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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
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Metropolitan train cancellations jumped alarmingly last month compared to September, with frustrated commuters forced to put up with an average of 23 cancelled trains a day.
Connex said 712 trains were cancelled last month because of continuing driver shortages, faulty trains and vandalism.
In September, 478 trains were cancelled.
The latest figures show 1.4 per cent of the 52,347 scheduled train services last month were cancelled, while 4.9 per cent of services (2451 trains) were more than five minutes late.
In September, 0.9 per cent of the 51,658 scheduled train services were cancelled, and 5.6 per cent of services (2857 trains) were more than five minutes late.
The worst-hit lines in October were Frankston (111 cancellations), Sandringham (101), Lilydale (56) and Broadmeadows (55).
Connex, fined $4.6 million for poor performance in the July-September quarter, said it was making every effort to improve services.
"We understand how upsetting and annoying it is to be late for appointments, to miss a connecting service or be delayed picking the kids up from school or child care," a Connex spokesman said.
Advertisement"We recognise that train cancellations cause serious inconvenience for our customers, forcing them to wait longer for a train, which is then often carrying more than the usual number of passengers, resulting in a crowded and uncomfortable ride."
The spokesman said the driver shortage, which was expected to cause problems well into next year, delayed 995 services in October and led to 82 cancelled trains.
Eight people were struck by trains last month, delaying 371 and causing 114 cancellations.
A wild storm on October 27 was blamed for widespread disruptions, with strong winds bringing down trees and power cables.
A branch caught under a train running from Sandringham to the city delayed 10 other trains; fallen branches in overhead power cables on the Glen Waverley line delayed seven trains and caused 18 cancellations; flooded subways at some stations delayed nine trains and caused eight cancellations; a high-voltage power cable dislodged by the wind at Camberwell disrupted the Belgrave, Lilydale and Alamein lines. Sixty-six trains were cancelled and another 26 delayed.
The storm disrupted timetables for the rest of the day, causing 148 delayed trains and 35 cancellations.
The newly appointed director of public Transport, Jim Betts, said he did not believe the city's rail network was in chaos, "but certainly over the last few months, the system has failed to deliver the standard of services passengers have every right to expect".
"We've got a system which isn't doing as well as it could and should do, but it's still running better now than it was running under the Public Transport Corporation before privatisation," Mr Betts said.
"It is tough. There's no easy answers. A lot of people talk about giving compensation to passengers, but we have actually talked to passengers and they've said, 'We don't want a free muffin, we want you to invest resources in fixing the system'.
"It's going to be a fairly long haul to get the system running like clockwork, but that's our ambition and we shouldn't aim for anything less."
Mr Betts said the normal train-cancellation rate was about 0.5 per cent.
He said the Government planned to focus on giving passengers as much advance warning as possible of delays and cancellations.
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