Traveling on Connex recently has actually been pretty good. I’ve been critical of Connex in the past but, credit where it’s due, I haven’t had a significantly late (>5 mins) train for a couple of weeks. Good job Connex; it’s a refreshing change and I hope you can keep it up.
[Update: I wrote this on a train that turned out to be nine minutes late! Self jinxed!]
Interesting factoid: For those that don’t know, Connex has monthly performance targets that it must meet otherwise they’re penalised. Which is good except that the targets are somewhat misleading. A train can arrive up to 5 minutes, 59 seconds after it’s scheduled time and still be considered “on time” (ie the train has to arrive “within five minutes”). Keep that in mind when you see the posters advertising “92% of on-time arrivals”.
Also, the penalties are kinda weak. They only reimburse monthly, six monthly and yearly ticket holders. The compensation is a free daily ticket. I travel on the train most days but usually purchase daily or weekly tickets which works out better for me (some days I’ll take the company car home and to work). Bottom line is that I only share in the poor service, not the compensation!
I also note that today Mx had an article questioning why trains stop at 1am Friday and Saturday when 300,000 people travel in to the city those nights…good question. There are many times I would have loved to have had the option to take the train home early in the morning. I haven’t read the article yet but some of the issues that come to mind are:
- Security. Many people coming home in the early hours are going to be drunk and that implies stupidity. Who’s going to keep the trains safe?
- Taxi drivers. They’ve got it pretty tough as it is (taxi licenses are amazingly expensive – ask an owner-driver next time you come across one). I imagine they would be dead-set against this proposal and that may have ramifications.
- Government deals with Transurban. I’ve been told that when the toll roads were negotiated the government agreed to limit significant investment in rail (if true this is truly a heinous decision). [Can anyone verify this rumour?]
- Train drivers. The train driver union is a powerful organisation and would likely demand significant pay increases for late shifts. [Personally I’d prefer fully-automated driverless trains like many other progressive countries…but that’s another topic!]
- What’s in it for Connex? For better or (almost certainly) worse, our train system is essentially a private business. Why should they run later? Will it return greater profits? (I would guess not.)
As much as I’d like to see later trains it may not happen in a hurry.
Anyway, repeating my initial comment, well done for the past couple of weeks Connex, I’ve been mostly on time, have had no cancellations and have noticed an improvement in the service.