Train delays frustration boils over

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COMMUTERS travelling on the Frankston line faced frustrating service cancellations and delays during the early morning weekday peak hours of 7-9am last week.

Several scheduled train services were cancelled at short notice and customers were quick to vent their anger at delays on social media.

Metro Trains spokeswoman Sammie Black said an incident involving a person being struck by a train late on Monday afternoon “had a knock on effect” throughout the week.

“We understand it inconveniences customers and our aim is to ensure everyone gets to their destination while delaying the smallest number possible,” Ms Black said.

Delays on the Frankston line came in the same week Metro Trains was forced to ban V/Line trains from running on metropolitan and suburban tracks after a VLocity train, V/Line’s newest model, failed to trigger boom gates as it approached a Dandenong level crossing.

That boom gates failure follows several such incidents on the Stony Point line last year. Metro Trains installed axle counters along the line to trigger boom gates in all cases where trains approach level crossing intersections.

Wear and tear on V/Line trains’ wheels, since they travel greater distances than their metro counterparts, are being blamed for failure to trigger boom gates.

Labor Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said axle counters will now be installed at 29 level crossings across Melbourne’s railway network at a cost of $23 million.

Public Transport Victoria advised The Times that the Stony Point line axle counters cost $5.8 million to install last year. Metro confirmed there have been no boom gate incidents since July when the axle counters have been in place on the Stony Point line.

Premier Daniel Andrews blamed V/Line for the cancellation of train services across the network last week citing a “failure to adequately prepare for increased regional services – including a failure to plan for additional track-greasing – which has led to an escalated rate of wearing on the wheels of VLocity carriages”.

“This lack of preparation has led to the cancellation of train services across the network – an unacceptable and avoidable situation that has frustrated thousands of regional commuters,” the Premier said in a statement released last Wednesday.

Mr Andrews said all travel on V/Line services will be free until Sunday 31 January “as a small acknowledgement of the frustration recent service disruptions have caused”.

The Labor state government has pledged to remove 50 level crossings, including the separation of road and rail at eleven crossings along the Frankston line, in a push to ease congestion.

First published in the Frankston Times – 25 January 2016

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