V/Line is a not for profit regional passenger train and coach service in Victoria, Australia. It was created after the split-up of Vic-Rail in 1983. V/Line is owned by the V/Line Passenger Corporation which is a Victorian State Government statutory authority.
V/Line operates to 82 railway stations and a larger number of coach stops, and operates 1444 rail services and 592 coach services every week across regional Victoria.
On July 1, 1983 the Transport Act 1983 was passed and the State Transport Authority (STA) created. The new authority replaced VicRail, and established the V/Line operating brand in both country passenger and Victorian rail freight. The VicRail orange and silver 'teacup' livery used on passenger rolling stock was replaced in August 1983 by the orange and grey livery, the white and green V/Line logo also being launched at the same time.
This was altered in 1989 when the Transport (Amendment) Act was passed, creating the Public Transport Corporation (PTC) from the merger of the State Transport Authority with the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The relationship between the country V/Line and suburban 'The Met' brands was blurred, with the Sprinter trains delivered in the 1993-1995 period appearing in PTC colours but with both PTC and V/Line logos.
In 1995 the freight and passenger rail divisions of V/Line were divided, locomotives in the freight fleet retaining the orange and grey livery with 'V/Line Freight' logos, while passenger carriages and locomotive received the red blue and white 'V/Line Passenger' livery which remains on some of the fleet today. This split was finalised on July 1 1997 when separate management was brought in.
In 1999 V/Line Passenger and V/Line Freight were privatised separately. National Express acquired V/Line Passenger, and Freight Victoria (later Freight Australia, now Pacific National) acquiring V/Line Freight. The V/Line Freight contract included a 45 year lease from the government of most regional track (passenger and freight), with responsibilities for track, signalling and level crossings, with access to passenger sections of track granted to V/Line Passenger.
On December 22 2002 National Express withdrew from their operations in Victoria with the Victorian Government taking control temporarily. Full control was taken on October 1, 2003 by changing the shareholding of V/Line, making the government the sole shareholder via a recently created statutory corporation, V/Line Passenger Corporation.
In 2000 the Regional Fast Rail project was launched to upgrade the tracks linking Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and the Latrobe Valley to Melbourne. The project, which also included new rolling stock and an expanded timetable of rail services, commenced full operations from December 2005.
November 2006 saw Pacific National enter into an agreement to sell the remainder of its Victorian rail lease of the network back to the Victorian Government for $133.8 m, during the caretaker period following the issuing of the writs for the 25 November 2006 Victorian State election. The sale was completed on May 7, 2007, with V/Line becoming the track manager of the Victorian intrastate network.
In May 2008 it was announced that part of the V/Line fleet would be converted to standard gauge to operate an upgraded Albury-Wodonga line service.
V/line operates rail services to the regional cities of Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon as well as Ararat, Echuca, Swan Hill, Albury, Bairnsdale, Warrnambool and Shepparton. In addition, V/Line road coaches connect with many rail services at major stations to serve towns away from the main rail network.
Rail services are grouped into two classes - shorter distance Interurban and longer distance Intercity services. Interurban services operate more frequently than Intercity services, and Intercity services usually have first class accommodation provided as well as snack bar facilities.
All rail services depart from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne on the following lines.
V/Line currently uses machine printed paper tickets, issued from staffed V/Line stations, selected Connex suburban Premium stations, V/Line ticket agents, or by phone. Passengers joining services at unmanned stations or roadside coach stops are permitted to purchase tickets from the train conductor or coach driver.
Tickets have the origin and destination printed upon them, making them point to point, but the fare itself based upon charging zones. Recent years have seen changes made to the fare system, to integrate it with the suburban only Metcard system in preparation for the introduction of the Myki smartcard system to cover the entire state.
Ticket types available include single, return, and a range of periodical tickets. Services are divided into peak and off peak, with discounts offered for tickets valid in off peak times only. V/Line operates a limited number of trains with First Class accommodation. To travel in first class passengers are required to pay an upgrade fee on top of the standard economy fare.
The majority of V/Line services operate with non allocated seating, but all Intercity (long distance) rail services and some coach services require seat reservations.
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