V/LINE yesterday insisted Albury-Wodonga would not lose any more train carriages.
The reassurance came after it was revealed 22 carriages would be removed from its fleet for testing and repairs.
Public Transport Victoria said V/Line made the decision in the wake of a safety audit that revealed fatigue cracks in some critical areas of the bogies of Z-class carriages.
A V/Line spokesman told The Border Mail none of the carriages were in use on the Albury-Wodonga to Melbourne line.
“This will not affect travellers on the Albury-Wodonga service,” he said.
V/Line’s midday services between Melbourne and Albury have now been changed to bus-only trips in both directions to allow more time for repairs on the Sydney to Melbourne line.
The federal government’s $134 million repair program was slammed recently by Victorian Transport Minister Terry Mulder.
Mr Mulder said 150,000 North East residents “deserve” a rail line that allowed trains to operate reliably and at a reasonable speed rather than at a “snail-like crawl”.
Carriage faults have plagued the Albury-Wodonga service, resulting in the cancellation of 12 services between July 27 and 30 last year when one of the three V/Line standard gauge train sets for the Albury line was already out of action.
Public Transport Victoria chief executive Ian Dobbs said the latest carriage faults were revealed during routine maintenance.
“We support V/Line’s decision to withdraw the carriages for testing and, where necessary, to address any critical issues with the bogies,” he said.
“Our priority is to ensure that V/Line continues to run a safe network.”
The loss of the carriages will reduce capacity on Shepparton, Warrnambool, Swan Hill, Bairnsdale, Geelong and Traralgon trains — about 10 per cent of seats available across the V/Line network.
V/Line acting chief executive Ross Pedley promised the carriage withdrawal would not affect its ability to maintain services, “supplemented by road coaches where needed”.