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Metro Trains is being probed by the public transport watchdog over complaints about trains changing destinations while commuters are still on board.
The probe was revealed in the Public Transport Ombudsman's annual report, released on Tuesday, which found reliability and punctuality copped the most complaints from commuters.
In a bid to meet its punctuality targets, Melbourne's rail service sometimes changes the destination of a train after it departs Southern Cross and arrives at Flinders Street - a practice known as transposing services.
This is done on incoming trains arriving late at Flinders Street - where the train is scheduled to wait for a few minutes as drivers change over - to avoid delays flowing onto other lines.
Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen said transposal services should be kept to a minimum, and called on Metro to switch the train's destination before it departs Southern Cross, rather than waiting until commuters are on board.
"It's not really clear why it happens at the last minute after people have boarded the train," Mr Bowen said.
A Melbourne train on the city's railway. CREDIT:AAP
The ombudsman's report also highlights that V/Line is considering e-ticketing options for parts of the country rail service still using outdated paper tickets.
V/Line confirmed it was looking into e-ticketing and was preparing advice for the government on how this could be rolled out.
The regional rail service is also considering on-board coach ticketing systems that would be equipped with options to pay by card.
A key problem with V/Line's paper tickets is they can only be printed at specific outlets. This means people need to make a separate trip to pick up their ticket before travelling.
It comes as complaints about punctuality and reliability overtook Myki ticketing complaints in becoming the biggest commuter bugbear this year, the report found.
The high number of rail upgrades, level crossing removal works and road works have driven up complaints about disruptions by more than 100 per cent to 138 issues raised this year.
Nearly 1100 people complained about service delivery on the public transport network - a rise of 40 per cent.
Commuters took issue with infrequent train replacement buses and inadequate signage and announcements during rail shutdowns.
There were also safety concerns over the lack of crowd management at temporary stops, with disruptions putting pressure on other nearby rail lines, trams or buses.
The number of complaints about train replacement services rose by 50 per cent, with the ombudsman now investigating bus replacement services on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines (buses are replacing trains on sections of the lines for most of December).
The ombudsman is also probing the reimbursement of Hurstbridge line commuters who were forced to use buses for an extra week during rail crossing works earlier this year.
"Public transport operators need to be more effective in ensuring that information is provided to consumers promptly and in a targeted manner," the report stated.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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