A HOLE the size of a five-cent piece in an underground cable has caused chaos for Geelong's rail network over the past week.V/Line has committed to checking every section of cable along the Geelong line to gauge if there are other potential faults that could cripple the train service, the Geelong Advertiser reports.
Trains began running again yesterday at noon, about 23 hours after buses were called in following another system failure.
Temporary repairs to fix a power cable fault near Little River which also caused last week's mass stranding of passengers on dormant trains for up to five hours failed and again forced the closure of the track.
V/Line chief executive Rob Barnett said early indications were that the 25-year-old cable had been impacted by the installation of a separate fibre optic cable for the regional rail link several years ago.
"We don't think this is an ageing infrastructure issue," he said.
"We think perhaps a stone, under pressure, has ruptured the cable and caused water to slowly access it."
However, V/Line has committed to line inspections "to satisfy ourselves that the cable is in good shape" and is working on ways to get trains back on track following major issues.
The State Government recently confirmed it would spend $353 million on rail network maintenance in 2011-12, which included upgrading more than 100km of V/Line tracks.
V/Line has made a submission for more trains and increased services in the 2012-13 budget, with Mr Barnett confirming that at least 40 extra carriages were needed to cope with demand.
"We would deploy many of those on the Geelong line," he said, stating they would be used in areas of greatest need.
The investment would be welcomed by frustrated commuters, who had an extra 20-30 minutes added to their travel time by the switch to buses yesterday.
Tuesday's power outage also led to confusion for motorists and pedestrians in the Corio-Lara region, forcing boom gates down at five railway crossings.
The Geelong Advertiser understands that drivers were dangerously and illegally accessing some malfunctioning crossings, as they were left unattended for hours.
There appears to have been confusion about who was handling the task of directing traffic, with Chief Commissioner Ken Lay revealing he understood V/Line was overseeing it.
"My advice was that the rail authorities actually had people on each of those boom gates that weren't operating to direct traffic through," he told ABC Radio yesterday morning.
"If people were doing that, they were clearly breaking the law.
"But equally . . . there's an obligation on authorities if this happens to make it safe."
However police were at some sites, with officers diverting traffic to other roads.
Read more at the Geelong Advertiser.