UPDATED: V/Line spokesperson comments added.
We’re seventeen days into the year, and the notorious 3.37pm V/Line train from Southern Cross to Melton has already been cancelled six times.
The train has just been cancelled again today.
Each cancellation leads to more pressure on the Ballarat line services, forcing timetables to be shuffled and causing more commuter angst.
The service has been cancelled every day since Monday, as well as last Friday.
V/Line has blamed the hot weather timetable for the most recent cancellations, but some passengers noted the temperature was about 23 degrees in Melbourne, and 26 degrees at Melbourne Airport, when yesterday’s cancellation was announced about 2pm.
The 15.37pm service is off-peak, and returns to Melbourne without passengers.
In extreme heat timetables, a small number of services are cancelled to reduce track congestion and delays across the whole network.
Heat timetables are announced the day before the hot weather if the forecast temperature is above 36 degrees anywhere on the corridor, to provide more certainty to crews and fleet movements.
Last year, the 15.37pm service was cancelled 34 times between January 30 and June 6.
Reviewing data from V/Line’s Twitter feed, which extends back to August 20, the service was cancelled a further 27 times between then and December 31.
This includes two runs of four days straight in October, but does not include the time when there was a fault on the train in November.
Same as last Friday. Wait for the 17:00 to be cancelled & the 17:19 to be reduced. Footy trains are a priority over regular customers I assume. @danielbowen@ptv_official@JacintaAllanMP@DanielAndrewsMP@DavidDavisMLC@MatthewGuyMP@ryanmfarrow@JustinMamarella#VicVotes2018pic.twitter.com/caHgHrgYrC— Jules 🇦🇺 🦁🏈 (@partnerslncrime) September 21, 2018
Not counting weekends, public holidays, or scheduled works in December, that means 33 services have been cancelled in 98 days - about a third of services.
This is the one service I needed to use today but in anticipation of it being cancelled I made arrangements to catch the earlier service. Not ideal but this is what we come to expect now from this mob.— Peter Barratt (@PeterB9999) October 1, 2018
For anyone playing at home - or work - most of the cancellations have been announced between 1pm and 3pm.
V/Line services on the Ballarat line were on time 86.5 per cent of the time in December, with a 94.3 per cent reliability.
A V/Line spokesperson said train cancellations were always a last resort.
“We understand they are still frustrating for the passengers affected and apologise for the disruption,” they said.
"We’re working to minimise passenger disruption as much as possible, while balancing the overall needs of the network."
"We encourage Ballarat line passengers to obtain a copy of the extreme heat timetable to help plan their journey when hot weather is predicted.”
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