The State Government’s assurance that V/Line train services will be back to normal within a week has “mystified” a leading Geelong public transport activist.
The promise was “fairly opaque”, said Public Transport Users Association Geelong’s Paul Westcott.
“It’s hard to believe train services could be back to normal that soon given the extent of the disruptions. It’s been disastrous,” Mr Westcott said.
“We still don’t really have an understanding of the reasons for the wear and how it got so bad so quickly.”
V/Line passengers will travel free until the end of the month, the government announced this week. Advance-payers will be compensated with the equivalent of nine extra days of travel.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan has ordered an independent operational review into V/Line.
The review will consider the structure, capability and expertise of the regional operator, she said.
Ms Allan attributed the disruptions to train services to wheels wearing on the new tracks and signalling problems at boom gates on regional lines.
The Andrews Government also committed $23 million for the installation of axle counters to trigger boom gates, she said.
“V/Line did not adequately plan and prepare a changed maintenance regime for more frequent services running along regional rail services after the new timetable came into operation mid last year,” Ms Allan said.
“I am advised that these issues are being addressed through additional maintenance and the replacement of wheels and that services will progressively resume over the coming week.
Shadow transport minister David Hodgett said the Geelong line was particularly badly affected.
“Geelong residents face numerous delays if road coaches continue to take the place of faster trains. This will be exacerbated once Australia Day has been and gone and most Victorians are back to work or school,” Mr Hodgett said.
“This debacle” was inconveniencing tens of thousands of commuters and costing Victorian taxpayers’ money, he said.
“The Andrews Labor Government is trying to blame everyone for this chaos but the buck stops with Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan.
“This government should be focussed on fixing the trains and Ms Allan must set a date by which each V/Line problem will be resolved.”
Originally published at Geelong Independent.