‘Signal faults to blame’ but what does that actually mean?

Signal faults are the common cause of delays on V/Line services
Signal faults are the common cause of delays on V/Line services

IT’S an excuse Ballarat’s V/Line commuters have heard plenty of in the past few weeks, but what exactly are ‘signal faults’?

Melbourne-bound passengers were again delayed for more than 30 minutes on Friday morning after signal faults between Rockbank and Caroline Springs.

It comes less than two weeks after two separate signal faults between Bacchus Marsh and Gordon saw delays of more than two hours on the 5.50pm service from Southern Cross to Wendouree. 

A V/Line spokesman said controllers identified a signal fault on the Ballarat line at 6.35am on Friday. 

Services were temporarily stopped near Rockbank and then proceeded through the affected section at reduced speed once the fault was identified. The root cause of the fault is under investigation. 

“We sincerely apologise to passengers for the disruption and the inconvenience caused,” the spokesperson said.

While a range of factors including staff sickness and training, vandalism and line upgrades have been among the causes of delays and cancellations recently, signal faults are the most common reason for service problems. 

V/Line said signal faults can take many forms and causes and vary in their complexity.

Copper wire theft was responsible for a recent delay at Melton in the morning peak that caused major delays to passengers.

The spokesperson said the signalling system is designed to be “fail safe” if there is an issue, with faults caused by weather conditions, track circuit failures or by vandalism. 

“When we do experience a signal fault, our signal technicians are deployed out in the field as quickly as possible so we can get train services back up and running once it is safe to do so,” the spokesperson said.

“Safety is our number one priority at V/Line and we take no chances if signal systems aren’t operating as they should be. Signal faults are often isolated and hard to predict.”