Day-to-day interruptions on the Ballarat rail line are frustrating commuters and causing access problems.
Peak hour services from Melbourne to Ballarat are continuing to be halved, causing what commuters say is overcrowding.
They also allege trains are skipping stations like Footscray because they are too packed.
One commuter, who asked not to be identified, said a train to Ballarat had been halved or cancelled for the majority of working days in 2020 so far.
While the Ballarat line achieved its highest punctuality in years in January, the commuter said the lack of capacity remained an issue.
"Every time we ask about it, (they say) it's animal strikes and maintenance, but you can't be running 70 per cent of the trains like that," they said.
"Every single day, I know that one of the two trains is going to be halved."
Monday afternoon's 4.54pm train from Southern Cross was announced as halved at 3.43pm.
The commuter, who gets on the train at Footscray, said the halving led to trains skipping their station.
"Half the time it doesn't even stop - how are they allowed to do that?" they said.
"They let Melton people on at Southern Cross, then say it wouldn't be fair to make Melton passengers take other trains even though they've got five.
"We stand at Footscray and watch it go by and have to wait 50 minutes for the next one."
Another daily commuter, who asked not to be named, said the regulars were concerned reliability could get worse.
"The number of stops now delays the amount of time taken to either reach Melbourne or to come home, that's something that's changed," they said.
"There's lots of different events that stop the train from running - it has a pretty significant impact for families, and for productivity."
According to state government numbers, over the past two weeks, just over 2 per cent of the total 1209 train services on the Ballarat line operated with fewer carriages, due to a combination of bio-wash and maintenance requirements.
One train required major repairs after it struck a large tree branch which had fallen across the tracks in Gippsland late last year.
As well as this more trains than normal have struck wildlife in recent weeks, requiring deep cleans in a bio-wash facility to ensure they can safely return to operation.
At the Ballarat train station, an incident last weekend renewed focus on modernising the heritage-listed facility.
A boomgate across Lydiard Street was stuck down for about 15 minutes while a heritage train was approaching, sparking complaints about access.
To get to platform one, where Melbourne trains arrive, from the new car park, passengers must cross the footbridge, which only has stairs, or walk outside to Lydiard Street and cross the tracks at the boomgates.
For passengers who are differently abled or who have children in strollers, this creates a severe access problem.
A state government spokesperson said in a statement there had been some upgrades already made.
"We've upgraded the Ballarat station to make it more accessible for people of all abilities - with improved access to toilets and the station café, as well as improvements in signage, tactile surface ground indicators and lighting for people with visual impairments," they said.
However, because of the station's heritage importance, any major changes - like putting in lifts or overpasses - will need more planning.
@vline_ballarat with an apparent fail of railway gates at Ballarat it would be nice if @VLine stationed courtesy maxi taxi to assist people who cannot use the stairs and cannot do long walk via Armstrong Street. The lady with large pram probably would have appreciated it!— Steve3354 (@steve3354) February 15, 2020
Grampians disAbility Advocacy told The Courier in May last year, after the initial upgrades were announced, they hoped access measures would be considered in the 2020/21 state budget.
The boomgates are looked after by V/Line train control - approaching trains trigger a track circuit and duty controllers activate the level crossing warning systems.
They have a CCTV view of the level crossing to ensure the train has safely passed through before the gates are reopened.
Last Saturday, when the boomgates were stuck closed, there was an "unexpected fault" with the CCTV.
The gates undergo regular inspections and maintenance, and minor maintenance is completed on the gates every fortnight to ensure they are in good working order.
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