93% of V/Line’s fleet will be back in service in just two weeks, as the government and train manufacturer Bombardier work overtime to fix recently-discovered wheel wear, and level crossing issues.
Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan announced this week that work to reduce wheel wear, accelerate maintenance and fix boom-gate detection issues had been more effective than anticipated.
As a result, 43 of the current 64 coach replacement services across the V/Line network will return to train services on March 21, the minister said.
Every Ballarat peak train service will be re-instated, Allan said, along with all but two services on the Gippsland line, which was hardest hit by recent disruptions.
A significant portion of V/Line’s rollingstock fleet was forced out of service in January, after maintenance identified an accelerated rate of wheel wear on VLocity trainsets, and one VLocity train failed to trigger the boom gates at a level crossing in Dandenong.
Neither V/Line, nor the trains’ manufacturer Bombardier, has publicly stated whether the two issues are related.
Bombardier has been working feverishly to fix the affected wheels, establishing an expanded working area for its VLocity fleet at its Dandenong manufacturing facility, to expedite the process.
Talking with Rail Express at a recent site tour, a member of Bombardier’s management team defended the VLocity train’s design.
While not laying any blame to any specific party, the staff member did point out that the wheel issues began cropping up shortly after the opening of Victoria’s newest section of railway, the Regional Rail Link, west of Melbourne.
Rail milling specialist Linmag Australia has told Rail Express it has undertaken track re-profiling for V/Line as a result of the wheel wear issues.
A study is being conducted by Monash University to get to the bottom of the wheel wear issue, with a final technical report due for completion later this month, Allan said.
Also due later this month is a review of the operational capacity of V/Line.
“There is still more work to be done but we are on the right track, and I will continue working as hard as I can to return V/Line services to the level people in regional Victoria expect and deserve,” Allan said.