V/Line (V/Line Corporation)V/Line (V/Line Corporation)
V/Line is a government-owned corporation that operates the regional passenger train and coach services in Victoria, Australia. It was created after the split-up of VicRail in 1983. V/Line Pty Ltd, the main operating rail company, is owned by the V/Line Corporation, a Victorian State Government statutory authority.
V/Line carried 16.8 million passengers in the 2015/16 financial year. It is the track manager of the Victorian intrastate rail network outside of the Australian Rail Track Corporation and Metro Trains Melbourne leases. As at June 2017, it operated 91 stations, 41 locomotives, 133 locomotive hauled carriages and 219 diesel multiple unit carriages.
V/Line As Part Of A Government Authority
On 1 July 1983, the State Transport Authority and a range of other transport bodies were created, when the Transport Act 1983 came into effect. The new authority replaced VicRail, and established the V/Line operating brand for both country passenger and freight. The VicRail orange and silver 'teacup' livery used on passenger rolling stock was replaced in August 1983 by an orange and grey livery. The white and green V/Line logo was launched on 14 August 1983 by Transport Minister Steve Crabb, at Spencer Street station, with special trains running to Essendon to mark the occasion.
This was altered when on 1 July 1989 the Transport (Amendment) Act took effect, merging the State Transport Authority with the Metropolitan Transit Authority to form the Public Transport Corporation (PTC). The relationship between the country V/Line and suburban 'The Met' brands was blurred, with the Sprinter trains delivered in the 1993-1995 period appearing in PTC colours but with both PTC and V/Line logos.
On 1 July 1994, the operation of some of V/Line's regional passenger services was contracted out to the private sector. Hoys Roadlines took over the Melbourne to Cobram service with trains operated under contract by V/Line to Shepparton with Hoys operating a road coach service beyond. The service from Melbourne to Warrnambool was operated by West Coast Railway who operated their own trains throughout. Both of these returned to being operated by V/Line in 2004.
Rail services to Leongatha ceased on 24 July 1993, Bairnsdale, Cobram and Dimboola on 21 August 1993, Ararat on 27 May 1994 and Mildura on 13 September 1994.
In 1995, the freight and passenger rail divisions of V/Line were divided, with a new red, blue and white V/Line Passenger livery unveiled. This split was finalised on 1 July 1997 when separate management was brought in. On 1 July 1998, operation of the Stony Point line passed to Bayside Trains. V/Line continues to hire rolling stock to Metro Trains Melbourne to operate the service.
V/Line Freight Victoria
V/Line Freight was sold to a consortium of RailAmerica, Fluor Daniel, Macquarie Bank and A Goninan & Co and rebranded as Freight Victoria effective from 1 May 1999. The sale included a 45-year lease of most regional track (passenger and freight), with responsibilities for track, signalling and level crossings, with access to passenger sections of track granted to V/Line Passenger. The state government had not wanted to sell rights to the track infrastructure, but was persuaded by bids by three primarily American consortia which argued greater efficiencies could be accomplished by vertical integration.
After being renamed Freight Australia in March 2000, it was sold to Pacific National in August 2004. In May 2007 Pacific National sold the rail lease of the network back to VicTrack.
On 29 August 1999, National Express took control of V/Line Passenger having won a 10-year concession, in competition with FirstGroup, Freight Victoria, GB Railways, Prism Rail and Stagecoach. National Express also operated the M>Tram and M>Train franchises in Melbourne. It included all country rail operations in Victoria, with the exception of the Shepparton and Warrnambool services previously franchised in 1993.
National Express inherited a fleet of A, N, P and Y class locomotives, H, N, S and Z type carriages and Sprinter diesel multiple units. As a franchise commitment, 29 two-car Vlocitys were ordered from Bombardier Transportation.
In December 2002, National Express handed in its Victorian rail and tram franchises having been unable to renegotiate financial terms with the State Government. KPMG were appointed to operate the business on behalf of the State Government.
As A Statutory Corporation
Full control of V/Line was taken on 1 October 2003 by changing the shareholding of V/Line, making the government the sole shareholder via a recently created statutory corporation, V/Line Passenger Corporation. V/Line operates under a franchise agreement entered into with the Director of Public Transport. The Director also sub leases tracks and other infrastructure which the Director holds under lease from VicTrack, the agency which owns Victoria's rail-related land and infrastructure.
In 2000, the Regional Fast Rail project was launched to upgrade the tracks linking Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and the Latrobe Valley to Melbourne. The project, which also included an extra 10 Vlocitys and an expanded timetable of rail services, commenced full operations from December 2005.
The services to Bairnsdale and Ararat were restored in May and July 2004 respectively. In December 2008, as part of the Victorian Transport Plan, the state government announced that V/Line rail passenger services would be extended from Ballarat to Maryborough at a cost of $50 million, commencing in July 2010.
The first passenger train in 15 years arrived at Maryborough on 24 July 2010. V/Line also resumed operating the Shepparton and Warrnambool services in 2004 when contacts with Hoys Roadliners and West Coast Railway expired.
In November 2006 Pacific National, who had purchased Freight Australia, entered into an agreement to sell the remainder of its Victorian rail lease of the network back to VicTrack. The sale was completed on 7 May 2007, with V/Line becoming the track manager of the Victorian intrastate network.
In May 2008 it was announced that part of the V/Line fleet would be converted to standard gauge to operate an upgraded Albury line service. In December 2008
V/Line ended the sale of alcoholic beverages aboard long-distance trains, after almost a century of the practice.
In 2015/16, the subsidy per passenger trip was $22.12.
The Transport Integration Act 2010 renamed the V/Line Passenger Corporation as V/Line Corporation. The Act also gave V/Line a new statutory charter. As part of these changes, the corporation's responsibilities were explicitly expanded to cover both rail passenger and rail freight services. The Act received the Royal assent on 2 March 2010 and came into effect on 1 July 2010.
In January 2016, V/Line's VLocity rolling stock was identified as suffering from abnormal wheel wear. The fleet was also banned from the metropolitan track lease by the suburban rail operator, Metro Trains Melbourne, after a V/Line train failed to activate a level crossing in Dandenong. The two problems caused as many as 70 services a day to be cancelled. They also led to the resignation of then CEO Theo Taifalos, sixteen days free travel being provided to passengers, and an independent inquiry being ordered by Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan into the operational capacity of V/Line.
V/Line operates rail services to the regional cities of Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon as well as Ararat, Maryborough, Echuca, Swan Hill, Albury, Bairnsdale, Warrnambool and Shepparton. In addition, V/Line road coaches connect with many rail services at major stations to serve towns away from the main rail network operating as far as Adelaide and Canberra.
Rail services are grouped into two types. As part of the introduction of the Myki smartcard in 2013, and to provide consistent communication to both staff and customers, what were formerly called "Interurban" services became "Commuter" services, and what were formerly called "Intercity" services became "Long Distance" services. Commuter services operate over shorter distances and more frequently than Long Distance services, and the latter usually provide some first-class accommodation, as well as snack bar facilities.
All rail services depart from Southern Cross station in Melbourne on the following lines with the exception of one Traralgon service which departs/ terminates at Flinders Street
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