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V/LINE has had a horror start to its 10-day shutdown, with a shivering teen allegedly refused a bus seat and left in the cold and claims a replacement bus driver ended up on the Calder Freeway.
Train services between Geelong and Southern Cross Station have been replaced by buses during improvement works from April 8 -17, with V/Line on Monday slammed by angry commuters.
A furious Belmont mother lodged an official complaint with the regional rail operator claiming her 15-year-old daughter was refused a seat on a replacement bus at Southern Cross Station for being too wet, and left in the cold.
Allison Whytcross said her daughter was forced to attempt to dry off under a toilet hand dryer to get home amid the miserable weather.
Ms Whytcross said the male bus driver told her daughter: “You should dry off before you try and get on public transport.”
“She had felt intimidated and that the bus driver was ‘scary’,” Ms Whytcross said.
“My normally strong and resilient daughter began to hyperventilate and felt on the verge of an anxiety attack. She desperately tried to dry her hair and clothes in the hand dryer in the toilets, thinking she wasn’t going to be able to get home.
“My daughter then had to wait a further hour and a half before she was permitted to catch the next bus to Waurn Ponds … she arrived in Geelong, cold, miserable and wet at 7:30pm.”
V/Line was also slammed by commuters after replacement buses faced long delays, with one driver allegedly ending up on the Calder Freeway on his way between Geelong and Melbourne CBD.
One commuter, who asked not to be named, said the trip between Lara Station and the CBD took almost two hours longer than usual after the driver ended up on the Calder Freeway.
On social media another commuter Toby Montgomery vented about the driver’s apparent blunder.
“V/Line driver on Lara train replacement bus turned up Western Ring Road. It’s 8.15 and we’re on the Calder Freeway. Not happy,” he tweeted.
Other commuters took to social media to share their frustrations.
“Now I don’t get a lunch break because I’m half an hour late for work — I left at the same time and am usually 15mins early,” Hilary Morgendorffer tweeted.
V/Line spokeswoman Catalina Filip said due to a car accident, traffic on the Westgate Freeway was backed up beyond the M80 Ring Road exit while traffic appeared to be flowing freely on the Western Ring Road.
She said the coach driver made the decision to travel to Southern Cross via the Western Ring Road and the Calder Freeway as a way to save time.
Ms Filip said coach drivers are trained to use this route in the event of a major disruption on the Westgate Freeway. The coach encountered some traffic later on its journey and arrived into Southern Cross Station at 8.37am.
“We appreciate the patience and understanding of our passengers as we deliver these critical works,” Ms Filip said.
“V/Line is completing $4.4 million in improvement works on the Geelong and Warrnambool lines over 10 days and we’re asking customers to allow an extra 40 minutes’ for their journey during this time.”
Commuter complaints come just days after it was revealed V/Line had missed it’s punctuality target for the 29th time in the past 32 months.
During this week’s shutdown V/Line will undertake a $4.4 million major works program.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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