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BORDER V/Line passengers waited an hour-and-a-half yesterday for a train that never came, instead forced to take buses two days after train services were supposed to be up and running.
Radio communications between the 6.35am train from Albury to Melbourne to its Australian Rail Track Corporation base station in Adelaide broke down five minutes before departure.
Melbourne-based university student Dylan McAleer, 19, was one of about 40 passengers left waiting at the Wodonga station for 90 minutes.
“It was shocking. I’d been at home at the weekend to see my Mum. I thought I’d get up early and take the early train back,” Mr McAleer said.
He said no one, not even station staff, had any idea of what the hold-up was.
“Even they had no idea what the problem was or how long it was going to be,” he said.
“Everyone was pretty patient about it, but by the end they were agitated.”
Mr McAleer took to Twitter, relaying the delays V/Line tweeted to the other passengers.
It tweeted the delays would be 30 minutes.
But it took more than 90 minutes before replacement buses arrived.
He tweeted to V/Line asking for an explanation, but there was no response.
He then asked where he could make a complaint and V/Line replied with a link to its comments page.
Independent candidate for Indi Cathy McGowan saw Mr McAleer’s tweets and responded, “That’s outrageous” and put a call out to Wodonga residents who were driving to Melbourne to offer a lift.
Mr McAleer said he was unsure about who he would be voting for until yesterday.
“I think I’ve decided it now ... It’s just the talking (with Ms McGowan). I was quite impressed with her.”
Mr McAleer said he wrote “an essay” of a complaint and requested a refund or free ticket.
The 12.45pm from Albury and the midday trains from Melbourne were replaced by buses.
It came two days after V/Line expected trains to return to normal after disruptions last week when a tree fell on a track and damaged a locomotive.
V/Line spokeswoman Clare Steele said it was frustrating for everyone.
“We know that people want to travel by train and when issues do occur we do our best to fix them,” Ms Steele said.
She apologised for the delay and said the problem with the radio communications started at the Adelaide base, which was Australia Rail Track Corporation’s responsibility.She said trains cannot run if there was a breakdown in communications as there is no way to warn drivers if there’s an obstruction on the track.
“As a safety precaution, there’s no way we can run our trains unless we have communications with them,” she said.
The four remaining services yesterday to and from Melbourne in the late afternoon and evening ran with trains.
This article first appeared on www.bordermail.com.au
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