Commuters on the Ballarat line this afternoon can expect congestion with at least six services already cancelled.
V/Line is blaming “staff sickness” for the cancellations.
The cancelled services involve trains between Bacchus Marsh/Melton and Southern Cross and do not extend to Ballarat.
However, given only one of the services will be replaced by a coach service, it is certain to push people onto other services.
The cancelled trains, as of 1pm on Wednesday are:
There are also major disruptions on the Seymour and Geelong lines, while Bendigo has minor disruptions.
A massive crowd of 80,000 is expected at the MCG tonight for the state of origin match between Queensland and New South Wales.
Public Transport Users Association Ballarat convener Ben Lever said while most of the cancelled trains were Melton and Bacchus Marsh services, these would impact the already busy peak 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.”
In a statement a V/Line spokesperson said “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 lead to a number of service changes and cancellations across the network this afternoon”.
One staff sickness has the potential to cancel as many as three services in a day.
“We are doing everything we can to source coaches to replace cancelled services but customers may also be asked to board the next available scheduled service.”
Visit the V/Line website for the latest information.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.