Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder joined Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today at Appleton Dock to welcome Metro’s $13 million rail grinding machine that will re-profile steel rail on the Traralgon to Bairnsdale line, enabling V/Line’s passenger trains to resume operation.
The Austrian-manufactured milling machine (rail grinder) arrived in Melbourne after an eight week journey on the M/V Otello.
Mr Mulder said Metro’s loan of the rail grinder for urgent works on the Bairnsdale line was a good example of how since the establishment of Public Transport Victoria, Victoria’s rail operators were cooperating to deliver the best outcomes for passengers who made 225 million trips a year on Metro and 13 million trips on V/Line trains.
“More than 10,000 passengers a month in total board at either Rosedale, Sale, Stratford or Bairnsdale, so V/Line’s trains are important for family, leisure and business travellers residing in or visiting East Gippsland,” Mr Mulder said.
“Bairnsdale’s trains do not just serve East Gippsland. V/Line’s connecting coaches from Bairnsdale also convey passengers the scenic way to Cooma, NSW and Canberra, ACT.”
Mr Ryan thanked Andrew Lezala, CEO of Metro for his prompt recognition as to how Metro’s new leased rail grinder would assist Gippslanders in getting back their V/Line trains.
“Safety will always be V/Line’s top priority. Now that the rail grinder is in Victoria, V/Line staff can start grinding the tracks for a kilometre on each side of the 32 level crossings between Traralgon and Bairnsdale,” Mr Ryan said.
Since March 2013, level crossing related safety equipment between Traralgon and Bairnsdale has been unable to consistently detect approaching trains early enough for warning bells, flashing lights and boom barriers to activate for the required 25 seconds before a train reaches the level crossing.
The rail grinder will ‘shave’ back (reprofile) the rail head, creating an improved electrical connection between the rail and train wheel.
V/Line CEO Theo Taifalos said that with no suitable rail grinder readily available in Australia, getting the specialist equipment to Victoria had been a lengthy but necessary process.
“If all goes to plan, I expect to see all Gippsland line passenger trains returned by the end of October,” Mr Taifalos said.
An L. Arthur Pty Ltd heavy haulage truck will transport the grinder to Traralgon where it will start work in two stages:
• Traralgon to Sale works will start at the end of September 2013 and should be finished by mid October.
• Sale to Bairnsdale works will occur from mid to the end of October 2013
Once works are complete, the Victorian Coalition Government and V/Line will invest up to $8 million to install axle counters at all 32 level crossings along the Traralgon to Bairnsdale line as a permanent solution to the safety issue.
Mr Mulder said that once V/Line’s Bairnsdale line works had finished, Metro would use the rail grinder on its 15 line Melbourne metropolitan network to grind out minor rail defects, increasing longevity of the tracks.
Mr Taifalos reminded Gippslanders to be vigilant around level crossings now that works were about to begin.
“From the end of September 2013, residents will see renewed activity between Traralgon and Bairnsdale. I ask all motorists, heavy vehicle drivers and pedestrians to be alert around level crossings – slow down, obey signage and be prepared to stop,” Mr Taifalos said.
“Track machinery and test trains will be operating at any time of day or night so people need to be alert at all times. Risky behavior around level crossings at any time can cost lives.
“I thank the Gippsland community for their patience while V/Line has worked to return passenger trains to Rosedale, Sale, Stratford and Bairnsdale. V/Line looks forward to running trains on the line for decades to come.”
Vintage train enthusiasts will make tracks to Donald on Saturday with more than 200 people set to board a diesel locomotive for a special trip to celebrate the town’s 150th birthday.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Development Peter Ryan said the train will set off from Southern Cross station at 9am on Saturday for the 700 kilometre return journey using historic rail lines.
“This is a marvelous opportunity for people to support and celebrate the history and culture of regional Victoria and our long-serving rail system,” Mr Ryan said.
“There are some great celebrations planned for Donald’s 150th birthday, including street stalls and entertainment, and the train journey is a unique way for people to get there and join the celebrations.”
Mr Ryan said the fully restored 1950s era diesel train would leave Southern Cross station with approximately 100 passengers onboard.
“The guests will stop for lunch at Ballarat, before making their way through Creswick, Clunes and Maryborough and picking up at least another 130 passengers along the way,” Mr Ryan said.
“The vintage train consists of two fully restored locomotives plus steel bodied, air-conditioned carriages, some with a side corridor, and includes an art-deco style licensed carriage.
“It’s most appropriate that people enjoy their trip in the luxurious lounge car and other restored carriages of this magnificent train, as they make their way to Donald.
“This type of initiative is a real boost for tourism, as well as a treat for train enthusiasts.”
Mr Ryan also praised the efforts of volunteer group 707 Operations for arranging the historic journey.
To find out more about vintage train journeys in regional Victoria, please visit www.707operations.com.au
Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731 firstname.lastname@example.org
Acting Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan today welcomed the additional safety that newly-deployed Victoria Police Protective Services Officers (PSOs) will provide commuters travelling Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network.
“Our first squad of 18 PSO graduates from the Victoria Police Academy will undertake their first shift tonight at Flinders Street and Southern Cross stations as part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s commitment to delivering 940 PSOs to make travelling on our trains safer after dark,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said Victoria Police Command had made the operational decision to deploy the first PSOs to Flinders Street and Southern Cross stations, followed by Richmond, North Melbourne and Footscray stations in coming weeks.
“This first deployment of PSOs is a significant milestone, ensuring there is added security to stamp out crime, violence and anti-social behaviour at two of Melbourne’s busiest train stations,” Mr Ryan said.
“These 18 officers will provide additional security at platforms from 6pm until last train every night, and while they are on duty they will have the power to apprehend, detain, arrest and remove any offenders or people threatening to commit offences.”
Mr Ryan said the officers would initially work under the direct supervision of transit police as part of their on-the-job training.
“Having completed the rigorous 12-week training course at the Victoria Police Academy, PSOs will now get valuable on-the-job training under the supervision of highly-experienced police officers from Victoria Police’s Transit Safety Division,” Mr Ryan said.
“These PSO recruits have gone through the same operational tactics and safety training as police, including the same firearms and defensive skills training.”
Mr Ryan said Victoria Police was in the process of recruiting 940 PSOs and 1,700 police officers by November 2014 as part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to improve safety on the streets and at railway stations across Victoria.
“The Coalition Government is providing the necessary funding to boost frontline police services to make Victoria safer,” Mr Ryan said.
Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526