Commuter standstill as V/Line workers walk off the job

Commuters from regional Victoria have faced significant hurdles getting to Melbourne after hundreds of V/Line workers walked off the job, bringing passenger trains to a halt.

The V/Line network was still dealing with delays as of Wednesday afternoon after members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union went on strike, with passenger train services abandoned from 3am until about 8am.

Union secretary Vik Sharma hailed the industrial action a success and said members didn't take the decision to walk off the job lightly.

"We never wanted to stop the network but we have been bargaining with V/Line for six months, they have refused to address our claims and members felt as if they had no choice but to go ahead with the action," Mr Sharma told reporters.

"If more action is needed, then so be it."

The union wanted the V/Line workforce to have job security in the face of ticketless technology.

It also wanted to safeguard against the regional operator splitting fulltime positions into multiple part-time positions with eight-hour weekly contracts.

The union threatened industrial action almost 10 days ago and if V/Line had focused on reaching an agreement with workers rather than preparing for industrial action, they might have an agreement by now, Mr Sharma said.

He described V/Line's direction to travellers to avoid unnecessary travel as "a bit over the top", and said the union had been negotiating in good faith.

V/Line chief executive Matt Carrick said about 90 services would be cancelled over the course of Wednesday - about 70 in the morning - and passengers were understandably frustrated. 

V/Line, which usually runs about 300 daily services, had about 170 coaches to replace trains.

"In terms of the backup coach services that we provided, there simply would not have been enough to cater to all of the usual demand," Mr Carrick told reporters.

"We don't shy away from encouraging Victorians not to have travelled today.

"It was the right option and we're thankful of Victorians for heeding those requests."

Mr Carrick urged the union to come to a compromise with V/Line and secure a "sensible outcome" for employees.

Mr Sharma said the union would consult with its members to work out next steps and give commuters as much notice as possible about possible further disruptions.

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