Crashes, breakdown exacerbate traffic ‘carnage’ in Melbourne’s west

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An early-morning crash that closed two inbound lanes on the West Gate Freeway exacerbated traffic chaos in Melbourne’s west on Monday.

It comes as key rail networks and a major road connection were shut down for the next two weeks to accommodate works on the West Gate Tunnel Project.

There were long queues at Newport station for buses that replaced trains.Credit: Penny Stephens

The crash, just after Millers Road, was followed by a truck breakdown on the West Gate Bridge, causing heavy delays that continued throughout the rush hour peak.

Another crash on the West Gate Freeway at Brooklyn inflicted delays on the Princes Freeway and M80 Ring Road.

Buses replaced trains on Werribee and Williamstown lines between Newport and Williamstown and Flagstaff stations, and between Sunshine and Flagstaff on the Sunbury line.

Miranda Bordignon was on her way to work at Newport Railway Station, where lines for bus replacements stretched down the road.

Miranda Bordignon waiting for a bus replacement at Newport after road and rail closures caused disruption for commuters.Credit: Penny Stephens

“It’s carnage,” she said. “I usually take the train from Altona straight to Southern Cross and it takes 40 minutes. It’s close to 40 minutes and I haven’t even got on the bus to the city yet.”

Rehan Aziz arrived at Newport Station by train from Williams Landing before deciding to head home. “I came here and saw the queue, which was pretty crazy,” he said. “I should’ve turned back at Williams Landing.”

For others like Cathy Ekonomou, the commute to the city was necessary for her job in the legal profession and driving to work was too costly.

“It’s cheaper than driving and paying $70 for parking every day,” she said.

Cathy Ekonomou waiting for a bus replacement at Newport. Credit: Penny Stephens

However, Ekonomou said she would reconsider taking public transport home. “I might ask if one of my kids can take me home,” she said.

At Footscray station, bus replacements from the Sunbury line were taking people to North Melbourne and Flagstaff stations.

V/Line passenger Andrew Maxwell said he wasn’t aware of the disruptions to the rail networks when he arrived at Footscray station from Ballarat.

“It was a little bit annoying because I had no idea,” he said.

The Dynon Road bridge in West Melbourne is closed until August 31 to widen and strengthen the road. That work is forcing the Williamstown, Werribee and Sunbury train lines, which run underneath the bridge, to shut down from 8.30pm on Friday, June 23, until the last service on July 9.

The combination of road and rail disruption had been specifically scheduled to take place during the school holidays, while fewer people were driving or using public transport, a Department of Transport and Planning spokesperson said.

According to state government data, almost 32,400 passengers catch trains along the affected Sunbury, Williamstown and Werribee lines every weekday during school holidays.

David Niel, the skipper of the Westgate Punt, a ferry that crosses the Yarra River between Spotswood and Port Melbourne, said he was busier than usual with about 40 or 50 passengers who weren’t regulars.

“I reckon it’s going to be even busier tomorrow,” he said. “Mondays are usually quiet.”

He said the ferry would accommodate the new customers by making frequent trips.

The Westgate Punt was busier than usual.Credit: Penny Stephens

“We are just forgetting about the timetable and just going up and down. It will be eight minutes between trips instead of 20 minutes. It’s a three-minute trip.”

Passenger Daniel Cochrane said he was glad to be avoiding the traffic chaos.

“I already try to take the ferry as much as I can because I ride my bike and it’s far better than being on the West Gate bridge,” he said.

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