Heat impacts rail times

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 21-Dec-2017

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V/LINE continues to fight a losing battle with train punctuality as hot weather and further delays on the network loom in summer.

The rail operator recorded a punctuality figure of 80.7 per cent in November, down more than nine per cent on figures from October.

It was also the worst result for Bendigo services since January, with V/Line’s stretch of not having reached the on-time target dating back to May, 2015.

V/Line said in a statement its network-wide result of 85.8 per cent was “one of its highest” in the past 12 months, but remains well under the target set by Public Transport Victoria. 

All but one of the network’s lines recorded punctuality figures below the 92 per cent standard, with only Swan Hill/Echuca services exceeding the target.

Bendigo’s figure was the third worst in the state, with only Gippsland trains and the long-distance service to Bairnsdale recording lower rates of punctuality.

V/Line CEO James Pinder blamed the delays on shared section of track with metropolitan services and more train faults than usual.

“We are working through the issues and improving our interface with metropolitan services is an important part of that plan,” he said.

The new contract between the state government and Metro Trains has been identified as one way to improve performance, by providing a more reliable path for V/Line services on Metro tracks.

V/Line was left to talk up its reliability, with Bendigo services running as scheduled 96.5 per cent of the time, 0.5 per cent above its target.

But that figure was below the network average of 97.8 per cent and one of only four lines to record reliability of less than 97.5 per cent.

It comes as hot weather caused the first heat restrictions this week, which are a regular disruption to services through summer. 

The network’s hot weather plan comes into action when the temperature is at or exceeds 36 degrees and sees trains slow down to 90 kilometres per hour.

Geelong trains will not have as heavy a restriction imposed if the temperature is between 36 and 39 degrees, with trains still able to travel at 130km/h.

But when the temperature exceeds 39º, the 90km/h limit will be enforced.

Mr Pinder said V/Line was planning to roll out a similar approach to other lines across its network as it continues to upgrade tracks and infrastructure.

Bendigo services have been affected by both heat and planned maintenance, with no trains running last weekend due to works.

The government also started the tender process for the Bendigo and Eaglehawk station developments this week.

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