There were a number of unsolicited submissions made to the State Government Parliamentary Inquiry into Rail Maintenance held on the 9th of February 2016.
Reports in the Mainstream Media indicate that a con-job was done on the Members of Parliament involved, with Train bosses passing the buck and spinning a web of mistruths. Despite these submissions being sent to those Members of Parliament, it appears as though none of the important questions were actually asked.
Here is one such submission:
There are many problems with the rail system in Victoria, and I truly hope the inquiry
on 9th of Feb gets to the bottom of them. Some points to consider:
The level crossing issue: Metro, as is typical of them, has pointed the blame at
V/Line. Fact is it’s their level crossings affected, and their maintenance regime at
fault. Because they can’t or won’t maintain tracks to a proper standard, it causes
problems with track circuits. The “solution” is to wind back the voltage to the bare
minimum that will detect a 6 car suburban train. This may result in shorter trains
(eg, 3 car v’locity) not being detected.
John Holland: Where to start with that problem. Their reputation within the industry
is one of poor workmanship, often resulting in track conditions worse than before
the works were carried out. The Victorian Railways Construction Branch could
carry out all tasks allocated to John Holland properly the first time and at a fraction
of the cost. The simple solution for now: nobody from John Holland should be
allowed within 500 meters of any railway line in Victoria.
Senior Management: Do a google search on Andrew Lezala and tell me if you
honestly think he is the right man for the job. Any wonder Metro is as dysfunctional
as it is. The simple fact is the privatised model does not work and costs Victorians
millions of dollars every year that goes straight to the Chinese government. It is
only driven by misguided political agendas that don’t have the functionality of the
transport system as their primary goal.
V/Line: Getting rid of Theo was a step in the right direction, but he was only a
small part of the problem. Appointing Craig Dance as supervisor of drivers when
he has no driving (or any other practical railway) experience at all is causing it’s
own predictable set of problems. Judith Sturman who has bestowed herself the
title of “Operations Manager” (a position normally held by someone with many
years practical experience in the operations field) has demonstrated time and
again her ineptitude in that job. Carol Anne Nelson whose purpose in the
organisation is unclear, and as a result of her total lack of railway experience can
only issue staff with a new, impractical, not fit for purpose uniform at a cost of
nearly $1 mill. Once Theo was appointed as CEO (a political appointment by the
then Liberal government with an eye to privatising V/Line again) he went about
removing everybody in management with a railway background and replaced them
with his “entourage”. The result has been a learned, institutionalised helplessness
that couldn’t have even realised their may be a problem with wheels or tracks or
whatever, because nobody had the industry background to even know what
problems may arise. This spills over into the lack of maintenance over the entire
network and fleet.
PTV: As overarching body controlling all facets of public transport in Victoria, this
body is the main cause of all the problems. Through PTV’s lack of direction,
ignorance of their statutory obligations, lack of industry intelligence, or just plain
ignorance brought about by lack of experience and understanding, the whole
situation has been allowed to degenerate to what we have now.
It is time now to realise that political agendas have caused the mess we are in today,
and a very serious change of ideologies is required urgently.
The “Victorian Railways” was designed and maintained by insightful, knowledgeable
people who, despite political attacks from the time of Henry Bolte onwards, somehow
managed to maintain a reliable and safe system.
Only since privatisation, and the resulting fragmentation of a system designed to
operate as a whole, have these problems emerged. The appointment of senior
management on the basis of political expediency since the Kennett crisis rather than
“most suitable” applicant caused a loss of industry “memory”.
Would it surprise you to know that many of the problems encountered now were
already solved many times over in past decades. I suspect that nobody in
management at V/Line, Metro or any of the freight operators would have any
knowledge of these issues at all.