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More rail chaos as train drivers hit the brakes

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Problem bat causes headache for Metro

Metro Trains spokesperson Daniel Hoarse says delays continue for the Belgrave and Lilydale lines after yesterday's damage by a bat.

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Eastern suburbs rail commuters should brace themselves for more delays on the trip home, with train drivers instructed to go slow and automatic emergency brake triggers switched off.

Metro says that buses will continue to replace trains between Camberwell and Alamein for the rest of the night.

The system will limp along with only one one train at a time able to travel down the lines between Camberwell and Glenferrie stations city-bound, and between Auburn and Glenferrie outbound, until the line problem is solved.

The problem was caused by a bat flying into power lines on Tuesday morning.

Emergency brake systems triggered by stop signals between those stations have been shut off while the problem persists. Instead, platform staff have been forced to "call" through manually to a signal boxes and to drivers.

The go-slow began on Wednesday morning after a letter from Metro Trains general manager of current operations, Wayne Walsh, told drivers to limit their speed to 25 km/h from Camberwell to Glenferrie.

Trains normally travel at more than 70 km/h.

Mr Walsh has told staff to place signals on "stop" and switch trains on ‘‘proceed’’, effectively removing the automatic emergency brake that is triggered when a train passes a stop signal.

Instead of obeying the stop sign, platform staff manually "call" through to a signal box at Burnley and must wait for word from the signal box when each train has cleared the line.

"Only one train is permitted on the down (from the city) line in the section between Glenferrie and Auburn at one time," Mr Walsh wrote.

The letter goes on to say that only one train is allowed on the line between Camberwell and Glenferrie to the city.

A retired driver who contacted Fairfax Media said drivers had contacted him worried about the safety of the operations.

‘‘They are effectively de-commissioning the emergency brake in an effort to get it working at all costs,’’ he said.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union Victoria branch secretary Trevor Dobbyn described the Walsh instructions as "risk mitigation" in line with the  rules and operating procedures.

"If it is done to the letter is should be safe," Mr Dobbyn said.

"It slows everything right down. It is a serious response because it is a major fault. They are severe speed restrictions. It keeps it running, trains will be delayed.

"Trains are air-conditioned and it is much better than putting the poor buggers on to buses in 40-degree heat."

Fairfax Media contacted Metro Trains about the letter and risk mitigation and is awaiting a response.

The Alamein line  was suspended for most of Wednesday. The Lilydale and Belgrave lines are expected to experience delays of one hour, after re-opening for the evening peak.

Rail fails

February 5 and 6 - long delays on Belgrave, Lilydale and Alamein lines due to signal fault at Camberwell.

January 3  – train derails at Croydon station, causing peak-hour disruption to Lilydale line.

December 21 – Frankston line endure evening peak disruption, with buses replacing trains between Mordialloc and Carrum.

November 30 – Sunbury, Craigieburn, Williamstown and Werribee lines disrupted during evening peak when balloons tangle in overhead power lines at Southern Cross station. Upfield line also disrupted by track fault.

October 29 - signal fault on Sydenham line forces Metro to use buses between Sunshine and Watergardens during evening peak.

August 29 and 30 – fire causes extensive damage to signal cabling on the Frankston line, with buses replacing trains on evening and morning peaks.

June 5 – Sydenham, Craigieburn and Upfield trains forced to bypass the City Loop during the evening peak due to a  track fault at Parliament station.

May 6, 2011 – Craigieburn, Sydenham, Werribee, Williamstown and Upfield commuters delayed up to 40 minutes after a signal fault at North Melbourne

November 7, 2008 - Tens of thousands of Oaks Day racegoers stranded when power to the Flemington line fails just as crowds leave the track.

Compiled by Stephen Cauchi

68 comments

  • If their system is tracking me enough to work out fares, its tracking enough to know I was on their trains this morning whether my Myki is registered or not. Privacy issues for an unregistered card? Utter Bull$#@%

    Commenter
    Richard
    Location
    Surrey Hills
    Date and time
    February 06, 2013, 12:50PM
    • They used this bat excuse before but we rarely see bats in the suburbs, but I noted they used a big string of excuses that suddenly and coincidentally occurred the other day. It should be a serious offence to lie to paying commuters if their services are badly managed. This is no different to power companies covering up their assets caused bushfires and deaths, but were allowed to settle out of court with no liability on record. Like most services whilst they rise prices they cut costs to the same value raised but auditors fail to factor in cost cuts, even for places of massive cost cutting in hospitals. Maybe the bats live at batman station eh.

      Commenter
      BRIAN
      Location
      GLENROY
      Date and time
      February 06, 2013, 1:58PM
    • 2 hours today to get from Boronia to Camberwell including having to change trains at Ringwood.
      The train stood stationary just outside of Camberwell for over an hour with some people starting to panic.
      Very sad for some that had weak bladders & were in tears from their embarrassment.
      People were collapsing as this train was packed so tight you couldn't see more than a few feet.
      We will NEVER take a Metro train again.
      The antiquated & run down system is so old and frail, all it takes is a bat to bring down a multibillion dollar infrastructure.
      So if a bat can do all that, what about an intentional malice attack, what could that do?
      How safe is this system, really?
      My wife & I are now going to go to the CBD every day via our motorbike & risk being knocked off by car drivers, as it's the only cost effective way of getting to Melbourne, and maybe safer?

      Commenter
      Adam Phillips
      Location
      Ferntree Gully
      Date and time
      February 06, 2013, 2:09PM
    • @BRIAN, I can't confirm Metro's claim, but there are plenty of bats around early in the mornings this time of the year, especially east of the city. I've seen lots of them while riding to work around 5-ish. You won't see them during the day. They are nocturnal, you know.

      Commenter
      Muammar
      Location
      Melburbia
      Date and time
      February 06, 2013, 2:20PM
    • Come on all relevant authorities, cut through the excuses of 'privacy' etc etc, get rid of those RIDICULOUS forms for compensation, and make use of the Myki software and then recompense us for hours stuck on trains.

      Commenter
      liz
      Date and time
      February 06, 2013, 2:57PM
  • Is it a 'furphy' that Metro actually compensate any passengers?
    You need to have a monthly or yearly ticket - why is that when myki shows when and where you have scanned on and off making it obvious if a person has travelled on a line that has had delays.
    As for compensation given, I know a colleague who has a yearly ticket and gets a new yearly ticket every year at the same time (as it is organised through work) so he has no use for the daily ticket compensation given by Metro.
    It seems ludicrous (or even possibly illegal but definitely immoral) to me that a company can get away with poor performance but face no punishment for it.
    I think the Government can fine them for not meeting set levels of service but Metro found a way around that by changing services to skip stations or travel direct to Flinders St instead of via the loop. Those actions in themselves should mean that the scheduled service was not delivered.
    Is it no wonder people don't like to use public transport?
    I agree that the PSO's are a great idea but other innovations such as later trains for New Year or when events such as the tennis are on are ignored leaving us with no public transport to get home.

    Commenter
    Andrew Rez
    Location
    Ringwood
    Date and time
    February 06, 2013, 12:51PM
    • Until the state or operators provide suitable PT options, I don't believe it is viable to live anywhere that alternative options are available for commuting.
      It is laughable how poorly the outer and middle suburbs are served. The compensation system is evasive and deliberatly difficult to access.

      Commenter
      Mark
      Location
      South Yarra
      Date and time
      February 06, 2013, 12:53PM
      • "He said that despite the failures, Metro was still on target to meet its service standards." If this is true, then obviously the standards need to be set at a higher level!

        Commenter
        Marc
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        February 06, 2013, 12:56PM
        • The reason Metro meets most of its targets, is because when the re jig the timetable they extend the travel time. This way they arrive within the 4 mins 59 secs. whast worse is the government allows them to do it. The fines are capped at i believe at a million a month, where connex it wasnt capped.

          Metor think were stupid, when they come out with the Metro spin doctors.

          Commenter
          Rod
          Date and time
          February 06, 2013, 1:55PM
      • Where was the redundancy of the signals box, if it is that important there should be two running simultaneously just in case one fails.
        Also if it take more than 30 minutes longer than normal for you to get home, then you should be compensated. we have to touch on and off with the myki card, you should be able to use that data to work out whats is actually running on time.
        If Metro is running at 98% of its scheduled services and 88% of them on time then every other line must never have a train cancelled or late...

        Commenter
        Simon
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        February 06, 2013, 1:05PM

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