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IN WHAT many commuters will see as a fitting end to its decade running Melbourne's rail system, the last train Connex will run is to be replaced by a bus.
Connex - which began running trains in Melbourne in 1999 when Victoria's railways were privatised - will hand over the rundown network to new operator Metro Trains in the early hours of Monday.
But due to track works around Laverton station, the final Connex service in operation will be a bus, leaving Newport station at 12.32am.
''The irony is apparent,'' said Connex spokesman John Rees, in his final day in the job.
''For anyone who wants to look at the more positive aspect of it, it shows we are doing a lot of track work at the moment.''
At precisely 3.01 on Monday morning, responsibility for Melbourne's trains will fall to Metro Trains, a consortium led by Hong Kong metro operator MTR.
The first service it will run leaves Craigieburn station at 4.05am.
Virtually all Connex staff, except the most senior, have been retained. Only one train will be rebadged as a Metro Trains vehicle by next week. The rest of the fleet will be rebadged gradually over the next year, at a cost to the public of $25 million.
Station staff will get new charcoal-grey uniforms, instead of the current blue uniforms. Train drivers will not get their new uniforms by Monday's handover.
In a sign of its last-minute preparations, Metro Trains has still not got its final permission to run the system from the state's rail safety regulator, Alan Osborne.
Under the Victorian Rail Safety Act, train operators must get permission to operate from Mr Osborne.
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