Passengers ‘forgotten’ in 45-degree heat

The Melbourne-bound XPT terminated in Albury on Saturday, leaving passengers stranded at Wangaratta.
The Melbourne-bound XPT terminated in Albury on Saturday, leaving passengers stranded at Wangaratta.

TRAIN travellers were left waiting for two hours in 45-degree heat on an exposed rail platform for an XPT service that never came.

The Melbourne-bound travellers were left hot, angry and exhausted as they waited for the train at Wangaratta on Saturday.

The station’s airconditioned waiting room was shut.

V/Line, which manages the station, and its NSW counterpart CountryLink yesterday vowed to work together to avoid a repeat of the incident.

The XPT, run by CountryLink, was due at 4.07pm but was at that time expected to be almost two hours late.

Karen Nankervis was sending her daughter Leah, 17, to Melbourne for a study week.

“I rang Countrylink who advised that while it’s their train, it’s not their station, so they put me through to V/Line, who took my complaint, and will get back to me in seven working days,” she said.

“The Albury station guy was great but he said the XPT wasn’t expected there for another half-hour, and then it will be terminating and there will be a coach to Melbourne.

“In the end that was cancelled, too, and the passengers caught the V/Line train to Melbourne at 6pm.”

Ms Nankervis said she would expect that on extreme days commonsense might prevail.

“I can understand that trains run late,” she said.

“On Saturday in that heat it is even more understandable.

“But someone should have thought of that and had the station open whether it is a V/Line train or CountryLink. Does it really matter?

“No one should be left to wait in such extreme heat.”

CountryLink has apologised for the delays and expects no repeat of last Saturday’s farce.

“CountryLink apologises to customers on the Sydney to Melbourne XPT service for delays experienced on Saturday,” a spokesman said.

“The delays were the result of track speed restrictions and airconditioning failures on the train.

“CountryLink has an agreement with the Victorian rail operator to use its stations to pick up and set down passengers.

“While staffing of these stations is the responsibility of the Victorian rail operator, we will work closely with V/Line to make station facilities available in the future.”

CountryLink denied its decision to drop Melbourne-based train drivers last November had any bearing on the train’s Albury termination.

“The arrangement of V/Line train drivers on CountryLink services was reviewed by both organisations in November and agreed they would be discontinued so services between Sydney and Melbourne are now operated only by CountryLink train drivers,” the spokesman said.

“That matter had no bearing on the decision to terminate the train at Albury.”