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WAURN Ponds trains are being cut short at almost one per day leaving commuters stranded at stations for up to 40 minutes.
As V/Line struggles to keep pace with demand due to burgeoning commuter growth, the head of a local advocacy group claims the rail operator is stopping trains at Geelong to improve punctuality.
G21 CEO Elaine Carbines said it was almost a “daily occurrence” that V/Line cut short a train destined for Waurn Ponds or Marshall.
“We know that these two train stations service some of the most populous and growing suburbs of Geelong and the Surf Coast,” Ms Carbines said.
“It’s very poor and V/Line does this often to make up time.”
Information published by V/Line shows 28 Waurn Ponds trains were cut short in the 30 days between October 4 and November 2.
It comes as Geelong commuters last week endured more than 50 cancellations, delays and reduced services. V/Line said some of the 13 trains cancelled on October 29 were due to a police incident at Corio.
Ms Carbines said the poor state of V/Line was forcing commuters to drive to Melbourne for work and study.
“It makes people give up on the train because it’s too unpredictable and unreliable,” she said.
Ms Carbines said the State Government has to hold V/Line to account for providing a substandard service.
V/Line CEO James Pinder said recent weeks were “challenging” for Geelong line commuters.
“There has been a higher than average rate of carriage reductions and cancellations due to animal strikes, which has prevented us from performing at the level that our passengers deserve and expect,” Mr Pinder said.
“We have a long-term plan to improve our Geelong-line performance through better maintenance processes, recruiting and training more operational staff, and adding more carriages to the network.”
V/Line says passengers are put onto coaches or asked to board the next service when a train is cut short.
Public Transport Users Association Geelong convener Paul Westcott said shunting Waurn Ponds trains was another example of the problems the single track beyond Geelong caused.
“As soon as one train is late it’s going to block a train on the single track coming the other way,” Mr Westcott said.
“If the track was duplicated at least a (late) train could continue its journey.”
Mr Westcott said nine-carriage trains had the potential to increase Geelong-line punctuality.
Last month the State Government said it was considering running nine-carriage trains but would first need to complete a thorough investigation and train modifications.
Each month V/Line operates more than 2500 services on the Geelong line.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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