Rough Riding Caused By Metro

-Anon Have you noticed that your morning commute has been getting bumpier in recent times? It might be caused by these:

image This, is a mudhole.  It has been caused by a combination of two factors: Firstly, MTM have been replacing all of the wooden sleepers across the network with concrete ones.  While the wooden sleepers bend, the concrete sleepers do not.  When a train travels over the concrete sleeper (especially when there is water in the ballast) it acts as a plunger, pushing down and bringing up the water. As trains travel over the area the concrete sleepers are pushed down and up 24 times with the wheels of a 6 car train.  This pulls the water up from under the ballast bringing with it mud and smaller particles, disturbing the ballast bed in the process (eventually creating a gap underneath, a hole under the rail).  This shouldn’t happen if they are installed properly, which brings us to: Secondly, when the sleepers were replaced the quickest, cheapest method was used.  Side Insertion.  McLeod Rail proudly display their use of side insertion during their “Tie Renewal: Glen Waverley 2012” alongside their “Mud Hole Removal and Level Crossing Upgrades: Seymour and Albury 2014”.  This despite reports going back to 2011 that the Side Insertion method was causing problems, as seen in the ABC 7:30 report here.

There are, at present hundreds of mudholes across the Melbourne Railway Network.  These mudholes are exclusively found where MTM have put down concrete sleepers.

How Side Insertion Has Caused These Problems

Instead of using a Ballast Cleaner or using a Track Renewal Train to remove and replace the sleepers on a new bed of ballast, a small team using excavators use Side Insertion.

Side Insertion as it has been used across the Melbourne Railway Network involves ripping out the old wooden sleepers from the side, one by one.  They are often stuck, so the excavator with a pincer attachment sometimes has to shake them like a dog worrying a bone.  This disturbs the ballast bed underneath the and around the sleeper.  When pulling the sleeper out, the excavator can’t do it perfectly horizontally, so the end of the wooden sleeper will dig a channel out underneath where it laid.  The new Concrete sleeper is then shoved in it’s place.  The damage done to the bed of ballast underneath isn’t even considered.  The workers on the excavators have proudly stated on occasions that they can replace 60 sleepers an hour.  One minute to rip a sleeper out of the ground and shove a new one in there doesn’t leave much room for care in the process.When Side Insertion is done quickly and cheaply, without care for the ballast underneath, the ballast can become fouled.  This has happened in HUNDREDS of places across the Melbourne Railway Network, with some mudholes extending over thirty meters long!

Mudhole on the Hurtsbridge Line.

Mudhole on the Hurtsbridge Line.

MTM In The Leadup To The Re-Tendering Of Melbourne’s Railway Network

It has been alleged that Metro Trains Melbourne has approached the Agonis group to work with them in minimising the maintenance on the Melbourne Railway Network’s infrastructure and re-writing the standards to allow greater run-down in the assets in the lead up to handing over if they lose the re-franchise. This does two things, firstly it saves them money by not maintaining what they are supposed to maintain.  If they lose the contract then they make more money by not spending what Public Transport Victoria gives them.  Secondly, if they win the contract again, it will mean a lot more taxpayers money to fix up what they have let run down.

How We Blame Successive Governments For Failing To Properly Fund The Melbourne Railway Network

Since Jeff Kennett semi privatised the Melbourne Railways in the nineties, it has been the belief that the run-down network was due to a lack of funding by successive State Governments.  One things seems to be forgotten in this, however.  Since The Eighties it has been the responsibility of Private Companies to keep the Railways maintained.  Everyone always forgets the one major flaw in privatisation of public systems, and that is that the private companies are only worried about one thing:  Money.  This does not mean that they will provide a better service, but most often means merely “How much money can we rip from the Tax-Payer.” Have the standards for maintenance just been lowered by successive private companies only interested in a quick buck?  Has the State Government been funding Railways sufficiently, they just keep rorting the money and sending it back to their overseas shareholders? It is understood that in the lead-up to the collapse of M-Train the exact same thing happened, leaving a billion dollars worth of debt. It is also something well understood by the CEO of MTM, Andrew Lezala.  When Andrew Lezala was the CEO of Metronet in London, he oversaw a contract that ripped money from the English Taxpayer in exchange for doing less than half the work they were contracted to do.  Metronet had to be bailed out to the tune of 2 billion pounds by the Government.  What did Andrew Lezala spend the English Tax-Payer’s money on if not on maintenance and new works?  Allegations of lavish boat parties and flat screen TV giveaway to management were published in the newspapers. Well, Andrew Lezala doesn’t give away TV’s to management at Metro… instead he hands them cheques for thousands of dollars for finding new ways to “Save the company money”.

ceo award executive award

When Is The Government Going To Realise That Private Companies Should Not Run Public Services?

All we can say, is that hopefully they will realise this soon.  With a decision needing to be made by the end of this year with regards to the re-tendering of the Melbourne Rail Network (which will hopefully see the exit of MTM), there exists a perfect opportunity for the Andrews Government to fix the problem and bring the network back into public hands completely.

Of one thing, there is little doubt:  When they are gone, MTM will have left the Melbourne Railway Network a worse place than when they took it over.

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