V/LINE’S shortcomings have been further exposed, with the rail service disappointing 120 Warrnambool schoolchildren and leaving thousands stranded on the Melbourne to Warrnambool line.
A signal failure on Tuesday stopped at least four trains for four hours between Melbourne and Geelong, while the ongoing shortage of rolling stock on the passenger line has disappointed Warrnambool East Primary School pupils planning a trip to Melbourne.
The Standard yesterday received about 40 letters to the editor from grade 3/4 children who were upset after V/Line told the school it could not accommodate 130 staff and pupils on a trip to the Immigration Museum and Aquarium later this month.
Teacher Jy Rantall said the trip had been planned since December, with V/Line confirming the booking on three occasions, then two weeks ago the school was told only 80 pupils and staff would fit.
“They say there’s not enough rolling stock, but at the time we booked they said there was,” she said.
“We’ve collected money from parents already and now have to ask for another $5 to pay for a bus.
“We were working on persuasive writing in class and a few students were very grumpy, so we decided to write these letters to the editor expressing their disappointment.
“Some of them have never been on a train before and they were all really excited about the different experience of a train.”
V/Line spokesman James Kelly said the passenger rail service made every effort to accommodate group bookings on one train, but in this case the class was too large.
“The Warrnambool line is already busy enough and the problem we have is weighing up the needs of regular customers against group travel,” Mr Kelly said.“We probably would’ve received a lot of complaints from customers about why we allowed a group onto the train to begin with.
“We think 80 is a reasonable number and we offered to split the group if that would be suitable as well. We believe accommodating the school over two days of separate travel is an acceptable outcome.
“If 130 came they would take up an entire carriage and we’d love to put on additional carriages but we don’t have them lying around as spares. Every available carriage we have is virtually in use.”
Transport Minister Terry Mulder this week identified additional rolling stock on the Warrnambool line as a priority, even putting in a bid to cabinet for extra train carriages in the upcoming state budget.
Mr Mulder said he had made a case for more rolling stock on the increasingly popular Southern Cross to Warrnambool line, in an effort to improve V/Line’s unparalleled network of trains.
A SELECTION of the letters to the editor from Warrnambool East Primary School pupils.
Firstly, it is so much more fun than the bus and there will be more kids on the train. Kids love the train. V/Line did a horrible thing to the 3/4s. Secondly, the bus is too long and the train is three hours and the bus is four or five hours because of the extra stops for the toilet. In conclusion, the train is the best in the world. V/Line is so cruel.
I AM writing to let you know that we are disgracefully disappointed that V/Line trains have not allowed us to go to Melbourne on their train for an excursion. V/Line are bad and horrible. I want to go on the train because you can eat on the train but not on the bus. Buses are so so boring, very boring! Buses make me dizzy! In conclusion, I really liked V/Line. It was cool until now.
I WAS excited but V/Line ruined our trip. I haven't been on a train for ages. V/Line are horrible to say that too many people can't go at the same time. There are toilets on the train and not on the bus and know we will have to keep stopping for toilet stops. It would be awesome that we could see more stuff because the trains are on train tracks and buses are on roads so you might see animals if you go on a train.
The train would have meant we could go to the toilet on the train. It is so inconsiderate that we can't use the train. Now we have to go on the silly bus and stop a lot of times to go to the toilet. On the train you can go to the toilets when the train is going.
I HAVE never been on a train before. Not many kids in our class have been on a train before and the teachers thought it would be a new experience for the kids if we went down by train to Melbourne. I can't believe V/Line has ruined our chances at experiencing a train. In conclusion, buses are so boring and shocking. V/Line is the worst and terrible. If they changed their mind and let us go on the train, it would be fantastic!
I AM VERY VERY disappointed that we are not going on a train to Melbourne on April 26. A bus is alright but takes too long. A train is better than a bus. You get to take money to the train but not the bus BORING! This is my fact! Some people haven't even gone on a train and that's not fair. We always go on buses, not trains. Please, all of us are begging you, please let us go on a train to Melbourne on April 26.
SINCE we can't go on a train we have to go on a bus which is $5 extra. V/Line would have got more money if they let us go.
WE came back from recess and got told that we weren't allowed on the train. Five out of the 21 people in our class have not even been on a train and those five people probably won't go on a train for another three years.
OUR teachers talked to V/Line five months ago and now V/Line have said we can not go on a train. The teacher asked about three or more times and they said yes. Suddenly they said no because there were too many people. We were very very excited. When we heard that the train got cancelled we were really really disappointed. Changing their minds is a very very rude thing to do to us.
I GET bus sick and I have to sit up the front a lot and it's very annoying. You can only sit with one person and you can't eat. I have to eat when I'm sick. Six out of 18 have not been on a train and it feels like I'm missing out. Maybe, just maybe, you could just add another carriage. Just please let us go.
MY family does not have much money and I was so happy that we were going on the train. Now we have to pay extra to go on the bus.