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THE State Government has denied claims that a noise problem with the new fast rail trains will affect the completion date and final cost of the project.
It has been revealed by a 15-month testing process by Dandenong-based manufacturer Bombardier that the trains, which will run between Bendigo and Melbourne, would be too noisy for passengers.
V/Line and the State Government have confirmed that noise is an issue, but both defended the finding, saying it was part of normal procedure and that repairing the problem would not be an added cost for the government.
"Any works needed to rectify issues discovered during testing are at Bombardier's own expense," a State Government official said.
It was stated there would be no further delay because of the noise finding.
"This has already been factored into present production and should not affect timing for the commencement of fast rail services."
A V/Line spokeswoman, Dionne Lew, said the purpose of the testing program was to uncover issues such as noise so they could be fixed before the trains went into service.
"Products are usually tested before they come on to the market so that they can be delivered in the best possible way - the train is no different," she said.
Small structural modifications would be made before the trains began operating.
The State Government has ordered 38 of the new V/Locity trains to run on lines from Melbourne to Bendigo, Ballarat, Traralgon and Geelong.
They are expected to travel at speeds up to 160kmh, 30kmh faster than the present maximum. Leg 5 The Bendigo Rail Action Group has questioned why it had taken so long to find the noise problem.
Spokesman Laurie Whelan described the find as bizarre.
"There has been a considerable amount of time testing the trains and they have only just discovered a noise problem at this stage," he said.
"Surely that sort of testing should have shown it up earlier."
Originally the project was to be operational by the middle of this year at a cost of $80 million, but it is now expected to cost $750 million and is scheduled for completion later this year.
"They need to commit themselves to a date, so that communities have an idea of how long they have to trek to Melbourne," Mr Whelan said.
A Regional Fast Rail spokeswoman has confirmed trains are expected to return to Kyneton by November.
She said it was hoped all other works on the Bendigo line would be finished by the end of the year.
Mount Alexander Shire council mayor Dave Gittus said it was imperative that trains returned to service, whether they be old or new.
He hoped the noise discovery would not prevent that return.
He said commuters were suffering from high petrol prices, and the coach service was too slow.
Cr Gittus said residents still had a lot of pain to go through before services were restored.
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