Vic train strike to cause traffic chaos
Nothing will stop a four-hour train strike from going ahead as Melburnians brace for the city’s worst traffic gridlock in almost 20 years.
Close to 700 train services will be cancelled across Melbourne on Friday as part of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union’s rolling industrial action against Metro Trains.
The strike will last between 10am and 2pm.
Speaking on Thursday afternoon, Metro CEO Andrew Lezala said while negotiations were expected to continue into the night nothing could stop Friday’s strike.
Mr Lezala said the strike can’t be averted now.
“We have had to load up a new timetable, all driver rosters have been issued and it takes 48 hours to call the drivers and change the timetables,” he said.
He said trains would be offline for most of the work day with services affected between 8.30am and 4.30pm.
Melbourne’s motorists are warned to expect gridlock on major roads, with peak hour conditions expected to last for the majority of the day.
“We know that congestion will start earlier and will extend into the middle part of the day,” VicRoads acting road operations director Nick Fisher told AAP.
“We’re absolutely telling people to stay at home if they can.”
More than 350 extra buses will help move passengers, while trams will be packed.
V/Line regional trains will still run but won’t stop at suburban stations.
It’s the third major disruption to Melbourne’s public transport in two weeks, after tram drivers went on strike for four hours last week and early morning train services were affected on Thursday.
Metro this week made an unsuccessful bid before the Fair Work Commission to have the industrial action disallowed on public safety grounds.
It has offered train drivers a 17 per cent pay rise over four years but the union says they are being asked to give up important conditions.
Union secretary Luba Grigorovitch said she hoped more strikes weren’t necessary.
“I’m optimistic Metro will move a little. If that’s the case, that would be a step in the right direction and, if that’s the case, there won’t be a need for any further stoppages,” she told ABC Radio.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan says industrial action is unnecessary while talks continue.
* 17 per cent wage increase over four years – the offer from Metro rejected by the union
* 45 weeks – how many weeks Metro wants to reduce driver training to from 70 weeks
* 700 train services cancelled across Melbourne during Friday’s industrial action
* 0 V/Line services will be affected, but they won’t stop at metropolitan stations during the strike
* 350 additional buses have been sourced to help move passengers during the middle of the day