New Melbourne rail and tram contracts impose “tougher penalties” for poor performance

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Photo: Peeraphon Thanmanowong / Shutterstock.com

The Australian state of Victoria has awarded new operating contracts for Melbourne’s rail and tram networks, promising to come down hard on poor performance.

Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) and Keolis Downer (KDR), which currently operates Melbourne’s tram system, have both been awarded new seven-year contracts.

The new contracts “will mandate higher performance targets and enforce tougher penalties if these targets are not met”.

Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said: “Passengers have said that they want cleaner trains and stations, more reliable services, more timely and accurate information, less graffiti and scratching and that’s what these contracts will do.”

The state government said the new contracts would make a concerted effort to tackle unpopular operational practices, referring specifically to the practice of skipping the City Loop to keep to timetable.

MTM’s contract includes various penalties for not hitting targets, including a $10 million fine for not achieving the new maintenance standards. MTM can also be required to find up to $700,000 to compensate passengers for delays and cancellations.

Jacinta Allan added: “We’ve listened to passengers, staff and unions so that these new contracts hold MTM and KDR to account in delivering increased maintenance, better services and real-time information.

“We’re fixing services now as well as making the biggest investment in public transport infrastructure in Victoria’s history by building the Metro Tunnel, removing 50 dangerous and congested level crossings and upgrading high-capacity signalling.”

KDR has operated Melbourne’s Yarra Trams network – described as the largest tram system in the world – since 2009. KDR said it plans to continue to improve the network between now and 2024, including refurbishing the majority of the fleet over the next five years.

The new rail and tram franchises begin on November 30, 2017.

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