SEYMOUR railway line has been overlooked by State Government funding, with state-of-the-art signalling on the cards for Melbourne railway lines but not for Seymour’s outdated double line block system.
Member of Euroa and Shadow Minister for Regional Public Transport Steph Ryan criticised Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan for highlighting high capacity signalling for Melbourne passengers when the government hadn’t addressed issues on the Seymour train line.
“Once again, regional commuters have been let down by [a city centric state government],” Ms Ryan said.
“V/Line trains between Seymour and Craigieburn continue to operate on the double line block system; a system that’s not still in use anywhere else in Australia.”
The double line block system has been used on the Seymour line since 1876, and works by drivers and train controllers communicating with one another to ensure there is only one train on any portion of the track at one time.
The system originally used bell codes to communicate, but with frequent vandalism, including theft of the copper wire used for the telegraphs, phone calls are now used instead which the government says improved reliability of services.
A State Government spokesperson said the double line block system had been fully assessed for risks and was deemed safe for use on the line.
“The Seymour and Shepparton lines are consistently two of our best performing lines on the V/Line network, and we’re continuing to look for ways to improve services to and from the Goulburn Valley,” a government spokesperson said.
“Safety is our number one priority and we have signalling systems which fit with the unique nature of each part of the network. Between Craigieburn and Dysart this system is double line block.”
But Ms Ryan believes otherwise.
“The system failed in October 2017. Almost four years on and following a serious near-miss in May this year, it still hasn’t been fixed or scheduled for an upgrade,” she said.
“Despite a near head-on collision between two passenger trains on May 14, Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll told the public accounts and estimates committee that the line was ‘safe’ and the state government was working towards ‘a range of investments…including the double-blocking.’
“While our neighbours in Melbourne will be able to reap the benefits of cutting-edge signalling technology, Seymour commuters remain stuck in the 1800s, operating on a system reliant on technology that is as obsolete as a Walkman or a dial-up modem.”
The government is upgrading regional passenger lines including the Shepparton and north-east lines, as part of the Regional Rail Revival program and say part of the work on the Seymour/Shepparton upgrades will allow VLocity trains to travel to and from Shepparton for the first time.
Stage one, already completed, enabled up to 10 extra services on the line from 2018, while stage two of the Shepparton line upgrade is scheduled for completion in late 2022.