Frankston line – has train punctuality really improved? Well yes, but…
I noted this tweet from my local state MP, boasting of improved punctuality on the Frankston line since she and the Coalition came to power in November 2010:
Frankston line punctuality in Nov 2010 86% & Aug 2013 93% =7.6% improvement. Vic Coalition delivering 4 #Bentleigh &Frankston line commuters
— Elizabeth Miller MP (@EMillerMP) September 17, 2013
But are these two figures really showing an improvement? Tony Smith on Twitter replied, pointing out that two data points aren’t a trend. (And I think he wants me to run for parliament.)
— Tony Smith (@ynotds) September 17, 2013
Funny thing is, my records show punctuality was actually lower than Ms Miller quoted in November 2010 — at just 73.5% (arrivals within 5 minutes). I suspect she was looking at the November 2011 figure.
Here’s the period in question on a graph, with a trend line added.
So yes, the trend is up.
But there’s a problem with the Coalition claiming credit for it. The biggest boost in punctuality in mid-2011 was when a timetable re-write was introduced, separating out most weekday services from the Dandenong line. It also cut the myriad of stopping patterns. But that timetable was largely prepared while Labor was still in power.
The other relevant changes during the Coalition’s term (apart from very welcome boosts in weekend frequency) were timetable tweaks providing a longer running time on the line (in some cases leaving multimillion dollar trains sitting idle waiting for the timetable to catch up), and Metro’s new habit of skipping stations (either bypassing them completely by running direct instead of via the Loop, or running express where scheduled to stop) to catch up time.
Metro would claim that this is to keep trains in position by ensuring one service delay doesn’t cascade into the next, but on occasions they have been found to be doing this where it didn’t make operational sense — such as this example, where an evening shoulder-peak train was altered to stop at just a handful of stations, despite plenty of trains being available for its return run.
Network-wide the punctuality trend is also up, though it’s less pronounced:
So overall, there’s no denying the punctuality stats have improved since November 2010.
But what about…
But what about a graph of that other big election promise for the Frankston line?