Victoria’s V/Line chief Theo Taifalos has resigned after the protracted rail crisis showed no signs of abatement. In the past three weeks, nearly 70 train services on the regional rail network had been cancelled and buses are running as a replacement. Poor maintenance has affected the train traffic badly. Now massive repair works are going on to restore normalcy.
V/Line is a regional network owned by the Victoria government. The Metro network banned regional trains on a number of lines after complaints of non-closing of boom gates at many level crossings surfaced. Announcing his resignation, Taifalos said “the immediate and future needs of the organisation are best served by a new leader going forward.” He expressed his gratitude to the colleagues who supported him and said V/Line can be proud of its passionate team, 9 News reported.
“Together we have transformed V/Line into an organisation focused on safety and customers,” he added. Some reports said Public Transport Victoria chief executive Gary Liddle will be taking over as V/Line’s acting chief.
The state government has started spending AU$23 million to improve the safety at 20 crossings. The affected train services are mostly in the Gippsland region. Admitting the shortcomings of the state, Victorian Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said V/Line failed in preparing for the spurt in regional services. The failings include the lag in additional track-greasing, which contributed heavily to wear and tear of VLocity carriage wheels, reports Business Insider.
Meanwhile, Minister Allan announced a slew of timetable changes for Sunday, January 31 and said the “overall service was not stable or reliable.” The minister also extended free travel for passengers until February 7. According to the minister’s office, V/Line trains will stay banned in west of Pakenham for another six weeks. The rail operator also offered apology for the inconvenience caused to the public.
“V/Line sincerely apologises to customers for any inconvenience but we are making progress. We have accelerated our maintenance program and have crews working around the clock to return services to normal as quickly as possible,” the rail operator’s spokesperson said.