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The current disruptions across the V/Line network – as a result of faster-than-normal wheel wear on VLocity trains and a boom-gate fault – are totally unacceptable.
Last week, the Government was told the problems had been identified and the vast majority of services would be up and running by the end of the week.
This advice from V/Line was wrong and this unacceptable situation has caused the Government to lose confidence in the leadership of V/Line.
The CEO has resigned effective immediately.
V/Line passengers are furious – and so is the Government. What has happened is not good enough.
On behalf of the Government I apologise for the disruption and the inconvenience it has, and will continue to, cause.
On the Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong lines, V/Line now expects services to steadily improve from mid-February, but it will be months before normal services resume in full.
V/Line is taking steps to reduce the rate of wheel wear but extensive testing is still underway to determine the exact cause of the problem.
This is absolutely vital work to ensure the safety of passengers on all our rail networks.
After the boom-gate fault at a level crossing earlier this month, the National Safety Regulator advised that safety measures must be carried out on all 21 affected crossings on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line.
While this work is undertaken over the next six weeks, VLocity trains cannot run between Traralgon and Melbourne and will be replaced by coaches. The Government is investigating using other train models to boost services.
In light of the unacceptable disruptions, the Government is extending free travel for regional passengers until at least the last service of Sunday 7 February.
In addition, the timetable change scheduled for 31 January for the Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo lines will be deferred until the Government is confident it can be successfully implemented.
Gary Liddle will be the interim CEO of V/Line. Mr Liddle is currently CEO of Public Transport Victoria and is the former CEO of VicRoads. He will be an experienced and steady hand to guide V/Line through this difficult period.
The Government has already ordered a review of V/Line operations, and the technical investigations into the wheel wear and boom-gate issues are continuing.
A Cabinet Committee will be overseeing this issue until it is resolved.
I know exactly how important V/Line services are – I’ve used them all my life. Regional Victorians deserve better and we’re going to work our hardest to provide the service they’re entitled to.
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