A record number of trainee train drivers have been recruited to keep Victoria’s booming number of regional passenger services on track.
Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne on Monday welcomed the newest 10 of 108 V/Line learner drivers, noting they would improve services for passengers.
‘This is bringing our number of trainees to a record high of 108, it’s the biggest number ever been since V/Line’s inception in 1983,’ she said in Melbourne.
Trainees will learn in the classroom, on the job with a trainer nearby and in front of a simulator during their 25- to 77-week course.
More than 11 per cent of V/Line services had to be cancelled from January to the year ending March 2018 due to staffing issues, with the newcomers expected to help plug holes.
Public Transport Victoria chief executive officer Jeroen Weimar said V/Line was the fastest growing rail network in the country and it needed more drivers to keep it moving.
‘There are over 100 new recruits to one of our most significant challenges which is to ensure we have enough drivers to delivering the growing number of services we deliver every single week,’ he said, noting 300-plus V/Line services ran daily.
There’s been a 40 per cent increase in services to the network over the past four years, he added.
More than 19.5 million passenger trips were taken on the network last financial year.
Nicole Davon, who is expected to qualify on Thursday, made a move from Metro Trains after 15 years.
‘Unless you make too many mistakes or have too many stuff-ups, you are like your own boss,’ she said.
Once qualified, drivers earn from $75,000 per year.
The total number of qualified V/Line drivers will rise to about 415 by December.