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A train bound for Pakenham broke down at 4.30pm this afternoon at Berwick, blocking peak-hour services on Metro Trains’ first day of operating the Melbourne rail system.
The breakdown has forced the new operator to run buses between Dandenong and Pakenham in both directions. It has advised patrons to expect major delays.
In all, there have been 18 trains cancelled since Metro Trains took over from Connex at 3.01am today.
It has been a day of transition for the city's transport, with Hong Kong-based consortium Metro Trains Melbourne taking over the troubled network from French-owned Connex Trains and Yarra Trams passing to French-owned Keolis (KDR).
Trains on the Lilydale, Belgrave, Hurstbridge and Werribee lines either faced delays or cancellations this morning, with the chief executive of Metro Trains Melbourne Andrew Lezala admitting it was not a great start.
"We've had too many cancellations this morning," he told reporters.
"They are liability faults with rolling stock, so clearly we've got a lot of work to do to address those and put some long-term fixes in place."
Meanwhile, dozens of staff wearing the new MTM uniforms were greeting passengers and distributing information at Flinders Street Station.
According to Leah Waymark, MTM's general manager corporate relations, it's the first step in a "de-branding and re-branding" exercise expected to take up to 11 months to finish and includes everything from the uniforms of drivers and platform staff to the trains and stations.
"Today being the first day, it's about getting the basics right," Ms Waymark said.
"What Melburnians want is a safe and efficient rail system, getting customers where they need to go safely and comfortably. That's Metro's number one priority."
Indeed, one of the first changes commuters have noticed is the platform announcements.
MTM will not only inform travellers of the length of delay, it will announce what caused it.
"That's something that a lot of people have communicated - they want a better understanding of why their journey has been interrupted," Ms Waymark said.
"There are so many things that happen on the network every day, whether it's a tree falling on a track or a signal fault, it's important we show that we're on top of the issue."
Today also marks the first time Melbourne's train users have 'platform attendants' to help them get on and off trains.
"The platform attendants will be at stations specifically on the city loop from this afternoon," Ms Waymark said.
"Their role is to assist customers getting on and off trains safely to ensure they are better able to keep to timetables and leave the station at the scheduled time, particularly during peak hour.
"They will also help to spread customers evenly across the platforms to ease congestion."
Premier John Brumby said both operators would deliver continuous improvements to the metropolitan public transport network.
"You're not going to see changes overnight, KDR and Metro took over the system at 3.01 this morning," he told reporters.
"You're not going to see changes in days, you're going to see changes in weeks and changes in months, they understand the challenge, will meet the challenge and I am confident you will see improvements in public transport over the course of the year."
Daniel Bowen, president of the Public Transport Users' Association, said the problems facing Melbourne's train network needed more than superficial solutions.
"We'll obviously see some minor changes with the new uniforms and so on, but the problems with the lack of trains and the rail infrastructure are going to remain," he said.
"The challenge for Metro and the Government is to boost services across the week ... and more reliability.
"Connex were given a bad hand to play with, but we welcome the new operator."
with Thomas Hunter and AAP
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