V/LINE has blamed metropolitan transport system congestion and heat for another poor performance in punctuality of the Melbourne to Warrnambool train service.
The November performance figures show 84 per cent of trains on the route were on time — well below the official target of 92 per cent.
For Warrnambool-bound passengers the worst trip was on November 19 when a locomotive hauling the night service from Southern Cross station broke down between Camperdown and Terang.
Passengers arrived five hours late.
The November reliability figure of 95.9 per cent was the worst for 2012.
It was just shy of the 96 per cent target in a year when most of the trains achieved 100 per cent reliability.
Reliability is when services run and punctuality is services on time.
V/Line spokeswoman Clare Steele said metropolitan congestion affected about 30 per cent of services on the Geelong line.
“That’s why the regional rail link — a dedicated line into Melbourne — will be so welcome,” Ms Steele said yesterday.
“It’s due for completion in 2015. There were also eight services on the Geelong line affected by heat.
“When the temperature is over 36 degrees the maximum speed is reduced from 115 kilometres an hour to 90km/h for safety reasons because of track buckling.
“This can add 20 minutes to the Warrnambool trip.”
Meanwhile, free Christmas Day train seats have been snapped up with all reserved carriages on the morning service out of Melbourne and the evening service out of Warrnambool fully booked.
Seats on the unreserved carriage will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, Ms Steele said.
“We won’t have a back-up bus so once the train is full, it’s full,” Ms Steele told The Standard.
For the past few years hundreds of members of the Melbourne Sikh community have travelled by train to Warrnambool on Christmas Day. There will also be free seats on the New Year’s Eve night train into Melbourne and the first service to Warrnambool on the following day.