Metro handed the Passenger Impact Statement for the timetable changes to the Baillieu government on 22 March 2011. The day after, Greens MP Greg Barber made a request to Parliament for the document, which remained confidential until yesterday – just 3 days before the timetable change. The report shows that Metro wants the government to pay it $6.6 million more a year to provide the extra services (Ref 1). The Statement indicates the winners and losers in this timetable change and can be downloaded from this page at The Age’s website.

Here is a summary.

Train Line Winner (+) / Loser (-)
Werribee (-) All trains (40 services) withdrawn from City Loop.
(-) During interpeak, Westona, Altona & Seaholme passengers will have to take a shuttle and change trains at Newport to go to City or at Laveton to go to Werribee.
(-) Reduced interpeak services for Werribee, Hoppers Crossing & Aircraft passengers.
(-) Poor connections for Laverton services during peak hours and Altona passengers now have to stop all stations to Flinders St.
(-) Service frequency reduced from 1 train every 20 min to 1 every 22 min during peak hours.

(+??) 37 new daily services – these are actually the 37 newly-introduced daily Altona Loop Shuttle services, something that the Altona passengers do not want and something that will not benefit other passengers on the Werribee line. In reality, there will be 16 less Werribee to City services and 14 less City to Werribee services each day (Ref 2). It is dubious that Metro classifies this as a “winner” for passengers.

(+) Express Werribee trains run every 11 min between 8.30-9 am.
(+) Werribee-bound night services operate every 20 min instead of 30 min until 10 pm.

Williamstown (-) 20 min frequency reduced to 22 min during peak hours.

(+) 2 new services per day, including 1 more service between 1st train and 7 am.
(+) No more changing at Newport during interpeak hours.
(+) Williamstown shuttle night services operate every 20 min instead of 30 min until 10 pm.
(+) Passengers between Newport and South Kensington are serviced by trains every 10 min.

Sydenham (+) 3 new daily services.
(+) 6-carriage trains all day.
Upfield (+) 2 new daily services going through the City Loop, including an extra pre-morning peak service and an extra post-evening peak service to Upfield.
(+) 6-carriage trains all day.
Craigieburn (-) One morning train withdrawn, another starts from Broadmeadows instead of Cragieburn.

(+) 3 new daily services.
(+) 6-carriage trains all day.

Frankston (-) All 47 off-peak services withdrawn from City Loop.
(-) Journey time between Frankston & Flinders St increases by 3 min.

(+) 15 new daily services.
(+) More express trains in the afternoon and shoulder afternoon peaks.

Pakenham (-) Journey time between Pakenham & Flinders St increases by 2-3 min.
(-) One shoulder morning peak Westall-bound service withdrawn.

(+) 11 new daily services, including 6 extra City Loop services.
(+) Pakenham-bound night services operate every 20 min instead of 30 min until 10 pm.

Cranbourne (-) Journey time between Cranbourne & Flinders St increases by 3 min.
(-) 1 shoulder post afternoon peak City-bound service withdrawn.

(+) 6 new daily services.

Sandringham (-) Journey time between Sandringham & Flinders St increases by 1 min.

(+) 18 new daily services, including 3 new City-bound services from 7-9 am, 4 new Sandringham-bound services from 4.30-6.30 pm and 2 extra pre-morning peak services from Mordialloc to Flinders St.
(+) Morning and afternoon peak services now every 7-8 min.

Glen Waverley (-) All 34 morning services withdrawn from City Loop.
(-) 2 morning express services changed to stopping all stations.

(+) 4 new daily services.
(+) Morning peak services now every 7-8 min.

Belgrave & Lilydale (+) 28 new daily City Loop services.
(+) More express services.
Alamein (+) 1 new daily service.
(+) 13 extra City Loop services.
Epping & Hurstbridge No change

The greatest losers in this timetable changes are the passengers on the Werribee Line, in particular those taking trains from Westona, Altona and Seaholme. In reality, there is a decrease of 30 daily services. The 37 new daily services that Metro claims to be an improvement are actually the Altona Loop shuttle services that Altona passengers do not want and these do not benefit passengers in other parts of the Werribee Line. Rather, this will inconvenience passengers coming to Altona.

There is a section (page 6) in the Statement that highlights individual stations with significant changes. I am very surprised that Westona, Altona and Seaholme stations are omitted from this list, either deliberately, due to overlooking or Metro really thinks that Altona passengers are trivially affected.

Wyndham is experiencing the highest population growth in Australia (not just in Melbourne). It is ironical that the Werribee services are reduced and passengers have to be contented with 3-carriage trains during night services. In contrast, new daily services are added to other lines, with the Belgrave and Lilydale lines receiving 28 more daily services, Sandringham line 18 more daily services, Frankston line 15 more daily services and Alamein line 13 more daily services. Also, other lines now run 6-carriage trains all day.

Some interesting points/statements from this document:

Page 2: “The most recent data indicates that train patronage has started to grow again by approximately 8% in the 2010 year, after a lull in 2009.” 2009 was the last year of operation for Connex, Metro took over at the end of 2009 and began its disastrous year of operations in 2010 when it failed to achieve its performance targets month after month. So perhaps its dismaying performance is attributable to the a lull in passenger demand in 2009, followed by a boom in 2010?

Page 1: “More realistic journey times for Frankston, Pakenham, Cranbourne and Sandringham“. The journey time is now revised by up to an extra 3 minutes. Perhaps, an unrealistic journey time is another reason why Metro is unable to meet its punctuality targets? By lengthening the journey time, Metro will be able to improve its performance as it can now meet its target.

In this statement, Metro has perceived running more Eastern line trains through the City Loop as a service improvement for people living in the eastern suburbs. But yet Metro CEO, Andrew Lezala said during the Altona Loop Community Meeting on 29 Mar 2011, that 82.9% of Werribee passengers prefer direct service to Flinders Street and not through the City Loop (Ref 3).

Metro considers it desirable to make the Sandringham Line independent from the rest of the network and to make the Northern Group of lines self-contained (Page 1), yet it has tied up the Werribee service to the Frankston service to become a cross-city service. Any disruption, delay, or cancellation on one line is bound to have flow-on effects to affect the other line operating on the other side of the City.

I have read from the newspapers that the Metro CEO lives in the eastern suburb and takes trains to work daily. I just wonder which line is he travelling on. If he is staying in the western suburbs, he may have got a different insight and adopt a different approach.

Now Metro is asking $6.6 million more a year to provide the extra services. From this impact statement, it appears that the negative impacts are not less than the suggested improvements, which we are still not sure at this stage whether they will be delivered as promised. Some of the announced increased services are questionable such as the Altona Loop shuttle services disguised as new Werribee services while others occur in odd hours of the day such as before 7 am, when the least number of passengers would be using them. As taxpayers, I feel that we should be getting commensurate value for all our every cent that we pay.

When I chanced upon this information revealed by the Age a while back, I hope that history will not repeat itself, with the taxpayers having to pay a huge cost. Britain’s National Audit Office, found the management of Metronet had wasted millions of pounds of public money. We do not know of Andrew Lezala’s role or involvement so he may not have contributed to Metronet’s failure in any way, as claimed by Metro’s spokeswoman.

Please note that the change is starting this coming Sunday.