A cracked toilet, signal failures caused seasonal train pain

Border Rail Action Group’s Bill Traill believes the North East trains are 35 to 40 years old and need replacement.
Border Rail Action Group’s Bill Traill believes the North East trains are 35 to 40 years old and need replacement.

Engine failings, a cracked toilet and faults caused a myriad of V/Line cancellations over Christmas – but Albury is too far out and too ‘safe’ politically to attract the investment for a new fleet believes advocates. 

Border Rail Action Group’s Bill Traill said the 35 to 40 year old fleet needs to be replaced.

He said creating four train sets with four carriages was meant to ease pressure on the “aging, fragile fleet”.

“The idea was to have one in reserve and one in maintenance, as they require maintenance every week,” Mr Traill said.

“Inevitably now the locomotive is breaking down, which begets a different form of maintenance often more demanding on time. 

 “The reality is in the month of December into the new year there seems to be a sustained lack of reliability – it’s been as bad as it’s been in the past couple of years.”

Mr Traill said the service deserved more than empty promises. 

“Certainly further in they get suburban-like treatment, Seymour on our line, likewise Bendigo, Geelong, Ballarat, and Traralgon, there’s no doubt about that,” he said,

“We’re a long ways off getting that sort of treatment.

“Their priority is clearly swinging electorates and the inner region zone.”

Transport Minister Jacinta Allan’s office released the causes of the 31 service cancellations from Christmas to January 2. 

On December 25, all locomotives were out of service due to an engine governor leaking oil, dynamic brake fault, fuel dilution, compressor drive shaft fault. 

These faults continued over three days, causing 12 of the 18 scheduled services to be replaced.

On December 29, a cracked toilet leaking onto bogie saw three of the scheduled six services replaced.

A signal fault caused 59 minute delay on one of the running services, an 81 minute delay on December 30 and 104, 98 and 33 minute delays on New Year’s Eve.

On December 30, half the six scheduled services were replaced as locomotives required services.

Two locomotives were unable to complete test runs due to a track fault and taken out of service on December 31, another service was replaced due to a “train fault”.

Over January 1 and 2, five of the nine services were replaced by buses due to a power van fault.

Mr Traill said the North East needed new rolling stock, not the same trains “tarted up” and could not wait for the line to be fixed.