V/Line chief executive James Pinder has called the industrial action ‘very unnecessary and very inconvenient’ for passengers.

By Jackson Russell

A fleet of around 70 coaches replaced services on the Seymour line Thursday in the wake of further industrial action by V/Line workers.

The Seymour, Shepparton and Albury lines were also affected by industrial action in December last year.

Further industrial action is set to take place on the Ballarat, Maryborough and Ararat lines today (Tuesday, January 18) and on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines tomorrow.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union branch secretary Luba Grigorovitch said significant growth in staff productivity over recent years as gone unappreciated by V/Line and the State Government.

“What has languished has been government investment in regional commuters. They actually need to invest in staff and rolling stock to keep pace with the boom in demand,” she said.

An RTBU statement said the industrial action could’ve been avoided if Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne contacted the union to discuss the future of the state’s rail network.

V/Line chief executive James Pinder told the North Central Review before the industrial action that talks with the RTBU have been ongoing and the State Government has offered the assistance of an independent mediator and Industrial Relations Victoria.

Mr Pinder said the issue isn’t about money but modernising Victoria’s rail network.

“This is nothing to do with paying people any less or cutting jobs out of the business or removing allowances,” he said.

“This is all about modern working practices so that we can grow effectively with the demand we’re seeing right across Victoria and deliver that railway everybody wants.

“We obviously regret the disruption that this is causing our customers. We don’t want to be putting our customers on coaches.”

Any trains in service when the work stoppage went into effect at 12am on Thursday morning continued to their destination uninterrupted while staff were also able to receive emergency calls, support third party operators and respond to any urgent track or signal maintenance.