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Metro cancels 29 rail services to teach train drivers how to use new tracks

Friday night cancellations will leave travellers on some lines waiting up to 40 minutes. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui Metro Trains is quietly cancelling a number of its Friday night services, in order to teach train drivers how to travel through three newly built sections of railway.
Nanjing Night Net

The cancellations will leave travellers on lines including Werribee and Cranbourne waiting up to 40 minutes for a train.

“This is a long way from Jacinta Allan’s claims of a turn-up-and-go train system,” opposition public transport spokesman David Hodgett said.

On Friday, Metro cancelled 29 train services that ran between 4pm and 9.40pm. It will cancel the same services over the next three Fridays.

The cancellations are happening so the rail operator can train 600 drivers on changes to signalling, tracks and stations as a result of level crossing removals at North, McKinnon and Centre roads around the Bentleigh area.

“This is a vital safety requirement for all our drivers,” Metro spokeswoman Sammie Black said.

She said the operator ran a number of extra trains on Fridays, making it the best day to subject passengers to pre-planned cancellations.

“Pre-planning the cancelling of a very small number of services allows us to train our drivers … whilst also delivering timetabled and special event services,” she said.

The union representing train drivers, however, said there were other times that Metro could cancel trains without disadvantaging so many passengers.

The company was instead trying to make train drivers the scapegoats for cancelled trains, union state secretary Luba Grigorovitch said.

Metro Trains has also said that future grade separations may lead to a slight increase in cancellations, as it will similarly need to train drivers in changed track conditions.

Mr Hodgett said Friday nights were a terrible time for Metro to cancel services.

“On Friday nights, including when the Pies are playing the Tigers at the MCG, Metro is cancelling 29 trains,” Mr Hodgett said. “This makes a mockery of claimed extra football specials on some lines before the game because regular trains are getting the boot.”

He also questioned why Public Transport Victoria had not included the train cancellations on its website. Instead, he said, the news was “hidden on Metro’s website under individual train lines”.

The Public Transport Users Association said it was curious the cancellations were being carried out at such a busy time, and that such planned cancellations loomed as an ongoing issue.

August’s Friday cancellations are the result of three level crossing removals, meaning a far more significant effect is likely when nine level crossings go, as planned, between Caulfield and Dandenong for the “skyrail” project.

“When there wasn’t a big program of level crossing works, it wasn’t an issue, but now we are talking about dozens of level crossings being removed,” association spokesman Daniel Bowen said.

Mr Bowen said the rail system “is under enough strain without deliberately cancelling trains because they don’t have sufficient drivers”.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said that, when improvements like removing level crossings were made, “drivers need to be trained … to keep services safe”.

She said the cancellations were “standard practice” that had been “scheduled to minimise disruption to passengers”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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