V/Line strikes could cause Bad Blood for Swifties

Tarneit train station is one of many V/Line stations that will experience disruptions from industrial action. (Damjan Janevski) 262834_02

Cade Lucas

Taylor Swift fans from Melbourne’s north and west are being warned to avoid using V/Line services to attend her first Melbourne show on Friday night.

The Rail Tram and Bus Union is warning that industrial action by its V/Line members on February 16, could derail the travel plans of Swifties, even though it will end roughly 12 hours before most will start heading to the MCG.

Staff at the regional rail network will stop work from 3am to 7am on Friday as part of the RTBU’s ongoing industrial dispute with Vline over enterprise agreement negotiations.

RTBU Branch Secretary Vik Sharma said even though strike will finish early in the morning, knock on effects throughout the day meant Taylor Swift fans should seek other ways to get to the MCG.

“People from regional areas attending the Taylor Swift concert on Friday night who were planning to travel by V/Line are therefore encouraged to consider alternative travel arrangements if they can,” Mr Sharma said.

V/Line have already warned passengers to avoid the service on February 16, 19 and 23 when

operations staff including conductors, train controllers, stations and customer service staff, authorised officers will stop work for four hours, bringing the entire network to a halt.

Trains are not expected to run before 8am on these days and only a very limited coach replacement service will run for essential journeys, with delays of two hours expected. Replacement coaches will not stop at Metro train stations.

V/Line services Melbourne’s north west through the Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo lines, with commuters in suburbs such as Wyndham Vale, Tarneit, Melton and Deer Park relying on it to reach the city.

V/Line Chief Executive Officer Matt Carrick said he was hopeful these would be the last disruptions caused by industrial action.

“We continue to negotiate with the union in good faith and have made some progress. Importantly, we have reached an in-principle agreement with our drivers who will not be taking part in this industrial action,” he said.

“Passengers are advised to keep up to date with the latest travel information on the V/Line website and through our social channels.”

Vik Sharma said he regretted the the disruptions the strike action would cause, but said his members had been left with no option.

“If anyone is to be blamed for these strikes, it is the Allan Labor Government, which has forgotten about regional workers. V/Line workers are seeking a fair and reasonable Enterprise Agreement reflects the rising cost of living and addressed key workplace issues such as job security,” he said.

“Regional workers and their communities deserve to be treated with respect, but instead they are being treated like mugs by the V/Line and the Allan State Government.”