PASSENGERS expecting to see new V/Line carriages at the Warrnambool train station will be waiting on the platform for a long time after the region missed out on a $200 million upgrade announcement.
State Transport Minister Terry Mulder this week announced plans to build up to 40 new carriages for V/Line destined for Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.
But commuters on the Warrnambool line and through Mr Mulder’s own electorate of Polwarth will not see any of the new carriages because road crossings along the line are not safe enough.
Train carriages up to fifty years old continue to chug between Warrnambool and Marshall through unprotected level crossings several times a day.
The Standard was told by the department of transport this week that a lack of protected crossings meant not one of the new carriages could be used on the Warrnambool line.
A diesel locomotive is also needed to protect carriages, which can only travel at a maximum 115km/h on the tracks.
Comfortable long-distance seating and the absence of a buffet car have also been touted as reasons why the carriages cannot be used.
The Standard also believes there are no plans to replace any of the carriages used by the Warrnambool V/Line service — the youngest of which was built in 1984.
Other carriages date back to the late 1950s.
In a statement to The Standard Mr Mulder said he would approach Public Transport Victoria in the future to assess options for the Warrnambool line.
“The V/Line locomotive hauled fleet has stood the test of time — I’m very aware how south-west Victorians support V/Line trains and I will very carefully consider how to further improve the trains,” Mr Mulder said.
“The Coalition government is committed to upgrading level crossings — this week I expect that with $925,000 in further spending, boom barriers will become operational in Meiklejohn Street and Old Timboon Road (at Camperdown).”
“Both roads are important links to towns such as Darlington, Derrinallum and Bookaar.”
But Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said the government needed to provide a better explanation as to why the south-west had missed out on the modernisation of the network.
“We need to have an explanation from the government why they can’t be used,” Cr Neoh said. “From the Warrnambool perspective this is very disappointing.”