"John Brumby's decision to refuse to fund an upgrade to Melbourne's injury prone signalling control system in 2003 has come home to roost", Shadow Minister for Public Transport, Terry Mulder, said today.
"Dandenong Company Bombardier had been awarded an $11 million contract and proceeded with design work. The project was meant to be completed in mid-2001. The contract was cancelled by then Minister for Transport Peter Batchelor who claimed in the 'Herald Sun' on 30 July 2003 that the current system 'worked adequately.'
"In answering written Parliamentary questions submitted by the Liberal Party, Minister for Public Transport Lynne Kosky has detailed the legacy of John Brumby's refusal to part with the money and fix Melbourne's vital Metrol train and signalling control centre once and for all.
"The Minister for Slower Trains now says the Metrol system will not be fixed until at least 'late 2010.' Then Treasurer John Brumby's tight fisted approach is to blame. Labor's inaction has condemned commuters to at least nine more years of inconvenience and frustration compared with the originally scheduled completion date insisted upon by the previous Liberal Government.
"Between November 2006 and April this year, signals on the metropolitan system within the small area controlled by Metrol failed on 345 occasions causing trains to be delayed on 60 occasions. Adding insult to injury, points, which allow trains to switch from one track to another, failed on a further 143 occasions causing 33 train services to be delayed.
"John Brumby's recontracted Metrol upgrade will still only extend from Flinders Street to Burnley, Clifton Hill, Caulfield and South Kensington. Commuters in Melbourne's middle distance and outer suburbs will still experience delays from the current signalling system that is not under Metrol's control. Connex calls this 80 per cent plus of Melbourne's rail network the 'dark' area.
"The Minister for Slower Trains must tell commuters how many signal and point failures occurred outside the upgrade area, and what inconvenience passengers can expect beyond 'late 2010.'
"The cost of the Metrol upgrade has risen eight-fold, from $11 million to $88 million. Rail users might expect that Metrol's coverage area would be expanding given Labor's huge cost blowout, but this is not the case. At least three-quarters of the 15 lines forming the electrified suburban rail network will still not be controlled by Metrol.
"John Brumby has had almost eight years to fix Melbourne's rail system, but he has sat on his hands with his wallet buried deep inside his pocket idly watching our train services decay", Mr Mulder said.
Contact: Terry Mulder 0408 377 316/ 9651 8394