Metro Trains Off The Rails

29 September 2016

Written by: Jesse Robinson

For the fifth year running Metro Trains has been voted as the worst rail system in Australia, writes Jesse Robinson.

For the fifth year running Metro Trains has been voted as the worst rail system in Australia.

The nationwide satisfaction survey run by Canstar Blue questioned 6,000 commuters on service reliability, journey comfort, safety, and ticket prices, with Melbourne coming last in every category.

Frustrated Melbourne commuters have singled out the Myki ticketing system as their biggest grievance with the rail network.

The Myki system has long been a frustration for Metro passengers who have deemed the system over priced and unreliable.

Tourists have also expressed issues with the Myki system, saying it was unreasonable for visitors to the city.

Holidaymakers, Michael and Michelle say they were shocked that they had to purchase a Myki rather than just a ticket.

“We’re not here for long, we just wanted a day pass to get around but we had to pay for a card we’ll probably never use again, it doesn’t make sense,” the couple tells upstart.

Overcrowding and safety fears were also among the top issues identified by Metro Train commuters.

Seven out of ten Metro Trains customers reported regular overcrowding, 8 per cent more than the next closest in Sydney and double the number of complaints in Adelaide.

Over half of participants surveyed in Melbourne were most annoyed by other passengers being rude and aggressive.

Sean, a regular commuter on Metro Trains says that the cleanliness of the train irritated him the most.

“Sometimes you can’t sit down because the seats or floor are so gross, there’s food and soft drink or alcohol everywhere,” he tells upstart.

Sean described the state of the trains as dirty, but says he has no other option to get to work, despite the cost of travel and the conditions onboard the service.

“What are we paying for when the trains show up late and they’re always so disgusting?”

Melbourne’s system is the second cheapest system ($35 p/w) behind only Perth ($33 p/w) for those who take the train to work and back each day, but Melbourne still received the same rating for cost as the most expensive city Brisbane ($46 p/w).

Simon Downes, Editor of Canstar Blue says there is no quick fix to Melbourne’s issues and the problems runs deeper than the trains themselves.

“Melbourne’s system has been at the bottom of the table the whole five years,” he tells upstart.

“The problem starts when you arrive in Melbourne by plane and you realise the rail doesn’t even reach the airport, it’s not the best of starts.”

Downes claims that the overly negative results may be in part due to the consistent poor performance from Metro.

“It’s years of overcrowding, years of delays, confusion about the ticketing system, these problems all build up and it’s really shown in the ratings.”

Downes cited Melbourne’s reliability in comparison to other cities as a major sticking point.

“Reliability is the key thing, people want to know when they turn up to take a train, that it will be there when it should. People don’t want to be even a few minutes late home from work.”

Echoing the sentiments of frustrated commuters, Downes said cities such as Brisbane had a much cleaner service with less graffiti and rubbish on the trains.

“One of the big issues from the Melbourne results is the cleanliness, you don’t get off to the best start when the appearance is poor, it creates an image of a network that says it’s not as good as it should be.”

Spokesperson for Metro Trains, Marcus Williams said Metro were disappointed with the results of the survey.

“We take customer satisfaction extremely seriously,” he tells upstart.

Despite being rated last in Australia five years running Metro insist they are improving.

“We’re focused on delivering more punctual, more reliable, safer and cleaner trains and have a record of constant improvement since we took over the franchise,” Williams says.

In response to some of the complaints lodged on the survey Metro said they were making appropriate changes.

“Our punctuality has improved from 85 per cent at the start of our franchise to 93 per cent today. We’ve had 53 consecutive months above our punctuality targets,” Williams says.

“We’re refreshing our three train fleets to provide cleaner, more comfortable trains with a zero tolerance approach to graffiti.”

The office of  MP Jacinta Allan, Minister for Public Transport and Major Projects did not respond when asked for comment.

Jessejesse-robinson-thumb Robinson is a second-year Bachelor of Media and Communication (Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter here: @jesse3robinson