Coaches replace trains as more than 300 V/Line staff isolate

Major disruptions on the V/Line network have been continuing this week, with a significant number of V/Line train drivers in isolation following positive coronavirus tests within the workforce.

As of Wednesday, there were seven positive tests among drivers and operational staff, with public health advice requiring more than 300 drivers and operational staff to isolate.

Coaches replaced all V/Line services on Wednesday, which allowed for services to continue to operate, giving passengers some certainty and helping to contain the outbreak.

Passengers are being urged to check the V/Line website before they travel and allow extra time for their journeys.

V/Line’s CoVIDSafe plan has a number of general contingency plans for different types of service disruptions, allowing it to modify services and put alternate transport options in place quickly whenever services are disrupted, including as a result of a COVID-19 exposure.

In a statement issued this week, the Department of Transport said a number of controls have been in place during the coronavirus pandemic, including physical distancing requirements and measures in common areas, mandated mask-wearing, QR codes, additional cleaning, temperature testing and encouraging good hygiene practices, as well as regular communications with staff about working in a COVID safe environment.

Before this outbreak V/Line had reduced the number of overnight stays for conductors doing long-distance shifts — and this has now been suspended entirely for both drivers and conductors since the positive case was confirmed last Thursday.

V/Line and the Department of Transport are working closely with the Department of Health to support the V/Line staff and say they are exercising “an abundance of caution in the interest of our crews and passengers”.

“We apologise to passengers making permitted journeys for the disruption to their journey and thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this challenging time,” the Department of Transport said in its statement.

“We will continue to provide regular updates during this period.”

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