SAFETY concerns have been raised over V/Line allowing train passengers to travel aboard a carriage with a smashed window.
The lunchtime service from Melbourne to Albury-Wodonga ran yesterday with a broken window in the door of the first carriage from the locomotive.
V/Line spokesman James Kelly said the damage was caused by vandals during a stopover in Albury at the weekend and the train, with the broken window, was part of a Melbourne-bound service on Sunday but the affected carriage did not carry passengers.
He said it was allowed to carry passengers yesterday because a temporary fix was in place.
Regular V/Line traveller Anne Brennan from Wodonga was on yesterday’s service but said the smashed window had next to no impact on her trip despite sitting in the first carriage.
“I just noticed the board on it and that we couldn’t get out that door to get off the train,” she said.
“It wasn’t a big inconvenience, only that we didn’t know that the door wouldn’t open and we were standing there ready to come out.”
Ms Brennan said she had no worries about the train running with a smashed window.
The reaction of V/Line has raised concerns in the mind of Rail, Tram and Bus Union state secretary Trevor Dobbyn.
“Clearly the window should be repaired ... to protect the safety of the public,” Mr Dobbyn said.
“V/Line need to explain why they’re running trains with broken windows, that can’t be safe,” he said.
“It could affect the conductors, it would be unsafe for them as well as the public.”
Mr Kelly rejected the suggestion that safety had been compromised by allowing passengers to travel in a carriage with a broken window.
“We don’t have a safety concern in relation to that, we’ve put a fix in place for that and it will be repaired on Thursday,” Mr Kelly said.
The smashed window has highlighted V/Line’s inability to immediately withdraw damaged carriages because of a lack of rolling stock suitable for the standard gauge North East line.
There are only three train sets for the Border service with the usual routine seeing two of those in service and the other one in for scheduled maintenance.
“I’m sure we would get a lot more criticism if we cancelled trains every time there was a minor issue that did not affect the comfort of the passengers,” Mr Kelly said.