2017 Sessions

In total, there were 30 fantastic TransportCamp sessions. Session notes were taken for each unconference session.  Each post includes all the essential session details, links and a summary of all the key points of discussion.

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Planning for the unplanned - proactive responses to rail disruptions

Session Details

Room: Portico

Format: Presentation and discussion

Host name: Brendon Perder

Your name: Lisa Fu


How to manage unplanned disruptions

  • With planned disruptions, we know to put the message out in advance and properly inform travellers. Unplanned is a different case.

  • Buses play a key role, but in the bigger picture, what are some other services? E.g. car share, uber, bikes etc.

  • There is no reserve (like ambulances and emergency services have) of vehicles that the rail service can pull from.

  • Melbourne is subdivided into 4 regions for buses, and operators are based generally in the outer suburbs. It can take a while for them to get buses down to disrupted locations, and especially longer when needing to go to the CBD.

  • There is a stigma around rail replacements

  • London - when there is a rail disruption, most movement is replaced by the surface transport, there is not enough awareness of alternative transport in melb.

  • Social media information on parallel modes of public transport, can get the message out on alternative existing routes

    • So that travellers can plan for their affected journey

    • But it’s also about dealing with the disrupted commuter

    • Giving people a choice or a heads up so that they can prepare


  • There are two categories: people about to use the service; people already using the service (on-board)

    • For people already using the service, there are welfare messages, and things to take note of such as whether they have enough water.

  • Faults are often sudden. It’s important to distinguish between a delay or a fault.

  • Bus replacements have added another 45 minutes onto journeys

    • We need some actual viable alternatives

    • Getting people to working/operational parts of the network, instead of running along the train line section that is affected

  • Planning can group disruptions, so that they are condensed into one period of time, instead of scattered throughout. This happens now.

  • There is such a small window to do works e.g. welding

    • This winds up affecting everyone

    • Speed restrictions are put on, and there are 2-5 minute delays all week

    • If people knew about the reason for these delays, they might be more tolerant

    • 2 min disruption vs. closing the line down for the whole week

  • Communication needs to be there

    • Sometimes the information is not allowed to come out

    • E.g. can’t say that millipedes are on the track, which is causing the shut down of a line.

    • Why don’t rail agencies declare real information?

    • Underpromise and overdeliver

    • Sensitivities - you can’t just announce a fatality

      • But an announcement that there has been a police request might be better

      • Or, the track has now become a crime scene

      • A sense that something more important is going on

    • Quality of info is often poor

  • There needs to be an ‘unplanned plan’ for every station

    • A poor alternative is better than no alternative

  • Multimodal maps at every station, with indicators of ‘you are here’, especially at unstaffed stations

  • Turn outs are 1-2% of the network; but they are 25% of the maintenance budget

  • During a disruption, when you are on a service, honest communication from the driver is appreciated, as well as making sure there is frequent information over a longer period

  • London - there is a driver standard that an announcement needs to be made no longer than 30 seconds after a disruption has happened

    • They let people know something is actively being done

    • People’s perception of time, especially in a tunnel can be skewed. 1 minute can feel like 5 minutes

  • An authoritative voice, like one from the train driver helps

    • Perhaps announcement training for drivers so that they are able to deliver information that is appropriate for passengers

  • This is fundamentally a human issue