Volume Eight 2013 focusing on Transport and Ports

Transport for NSW should set targets to measure the overall satisfaction of train users

Total complaints received by RailCorp continued to increase in 2012-13, rising by seven per cent to 31,189 up from 29,219 in 2011-12. Compliments decreased by five per cent.

Service remains the major area of complaints, representing 20 per cent of all complaints during 2012-13. Service complaints relate to the comfort and convenience experienced by customers. RailCorp advised the hot temperatures in January 2013 gave rise to an increased number of complaints.

Complaints relating to on-time running of services had the greatest increase of 30 per cent from the prior year. RailCorp advised delays caused by a number of operational and infrastructure incidents between February and May 2013 contributed to an increased number of complaints.

In previous years, ticketing was the second highest source of customer dissatisfaction. This year the installation of 35 new EFTPOS-only machines and modification of another 15 vending machines to include EFTPOS facilities has seen a major improvement, with complaints dropping by 20 per cent.

Complaints about the environment, ticketing, timetable and claims for reimbursement decreased in 2012-13.

Initiatives by RailCorp and Transport for NSW to improve customer service during the year included:   

  • launched real-time train and bus apps for mobile devices

  • improved cleanliness on board trains and at major stations with a new, privately managed cleaning subsidiary, Transport Cleaning Services

  • made rail travel more attractive by introducing Quiet Carriages on intercity trains, rolling out mobile phone coverage in CBD rail tunnels, and increasing the number of air conditioned carriages by delivering the Waratah trains.

Sydney Trains also has a project to improve the quality of customer announcements at stations. A ‘Radio School’ has also been introduced for train guards to improve on board announcements. Further initiatives will be implemented in 2013-14 as part of the Fixing the Trains reform program including establishing Sydney Trains and NSW Trains.

NSW Auditor-General, Grant Hehir recommends that Transport for NSW should set targets to measure the overall satisfaction of train users.

The NSW Government’s most recent performance report for its 2012 strategic plan notes that targets have not been set for overall satisfaction of train users. The first Customer Satisfaction Survey established a baseline that 79 per cent of customers were partly satisfied to very satisfied with overall service.

Train drivers’ overtime bonuses

Over the last four years, RailCorp has paid $10.6 million in train drivers’ overtime bonuses, including $2.5 million in 2012-13 and $2.8 million in 2011-12. Since 2010-11, drivers’ overtime bonuses have steadily declined. Bonuses are paid to train drivers in addition to overtime penalty rates.

The intention of the bonus was to address a driver shortage in 2004. At that time there were a number of services that were disrupted or cancelled due to the unavailability of drivers and overtime shifts not being accepted. The agreement required RailCorp to increase the number of train drivers from 1,220 to 1,350. At 30 June 2013, RailCorp employed 1,606 drivers.

Drivers are eligible for an overtime bonus when they work overtime shifts. A $100 overtime bonus is paid when a driver works one additional shift per month, $250 when two additional shifts are worked, and $400 when three additional shifts are worked.

NSW Auditor-General, Grant Hehir recommends that RailCorp, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains should minimise the amount of overtime bonuses paid to train drivers.

On-time running

Ninety-four per cent of CityRail trains ran on time in 2012-13 – an improvement on last year’s 93.4 per cent but lower than its peak performance of 96 per cent in 2009-10.

On-time running for ferries has been improving since 2008-09 and reached 99.1 per cent in 2012-13.

For Sydney Buses, State Transit Authority on time running slightly declined to 90.3 per cent while private bus operators increased to 94.7 per cent.

The chart below shows on time running performance over the last five years.

For CountryLink, on-time running performance significantly improved during the year moving from 62.1 per cent in 2011-12 to 73.7 per cent in 2012-13. However, this improved performance is still below the target of 78 per cent.

Further information

Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664; email: Barry.underwood@audit.nsw.gov.au