How the V / Line train outbreak unfolds and what it means for the rail system

Drivers use these facilities for meal breaks, but some spend time during “standby shifts” (backup shifts to close holes when a driver calls due to illness). Since there is no other place to go during the blockage, drivers use the gyms and showers in these areas, watch TV, and find snooze locations.

According to drivers, a small room can have up to 50 drivers. Social distance is not enforced. In many cases, only about half of the drivers wear masks. A photo sent by one person shows people gathered in the cab of Flinders Street last Tuesday, a few days after the outbreak.

Former Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Chen said these are challenges facing many workplaces, especially hospitals. The important thing is to ensure ventilation in the tea room, there is a limit to the number of people who can enter the room, and the QR code is widely used. He said it would help to get workers working in a “bubble” to reduce the risk of infection.

“Tea rooms are very well recognized as a place of infection and are found in all industries,” said Infectious Disease Expert and Co-Chair of the Australian Immunotechnology Advisory Group. “It’s a fairly risky area.”

Words spread

V / Line is currently at stake in a disaster scenario. The rail system has been largely closed for 10 days, leaving about 300 drivers isolated in a few days. The turmoil is expected to last for weeks.

The driver says he has received a text from V / Line telling him not to come to work at midnight. Many people miss the text on their office phone, turning it off or putting it in a locker at home.

The word of outbreak spread rapidly among drivers. A closed Facebook page for drivers exploded in the news, and people in the tissue box with the infected driver began quarantining before being contacted by the Health Department and V / Line.

Metro’s CEO Raymond O’Flaherty said the company had “lessons learned” from the outbreak of V / Line. This could have happened “easily” in the metro.

Both Metro and V / Line aim to add dining rooms, isolate workers and enhance antigen and temperature testing.

Metro wants to deploy antigen testing for 125 train controllers, which are essential to the operation of the network. Controllers can work from a secret “disaster” site if their room becomes an exposed site. Last week, Metro performed scenario planning during the V / Line outbreak and asked managers to handle the situation where six frontline staff were positive for COVID-19.

Recognizing the need to train more people to perform contract tracking, the company is developing a custom training program.

shut down

O’Flaherty said he doesn’t think the suburban network shut down completely because of the large number of drivers waiting. However, it was possible that one or a group of lines were shutting down during the outbreak.


“We can never eliminate all the risks we are exposed to, but we want to avoid scenarios where if something happens, we have to shut down the entire network. See if it happened in the metro. I want to, but if I have to do something, it shrinks, so I can keep people from getting into the bubble. That’s the purpose here. “

Both operators look to the bus to fill the gap when the train goes down due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Bus drivers are more exposed to commuters than trams and train drivers due to the small size of the vehicle and the lack of a separate compartment with a ventilation system. However, an important factor in protecting the bus network from a complete shutdown is the lack of centralized depots for drivers and fleets, and many bus companies operate separate facilities throughout the state.

Despite thousands of workers appearing on the railroads throughout the pandemic and mixed with commuters and colleagues, there are few cases of COVID-19 on public transport. Of the more than 16,000 employees in Metro, V / Line, Yarra, and bus networks, only 45 have occurred since the pandemic.

However, in the face of highly infectious Delta strains, operators must constantly rethink their policies, and Metro O’Flaherty shows that he believes essential vaccines are beneficial in this area. ..

Local rail operators are suspending one-on-one training activities and reviewing training and COVID safe procedures.

Nick Fore, Head of Transportation Services at the Department of Transportation, said the operator’s COVID safe program “continues to evolve” and commuters can guarantee that public transport is safe. QR code, additional services, capacity information … keep it safe when you make important trips. ”

* Not his real name.

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How the V / Line train outbreak unfolds and what it means for the rail system

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