THE state government has no plans to replace Warrnambool’s ageing train carriages, despite some being more than 30 years old.
Newer Vlocity carriages have been running on the Warrnambool line between Geelong and Southern Cross stations in recent weeks.
But regional rail operator V/Line has ruled out bringing the modern fleet further onto the south-west line, saying the distance made the trains unsuitable.
“While they provide a smooth comfortable ride at speeds of up to 160 km/h they do not have some of the amenities required for long-distance services such as Warrnambool, e.g. extra luggage and bicycle storage capacity and on-board catering,” a V/Line spokesman said.
The government has ordered another 40 Vlocity trains for the Ballarat, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon lines — all within two hours’ travelling distance of Melbourne.
V/Line said it had improved the interior of Warrnambool-bound carriages.
“All N-Set carriages have been refurbished with new carpet, curtains, seat covers and exterior paint. This project was finished in late 2013,” the spokesman said.
But Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh rejected V/Line’s comments, saying newer rolling stock could be used for a two-hour trip to Geelong where passengers could transfer to numerous services connecting to Melbourne.
Warrnambool City Council and Colac Otway Shire are pushing for two extra services to be added to the line during the mid-morning and afternoon.
“More people would use it if there were more flexible services,” Cr Neoh said.
“We’ll have some form of advocacy document that we’ll take to the state election. I think we’ve got the oldest rolling stock in the state — and I think the question needs to be asked — what rolling stock would be available? Would it be new or would it be from another line getting an upgrade?
“Regional cities are growing and we are relying on the same stagnating infrastructure.”
A number of Z-class carriages are still out of action for the Warrnambool line — requiring people with disabilities having to call V/Line to make sure services are wheelchair-friendly.
A new $10 million passing loop at Warncoort expected to be completed in April will allow for extra passenger and freight trains to share the line.
The loop was originally expected to be completed by Christmas.
The government has promised better service reliability once dedicated regional-only train tracks are finished as part of the $4.8 billion Regional Rail Link.
Heavy rain in winter has delayed the opening of the passing loop until April.