METRO Trains has denied the troubled Stony Point rail line will be shut down permanently and may bring back diesel trains until a boom gates problem is fixed.
Passenger train services have been suspended on the Stony Point line since 30 March after boom gates failed to close when trains approached level crossings on two occasions last month (‘Rail line shut down’, The News 7/4/15).
Buses have replaced trains to transport passengers to stations between Stony Point and Frankston while Metro works on an “engineering solution”.
Axle counters are being installed along the rail line to ensure boom gates are triggered to close when trains approach.
“There are no plans to permanently close the Stony Point line,” Metro spokeswoman Pauline O’Connor said.
“We are working as quickly as possible to implement a permanent solution and restore services by late June.”
Ms O’Connor said the installation of axle counters at 19 level crossings will take until late June due to extensive engineering design, installation and tests.
“The program to have all works completed by the end of June is aggressive and cannot be safely compressed any further,” she said.
“We really appreciate that the current situation is an inconvenience for our Stony Point line customers, and are working as quickly as we can to implement this permanent fix and return services to the line.”
Hastings Liberal MP Neale Burgess told The News he met with state government agency Public Transport Victoria officials last week to find out why boom gates malfunction on the Stony Point line.
“The track was originally designed for diesel trains which are much heavier and there’s a lack of contact between the wheels and the track on the sprinters,” Mr Burgess said.
He said he “had pushed them [PTV] really hard” and Metro may reintroduce diesels to the Stony Point line as a stopgap until the axle counters are in place.
Public Transport Victoria assured Mr Burgess there is no plan to axe the rail line.
“There is no way in the world I would ever let that happen under any circumstances,” he said.
The Liberal MP reiterated Metro’s comments about the axle counter, stating they are “a permanent fix” to the boom gates glitches. Mr Burgess said the previous Napthine government had intended to have the axle counters installed by the end of last year.
Labor Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the state government is working with Metro and PTV to have the Stony Point line “reopened and operating safely as soon as possible”.
“The suspension of service on the Stony Point line is very frustrating for passengers.”
Metro confirmed diesel trains may be reintroduced until the axle counters are installed by the end of June but there is no guarantee diesels will be rolled out again.