Melbourne Axes Train Operator Connex


PedestrianTrafficHoldUpTram Blood on the floor in Melbourne. They’re finally had enough.

Train operator Connex and tram operator Yarra Trams have been unceremoniously dumped.

They lost their contracts and the state government says from December, Hong Kong’s MTR group will run the trains and French company Keoilis the trams.

The last straw for Connex was a fortnight ago when it was fined for continuing poor performance. Between January and March, its trains had been late more than ever before. 2.8 per cent of all services were cancelled-  worst score on record.

Anyone who has followed Victoria’s sorry train saga over the years will wonder only why it has taken so long. But today’s Melbourne morning paper, The Age, warns locals in an editorial that the new ownership doesn’t solve the basic difficult issue that the whole system is so run down and needing massive injections of investment:

“The fundamental problem confronting any operator of the network is chronic underinvestment in tracks and other essential infrastructure by successive Victorian governments. It is a problem that can be traced all the way back to the Bolte government: if a 1950s Melburnian could travel through time to see how the system operates now, his greatest surprise would be how little it has changed. Patronage has increased substantially, of course, especially in the decade of privatisation. The chief effect of this, however, has been to show how inadequate the system is for the city’s needs in 2009.”

Interestingly, the paper can’t work out why the tram service operators were dumped in favour of a French company.

And the saga just gets worse. Today, Australian media are reporting how the new man appointed to head Melbourne’s train service comes from running a failed British rail company Metronet! That company collapsed $3.5 billion in debt, costing British taxpayers up to $800m in administration due to “poor corporate governance and leadership”, according to Britain’s National Audit Office in a report earlier this month.

If MTR got the government investment needed for the system, it could run a fantastic service.

Hong Kong's MTR service

Hong Kong's MTR service

MTR’s site boasts:

“The MTR has been providing a safe, reliable and efficient way to get around Hong Kong since 1979. In December 2007, the operations of MTR and Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation has been merged to form one of the most efficient and far-reaching railway networks in Asia.

Our high frequency schedules ensure you’ll never have to wait more than a few minutes for another train during peak hours. Even for our dedicated line to the Airport, the Airport Express, trains depart every 12 minutes throughout the day. our trains run from 5:30 am or 6:00 am in the morning until 1:00 am the following day, seven days a week, all 365 days of the year

We operate a state-of-the-art train control and signalling system that ensures there is always a safe distance between trains. To safeguard you against potential fire hazards, we have also installed a highly sensitive fire alarm system and insist on the use of non-combustible materials in all trains.

Melbourne’s train woes have been interesting to watch because they mirror our own situation of increasing demand for commuter rail services but a rail system that has been lacking for decades in the necessary infrastructure and other improvements along with politicians who have not been prepared to do what’s needed.




  1. Aussie Bob says:

    Wow. big news. Hey i lived in Melbourne for years and the train service was crap as. A local sick joke. Thank goodness Connex have been dumped but your right. Its going need politicans to finally get real and put $$squillions into make it work. Trams are good.


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