The major regional papers have wised up in recent days to V/Line's increasingly abstruse communications throughout 2018, and have begun to look for patterns in regional train services. The results may be interesting to some here.
The Ballarat Courier was first off the block with this on 6 June:Is this Victoria's most unreliable service? The case of our missing train
The culprit is 8235, the 15:37 SCS-Melton. Cancelled 34 times to 6 June. The Courier correctly identified that this service is straightforward to cancel because it returns empty cars to Melbourne, specifically as 8242, arriving back at SCS at 18:17 to form a Wyndham Vale service.
Yesterday, the Geelong Addy ran a similar story: OUR GHOST TRAIN, screamed page 11. (No link, sorry.)
Here, 8763, the 15:10 SCS-South Geelong is the issue: cancelled 20 times year to date. This one is more difficult to work out as it returns as an up service immediately afterwards. It was shortened 14 times, which can be explained by missing its path through the tunnel, but cancellations? Someone else can have a go at explaining this.
Then, today, the Bendigo Addy joined the party, running "Trends in V/Line messages" on page 16. They analysed tweets numerically, meaning it is hard to establish cancellation vs disruption but the usual themes emerge. The most affected service is the 7:41 down Swan Hill, which Mike has told us anecdotally is often held at SCS to protect paths for peak up Bendigo services past Castlemaine. Next is 8033, the down 16:57 to Eaglehawk. I note this runs as 7034 empty cars to Bendigo to stable before forming a later up service.
Last in their article is 8049, the 19:02 down Bendigo, which, sure enough, I find, stables in Bendigo for the night.
In summary, it's good to see the regionals putting in some effort to advocate for their train service with a bit of nouse, and it would be interesting to see if our insiders can add anything to this information.