Anybody who has ever traveled on a late running city loop service would be aware of Metro’s favourite trick of running direct into Flinders Street Station. If the train is four minutes late or more during peak hour, you are almost always guaranteed this tactic. This ensures that the train arrives at Flinders Street early, allowing other trains to depart on time. Metro then spruik their “record breaking on time running.”, it also allows them to pocket Millions of dollars in bonus payments from the State Government.
Andrew Lezala however claims that it has nothing to do with money in his #askMetro live blog. “Contrary to popular myth, it’s nothing to do with money. It’s only about restoring the service to move the most people we can when we’ve had disruptions. We know people really don’t like it. We try to avoid doing it… ”
His statement may be partially true, running services express can allow things to return to normal after a serious disruption, however it doesn’t explain the frequency of it’s use. In March 2015, 550 train trips were either altered or did not run. How many of these altered trips counted against their “Punctuality Target”? None. Metro Trains Melbourne is not penalised at all for altered running. For a company that does everything with profit in mind (even ignoring safety concerns in order to keep trains running). If he was being truthful, Andrew Lezala should probably have said “Contrary to popular myth, it doesn’t have everything to do with money.” Not only does altering services let Metro Trains collection millions of dollars in bonus payments, it has lucky side effect of allowing trains to run on time (even though it disadvantages thousands of commuters).
The Bait and Switch.
When a track or signal problem proves to be a long term delay to trains Metro employs a bait and switch tactic. It works like this: 9:00am Train departs Frankston Station on time. Track works at Mordialloc ensure that it arrives at Mordialloc station 10 minutes late. Metro departs a DIFFERENT train from Mordialloc at the time that the first train was due to depart. Metro changes the 9:00am train at Mordialloc to the 9:10am train. Train then departs Mordialloc station ON TIME. The people who caught the train from Frankston are ten minutes late and the people further up the line get the same service they get if there were no troubles. So what’s the problem? The problem arises when Metro then claim that both trains were running on time, despite one train cancelled between Frankston and Mordialloc and the other train running ten minutes behind schedule. These two on-time trains are then figured into their accounting which is passed onto the Government. The Government then pays Metro bonuses based upon these dodgy figures.
It is believed that this ‘bait and switch’ happened on numerous occasion on Friday the 5th of June on the Frankston Line.
If Metro are fudging these figures in order to make money, does that amount to fraud?