COMMUTERS face more inconvenience and overcrowded trains from this morning after Connex late yesterday cancelled 37 daily services indefinitely.Some peak-hour services on most of Melbourne's main commuter lines will be out of service.
Connex is struggling to rectify problems with 31 Siemens trains it has withdrawn because of braking and other faults.
The train operator posted the cancellations on its website late yesterday, saying it hoped the cancellations would cause less frustration for commuters than the random cancellations that have plagued the network this year.
Connex has averaged 87 cancellations a day this month, action that will cost it millions in fines and compensation claims from commuters, who may be eligible for a free daily ticket.
One service will be cancelled on the Werribee line, two on the Alamein, Broadmeadows and Sandringham lines, three on the Sydenham line, four on the Epping, Frankston, Glen Waverley and Hurstbridge lines, five on the Dandenong line and six on the Lilydale and Belgrade lines.
The State Government is furious, saying the high number of cancellations is unacceptable.
Acting Transport Minister Tim Pallas blasted Connex, urging it to fix the problem urgently and return services to normal.
"It is essential that the Siemens trains currently out of action are returned safely into service in weeks, not months, so that the planned cancellations can be progressively lifted," he said.
"We expect Connex to work with the train manufacturer and the independent safety auditor and we have asked Connex to provide (information) urgently as to when regular train services will be resumed."
He said Connex could face severe fines.
"The company has already incurred fines of around a $1 million for the month of January and has every incentive to get the full train timetable running again as soon as possible," he said.
Connex spokesman Andrew Cassidy said he could not speculate how long it might take to restore the services.
The trains were withdrawn in December when they failed to stop or overshot platforms.
Mr Cassidy said the planned cancellations related to weekday services.
Simple. Whenever there's a major delay, passengers should be entitled to a free day of travel.Posted by: Donna of Werribee 1:27am January 30, 2007
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