Melbourne commuters travelling on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines on Wednesday morning were left waiting outside in chilly 10 degree temperatures at Dandenong Station where buses replaced trains unexpectedly.
In a photo shared to the Melbourne forum on Reddit, an overwhelming crowd of passengers were captured queuing in multiple lines which spanned several metres across on footpaths, pedestrian overpasses and stairwells.
While it’s unclear what time the image was taken, illuminated street lights indicate passengers were stranded at the station early in the morning amid the peak hour commute to work in the city.
According to several tweets by Metro Trains, buses were brought in to replace the usual train timetable between Westall and Dandenong stations due to a person being hit by a train.
The first tweet went out just after 4am, with several updates following each hour urging passengers to consider taking an alternative route to their destination or at least allow extra travel time.
“Replacement buses are in operation with delays. Due to bus availability please consider alternative transport,” the tweets read.
“Train services will operate (from) Flinders St (to) Westall and Dandenong (to) Pakenham/Cranbourne, with major delays to services.”
The disruption frustrated some commuters who have already been affected by earlier trackworks on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines, which has also impacted seven other lines.
“Three hours passed and still no buses were arranged at Dandenong. Hundreds of passengers stranded at Dandenong. One of pathetic replacements,” one passenger tweeted.
“Not acceptable mate. This is ridiculous and you can’t arrange transport in four hours.”
A second tweet which was posted at 9.40am said: “(This happened) about five hours ago. Still bus replacements, unbelievable.”
Meanwhile, other commuters were more understanding, with some praising the metro train staff who managed the crowds for their work.
“Thanks to the staff at Dandenong for their help and assistance this morning,” one woman tweeted.
“Yes it was inconvenient but it was well managed by staff who were doing the best they could with limited resources.”
A Victoria Department of Transport and Planning spokesperson said trains on the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Gippsland lines have since resumed following a police incident at Noble Park.
“We ask passengers to check station platform displays, listen for announcements, and allow extra time for their journey as trains get back into position for the normal timetable,” they said in a statement.
“The Department of Transport and Planning thanks passengers for their patience as emergency services conducted investigations.”
Push to work from home continues
Overall, the situation raised several questions about whether there should be more flexibility from employers about working from home, with many commuters arguing they wasted time which they could have been working as a result of Wednesday morning’s delay.
“Spent nearly half an hour in that line to not even make it close to the front. Went home,” one commuter impacted by the bus replacement said.
Meanwhile another Reddit user said: “Unfortunately most people would have wasted a lot of their day commuting to the office. We should be advocating more work from home. Reduce the impact,” one Reddit user commented.
A third wrote: “If I’ve got meetings I need to get to I‘ll drive in, otherwise I’m turning around and going home. Unexpected replacement buses are completely unreliable and are just not an option for me.”
Such conversation comes amid Premier Daniel Andrews calling on more Melburnians to work from home as a spate of train disruptions continue across the city.
Across the Metro network, nine of the 16 lines are facing disruptions as they undergo track work with roads also set to encounter more traffic particularly in the west due to the state government’s Big Build projects.
Cranbourne and Pakenham were already among the affected lines prior to Wednesday’s incident, in addition to Sunbury, Upfield, Frankston, Craigieburn, Werribee, Williamstown and Stony Point.
Meanwhile members of the Trade Workers Union Victoria have argued a shortage in bus drivers will also add to network pressures, causing more delays for commuters.
“How do we move Melbourne from A to B on rail replacement work if new drivers are saying they’re not trained properly on these routes, feeling uncomfortable & not getting break facilities?” Branch Assistant Secretary Mem Suleyman tweeted based on a conversation with a bus driver.
“Expect delays to continue!”
The disruptions on Melbourne’s train network come as the daily myki fee is set to rise by 8.7 per cent on July 1, bringing a daily fare to $10.
Commuters can expect buses to replace trains along sections of the nine impacted lines until July 9, and are encouraged to take alternative routes or avoid travel altogether.
Originally published as ‘Not acceptable’: Chaos as incident leaves dozens of passengers stranded at Melbourne station
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