Victorian transport minister Jacinta Allan has labelled Victorian regional operator V/Line’s “failure to adequately prepare for increased regional services” as “unacceptable,” after wheel wear issues forced rollingstock off the rails earlier this month.
A review will be undertaken into V/Line’s operations as a result of the recent maintenance ordeal.
A statement from Allan’s department over the weekend said the minister had been informed of the situation which she said included “a failure to plan for additional track-greasing – which has led to an escalated rate of wearing on the wheels of VLocity carriages”.
Allan blamed “this lack of preparation” for the cancellation of train services across the network.
“I am advised that these issues are being addressed through additional maintenance and the replacement of wheels,” Allan said, “and that services will progressively resume over the coming week.”
Services by VLocity trains – V/Line’s newest fleet of rollingstock, manufactured by Bombardier – were further disrupted last fortnight when a train failed to trigger boom gates at a level crossing in Dandenong.
Allan said the boom gate trigger issue was separate to the wheel wear issue.
“On the separate issue of a boom gate activation failure, restrictions imposed by Metro have now been lifted on the Bendigo line and will be lifted on the Seymour line on Saturday,” Allan explained.
“This will free up additional non-VLocity carriages to run on the Gippsland corridor, while testing on the VLocity fleet continues to allow the Gippsland line restrictions to be lifted. These restrictions are expected to be lifted by mid-late next week.”
Allan said the state government has instructed Public Transport Victoria to accelerate the rollout of axle counters across metropolitan lines used by V/Line services.
“The recent disruptions and poor performance of V/Line indicate a lack of capacity to deliver the services regional passengers expect and deserve,” she said.
“Cuts in the tens of millions of dollars by the former Liberal National Government left the operator on its knees, without the capacity to deliver the growing number of services that regional network needs.
“As a result, I have asked that an independent review of the operational capacity of V/Line be undertaken, which will look at the structure, capability and expertise of the regional operator.”
All travel on V/Line services will be free from Saturday, January 23, to Sunday, January 31.
“Passengers without a ticket will be able to jump on any V/Line train or coach and not pay a cent,” Allan said.
“Those pass holders who have already paid for a ticket will be eligible for a refund.
“I know regional passengers are frustrated – I am frustrated too. That’s why we are doing everything we can to restore services and confidence to our regional train network.”