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METRO could be fined for a system glitch that paralysed Melbourne’s rail network and left tens of thousands of commuters stranded last night.
Public transport minister Jacinta Allan said the catastrophic computer fail was unacceptable.
“The government has made its position crystal clear ... we expect a higher performance standard under the next round of contracts for Metropolitan trains and trams,” she said.
Earlier Metro Trains chief executive Mike Houghton ruled out hackers as the cause for the widespread outage, which affected all suburban and some country train lines.
Ms Allan said what happened on Thursday evening was unacceptable and said the contract with Metro Trains allowed for penalties to be applied.
She said backup system also failed but it was the first time this total system failure had ever happened.
The minister also took aim at ride share company Uber for “taking advantage” of people trying to get home.
Uber prices skyrocketed at the height of the chaos, with a five-minute trip — which could usually cost about $8 to $10 — escalating to about $43.
“I think their [Uber’s] behaviour yesterday exposed their approach to people.”
“Taking advantage of people in a difficult circumstance is not how to operate a business,” Ms Allan said.
Earlier Metro chief executive Mike Houghton assured passengers the system was up and running this morning and running smoothly.
“I can assure our customers the system is up and running. It’s running well this morning. There’s no reason not to expect it to run efficiently,” he told 3AW.
Mr Houghton said passengers would be refunded by the widespread disruption of suburban and country lines, which struck as commuters prepared to head home just after 4pm yesterday.
“We will be refunding passengers affected by the disruption. We are exploring options on how to do that and will confirm the details later today,” he said.
Earlier Metro said passengers would have to apply for compensation by filling out a form.
Metro said the Train Control and Monitoring System suffered a total shutdown, and the backup Disaster Recovery System Centre also lost power.
Asked how this could occur, Metro could only “sincerely apologise” to passengers for the disruption and frustration.
But it would only consider compensating passengers out of pocket due to delays on a “case-by-case basis”.
“We have an existing performance regime in place that enables customers to claim compensation based on the overall performance of the network during any month,” Metro’s Marcus Williams said.
“Under our Customer Compensation Code we do not offer compensation or refund for one-off disruptions, delays and cancellations.
“However, we assess all requests on a case-by-case basis.”
The state government said compensation was a matter for Public Transport Victoria and Metro Trains.
PTV referred all inquiries to Metro Trains.
The Public Transport Users Association’s Tony Morton said commuters should be compensated for the “catastrophic failure”.
“With an incident of this magnitude, you would anticipate either a refund for people who’ve touched on today or a free travel day,” he said.
Packed platforms at Southern Cross station. Picture: Twitter.@iwantmynbn
A train arrives at Parliament and passengers try to squeeze on. Picture: Twitter/@brettwakeman
A packed tram outside Flinders Street Station. Picture: David Caird
A crowded platform at Flinders St. Picture: Cheryl Critchley
Commuters crush on to a train at Melbourne Central station. Picture: Kara Lambert
People stuck on a train in the City Loop. Picture: Gaurav MehraMr Morton said a root-and-branch review of Melbourne’s train network was needed.
“Unfortunately, it is far from the first time we’ve had an incident like this in the last few years,” he said.
“It reminds us about the lack of resilience in the suburban rail network, and that work needs to be done to bring it up to scratch,” he said.
“We need to investigate the issues in our network — the catastrophic failures that happen on a day like today, and the routine failures that happen on a day-to-day basis.”
The Rail Tram and Bus Union’s branch secretary, Luba Grigorovitch, said: “Apparently all the big managers were barking orders and didn’t know what the hell they were saying or doing.
“I’m told by a Metro union delegate that most of the staff just looked on in disbelief.”
V/Line said the technical fault affected some services on the Seymour/Shepparton and Bendigo/Swan Hill lines, causing major delays to those passengers.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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