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A soon to be 50-year V/Line veteran employee has held no punches when talking about what he sees as a failing railway system.
Come Sunday Dennis Neild will have worked for V/Line for 50 years, 30 of which he has spent as a booking clerk in Ballarat.
He first entered the industry in 1969, working as a booking clerk in Ararat. He was promoted into the operation office before leaving for Ballarat a month prior to Ararat Station closing.
It was after being moved into a ‘dead-end’ office position, Mr Neild moved back into his roll as a booking clerk.
He remembers when things within the rail industry began to go downhill.
“It was in the middle of the seventies,” he said.
“I remember rail workers went on strike, we would have had a week or so without services and from there everything just started to go by road. To me this was when railways ended”.
When looking at potential solutions to ease congestion – which he identified as the biggest issue facing V/Line – he said it all starts with fixing Spencer Street (Southern Cross Station).
“Spencer Street is a massive issue, it is nothing but congestion which leads to delays, which then leads to further delays. It gets to the point where hardly any of our trains actually get here on time, they're all five or 10 minutes late.”
I would have told Matthew Guy "you've got rocks in your head" if you think you could get a train here in 45 minutes
Ballarat Station booking clerk Dennie Neild
He also pointed for a need for greater infrastructure, unable to understand why Australia is lacking behind other country’s rail industries, especially when it comes to trains running at reduced speeds hot days.
“We have to slow our trains whenever it gets above 40 degrees, in Europe and Japan their trains are running at over 300 kilometres an hour in negative 40 degree temperature. We’ve fallen behind.”
Mr Neild is set to retire in July. While he won’t miss the early mornings that come with the job, he will miss the camaraderie and unity he feels every day.
“I’ll miss all the relationships I’ve made over the years with colleagues and with customers.
Mr Neild plans to travel the globe following his retirement, with Canada and Alaska high on his bucket list. It remains to be seen if he will travel by train.
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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