VICTORIAN Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan last week announced that the State Government has formally issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to Metro Trains Melbourne and Yarra Trams, which outlines a wide range of improvements it will seek from the new contracts to operate Melbourne's train and tram networks.
According to Ms Allan, the RFP sets out the standards the government expects operators to meet in relation to network performance, passenger experience, maintenance, renewal, and accessibility.
"These standards are significantly stronger than the current contracts, and are designed to make operators more open and accountable to passengers, and create a safer, more accessible and user-friendly transport system," the Minister said.
Under the new seven-year contracts, there will be higher targets for reliability, punctuality and other performance indicators, with services measured at all scheduled stations on train routes and up to 20 stops along tram routes.
Currently, trains and trams are measured at just a few points on their journey, meaning operators can skip stations or stops in between to make up time and avoid penalties.
The train contract also puts strong emphasis on ensuring the operator works better with V/Line, particularly in circumstances where services overlap or an incident occurs that involves metropolitan and regional passengers.
There will be strict requirements around the timeliness and accuracy of information, and the condition of rolling stock, stations and stops.
Operators will be required to prepare comprehensive Infrastructure Management Plans for the life of the contract, and demonstrate how they will maintain and improve trains, trams and rail infrastructure.
In addition, they will need to provide detailed monthly reports on the condition of the assets they operate, and the Government will have the right to conduct 'spot audits' to ensure infrastructure is up to scratch.
The new contract will also require operators to prepare and maintain a detailed Accessibility Implementation Plan that detail how they will make the train and tram systems easier for all passengers to access and use.
Current agreements with Metro Trains Melbourne and Yarra Trams come to an end in November 2017. Operators are requested to submit their formal proposals by the end of the year. This submission process will be followed by a period of negotiations that are expected to be concluded by the middle of 2017.