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WARRNAMBOOL East Primary School pupils have been saved from a very long bus ride with their class excursion plans now back on track.
Last week The Standard published letters from some of the 120 pupils let down by passenger rail service V/Line, which claimed it could not accommodate the school on a Melbourne trip this month, despite confirming the booking.
A V/Line spokesman said only 80 seats were available to staff and pupils because rolling stock was not available to add extra seating capacity. However, after hearing the students’ complaints, Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder yesterday intervened to ensure the school could travel to and from Southern Cross for the class trip.
Mr Mulder said although V/Line had a finite and varying number of seats available to group travellers, the rail service had agreed to make an exception to accommodate the school group of 120 students and 10 staff.
“I have asked V/Line to ensure that it carefully considers the likely passenger loadings on particular days and trains when assessing group travel applications,” he said.
“There are agreed processes for group travel that all schools should follow, which includes contacting V/Line’s group travel co-ordinator.
“However, on this occasion V/Line agrees that it should have the number of seats that the Warrnambool East school requires.
“The Coalition government wants to get schoolchildren into the public transport habit early in life.”
Warrnambool East Primary School principal Lindy Sharp said she was delighted her students’ voices had been heard.
“V/line provides marvellous opportunities for country students to experience the delights of train travel and for this we are grateful,” she said.
“However, in this instance I feel V/Line underestimated the significance of this excursion for many of our students.”
This article first appeared on www.standard.net.au
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