TRAINS will finally return to the Echuca line today after eight weeks off the tracks.
A $4.9 million program to improve detection at all level crossings between Echuca and Bendigo had seen buses replace trains since March 20.
Those upgrades came after a fault at a boom-gate crossing near Goornong, which was slow to detect an approaching train.
V/Line regional manager Jonathan McKeown said the upgrades would ensure level crossings activated in time.
‘‘We’ve installed axle counters at all active level crossings on the Echuca line, and after extensive testing, we’re confident the improved technology will detect trains with the warning time that’s required,’’ he said.
‘‘Boom gates have also been installed at the Elmore-Raywood Rd level crossing in Elmore, adding to the existing bells and flashing lights in place.’’
The downtime proved a nuisance to some passengers on the line, including Moama teen cycling champion Edie Haley, who attends school in Bendigo.
As reported in the Riv on March 31, V/Line rules prevented her from taking her bike on the replacement buses, causing a significant headache as she prepared for the national championships in June.
‘‘It’s definitely frustrating. I’m pretty much sitting around and doing nothing now because I can’t get my bike over,’’ she said at the time.
Mr McKeown said V/Line thanked its passengers for their patience as crews worked on the upgrades.
‘‘Safety will always be our number one priority and we’re constantly looking at ways we can improve,’’ he said.
Mr McKeown urged people to take care around tracks and level crossings as trains returned to the line.
‘‘With trains resuming along the corridor after a number of weeks, motorists and pedestrians are reminded to be safe in and around level crossings,’’ he said.
‘‘Trains are heavy and fast moving and can come from either direction at any time, so we ask that people are vigilant and don’t take risks around the tracks.’’
The first service to return as a train will be the 3.14pm from Southern Cross Station to Echuca this afternoon.
For more details, visit vline.com.au or phone 1800 800 007.