Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fixing The Trains - But When?

You forgot to mention the 333 axed train services?
After recently being berated by BrizCommuter for the delayed June edition of Fixing The Trains (.pdf download link), the Citytrain Response Unit (CRU) has finally released it. So what have the Citytrain Response Unit, who incidentally are costing the taxpayer $3.5m a year, said in the latest update on Queensland Rail's (QR) #RailFail?

Stabilising timetables - the CRU have stated that "Queensland Rail has undertaken rigorous stress testing of the current timetable and has determined that the current timetable should remain in place. There are however, a number of distinct stress periods identified over the next 12 months which will require active management. This may require timetable adjustments, for a defined period of time, to ensure sufficient train crew are available to deliver reliable services across the network." In other words, expect yet more hourly weekend train services (worst train frequency in Oceana), and cuts to timetables during school holidays. No mention of how long the "interim timetable" cuts will stay in place, seems to be indefinitely.

QR being more customer focussed - the CRU have stated that "From equipping station staff with more tools to help customers, to frequent Commuter Catch-Ups and a refresh of station amenities, Queensland Rail is demonstrating that it is an organisation committed to meeting the needs of its customers and stakeholders. Queensland Rail will continue to use customer feedback to grow and evolve initiatives to improve customer experience." They failed to mention QR deleting hundreds of negative reviews of Facebook, the somewhat last minute mentions of the Commuter Catch-Ups, and the fact that customer information during times of delays is still as bad as ever.

Business Review - "Deutsche Bahn Engineering and Consulting was engaged to assist in the first phase of the review which comprised more than 70 interviews, 4 site visits and review of more than 250 documents. This  first phase of the review will be finalised next quarter." How about just privatise QR to Deutsche Bahn or another competent company, rather than wasting taxpayers money trying to get consultants to sort out the schmozzle that is QR?

Commonwealth Games - one tiny entry for the next major #RailFail disaster, with the CRU saying "plans for the Commonwealth Games are being developed and stress-tested in consultation with the Department of Transport and Main Roads". In other words, expect cuts on all train lines other than the Gold Coast Line during and around the 2018 Commonwealth Games!

Recruitment - this is the key to resolving Rail Fail, and so far out of a target of 200 drivers, only 28 have been trained, and 107 recruited. This is not good. In other words, expect Rail Fail's interim timetables to continue well into 2019, and don't expect any service improvements (on top of the axed October 2016 timetable) this decade.

Services Delivered - this graph on page 10 shows that 99.69% of services were delivered in Q3 16/17. Unfortunately, this figure is highly misleading as it based on the current "interim timetable" (AKA 2017 timetable) with 333 axed train services, rather than the full October 2016 timetable.

NGR - No information on the disastrous New Generation Rollingstock project. Chronic lack of trains, and increasingly unreliable EMU trains are also impacting train services. Incidentally, the Queensland Auditor General "forgot" about a request (which was declined) to audit this project when asked in Parliament yesterday (18/07/2017). It seems that obstruction of the truth goes very high up the food chain in Queensland!

Timetable recovery - absolutely no information has been provided on the expected recovery of the full October 2016 timetable, and improvements thereafter. This is the absolutely number one piece of information that the public want to know. The omission of this data, shows that either the CRU are out of touch with commuters, or that the news is so "politically unsavoury" that it is being hidden, or that there is no intention of recovering the full timetable. Would the CRU (or QR) like to tell the customers when the full October 2016 timetable will be restored?


  1. Or that the people writing the documents for CRU to be read by the Government know that if the documents were too critical, then either the organisation would be disbanded, or the reports would be disregarded in one form or another.

    So the reports can not be too negative, or in most customers in the know opinion, tell the truth opinion, because that would just lead to a no response from the Government.

  2. What a waste of money. $3.5M and still no visibility by the public into what the problems actually are, what's actually being done to resolve it and what time frame we should expect these issues to be resolved. The first NGR trains were originally stated to be rolling in 2015. The delays in getting the contracts finalised (with all their design issues) and signed off delayed that - but as far as I'm concerned, the NGR trains are over 2 years overdue from original commitments.

    If QR want to be a customer focused rail system, the QR measures must be on "Customer" focused measures. What gets measured gets managed. That is, the things the organisation measures and reports on affects what the organisation does and how it does it.

    If an organisation measured and reported on positive and negative facebook posts, the organisation wouldn't be deleting the comments and the organisation is likely to implement means of reducing negative comments and increasing positive. This might be done by making more customers happier, and addressing customers' issues so that unhappy customers are made happy. Perhaps implementing plans to give customers service timetables that meet their expectations, and ensuring that even during incidents communication is so clear and the event so well handled that people respond positively.

    This is all likely to be more important than measuring and reporting the percentage of services delivered for a terrible timetable. That is - even a very low "service delivery" percentage is okay if the vast majority of customers are happy with their rail service.

    Their current measures, such as Services Delivered, are pointless, false, misleading and are leading to perverse (create the opposite of intended) outcomes. They ignore customer satisfaction, stations skipped, accidents and incidents, and even the time taken to recover from accidents and incidents.

    Any metric/measure should be taken to it's most illogical conclusion, and it should still make sense. For example, the best way for QR to maximise this Service Delivery measure is to create a new timetable with one train that runs between central and Roma Street once per quarter. The measure would show Services Delivered at 100% every quarter it is published.


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