Buses continue to replace trains on the Gippsland line

BECAUSE of last week’s rain, coaches will continue to replace all V/Line trains on the Gippsland line, and travel will be free for the entire journey until mid-January while works are underway.

Passengers will receive free travel on all Gippsland line replacement coaches until Sunday, January 13.

Passengers will also receive free onward travel on metropolitan services and town buses.

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said the free travel recognised the additional disruption Gippsland passengers now faced during the Christmas and New Year periods.

Power, signalling and communications upgrades to Melbourne’s train network are currently taking place on the Cranbourne-Pakenham lines in preparation for the arrival of bigger, better new trains in mid-2019.

Last week’s extreme weather has caused delays to the project. In addition to the heavy rainfall creating difficult conditions, electrical storms meant postponing electrical work for safety reasons.

As a result, V/Line was unable to complete essential driver training to enable trains to safely operate on the newly upgraded sections of track.

V/Line train services had been scheduled to return to the Gippsland line next Monday, December 24 following the completion of initial signalling works.

Replacement coaches will now continue to operate on the line across the Christmas and New Year periods and through to the next planned period of works between 2 and 13 January when more power, signalling and communications upgrades are being undertaken.

A mix of express and semi-express coaches will again be made available to passengers, with a temporary timetable to be made available soon.

Coaches on Christmas Day will operate to a Sunday timetable, while coaches on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day will operate to Saturday times.

In recognition of trains not returning on Christmas Day, all passengers who travel on December 25 will receive a free return travel voucher that can be used in the new year.

Passengers with existing paid bookings during the Christmas and New Year period will be eligible to apply for reimbursement.

More information and temporary timetables are available at ptv.vic.gov.au.

“We’re undertaking a once-in-a-generation upgrade to Melbourne’s train network and we thank our passengers for their ongoing patience during this important upgrade work,” Ms Allan said.

“I want to apologise to Gippsland passengers for the additional disruption over Christmas and New Year — once completed these upgrades will improve reliability on the sections of line shared with the metropolitan trains.”