Friday, December 15, 2006

How reliable was the Met Part II

Back in August I wrote about reliability of the pre-privatisation Met train services.

The main pre-1999 trends were vastly reduced cancellations from the early 1990s. Reliability also improved and has been sustained at a higher level than during the strike-torn 1980s.

What has happened since?

To find out, I compiled a table, drawing on PTC annual reports for the pre-1999 figures. Afterwards I used statistics from Track Record 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 25, 28. Because results were listed by operator, these were averaged for the pre-reunification years (1999 - 2003).

Metropolitan Trains: reliability and cancellations 1983 - 2006

Period | % OT(i) | % Canc(ii)
1983 ------ 93 ----- ?
1984 n/a
1985-6 ----- 87.8 ----- 3.7
1987 -------- 92 ----- 2.8
1988 -------- 92.1 ----- 2.5
1989 -------- 92.1 ----- 2.4
1990 -------- 88.3 ----- 6.3
1991 n/a
1992 n/a
1993 n/a
1994 -------- 92.3 ----- 0.3
1995 -------- 92.3 ----- 0.5
1996 -------- 93.3 ----- 0.5
1997 -------- 94.8 ----- 0.9
1998 -------- 93.7 ----- 1.4
1999 Q1 ---- 93.5 ----- 1.1
1999 Q2 ---- 93.6 ----- 0.7
1999 Q3 ---- 96.0 ----- 0.4
1999 Q4 ---- 97.2 ----- 0.5
2000 Q1 ---- 95.2 ----- 0.5
2000 Q2 ---- 94.8 ----- 1.3
2000 Q3 ---- 96.5 ----- 0.6
2000 Q4 ---- 96.6 ----- 0.6
2001 Q1 ---- 96.5 ----- 0.6
2001 Q2 ---- 96.5 ----- 0.6
2001 Q3 ---- 97.0 ----- 0.3
2001 Q4 ---- 96.9 ----- 0.5
2002 Q1 ---- 96.6 ----- 0.5
2002 Q2 ---- 96.1 ----- 0.6
2002 Q3 ---- 96.5 ----- 0.4
2002 Q4 ---- 96.9 ----- 0.4
2003 Q1 ---- 96.9 ----- 0.5
2003 Q2 ---- 96.9 ----- 0.4
2003 Q3 ---- 96.2 ----- 0.7
2003 Q4 ---- 96.2 ----- 1.2
2004 Q1 ---- 95.8 ----- 1.0
2004 Q2 ---- 95.0 ----- 1.9
2004 Q3 ---- 94.2 ----- 1.4
2004 Q4 ---- 94.0 ----- 1.3
2005 Q1 ---- 93.9 ----- 1.4
2005 Q2 ---- 93.1 ----- 1.2
2005 Q3 ---- 93.1 ----- 0.8
2005 Q4 ---- 93.2 ----- 1.0
2006 Q1 ---- 92.6 ----- 1.3
2006 Q2 ---- 93.2 ----- 0.6
2006 Q3 ---- 93.9 ----- 0.5

(i) Percent of trains on time to 5:59 min (all day)
(ii) Percent of trains cancelled (all day)

Analysis

The post-1998 figures can be divided into four stages. The first occurred during 1998 and 2000 when the network was split (Bayside and Hillside) and then franchised. Apart from a poor Q2 of 2000, the rise in service cancellations experienced in 1997 and 1998 was arrested and then reversed.

The third quarter of 2000 ushered in a 'golden age' for trains in Melbourne, and not just for those who were taking advantage of the new increased Sunday services either. Reliability was consistently high (96-97%) and cancellations were few (0.5% approx). Good performance continued for nearly three years.

The (time?)tables turned sometime in 2003. The organisation of the system was falling apart with National Express pulling out and half the network reverting to government operation until new contracts could be negotiated with the remaining operator. Chronic driver shortages (due to a previous lack of recruitment and training) increased cancellations on the 'Bayside' part of the network. Major rail projects reduced operational flexibility while the consequences of delays increased due to patronage pressures (thought to be due to rising fuel prices and urban growth). These factors (plus the odd Metrol breakdown and storm) combined to double lateness and cancellations between 2002 and 2005. This put on-time running back to 1995 levels and wiped out the improvements of the early 2000s. However, cancellation performance, though poorer than in the recent past, was still at approximately half the level experienced during the Met days.

It's too early to say much about the last year. However there are some encouraging signs of a turn-around, notably sharply fewer cancellations (similar to those experienced during the 'golden age'). On-time running has also improved, with comparable figures to late 2004/early 2005 and the last few (best) years of the Met.

These figures are of value in several ways. Firstly they help to dispel myths one hears said about the network. The first is that 'things were better during the Met years'. Such an assertion is not borne out in the figures, even during less reliable years such as 2004 and 2005. Secondly they demonstrate what our network can achieve, ie a reliability exceeding 96% and cancellations around 0.5%. Thirdly, under a short-term management style, though current performance may be good, the seeds of later problems may be sown (eg not training drivers during the 2000-2003 period).

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3 Comments:

Blogger Daniel Bowen said...

When was the "within 6 minutes" definition of "on time" introduced? I didn't think it went back to the 80s. Have the stats been adjusted for this along the way?

2:34 pm  
Blogger Peter Parker said...

Daniel, I should have included a note mentioning the earlier, tighter within 5 min criteria and that for this reason the stats are not directly comparable.

Eg a 93% result based on 'OT to 5 min' would not necessarily be inferior to a 94% result 'OT to 5:59 min'.

I would also like to have compared peak and off-peak performance. Since peak performance ceased to be publicly reported some time during the 1990s, this is not possible.

But apart from the above two aspects, the statistics we have now (line by line and by month) are ahead of what was released in the PTC days. It would have been interesting to compare long-term trends by line (eg if a particular line has always been better or worse than the metro average)?

7:27 pm  
Blogger Tagle said...

Fascinating taking a look at that.

Given the other variables of the network about fleet availability and patronage - its interesting to see the network managed with no significant decline in performance with a very significant increase in patronage.

Perhaps less people complained back then because less people were taking notice and were truly affected by it.

10:35 pm  

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