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A rash of cancellations on Melbourne’s train network yesterday was the result of a maintenance backlog, not the city’s spring heatwave, according to Transport Minister Lynne Kosky and Connex.
As city temperatures peaked at 35 degrees yesterday afternoon, Connex cancelled dozens of trains, delaying thousands of commuters.
Out of 42 trains cancelled yesterday, all but a quarter were removed from service after temperatures began rising around midday.
Connex spokeswoman Lanie Harris said yesterday’s raised level of cancellations was not the result of heat or industrial issues but rather a backlog of train maintenance caused by extra services put on during the spring racing carnival.
"Several cancellations today were caused by defects that arose during the heavy utilisation of the train fleet last week when we moved a total of 270,000 people during the four main Flemington race days, running more than 1250 extra services on top of our normal timetable," Ms Harris said.
"As these were in addition to our normal timetable, a backlog of repairs is inevitable and we are working hard to rectify these."
Ms Harris said the "most extreme disruptions" in January were on three consecutive days when the temperature reached over 40 degrees.
But with temperatures this week forecast to hover around the low 30s, Connex does not expect the same level of risk of train disruption.
"Though the fact still remains that extreme temperatures can impact our ability to run trains, so planning and preparedness is key when faced with a week of hot weather," she said.
"Spot fires, sun glare, train faults, track condition and passengers affected by hot weather are all challenges that we can must take into consideration during our planning."
Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said this was not believable, and that the cancellations were instead proof Ms Kosky had not pushed hard enough to keep the city’s trains properly maintained.
"The excuse that 'maintenance has fallen behind' won’t wash with commuters," Mr Mulder said.
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