snippets Tues.12.9.17

I'm in Panama, but haven't been on the metro. Internet is slow, so not my usual standard of editing.


September 12 2017.
Tough new conditions, fines for Metro Trains and Yarra Trams
Metro Trains and Yarra Trams have each won new seven-year contracts to operate in Melbourne, but with tougher performance targets and bigger fines for lateness and cancellations.
Metro will have to run 92 per cent of trains on time - up from 88 per cent now, and hit a delivery target of 98.5 per cent.
Metro Trains signs new contract. Photo: Penny Stephens
Yarra Trams will have to run 83 per cent of trams on time, up from 77 per cent now.
The system of penalties and bonuses the government can hit the two operators with will also rise.
Metro can be fined up to $1.25 million a month for poor performance, and Yarra Trams up to $500,000.
Meltdowns that cause commuter chaos for more than two hours will attract separate penalties of up to $700,000, in a new contract measure.

September 12 2017 Stand-off between Turnbull government and AGL deepens over conflicting statements

September 11 2017 Win for Malcolm Turnbull: AGL CEO Andy Vesey backs down over future of Liddell coal-fired power plant .

Metro Trains, Yarra Trams win $7 billion public transport contract.
Herald Sun Tues.12.9.
•Metro cops maximum fine for rail shutdown
•Long delays for Frankston line trains
•Whistle blown on Metro’s money train
•Demand for compo after train chaos
METRO Trains and Yarra Trams will face tougher performance targets and bigger penalties for poor service as part of new seven-year contracts worth a combined $7 billion.
The State Government today announced the new agreements, which will crack down on station skipping, graffiti and dirty trams, trains and stations.
Metro Trains and Yarra Trams will face tougher performance targets after winning a seven-year transport contract worth $7 billion. Picture: George Salpigtidis
It also includes spot audits, quarterly “mystery shoppers” surveys to assess passenger experience and a host of new or increased penalties.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said it was a “better deal for passengers”.
“That has been the highest priority for the government,” she said.
“It’s about raising the bar on performance, on delivery and putting a real focus on those areas that are important to passengers.
“These tougher penalties are being judged against tougher performance requirements.
“We’ve lifted the bar on both accounts. It is all designed to lift the performance of the tram and train network.”
As part of the new agreements, operators face “passenger experience” penalties of up to $9 million a year for Metro and up to $3 million for Yarra Trams.
Metro’s can be fined up to $1.25 million — increased from $1 million — a month for poor performance and Yarra Trams up to $500,00.
Metro also faces new one-off $700,000 fines for network meltdowns that cause more than half of services to be cancelled or delayed for at least half an hour within a two-hour period.
It would apply in situations like that crippling train shutdown Melbourne experienced in July.
That money would be used to pay for passengers refunds.
The deal will also crack down on performance targets, lifting Metro’s punctuality benchmark from 88 per cent to 92 per cent and delivery from 98 per cent to 98.5.
Yarra Trams will be expected to have 82 per cent of services on time — up from 77 per cent — and marginally better delivery.
The mega-contracts are worth a combined $7 billion, although the government says the tougher conditions will mean a “reduced level of profit” for the operators.
Metro will be paid $786 million a year — a $164 million boost annually compared to the current eight-year agreement.
Yarra Trams will pocket $297 million a year, $81 million more annually than currently.
Computer glitch halts all Melbourne metro trains.
Public Transport Victoria boss Jeroen Weimar said Metro Trains and Yarra Trams would be held to account with a “rigorous set of controls” built into the contract.
“In these contracts we have listened very closely to our passengers and have built in the higher and much tough performance targets for them,” he said.
“We at Public Transport Victoria are working in the interest of all passengers and taxpayers to ensure these operators are held to account and deliver all of their promises.”
But Rail, Tram and Bus Union state secretary Luba Grigorovitch said the tough new measures didn’t go far enough.
“Without testing the market, without looking at other options and without sufficient transparency there remains room for improvement and many questions to be answered,” she said.
“The devil is always in the detail. It is now crucial that the Government makes available the full contracts to the public who pay for the service so that opportunity for scrutiny is not compromised.”
The contracts, to kick in November 30, run until 2024.
The State Government has the option of extending the contracts for a further three years to 2027.
• Seven-year contracts worth a combined $7 billion
• Metro paid $786 million a year, $164 million more annually than under the previous eight-year agreement
• Yarra Trams paid $297 million a year, $81 million more annually than under the previous eight-year agreement
• New “passenger experience” penalty of up to $9 million a year for Metro and up to $3 million for Yarra Trams
• New train shutdown penalty of up to $700,000 if a network failure stops more than half of services or delays them by 30 minutes within a two-hour period
• Tougher monthly targets: Metro punctuality target up from 88% to 92%, delivery target up from 98% to 98.5%
• Tougher monthly targets: Yarra Trams punctuality target up from 77% to 82%, delivery target up from 98% to 98.5%
• Metro’s monthly penalties and bonuses lifted from $1 million to $1.25 million. Yarra Trams’ remains at $500,000
• Daily inspections and cleaning of trains, trams, stations and major tram stops
• Quarterly “mystery shoppers” surveys to assess cleanliness and graffiti
• Advertising crackdown to ban tram “wrapping” and reduce gender objectification ads
• Increased maintenance and renewal budgets: Metro’s up 32 per cent to $330 million a year, Yarra Trams’ up $81 per cent to $81.5 million a year
• 700 new jobs, including 150 train drivers, 270 support staff and 90 infrastructure workers
* In all of the concentration on lateness and cancellation, overlooked has been the poor timetable being provided: too many places with only a train every 30 min for too much of the wee. Every location could sustain every 20 min without spending anything on eliminating choke points. Hopefully, the advertising restriction results in nothing on windows.
* Enormous increase in payments, but for what's?
Public servants have been taken to the cleaners ,again.
I was recently back in town for a week. I was travelling from Camberwell to Mooroolbark - about 25km according to Google Maps.
Got to the station and had to wait for a replacement bus - 10min wait.
Got to Box Hill and had to wait for the train - 15min wait.
Got to Ringwood and had to wait on a waiting train for the next train to arrive so we could go towards Lilydale - 10min wait.
All up it took around 90 mins, 35 of those waiting, to travel 25km. Regardless of rail works, how is it possible to take this long to travel such a short distance?
* I got a train by these horrible operators which happened to the same day when the system shut down not long ago! Private operators don't know how to operate a transport system! Have a look at Sydney and Brisbane! No wonder why Metro stinks!
* Money for jam when dealing with people out of their depth of expertise , just sign away and let's go for a extended lunch break , job done
* $2 Million per day. Surely the government could run it themselves for better than that and then re invest the balance into infrastructure.
* Daniel Andrews is trying to lock all his mates into contracts before he gets thrown out at next year's election. It would be interesting to read what all the perks are that they will receive.
* Not really, Victorian Railways cost a lot, but it did a lot that wasn't feasible for a business.
It was also very innovative in it's day, eg it purchased double ended diesels (B class) when GM didn't make them, they had to be talked into it.
VR was first "in the British Empire" to have an air-conditioned carriage in the 1930s.
* No need to clean graffiti etc. as enforcement will stop most issues and of course increase patronage !
* How about getting them to tidy up the rail corridors as well. It is an absolute disgrace the condition it is in.
* I don't think they look after that. That's down to Victrack.
* Why would you hand the Public Transport (for trains)contract to Metro?
* They have proven over MANY years that they are not up to it. What a joke this is. If the Government was serious about improving this State and improving Public Transport, there is no way in hell they would have let this happen... When is the election?
The trains and trams may not change, but the Government definitely will
* the way Metro trains exploited the loophole in the existing contract of being able to skip stations in order to meet performance targets is indicative of their lack of commitment to putting customers' best interests first. Why did the government re-sign with them ?
Or will Metro find other loopholes in the new contract that they can exploit at the expense of the people of Victoria ?
It's obvious that whoever is making decisions in relation to public transport at PT Victoria doesn't use public transport.
* It's probably easier to bludgeon an incumbent rather than do it all again with a new player.
* Yes have they removed this loophole from the new contract with Metro? I am sick of being thrown off at Richmond station because the train is late. It then gets to Flinders Street on time only because it has not gone via the city loop. Also will they stop trains being cut short going out of the city because they are late? I am sick of being thrown off a couple of stops from the end. I then need to get a connecting bus at the other end and have often missed this because of Metro. Then have to wait 40 minutes for my next bus.
* The Labor Party should not sign a contract of this magnitude without taking it to an election. They have no mandate for this.
* Probably, to use Denials own words, not worth the paper it was printed on (and printed no doubt at premium rates).
Will that include penalties not only for late services but also for station skipping?
* Seriously? They were elected... to govern. I think they have a 'mandate' to sign contracts.
* I think you may have missed the irony. EastWest Tunnel ?
* I hoped someone would twig. Maybe it was a bit subtle...

Clean-up: Transport operators to remove graffiti tags on Melbourne’s trams, trains and stations.
Herald Sun September 12, 2017.
TRANSPORT operators will have to inspect and clean train stations and tram stops, and trains and trams, every day, and remove unsightly graffiti.
The conditions are in new contracts for Metro Trains and Yarra Trams to run Melbourne’s transport network.
And secret squads of “mystery shoppers”, whose job is to gauge the “passenger experience”, will patrol the transport network each quarter, to ensure they fulfil the conditions.
The operators face big penalties — up to $9 million a year for Metro and up to $3 million for Yarra Trams — for poor passenger experience.
It comes as a Melbourne suburban mayor called for greater police powers to deal with vandals, many of whom attack the transport network.
The City of Melbourne spends more than $800,000 a year cleaning up graffiti. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Peter Clarke, mayor of Nillumbik, in Melbourne’s outer northeast, called for a “designated graffiti prosecution taskforce”.
“Some councils haven’t just dropped the ball, they’ve simply walked away from the problem,’’ he said. “Offenders should be brought to justice and made to pay for their mindless ‘tagging’. The current lack of resources makes prosecution difficult for both Victoria Police and councils.”
Nillumbik has cut its graffiti problem by almost 60 per cent in a year, by putting covert cameras in known tagging hot spots, which live-stream vision direct to its contractors.
More than 120 offenders have been caught, saving the council an estimated $350,000 in clean-up costs.
The City of Melbourne also spends more than $800,000 on cleaning graffiti every year.
But two inner-city councils, Moreland and Yarra, no longer clean graffiti from ratepayers’ property, advising them to get a cleaning kit from council and do it themselves.
The Public Transport Users Association’s Tony Morton said transport operators should tackle graffiti as a “matter of course”.
Graffiti in Richmond. Picture: Jay Town
But he welcomed the new contract conditions, saying Public Transport Victoria, the government and local councils had all attempted to skirt responsibility.
“We know graffiti and any visible disrepair … is a big contributor to the perception of an unsafe and unworkable system. It puts people off travelling … and cements the impression that nobody cares about the system and … the people who use it,” he said.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said Victoria had some of Australia’s strongest graffiti laws. Spray-paint vandals face up to two years’ jail or fines up to $38,000.
Twitter Mon.11.9.17
17.01 Pakenham/Cranbourne lines - Minor delays due to a track equipment fault Yarraman–Dandenong area.
17.11 Frankston line: Minor delays due to a previous motor vehicle on our tracks.
17.59 Belgrave/Lilydale lines: Minor delays due to a previous trespasser near our tracks.
18.26 Hurstbridge line: Minor delays due to a previous trespasser near our tracks.
18.57 Sunbury line: Minor Delays due to a previous trespasser near our tracks in the Tottenham area.
21.40 Alamein line: Major Delays up to 20 minutes.
7.55 Werribee/Williamstown lines: Minor delays clearing after an earlier ill passenger at North Melbourne.
8.14 South Morang/Hurstbridge lines: Minor delays (debris on lines near Clifton Hill).
12.21 Lilydale line: Minor delays (police near Croydon).
- 12.42, clearing.
- I couldn't hear the announcement.
16.27 Major delays between Werribee-Laverton (a track equipment fault).
- 16.53 now minor.
- 7 more years of this.
17.41 What's happening on the Frankston line? There are no trains from Southern Cross and no announcements.
18.18 Belgrave/Lilydale lines: Major delays (a track equipment fault in the Surrey Hills area).
- Well worth that new 7 year contract.
18.54 Frankston line; Minor delays (a track equipment fault in the Carrum area).
19.30 Pakenham line: Minor Delays (police in the Narre Warren area), then major. 19.56, clearing.
Hefty separate fines set for public transport meltdowns September 12 2017.
New public transport contracts are no great leap forward .
It's a case of the little engine that could … most of the time.
Melbourne's new train and tram contracts are a victory for modest and incremental improvement over heady dreams of public transport nirvana.
Metro Trains and Yarra Trams have won new seven-year contracts. Photo: Jesse Marlow They promise slightly better days ahead for commuters, rather than any great leap forward in service standards.
The higher punctuality targets of 92 per cent for trains and 82 per cent for trams set the bar at a level Metro Trains and Yarra Trams will be able to meet on a good day, but will punish them on outright bad days.
Related Articles
Tough new conditions, fines for Metro Trains and Yarra Trams
'It sort of exploded': Commuters flee burning tram
Most Melbourne travellers will be able to live with them, even if they know the benchmarks leave the city well shy of great metro systems such as in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
The current performance targets are badly out of date.
They reflect the broken down network of 2009 and are so soft they stopped being a useful way to keep the two private operators honest years ago.
They are also full of loopholes, with no direct mechanism for penalising station-skipping or tram short-shunting.
Private operator Yarra Trams must meet higher punctuality targets. Photo: Eddie Jim
The new contracts promise to crack down on these tactics, which Metro Trains and Yarra Trams have used to get away with inconveniencing passengers to chase bonuses.
They'll also hit the operators with fines of up to $700,000 when the network fails, although it's doubtful if any fine can make up for the intolerable situation of a city-wide meltdown like Melbourne saw in July.
Melbourne's periodic rail meltdowns expose the stubborn fragility of the city's public transport system, which no contractual set-up of performance-based bonuses and penalties can paper over.
Metro Trains has long been one of Melburnians' favourite punching bags (Yarra Trams arguably less so because of our sentimental attachment to trams).
Deflecting public anger is part of their job, and why the government will pay the company $786 million a year over the next seven years.
It means they also have someone to point the finger of blame at in a meltdown.
But governments cannot hide behind the veneer of private operation forever.
Voters like to vent at Metro and Yarra Trams, but ultimately they know that long-term neglect by government of the system's nuts and bolts is a bigger cause of system failures than any incompetence on the part of the franchisees.
This explains why the government has upped the operators' maintenance budgets by 37 per cent over the next seven years.
It believes this heavier investment in public transport will pay off in the minds of voters who marked the Baillieu/Napthine and Brumby state governments down for poor performance in this area.
The government will point with one hand to the new contracts as a sign the network is steadily becoming more reliable (or less unreliable), and with the other at its pipeline of major projects such as the Metro tunnel and level crossing removal program as a sign of better days ahead.
By the time these multibillion-dollar projects are complete, the public will be entitled to expect to see the performance bar raised once again.
Related Articles:
Hi-vis vigilantes rip up 'undemocratic' tram stop ads.
Why Melbourne's train network melted down yet again .
Melbourne Express: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
buildings city melbourne - express icons
An Express reader has just sent me a bunch of pictures of wayward oBikes.
This snap taken near City Road really illustrates what an eyesore they are.
I've reported on oBike since they launched in Melbourne. It's been nothing short of a debacle.
Abandoned oBikes in Melbourne. Photo: Ashwini Rao
Flinders Street Station in Melbourne. Photo: Eddie Jim
8.11 We've got delays of up to 10 minutes on the Frankston, South Morang and Hurstbridge lines.
7.59 We've got delays of up to 10 minutes on the Werribee and Williamstown lines (an ill passenger at North Melbourne).
7.45 All train lines are on time.
7.10 We've got an outbound smash in Flemington Road near Abbotsford Street involving a motorcyclist. Route 57, 58 and 59 trams are experiencing delays.
New public transport contracts are no great leap forward
Melbourne Express: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Now arriving at Parliament. Next stop.... Winterfell?
Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has given his blessing for a new underground station in Melbourne to be named after a location in his iconic books.
Naming of Melbourne's five new stations is open to the public, with Game of Thrones references among the most pitched [Read more here].
Malcolm Turnbull will be claiming victory this morning after AGL backed down from its plan to shut down the Liddell coal-fired power plant by 2022.
The government wants the electricity provider to keep the power plant open for five years beyond 2022 to meet a major electricity shortfall.
AGL has asked for 90 days to come up with a proposal to keep the plant open, sell it - or deliver equivalent power into the market [Read the full report here].
AGL's Andy Vesey said on Monday after meeting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he would put the idea of extending Liddell to his board even though it was "economically irrational". Photo: Andrew Meares
Victorian government plans radical push to deregulate electricity prices [Read more here].