WHEEL wear which has played havoc to Ballarat’s train services over the last three months has had a severe effect on service punctuality, recent performance results reveal.
The March results revealed the percentage of services to arrive on time dropped by 10 per cent to 84.7 compared to the same time last year.
The recent performance was affected by a number of service reductions due to faster than normal wheel wear which has recently come under examination by the Monash University Institute of Railway Technology.
On Saturday the institute released a report into the wheel wear which found a combination of tight curves on sections of the Regional Rail Link (RRL), high friction due to the absence of lubrication, and the wear resistance of both wheels and rail were the root cause of the issue.
V/Line chief executive officer Gary Liddle said the report confirmed wheel wear started to increase after the full activation of RRL.
“The wheel wear rate remained relatively constant until December 2015 and then progressively increased due to greater contact between worn rails and worn wheels in the tighter curves,” he said.
He said V/Line would take on recommendations to implement a more suitable method of applying lubricant on tight curves, introduce some speed restrictions and replace worn rail to ensure wheel wear is kept at a manageable level.
“We’ve restored more than 90 per cent of our train services and we’re back on track to return to normal by mid-year,” he said.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan on Saturday released a statement about the “unacceptable disruption” for regional train passengers, saying an independent review of V/Line has shown they were asked to do “more with less for too long.”
“It should have been growing as regional patronage and service levels grew,” the statement read.
She said the review makes recommendations about improving structure, governance and capability of V/Line.
“I will be discussing the report with the board in coming weeks and have asked the chair to start the recruiting of a new CEO.”
As of April 26, two services a day will be restored on the Ballarat line, which will also receive an extra carriage on the 5.13pm service from Southern Cross.