OLDER carriages on the Warrnambool to Melbourne rail service have been removed for urgent repairs after checks revealed fatigue cracks in undercarriages.
The 21 carriages dating back to the early 1950s used on rural services will be out of service for an indefinite period until checked and repaired.
In the meantime shorter trains with more modern carriages and more buses will be used.
V/Line chief executive Ian Dodds said safety and maintenance inspectors raised concerns about the condition of bogies supporting the Z-class carriages.
He told The Standard that this prompted a decision to withdraw them from Tuesday.
“Our priority is to ensure V/Line continues to run a safe network,” Mr Dodds said yesterday.
“Once thorough testing has been completed on each bogie, V/Line will be in a better position to determine the next steps and decide when the carriages can be returned to service.
“This may take some months to achieve.
“Warrnambool, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Bairnsdale and a few Geelong and Traralgon trains will have fewer seats while this essential service is carried out so road coaches will be made available when necessary.”
Most of the affected trains will have four carriages rather than the usual five.
V/Line has listed the early-morning and 1pm trains from Melbourne plus the 11.30am and 5.18pm services from Warrnambool as running at reduced capacity during the repair period.
“If there is not enough seating onboard some services, V/Line will provide buses to supplement the train service,” a statement said.
Meanwhile, repairs have been completed to the boom gates at Cudgee after faults were reported at the weekend.
Some residents told The Standard the warning bells and lights had come on about 20 minutes before scheduled trains and the booms stayed down for too long.
Meanwhile, about 160 passengers on the Warrnambool to Melbourne train were unharmed after a fatal collision with a car on a level crossing in Geelong yesterday afternoon.
The driver of the car was killed, while train passengers were delayed for about 40 minutes until they could be transferred onto coaches.
Other later services between south Geelong and Warrnambool were changed from rail to buses.
Normal train schedules are expected to resume today, V/Line said yesterday.