UPDATE, 7.07pm: A THIRD train on the Bendigo line has been affected by staff sickness.
Passengers intending to travel on the 20:02 Bendigo - Southern Cross service will complete the journey via road coach.
It follows a number of cancellations, service amendments and delays on the Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Seymour lines throughout the day.
UPDATE, 5pm: V/Line is doing everything it can to minimise further disruptions across the week after a ‘higher-than-usual’ number of staff called in sick today, a spokesperson said.
“With the onset of winter, V/Line has recently seen a higher-than-usual number of staff unwell, with a very high number of staff calling in sick today, which has unfortunately lead to a number of service changes and cancellations across the network this afternoon,” the spokesperson said.
“We are doing everything we can to source coaches to replace cancelled services but customers may also be asked to board the next available scheduled service.
“V/Line would like to apologise to passengers for any inconvenience and we will be doing everything we can to minimise further disruptions across the week.”
15:20 Southern Cross - Echuca is now delayed approximately 33 minutes due to the late departure from Southern Cross cause by platform congestion and congestion on tracks share with Metro Trains at Sunbury— V/Line Bendigo Line (@vline_bendigo) June 6, 2018
The Bendigo Advertiser understands train drivers are required to give a minimum two hours’ notice if they are unwell and unable to fulfil their shift.
V/Line has standby drivers rostered, but it is understood services could be cancelled or replaced with coaches if replacement drivers were not readily available.
It is believed one driver being unavailable can cause at least two services – possibly three – to be cancelled, depending on the staff member’s rostering arrangements on the day.
The Bendigo Advertiser understands V/Line sources train-replacement coaches where possible, but is of the view it will sometimes be quicker for passengers to wait for the next available service.
V/Line has been actively recruiting and training new drivers for the past 12 months, resulting in a pool of 70 trainee drivers.
Six of the trainees graduated last month.
It us believed about 40 of the trainee drivers will be progressively rolled out onto the network across the rest of this year, with the remainder to continue to come onto the network in 2019.
V/Line and PTV are understood to be in the process of advise the state government about a review being undertaken into staff sickness.
Public Transport Minister and Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan, last month told the Bendigo Advertiser said she had instructed PTV and V/Line to review performance across the regional network and present options for improving performance on each corridor, including the Bendigo line.
"V/Line and PTV are working together to provide a range of short and longer term options for changes that could be made to help improve punctuality and reliability, across all corridors,” she said.
UPDATE, 4.35pm: Further delays are being reported on the Bendigo line.
A train fault held up the 16:03 Southern Cross - Bendigo train by about 16 minutes.
The 15:20 Southern Cross Station - Echuca service was delayed by about 17 minutes due to platform congestion at Southern Cross Station.
Public Transport Victoria has encouraged passengers travelling on the Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Seymour lines to plan ahead, allow extra time for their journeys and consider alternative travel plans such as altering their departure time, or using a different mode of public transport.
“PTV sincerely apologises for the disruptions and thanks passengers for their patience,” the organisation said in a statement.
“Continue to check the website for the most up to date information before you travel.”
More than 20 services on the four lines have been either cancelled or replaced by coaches today.
Two of the cancelled services were on the Bendigo line.
PTV has advised journey times might be extended by up to 60 minutes.
UPDATE, 2.46pm: MAKE that two Bendigo trains cancelled due to staff sickness today.
V/Line has advised the 16:57 Southern Cross - Eaglehawk will not run.
Customers have been advised to board the next two services, departing Southern Cross at 17:04 and 17:30.
16:57 Southern Cross - Eaglehawk will not run today due to staff sickness. Customers are advised to board the next two service departing Southern Cross at 17:04 and 17:30.— V/Line Bendigo Line (@vline_bendigo) June 6, 2018
EARLIER: PASSENGERS planning to take an evening train to Bendigo have been asked to take a later service, with V/Line citing ‘staff sickness’.
The cancellation of the 19.02 Southern Cross Station – Bendigo service comes after major disruptions to services on the Ballarat line, also due to ‘staff sickness’.
19:02 Southern Cross - Bendigo will not run today due to staff sickness. Customers are asked to board the next available service at 19:42 to Bendigo.— V/Line Bendigo Line (@vline_bendigo) June 6, 2018
V/Line has advised customers planning on taking the 19.02 Southern Cross – Bendigo service to instead board the next available train, which departs 40 minutes later.
Meanwhile on the Ballarat line, at least six services between Bacchus Marsh/Melton and Southern Cross have been cancelled.
Coaches will replace trains on only one of the cancelled services, according to The Courier.
The cancelled trains, as of 1pm on Wednesday were:
- 2.37pm Southern Cross to Bacchus Marsh
- 2.29pm Bacchus Marsh to Southern Cross
- 3.29pm Bacchus Marsh to Southern Cross
- 5pm Southern Cross to Melton
- 5.37pm Southern Cross to Melton
- 5.39pm Melton to Southern Cross
There are also major disruptions on the Seymour and Geelong lines.
4 afternoon cancellations already cause of "staff sickness" what the hell is goin on there with vline? no company has this many staff off sick every single day.— john matthews (@johnmat13754847) June 6, 2018
A massive crowd of 80,000 is expected at the MCG tonight for the state of origin match between Queensland and New South Wales.
Visit the V/Line website for the latest information.
V/Line has been contacted for comment.
- with The Courier.