Blame it on the ‘roos. The train delays, that is.
Those hoppity critters have been jumping into the path of V/Line trains with an increasing regularly, making the Bendigo line a hot-spot – particularly between Kangaroo Flat and Chewton.
It’s not the cosiest of drive for road users in that area, either (witness the attempts to kangaroo-proof the road). And at dusk, anywhere through that area can be a health hazard for the unwary driver (not to mention the ‘roo).
But the trains. Who knew? As The Age reported on Thursday ”between March and October, V/Line trains hit kangaroos and some livestock about 60 times each month, resulting in long delays for commuters. At its worst, trains have hit kangaroos nine times in a single day”.
It seems the collisions cause only light damage to the train (not so the poor ‘roo). But a train involved in an animal strike has to go through a “biowash” that takes days, putting it off the track. Cue delays, service cancellations, lack of stock, and trains running with less carriages leading to over crowding. There have been plenty of complaints in the Twittersphere about the last, plus buses replace trains, staff shortages and trains on the wrong tracks (Bendigo service heads to Ballarat last Friday) .
Rail services have been a keen political issue this State election, with new train links, high-speed options, connections to the airport and better rolling stock on the table. Perhaps a kangaroo-strike projection portfolio needs to be added to that arsenal if the trains are to run on time. Sound ludicrous? National Rail in Britain will be clearing 50 million leaves from the track (yes, leaves cause huge numbers of delays in the UK in autumn) and jet washing 295,000 km of track (just in the area around London), to keep the trains running in the face of mother nature’s annual molt.
Looks like we need a similar strategy to deal with ‘roos. Afterall, they have had more than a century to get used to cars and they still bound into their paths. Trains are larger and have been around longer. The animal strikes aren’t stopping anytime soon.
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