Passenger Rail Punctuality

11 April 2017

Rail agencies are well placed to manage the forecast increase in passengers up to 2019, including joining the Sydney Metro Northwest to the network at Chatswood, according to today's report by NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford. Their plans and strategies are evidence-based, and mechanisms to assure effective implementation are sound.
Based on forecast patronage increases, the rail agencies will find it hard to maintain punctuality after 2019 unless the capacity of the network to carry trains and people is increased significantly. If recent higher than forecast patronage growth continues, the network may struggle to maintain punctuality before 2019.
Transport for NSW has undertaken considerable work on developing strategies to increase capacity and maintain punctuality after 2019, but remains some way from putting a costed plan to the government. There is a significant risk that investments will not be made soon enough to handle future patronage levels. Ideally, planning and investment decisions should have been made already.
Passenger rail punctuality indicators adopted in NSW are good practice, and include measures of train punctuality and customer delay. Measurement of punctuality is reasonably accurate, but there is some minor room for improvement. More information could be published on punctuality performance, particularly the Customer Delay Measure.
The report found that the rail network around North Sydney creates punctuality problems for afternoon peak services heading to Western Sydney and to Hornsby via Strathfield. East Hills express services performed well below target during the afternoon peak. The punctuality of intercity trains lags behind suburban trains, and there was an extended period of declining punctuality between 2011 and 2014.


Further information

A full copy of the report is available here.

Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664 and email


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