and how does one do a static load test. Good technicians DO NOT GROW ON TREES management would do well to remember that.

Bye the way , I can answer those questions....................

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

I'd suggest if I may that you have a read of the numerous threads that have been posted.  
Trainplanner
My impression from reading those posts over the years was that the Albury train service was barely operating and it was almost expected that a cancellation would occur. It was only yesterday that I felt curious enough to check the figures for myself. Realistically, my guess was that reliability was somewhere between 50 and 70%.

Obviously that is not the case, with 96.8% of Albury trains running in May.
"DirtyBallast"


The reliability is quite reasonable but it should and has been better 96.8% is 1 in 30 and there's usually 2 services effected. The situation is made worse by the circumstance that a good portion of train travel will be people going to specfic appointments.
While the published figure is 96.8% I can bring up 3 or 4 instances in the past couple of months where 3 services were cancelled in a week.

Remember also the Albury line has a lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggg history of poor running.

A third major point that has NOT helped in any way is that VLine and government representatives at the consultative meetings held along the line last year had no real answers and were in most cases struck dumb, I personally found this a real major failling. It gave one the impression that neither VLine or the Government had any idea on how to proceed, a view that sadly gets keep being reinforced.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm............

There are 3 trains each way each day, in week there would be 42 services, 96.8% then is one train cancelled every 2 and half weeks, no wonder people are complaining........................
A third world rail system is likely to be better than that!

woodford.
  hbedriver Chief Train Controller

Figures for cancellations seem conservative, but I don't keep track of numbers. Maybe someone could review the Bunbury Street cameras to verify the figures.

As to maintenance, the whole train set currently has to be taken to Dynon overnight for routine work before forming the next morning Down; that may be things as simple as re-blocking cars. That ties up maybe 5 drivers, when they are chronically short of drivers anyway, although when they do those jobs the service reliability usually is at its best. Much of that work could be done at Dudley Street, if only they actually installed the third rail into the sheds. The fittings are there, the tracks are obviously set up for a third rail. Would also allow for a quick fix of minor issues between runs (with over an hour between arrival and departure times, there is time for a quick shunt, repair and re-dock).
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
If people stop complaining the status quo will become the norm for a while followed by a further gradual decline in 'service'.
Nothing ever happens until/unless there is major publicity or an accident.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Figures for cancellations seem conservative, but I don't keep track of numbers. Maybe someone could review the Bunbury Street cameras to verify the figures.

As to maintenance, the whole train set currently has to be taken to Dynon overnight for routine work before forming the next morning Down; that may be things as simple as re-blocking cars. That ties up maybe 5 drivers, when they are chronically short of drivers anyway, although when they do those jobs the service reliability usually is at its best. Much of that work could be done at Dudley Street, if only they actually installed the third rail into the sheds. The fittings are there, the tracks are obviously set up for a third rail. Would also allow for a quick fix of minor issues between runs (with over an hour between arrival and departure times, there is time for a quick shunt, repair and re-dock).
hbedriver

Many thanks for the info on maintence, on the cancellations, the Albury service is certainly WAY better than it was and roughly 3 in one hundred is not chronic, it is though a REAL pain in the rear end all over when a train does not arrive when you have an important appointment somewhere.

As I previously mentioned I have been driving down to Seymour for many years now, generally catching the 0910 to Melbourne I have NEVER known it to be cancelled, except of course on important track work. Note: The Seymour staff tell me I am not the only one doing this, they said plenty of people are driving down from as far afield as Yarrawonga. The service from Seymour being excellent.

woodford
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
@woodford, if you don't mind, do you know if the station staff might know how many passengers are doing that from Yarrawonga/Corowa/the area north of Shepparton?
  TOQ-1 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Power Trainger
I'm fairly certain VLine counts a bus replacement as a service if it is advertised before hand, or if it is partially delivered, such as when a Swan Hill train terminates at Bendigo and is replaced by buses. Punctuality is also only measured to the Melbourne Fringe, so there's plenty of wiggle room for V/Line to fudge the statistics to make themselves look better.

When the Vlocity wheel issues arose earlier this year there was a bit of fuss about V/Line's reliability being so high when actually most of the services were coaches.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Figures for cancellations seem conservative, but I don't keep track of numbers. Maybe someone could review the Bunbury Street cameras to verify the figures.

As to maintenance, the whole train set currently has to be taken to Dynon overnight for routine work before forming the next morning Down; that may be things as simple as re-blocking cars. That ties up maybe 5 drivers, when they are chronically short of drivers anyway, although when they do those jobs the service reliability usually is at its best. Much of that work could be done at Dudley Street, if only they actually installed the third rail into the sheds. The fittings are there, the tracks are obviously set up for a third rail. Would also allow for a quick fix of minor issues between runs (with over an hour between arrival and departure times, there is time for a quick shunt, repair and re-dock).

Many thanks for the info on maintence, on the cancellations, the Albury service is certainly WAY better than it was and roughly 3 in one hundred is not chronic, it is though a REAL pain in the rear end all over when a train does not arrive when you have an important appointment somewhere.

As I previously mentioned I have been driving down to Seymour for many years now, generally catching the 0910 to Melbourne I have NEVER known it to be cancelled, except of course on important track work. Note: The Seymour staff tell me I am not the only one doing this, they said plenty of people are driving down from as far afield as Yarrawonga. The service from Seymour being excellent.

woodford
woodford

This is the latest V/Line rolling stock update issued on 15 June. Italics to differentiate my text from the text of the report

Mike.

VL16028 15/06/2016.

V/Line rolling stock update.

VLocity: All services will return to trains from Sunday 26 June as V/Line recovers from the faster than normal wheel wear on our VLocity fleet.
At the same time Bombardier Transportation has delivered all 43 VLocity carriages ordered as part of the Regional Rail Link project and completed the conversion of VLocity trains from two-carriage sets to three-carriage sets.

V/Line’s VLocity fleet size now stands at 177 carriages with a further 21 VLocity carriages ordered by the Victorian Government in 2015, as well as an extra 27 as part of the 2016-17 State Budget.

N-Set carriages: Some V/Line N-Set carriages have undergone extra maintenance meaning more carriage sets were out of service than normal during May.
Services normally run by N-Sets were replaced by coaches, H-Sets or VLocity trains.
There are now only a few N-Sets that require additional maintenance and services are not expected to be impacted.

Classic fleet condition assessment: V/Line is conducting a condition assessment on all our classic fleet rolling stock.
This will inform our classic fleet maintenance program to sustain classic fleet operations until the fleet is replaced with next generation trains.
Routine maintenance periods will be longer on our classic fleet while we complete the assessment and rolling stock may not be available to cover unplanned incidents such as animal strikes.
Classic fleet performance can be sustained until the next generation trains are ready based on the results of the audit so far and the recent commitment by the Victorian Government to upgrade air-conditioning and seating.

Z carriages: The 22 Z carriages currently out of service will gradually return to service in the second half of the year after they have been fitted with new bogies and serviced for operations.

Geelong line incident: On Friday 3 June a traction motor seized on a Melbourne bound N-Set carriage between Wyndham Vale and Melbourne causing disruptions to customers throughout the day.
The train was eventually moved and repairs are almost complete, all indications are that the fault was isolated and the rest of the fleet will not be affected.

The Asset Management, Service Delivery and Customer teams are conducting a review into the incident and the customer impacts.


                                                                             oooOOENDOOooo

I'll try to obtain more of these updates as they come along and post accordingly as they will possibly alleviate some of the speculation that's rife in these pages.

Mike.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

@woodford, if you don't mind, do you know if the station staff might know how many passengers are doing that from Yarrawonga/Corowa/the area north of Shepparton?
"james.au"


They did not say, the implication was the number was substantial. A likely indication may be that prior to reguaging before busses replaced trains one had no problems getting a parking space at Seymour, once the buses started unless one arrived at Seymour WELL before 0800 you would end up in Goulburn st and a 300 metre walk to the platform.

It is WELL worth remembering here that the Seymour train service is REALLY excellent soemthing the Albury service has not been for MANY years, to back well before the line was regauged, so for a lot of people there would likely be no other option.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Figures for cancellations seem conservative, but I don't keep track of numbers. Maybe someone could review the Bunbury Street cameras to verify the figures.

As to maintenance, the whole train set currently has to be taken to Dynon overnight for routine work before forming the next morning Down; that may be things as simple as re-blocking cars. That ties up maybe 5 drivers, when they are chronically short of drivers anyway, although when they do those jobs the service reliability usually is at its best. Much of that work could be done at Dudley Street, if only they actually installed the third rail into the sheds. The fittings are there, the tracks are obviously set up for a third rail. Would also allow for a quick fix of minor issues between runs (with over an hour between arrival and departure times, there is time for a quick shunt, repair and re-dock).

Many thanks for the info on maintence, on the cancellations, the Albury service is certainly WAY better than it was and roughly 3 in one hundred is not chronic, it is though a REAL pain in the rear end all over when a train does not arrive when you have an important appointment somewhere.

As I previously mentioned I have been driving down to Seymour for many years now, generally catching the 0910 to Melbourne I have NEVER known it to be cancelled, except of course on important track work. Note: The Seymour staff tell me I am not the only one doing this, they said plenty of people are driving down from as far afield as Yarrawonga. The service from Seymour being excellent.

woodford
woodford

This is the latest V/Line rolling stock update issued on 15 June. Italics to differentiate my text from the text of the report

Mike.

VL16028 15/06/2016.

V/Line rolling stock update.

Rest of report cutout by woodford.......................

I'll try to obtain more of these updates as they come along and post accordingly as they will possibly alleviate some of the speculation that's rife in these pages.

Mike.
"The Vinelander"


Many many many many MANY thanks for this information I was getting sick of the constant barrage of negativity and was just about to submit a post on the topic.. I have talked to a lot of these managers and they certainly are NOT stupid.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Its particularly good news about the Z sets, every driver and conductor I have talked to said it was totally insane not to make every effort to keep them in traffic.

woodford
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm............

There are 3 trains each way each day, in week there would be 42 services, 96.8% then is one train cancelled every 2 and half weeks, no wonder people are complaining........................
A third world rail system is likely to be better than that!

woodford.
woodford
I think the word you are looking for is 'unlikely', depending on your definition of a 'third world' rail system.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
'a traction motor seized on a Melbourne bound N-Set carriage'.
One learns something new every day.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Why are people making anecdotal claims on punctuality and reliability?

The figures are all listed on Vline's website and in annual reports.

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