Abstract: Since the first ‘privatisation’ experiment in 1999, there have been several iterations in the form and content of the franchise contracts for Melbourne’s trains and trams. As decisions about renewing contracts or refranchising are due in the term of the current ALP government, it is timely to assess the financial and operational performance of these franchises.
This assessment of performance is based on data from a range of sources. Information on changes in service levels and performance, patronage, and payments to operators comes from departmental reports, budget papers and reports from the Victorian Auditor-General. The complicated and opaque nature of the information available from these sources has meant that this paper can only report on our attempts to untangle the web of changing payment categories and obscure definitions. We are able to describe changes over time in some indicators of performance, total costs to the taxpayer, and allocation of risk between the public and private sectors.
Further work is continuing to examine the current political and institutional environment in which the performance of the franchise model can be understood; to explore options for the approaching franchise negotiations; and to make an assessment of future capabilities for growth.