Ongoing regional rail strikes could affect Swifties

Country commuters making their way to Taylor Swift's Melbourne concert are warned to check timetables for cancellations due to rolling strike action affecting V/Line services. 

More than 80 services were cancelled on Monday following strike action by V/Line workers between 3am and 7am. 

And similar strikes are planned for Friday, when the pop and country songstress begins her three-day stint at the MCG.

Major sticking points in the dispute with V/Line include pay and protections to safeguard jobs.

More strikes are planned on Friday as well as February 19 and 23 but could also continue on an ongoing basis if there is no breakthrough in negotiations with V/Line, branch secretary Vik Sharma said.

A file photo of Vik Sharma
Branch secretary Vik Sharma accused the state government of ignoring regional workers.

"If anyone is to be blamed for these strikes, it is the Allan Labor government, which has forgotten about the regional workers," he said in a statement.

"These industrial actions will regrettably impact regional commuters and will cause significant disruptions to services on those days."

A V/Line spokesperson said 80 services were cancelled on Monday due to the strikes. 

“We thank passengers who delayed travelling during this morning’s industrial action and for their patience while we’ve worked to restore services," the spokesperson said.

“Trains progressively returned to the network shortly before 8am, with delays expected on some services this afternoon due to the hot weather.”

The union has informed V/Line of further industrial action on Friday and passengers are again asked to avoid travel unless necessary. 

"V/Line will be working to quickly recover the timetable after Friday’s action, as we are expecting a significant number of passengers planning to use our services on Friday evening for major events, including the Taylor Swift concert," the spokesperson said. 

"There will be additional services and increased capacity on some lines for the concert and passengers are encouraged to visit the V/Line website to check for the latest travel information."

Drivers are not taking part in the strike but workers taking action include authorised officers, conductors, customer service staff and other employees.

The Victorian government said progress had been made during discussions with the union. 

"V/Line has been negotiating in good faith with the union and has made progress towards reaching an agreement," a spokesperson told AAP late on Monday. 

"V/Line will continue to communicate with passengers and work hard to minimise the impacts of this action."

An independent mediator is working with both parties to find a resolution. 

As a public sector agency, V/Line must comply with the Victorian Government Wages Policy and Enterprise Bargaining Framework.

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