Thursday, February 16, 2006

Angry people going nowhere

I always envy the Sydney rail service but everytime I check in on the Sydney Herald, there are screaming headlines saying how bad the train service is -and they say it never gets better despite offical promises and government "concern."
Today under the headline Angry people going nowhere
the paper reports:

SIX months after it introduced a new timetable to fix massive delays on the rail network, CityRail is still battling to run trains on time, new figures show.

More than half of the weekday peak hour trains were late in November, December and February, despite cuts to services and an increase in travel times.

The revelation came on a disastrous day for Sydney commuters. The aim of the timetable was to have 92 per cent of trains arriving at their destination within five minutes of the scheduled time. To do this CityRail cut services to improve efficiency, slowed travel times and extended the definition of "on time running" by more than a minute. Afternoon peak hour is the worst, with one in 10 trains late this month. On the Illawarra line - which does not have a new timetable yet - only 53.9 per cent of afternoon peak hour trains arrived on time last week. Over the entire week, just 82.3 per cent of peak hour trains were on time. (The Tansport Minister spin doctor says): CityRail's new timetables are not a cure-all for reliability because they do not prevent incidents impacting on train services - from police operations to signal failures, electrical storms to sick passengers."

Hmm... glad I live in Auckland!

The trains were packed tonight but it would have been helpful for the guard to tell people when they arrived at Eden park (for the cricket). Perople had no idea in the standing room only train what was going on.

On the iPod: Organic Audio Presents Hi-Life: An Uplifting Selection Of Afro-House Grooves


Blogger Gary F said...

I was holidaying on the Central Coast of New South Wales from 21 January until 5 February. I used the CityRail trains frequently to travel south into Sydney, and once north to Newcastle, and only two of the services that I travelled on were late. That said, I always avoided peak hour.

On one occasion I was travelling between Gosford and Newcastle. All northbound trains were delayed in reaching Gosford by twenty minutes because of track maintenance near Central (although we had to ask one of the CityRail staff before we were told about this). By the time the train reached Newcastle it was around forty minutes late. This, I thought, was excusable because of the track maintenance.

The other time that the train was late, it was getting close to peak hour and CityRail needed to attach more carriages in order to meet passenger demand. They don't allow anyone on the train whilst shunting is going on. Shunting is in fact the appropriate word here, because sometimes the operation of adding more carriages did seem a bit rough. Needless to say, the reason the service was late that time was because they needed to wait for another train to arrive so that it could be attached to the end of our train.

Overall I was deeply impressed with the CityRail system and the efficiency with which it operated. The medium-to-long-distance "V-Set" double decker trains that I travelled on most of the time were more than comfortable enough to be able to render any potential delays endurable. It was good that they were equipped with toilets -- I could have done with those when I was trapped on a Waitakere-bound train for three hours once! Though I do realise one is not supposed to have to spend that long travelling on our humble urban network.

My cousin and I experienced one of those police ambushes once as we got off the train, where two officers stood at the exit of the platform and asked everyone to produce their tickets. I felt intimidated, although I know I need not have. Still, that time Connex set up a cordon across the breadth of the escalators and stairs at the Brit was nothing compared to this.

1:40 PM  
Blogger James Pole said...

Intersting to compare with Connex Auckland -- who in December managed to run 87% of trains on time or within 5mins. Although I do think 87% is rather low as Connex Melbourne often manages to achieve 95% or more. A good start though.

3:05 PM  
Blogger steved said...

Timetables are almost irrelevant for journeys in urban Sydney, as the frequency of trains is more like a metro than the sparse New Zealand urban services.
On top of that, the staff numbers are higher, the trains are newer, and public crime safety is more obvious.
When I worked for Sydney railways the fares were cheap and trains only got to full rather than overcrowded.
The Sydney network extends to Newcastle 150km north, (say Whangarei) and south about 100km (say Thames), and delays to those trains may be an issue for some.

10:57 AM  

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