NSW rail operators need more Opal data, audit finds

15,000 Opal reader breakdowns, according to report

Sydney Trains and NSW Trains are currently not able to access all the information they require from the Opal electronic ticketing system, according to a report released today by the NSW Auditor-General.

“For instance, operators would like boarding and exiting data by station 24/7 so they can resource demand appropriately,” the report stated.

The Pearl Consortium in May 2010 was awarded a 14-year contract to develop and roll out the Opal system as well as operate it for 10 years. The contract lasts until September 2024.

Although management of Opal data is outsourced to the private sector, Transport for NSW is responsible for its accuracy, completeness and security of Opal data.

The rollout of Opal card readers across the NSW transport system was completed in November last year.

“The current data collection of rail transactions is not designed to immediately segregate fare information between Sydney Trains, NSW Trains, Light Rail Services and the Airport Rail Link,” the report stated.

Fares are aggregated then divided up based on assumptions by Transport for NSW.

Transport for NSW and the two rail operators are working on information sharing mechanism for passenger revenue and trips, the report said.

The financial audit covered NSW transport agencies, including Transport for NSW, RailCorp, Sydney Trains, NSW Trains, Roads and Maritime Services and State Transit Authority, for the year ending 30 June 2015.

There were some 15,000 Opal reader breakdowns during the period covered by the report, but Transport for NSW was unable to provide an estimate of lost revenue.

In addition to ensuring that the Opal system directly provides revenue information to stakeholders, the Auditor-General’s report said that Transport for NSW should obtain an independent operating controls assurance report on the Opal system.

The Auditor-General's report included an analysis of IT issues across the NSW transport cluster. Thirty-one IT issues were identified for FY15, compared to 27 in the prior year.

“User administration issues accounted for over half of all IT issues identified in 2014-15,” the report said.

“Specifically, the management controls over additions and changes to financial systems’ access were not effective. Weak user administration processes increase the risk of users having excessive or unauthorised access to critical financial systems. This compromises the integrity and security of financial data residing in these systems.”

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