Bus steps in for VIC rail

Regional trains in Victoria will be replaced by buses in wake of ongoing V/Line cancellations

Free regional rail travel throughout Victoria has been extended until February 7 and the V/Line CEO Theo Taifalos resigned, after serious track maintenance issues continue to cause train cancelations.

Bus will play a key role as coaches replace rail services and V/Line races to fix the problem, with normal services not likely to recommence for several months.

Excessive wheel wear on VLocity trains and a boom-gate fault have been recently branded by Victorian minister for transport Jacinta Allan as ‘totally unacceptable’.

"The Victorian Government was told the problems had been identified and the vast majority of services would be up and running by the end of the week," she says.

"This advice from V/Line was wrong and this unacceptable situation has caused the Government to lose confidence in the leadership of V/Line and the CEO has resigned effective immediately.

"V/Line passengers are furious – and so is the government. What has happened is not good enough.

"On behalf of the government I apologise for the disruption and the inconvenience it has, and will continue to cause."

Services will improve on the Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong lines from mid-February, but it will be months before normal services resume in full.

The National Safety Regulator advised that safety measures must be carried out on all 21 affected crossings on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, after a boom-gate fault at several level crossings was discovered.

Trains cannot run between Traralgon and Melbourne and will be replaced by coaches, while this work is undertaken over the next six weeks.

"In light of the unacceptable disruptions, the government is extending free travel for regional passengers until at least the last service of Sunday, February 7," Allan says.

"I know exactly how important V/Line services are – I’ve used them all my life. Regional Victorians deserve better and we’re going to work our hardest to provide the service they’re entitled to."

The timetable change scheduled for January 31 for the Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo lines will be deferred until the Victorian Government is confident it can be successfully implemented.

The Victorian Government has also ordered a full review of all V/Line operations.

Public Transport Victoria (PTV) CEO Gary Liddle will be the interim CEO of V/Line until a suitable permanent replacement is appointed.

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