V/Line can’t blame rain: MP

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WET weather is no excuse for any deterioration of the repaired sections of the North East rail line, a Border MP said yesterday.

Member for Benalla Bill Sykes was commenting after mudholes were found in a section of track between Avenel and Violet Town.

The stretch had become so bumpy conductors on V/Line services between Melbourne and Albury had been forced to sit down and the train’s buffet car service briefly closed.

Dr Sykes said he could not comment specifically on that section of affected track.

“What I don’t know is whether this was in a repaired section,” he said.

“That said, I would expect the upgrades to take into account the wet weather we’ve just experienced, which is very much within the normal range for our winters.”

Up to four V/Line conductors are understood to have been injured after carriages began “jumping” on the track, including one who suffered a knee injury.

V/Line blamed the rough track on recent wet weather, which it said had caused the mudholes to appear.

An 80km/h speed zone has been imposed since the Australian Rail Track Corporation carried out repairs last Tuesday.

The restricted speed was expected to apply for a few more days, but V/Line said it had added only a few minutes to travel times.

The works had involved spot tamping, track compacting and resurfacing, as well as some ballast repairs.

Benambra MP Bill Tilley said yesterday he had requested a full report on the incident.

He, too, was unaware if the section where the mudholes appeared had previously been repaired by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

Punctuality rates for V/Line trains on the Albury-Wodonga service have soared in recent months in the wake of the corporation making progress on its ongoing program to complete major ballast works on the track.

Drainage works will be carried out later this year on the section of track that caused problems last week.

The corporation will also complete some track undercutting in the same area.

Dr Sykes said there was no reason for any mudholes to develop in areas where the track had supposedly been fixed.

“As a farmer I will not buy any suggestion that this is an unusually wet year,” he said.

“Yes it’s wet, and yes it’s a pain in the butt, but it’s not the first time my farm has been wet.

“It occurs cyclically. This is one of our wetter years but it is not out of the ordinary.”

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