Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Ivory Tower

One of the greatest failings of open access regimes is the isolation it provides for senior above-rail executives from the infrastructure their trains rely on. Where as in years gone by regular corridor inspections may have been carried out by executives - just as they still do in North America - with below rail operations out of their hands senior staff can simply ignore the various corridors and fly to outlying depots for the occasional visit. I can't blame, train travel takes time...and PN and QRN have very little in the way of suitable inspection equipment anyway. But is this a good thing? Could the failings by providers on the Melbourne-Sydney corridor be put down to a lack active pressure from operating executives? Face it, a couple trips down that line in the cab of an NR and I'm sure any senior executive would be moved to investigate legal 'alternatives'. The bottom line for rail executives is knowing how to provide their product reliably and cost effectively - statistics are easy to read in an airconditioned office tower - but they mean nothing to a provider rail corridor that's years behind in maintenance and one weather event away from meltdown. Getting the big picture from a locomotive cab or crew car is the only way a rail operator will ever be able to understand the do-s and don't-s of their operations and how to better improve their trains' all important ability of getting from Point A to Point B. And as the US car industry proved this last decade, executives isolated from their factories and customers are those who will make the biggest mistakes. Taking off the tie and putting on high visibility clothing is lot more effective than sitting around wondering why the black numbers have turned red. And better yet, don't put senior decision makers in expensive CBD offices, give them low cost windows looking out at their business hubs - to remind them exactly what's paying those salaries.       

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