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Victorian regional rail users left high and dry as track maintenance and safety issues emerge.
Rail boom gate activation failure and V/line service cancelations have resulted in a week of free rail travel anywhere within Victoria next week.
A number of regional rail services were cancelled and replaced by buses last week, due to an administrative funding error that saw dangerous level of wear accumulate on V/line train wheels.
Service disruptions and delays that ensued caused issues for thousands who rely on Victoria’s regional rail services.
"On Tuesday 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," Victorian minister for public transport Jacinta Allan says.
"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.
The issue is now being addressed through additional maintenance and the replacement of wheels, and regional rail services will progressively resume over the coming week.
A full V/line regional service review is also now underway.
Restrictions imposed by Metro Trains have now been lifted on the Bendigo line after it was discovered that some boom gates were failing to activate, and restrictions will also be lifted on the Seymour line on Saturday.
The Victorian Government has also instructed Public Transport Victoria (PTV) to accelerate the rollout of axle counters across metropolitan lines used by V/Line services, to enhance safety and eliminate similar disruptions in the future.
"The recent disruptions and poor performance of V/Line indicate a lack of capacity to deliver the services regional passengers expect and deserve," Allan says.
"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 small acknowledgement of the frustration recent service disruptions have caused, all travel on V/Line services will be free next week – from Saturday, January 23 to Sunday, January 31."
Passengers without a ticket can catch any V/Line train or coach to anywhere within Victoria for free and those who have already paid for a ticket will be eligible for a full refund.
This article first appeared on www.busnews.com.au
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