How will the Liberal privatisation of the trains affect the south?

Set for privatisation: A train makes its way to Seaford. Photo: Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
Set for privatisation: A train makes its way to Seaford. Photo: Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.

The Liberal State Government has announced it will privatise the Adelaide Metro train and tram operation services due to its current program 'underperforming'.

The decision which was announced in late June by the State Government was quick to receive backlash from the Labor party who pointed out that before the most recent election, Stephen Marshall had said that Liberal had no privatisation agenda.

On July 1, Liberal stated it's reasons for wanting to privatise the services:

  • One of the lowest patronage levels in the country;
  • The worst level of integration in the country; and,
  • Almost half of public transport users don't think they are getting good value for money.

If privatised the State Government would retain ownership of rail assets, including trains, trams, tracks and stations; set requirements for levels of services; continue to set the fare price for travel on trains and trams; retain the revenue; and, enter into a performance-based franchise contract that keeps the operator focussed firmly on the efficiency and quality of service delivery to customers.

Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll said that the State Government believes that by making this change this area of the public transport system will improve.

"Under this model, we will be able to deliver more efficient services, so we can reinvest back into the network to provide better services.

"That's why the State Government can guarantee maintaining the same service frequency levels and standards and expect an increase in service levels once this model is fully implemented.

"The State Government will still own and control the assets, control fare prices and set service level requirements - in the same way we do for Adelaide Metro buses."

However, Labor MP in the south, Member for Kaurna Chris Picton who has been pushing back against the move told On the Coast, that if services are privatised there is a possibility that there will be less services and the services that remain may become more expensive.

"We know what the experience is of privatisation, and it is that private companies will try to make as much profit as they can out of these services," he said.

"That will mean one or a few things, they will either be looking to cut services, cut staff or increase fares for consumers to pay."

Mr Picton added that the Seaford line is highly relied upon in outer southern suburbs of Adelaide, many people use this train line to link up with the bus system, getting to work and their places of study. Meaning that if there were cuts to services it would have a negative effect on many people in the region.

"I've been passionately vocal in opposing this since it was announced last week.

"I've been out talking to people at train stations and people do not need convincing of this issue, they understand that it's going to be bad for their train service, so, they are very strongly opposed to it and have been signing our petition," he said.

The State Government has released tenders for the privatisation of the train and tram services but no information is currently available on when the change may take place.