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MELBOURNE'S trains are being taken out of service because of empty window-washer bottles, rail maintenance reports from the past fortnight show.
The leaked reports show reasons for trains being sent to the repair yards by drivers include a cracked plastic cover on a train's high-beam light switch, a lack of soap in a window-washer bottle, several empty window-washer bottles, and window washers pointing in the wrong direction.
The window-washer water bottles are meant to be topped up every night by cleaners.
Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky, asked if trains were being removed from service because of a lack of maintenance or because of an aggressive fault-finding campaign by drivers, said a set procedure had to be followed before a driver could remove a train from service.
In the past two weeks, almost 300 trains, or 1.1 per cent of all services, have been cancelled because of faults. Ms Kosky was criticised earlier this year for getting only weekly updates on the reasons for cancellations on Melbourne's rail system.
Her spokesman said she now received twice-daily cancellation reports.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union's locomotive division president, Terry Sheedy, said drivers were not ''knocking out'' trains because there was no water in window washers.
''Someone at Connex is just trying to give us a slap on the way out,'' Mr Sheedy said.
Connex has been replaced as Melbourne's operator by Metro Trains, a consortium led by Hong Kong operator MTR. It takes over from Connex on Monday.
Mr Sheedy said it was a serious safety issue if a train was travelling at more than 100 km/h and the driver was unable to wash the window.
''You can't wash the windscreen yourself as you can't get to it,'' Mr Sheedy said. ''And it's not our job. It has to be done when they are being put through the wash.''
Earlier this year, a bitter fight between the rail union and Connex management led executive chairman Jonathan Metcalfe to say that, on some days, drivers were cancelling 80 per cent of trains, many for spurious reasons including ripped drivers' seats and scratches on the side of drivers' windows.
A spokeswoman for Connex said that while trains might have been taken out of service for maintenance reasons including faulty washer bottles or broken lenses on light switches, no trains had been cancelled as a result.
Another train would have been run in its place, she said.
''If a train does needs to be pulled from service due to a fault, we can use a standby train to avoid cancelling the service,'' the spokeswoman said.
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