New trains for Melbourne stalled

NEW trains for Melbourne's metropolitan rail system have been delayed, with the first new train that was introduced for service last December still not in operation.

The new trains, which were a feature of the $38 billion 2008 Victoria Transport Plan, have not yet begun regular operation.  Under the plan, the Brumby Government ordered 38 X'trapolis trains (18 were already ordered prior to the plan, 20 were ordered as part of the plan), with new trains scheduled to be added to the rail system every month this year.

In December last year, Acting Premier Rob Hulls and then Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky joined passengers on the 10.13am Glen Waverley service to mark the first day of the new train's service.  But that same day, the train was sent back to the workshop with problems including issues with its electronic communications and digital display units. It has since remained out of service.

At the time of welcoming the new train, Ms Kosky stated that "…the new trains will make a difference immediately with each train to deliver significant improvements by ensuring we have more back-up trains to provide services in peak travel times." Further, Ms Kosky added that "by mid 2010 there will be a sufficient number of new trains on the network to start introducing new services to the busiest lines."

The second new train arrived with the top layer of floor lifting and has been under repair for two months in Ballarat, having its floors resurfaced. The third of the 38 trains reportedly left Italy on February 2 and is due to arrive early next month.

Metro, Melbourne's rail operator, claims some drivers are refusing to use the trains because of the style of seat in the operator's cabin. Public Transport Martin Pakula says the drivers have no right to hold the system to ransom. "This does not appear to me to be an attitude being put forward by the entire union, this is a small band of drivers who are raising these issues," he said.

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