Ballarat line in sick territory

Winter illnesses are being blamed for the cancellation of many train services on the Ballarat line.

Ballarat line commuters were forced onto packed peak-hour carriages or buses on
June 6 after six trains to and from the city were cancelled because of staff sickness.

One of the journeys was replaced by coaches, while remaining commuters were forced to
wait for later services or find alternative transport.

A V/Line spokesperson said one staff sickness could mean as many as three services a day could be cancelled.

“With the onset of winter, V/Line has recently seen a higher-than-usual number of staff unwell … with a very high number of staff calling in sick today, which has unfortunately led to a number of service changes and cancellations across the network,” the spokesperson said.

Ballarat Public Transport Users Association spokesman Ben Lever said that most of the cancelled trains were Melton and Bacchus Marsh services, with those cancellations having a flow-on effect on Ballarat trains.

“These staffing issues have been plaguing
V/Line for a long time, but they seem to be getting worse and worse,” Mr Lever said.

“It seems that there is such a shortage of qualified staff that V/Line can only cover its staffing requirements when absolutely everything goes right. They’re running so close to the edge that even a small number of staff sicknesses can cause mass cancellation of trains. This is frankly not good enough – our trains are an essential service, necessary to keep our economy moving, and V/Line needs to manage its staff well enough that we don’t have these kinds of issues.”

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said she would investigate.

“It’s very frustrating for passengers on that service and that’s why I’ll be asking Public Transport Victoria for an explanation from
V/Line about what exactly is going on with that service,” she said.

– with The Courier