Our Customers Are Idiots: V/Line

Long suffering Geelong V/Line customers copped another penalty for trying to do the right thing and support public transport yesterday morning when the 4:43am service from Marshall to Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station ran out of fuel at Footscray, halting all trains behind it.

This included metropolitan services on the Werribee and Williamstown lines, and caused “knock-on” effects in other parts of the network.

Thousands of commuters were disrupted because someone didn’t put enough fuel in the tank. I mean seriously, incompetent much?

Of course, V/Line themselves came up with a raft of the usual excuses, and even some new ones.

The gauge was checked this morning as it always is, from the outside. It appeared that there was enough ‘petrol’ in the tank. The driver doesn’t have that same gauge in the cabin and it broke down at Footscray unfortunately.”

(NOTE: I’ve chosen to ignore the fact that if they had put petrol in the tank, it wouldn’t have got anywhere – (let alone Footscray) – since it runs on diesel fuel.)

He did check the gauge on the train and it appeared there was enough fuel to make the trip.”

So, he checked the gauge – but not the tank? How about giving the tank a quick tap with your foot, to see if it SOUNDS empty? Or having a look INSIDE the tank? Or – (and this is a radical idea) – how about just filling all the tanks up at the start of each day?

A few simple tests and/or procedures and none of this debacle would have occurred.

The bottom line is, as people with (hopefully) common sense, commuters do understand that things go wrong from time to time. Shit happens as they say. We accept that.

V/Line’s biggest problem is (still) its ability to not communicate with its passengers when things do go wrong.

This incident occurred at 5:45am. At this point, alarms should be ringing, and customers should start getting informed. The response from V/Line?


I boarded a train at North Geelong at 6:33am – was there any platform announcement to expect delays? No. If there had been, I would have returned to my car and driven to work, so as to not be late to the seminar I was attending yesterday morning.

When the train reached Lara at about 6:45am, the conductor informed us of the problem, and that we’d be delayed. Of course, I was now many kilometres from my car back at North Geelong, and now had no choice but to wait out the delay.

And they’d already known for an hour – so yes, I was late for my seminar.

Poor excuse for customer service, no? This is not an isolated incident – this is exactly how V/Line perform whenever there is a problem. How about this one, or even this one?

And who could forget this one?

Well, today there has been even more demonstration of the contempt V/Line holds for their customers. Of their “vlineinform” Twitter account, they said today:

“The way it was set up was to only look for delays of more than 30 minutes. We are in the process now of fixing that.”

Oh really? Why was it spitting out these updates on Tuesday night?

Forgive my maths, but are not delays of “15 mins” and “28 mins” less than “30 mins”?

Let’s flash forward to yesterday morning, where delays of “up to 47 minutes” were experienced as a result of the “fuel fault”.

Hang on – now there aren’t any tweets at all about the Geelong line, even though there are delays of “47 minutes” which is more than “30 minutes”.


So setup “to only look for delays of more than 30 minutes” is clearly wrong. A lie, or just no idea.

So lets make something up.

Notice also the tweet from Metro Trains of delays of “50 minutes” in regards to this EXACT incident. I think that’s more than “47 minutes” as well.

How are the V/Line trains being delayed for a shorter period of time, on the same piece of track?

We do have a brain V/Line. We see what’s going on, we are intelligent people.

Pointless PR rubbish that is just clearly wrong, and simply never keeping your customers informed is just contempt for the people who pay to ride your “services”.

Ultimately, we give you a job. A job you’re not doing – and we’re sick of it.