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BOTH the government and Labor have promised to spend millions on new train carriages for country Victoria — but south-west travellers won’t see any difference
Train carriages decades old continue to creak to a stop at Warrnambool’s train station but seem destined to fall outside party promises to spend big on the network.
Labor yesterday committed $800-900 million on 20 new VLocity V/Line carriages for country lines and to add 30 new trains to the metropolitan network. The Napthine government is also carrying out a $261 million order for 43 VLocity carriages for the Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon lines.
The first three came into operation yesterday — but they won't be able to pass beyond Waurn Ponds to Warrnambool because they travel too fast to be safe on the our route, according to the rail union.
It’s calling for newer locomotives and rolling stock (carriages) that would be suited to the line.
The south-west fleet has an average age of 30 years with the N-class carriages introduced in 1981 to 1984.
V/Line told The Standard the VLocity carriages weren't suited to longer-distance trips because they lack catering and first-class facilities.
“Our current fleet is not suitable for longer-distance journeys, with no buffet car or first-class options for customers who are onboard for three-and-a-half hours,” a V/Line spokeswoman said.
“For VLocity trains to travel on the Warrnambool line, passive level crossings would need to be upgraded to protected level crossings.
“This is because VLocities need to be slowed when going through passive level crossings, while the larger and more heavily built locomotives can travel through passive level crossings at a greater speed.”
But the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) said the Warrnambool corridor would need to be ripped up and replaced, costing millions.
It said the $750 million Regional Fast Rail project by the former Labor government had allowed Vlocity trains to travel on the four busiest train lines.
“The (Warrnambool) track has not been certified for high-speed running,” union branch secretary Luba Grigorovitch said.
“Works would have to be undertaken on the track, including level crossing upgrades and the camber of the track on curves to allow the trains to run at high speed (160km/h).”
Trains between Warrnambool and Geelong are restricted to 115km/h unlike the other four lines. The union is calling for modern locomotives to take over the ageing stock.
“The RTBU believes that this will take the form for new locomotives and carriage rolling stock, that can provide two classes of travel as well as refreshment services such as on board café.”
Ms Grigorovitch said faulty air conditioning remained a problem for staff and passengers during summer.
This article first appeared on www.standard.net.au
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