In the past week V/Line has been in the news due to their VLocity trains failing to activate level crossings. While a concerning revelation, it isn’t exactly a new issue in Victoria – let us step back in time a little.
1995 – Sprinter trains
V/Line ordered single car 22 Sprinter railcars, which entered serivce in 1993-95. Soon after they had to be pulled from service because they were not activating level crossings, with a device known as a track circuit assister having to be installed on each train to address the issue.
2008 – VLocity trains to Bendigo
January 2008: it was discovered that VLocity trains were not activating level crossings on the Bendigo line, so they were replaced with Sprinter trains.
2011 – VLocity train at Sunshine
On December 11, 2011 a V/Line VLocity train was about to pass through the Anderson Road level crossing in Sunshine when the boom gates opened to road traffic.
2013 – Bairnsdale line
Thirty-two level crossings on the line between Traralgon and Sale were failing to consistently detect trains, so from March 2013 all Bairnsdale train services were replaced by buses. A milling machine worth $13 million was imported from Europe to reprofile the rails on the approach to each affected level crossing, and $8.3 million was spent to replace the track circuits train detectors with axle counters.
2014 – Sprinter trains to Stony Point
In August 2014 it was discovered that Sprinter trains were failing to activate level crossings on the Stony Point line, resulting in a ban on single carriage Sprinter train consists. More failures occurred in April 2015, with the line being closed indefinitely, until the track circuits were replaced with axle counters at 19 level crossings.
The current round of issues relate to a VLocity train failing to activate a level crossing outside Dandenong. The fallout from this event resulted in it being made public that similar events occurred in 2011 and 2012, but no work was done to address the root cause.