V/line mud 'chaos'

MUDHOLES that have caused havoc for North East trains in recent times have spread to the adjacent, yet-to-be commissioned track, says member for Murray Valley Ken Jasper.

This week CountryLink decided to terminate its trains at Albury indefinitely over the state of the east track that is also used for freight trains.

Mr Jasper says he has reports that the west track, recently converted to standard gauge and undergoing commissioning, also has problems.

“This is chaos,” he said.

“They have massive problems and yet no one is talking.

“The Transport Minister needs to come out and explain what is being done.

“When they took the trains off the tracks two years ago then transport minister Lynne Kosky told me that the first V/Line would run before I finished in the parliament in November.

“Now it seems there are no guarantees —the whole project seems to have fallen into a heap.”

Mr Jasper has called for an urgent investigation by Victorian Transport Minister, Martin Pakula, into the multitude of problems which have developed with the standard-gauge XPT track and the new, standard-gauge track to be utilised by V/Line.

“Critically, the Victorian Government must get answers from the Australian Rail Track Corporation, V/Line and a range of contractors involved with the standardisation of the former broad-gauge track,” he said.

“It is clear that since the early laying of the track a multitude of problems have developed, with buses continuing to replace all passenger rail services.

“I was informed in early July that major problems had been identified with the original standard-gauge track between Albury-Wodonga and Seymour and it now appears there are similar problems with the new track, to be utilised by V/Line.”

Late yesterday a spokesman for Mr Pakula said they were awaiting more details.

“The minister recently met with ARTC chief executive David Marchant and ARTC have given an undertaken that the minister be provided with a works plan,” he said.

“The minister looks forward to receiving this advice.

“The Victorian Government and Transport Safety Victoria will not compromise safety.”

Worsening mudholes have now resulted in speed restrictions on more than 200 kilometres, about 66 per cent, of the track between the Border and Melbourne, adding an extra 1? hours to the travelling time.

Train drivers say the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s $285 million project that saw almost 300,000 wooden sleepers replaced by concrete sleepers is to blame.

They say the trains sway and bounce with repeated reports of freight trains breaking couplings.