Yesterday I was advised of V/Line’s failure to adequately prepare for increased regional services – including a failure to plan for additional track-greasing – which has led to an escalated rate of wearing on the wheels of VLocity carriages.
This lack of preparation has led to the cancellation of train services across the network – an unacceptable and avoidable situation that has frustrated thousands of regional commuters.
I am advised that these issues are being addressed through additional maintenance and the replacement of wheels, and that services will progressively resume over the coming week.
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.
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.
To enhance safety and eliminate similar disruptions in the future, the Andrews Labor Government today instructed PTV 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.
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.
As a small acknowledgement of the frustration recent service disruptions have caused, all travel on V/Line services will be free next week – from Saturday 23 January to Sunday 31 January.
Passengers without a ticket will be able to jump on any V/Line train or coach and not pay a cent. 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.