V/Line: Time to Develop a Clue!

Now, I do not – and would not – pretend to understand the finer intricacies of the management of a fleet of trains, but I would like to think that some common sense would come into it – somewhere. Hopefully.

Alas, events at Southern Cross Station on Friday evening leave me wondering if “common sense” even appears in the V/Line Operations Manual. It does not appear to do so.

Service number 8235 (otherwise known as the 17:29 Southern Cross to Marshall) was once again found to be in disarray – alarming given that it (along with service number 8229, otherwise known as the 16:40 Southern Cross to Marshall) are supposed to be the “flagship services” on the Geelong line.


Here’s a quick rundown of the sequence last night. At approximately 5:00pm, a train arrived from Ballarat, consisting of a single 3VL DMU, number 32. Passengers alighted, and it seemed ready to form the rear of service 8235. Here it is at 5:10pm, still standing on the platform:

One minute later, it left, disappearing into the yard, never to be seen again. Here is the empty platform:

It did however, wait at the far end of the platform for about a minute, before disappearing:

At 5:19pm – a mere ten minutes before the scheduled departure, a pair of empty V’Locity DMUs arrived on the platform – 2VL03, and 3VL27. So we have five carriages of the normal seven carriage service. Okay, some progress.

We just have to wait for another 2VL to arrive, right? Wrong!

At 5:25pm, just four minutes from departure, a boarding call is made for the five carriages, with clearly no extra carriages to be delivered to complete the service. A seven-carriage load of passengers cram into a five-carriage service. Squeezy!

Now, here’s where the annoyance comes from. Leaving the station, I counted six – yes SIX – vacant V’Locity units sitting in the yard, seemingly not doing much. The original 3VL23 was nowhere to be seen. 3VL35 was one of the empty, yard bound units, as seen here:

There were three other units nearby, and two more sitting in the wash road at the EDI Rail maintenance depot.

I don’t understand why the original 3VL23 couldn’t have stayed, and have 3VL35 join it for a total of six carriages. Still not seven, but better than five.

Okay – maybe 3VL23 was declared “defective” and even 3VL35 might have been “defective” also. What about the other six units? Were they ALL declared defective?

If they were – why are so many almost new trains breaking down? If they weren’t, why couldn’t we have some of them – or even one of them – to form something resembling a full service?

The annoying part is, yesterday’s service 8235 will be declared to have run, and to have run “on time”. So it won’t affect their performance figures. But only five sevenths of the service ran and ran on time!

Most frustratingly of all, there were no announcements made. No explanation for the reduced service, and no apology for the reduced service. Just the usual and trite – “welcome aboard this V/Line service, we hope you have a pleasant journey!”. Nice customer service!

Try telling that to the people crammed into doorways, and sitting on the floor in the aisles. We’re not stupid V/Line – lift your game and stop hiding behind rubbery performance figures!