A MINOR water leak, which took only minutes to plug, shut down Melbourne’s entire train network and triggered road chaos on Thursday.
But, despite the rough ride in the morning peak hour, the State Government is refusing to compensate fuming commuters.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan instead ordered a review, demanding answers into the cause of the leak, how it was handled and what would be done to prevent a recurrence.
And the Herald Sun can reveal more passenger pain may be ahead: the rail union is foreshadowing a network-wide shutdown and a controversial “open myki gates” policy in its campaign for a yearly 6 per cent pay rise.
Other union demands include a new plainclothes allowance for ticket inspectors and a free union picnic.
Passengers gridlocked at Flinders Street Station. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Thursday’s crisis began when water entered a fire panel at the Collins St building housing Metro’s control centre, leading to the evacuation of the entire building.
Metro was told within 10 minutes that it was a false alarm; but it had already halted all trains on the tracks and lowered boomgates at level crossings, stranding passengers and creating road chaos.
Hundreds of university students were among those trapped in the gridlock, forcing the rescheduling of some examinations.
Metro operations director Ron Bria said an internal review would be conducted looking at the building’s fire alarm, how Metro would react to any future alarms, and “what lessons were learnt”.
The site of the leak at the Metro train control centre in Collins St. Picture: Andy Brownbill
But he said all protocols had been followed and the safety of passengers and Metro staff had not been jeopardised.
“There was a water leak that made its way into the fire panel this morning, which made the alarm go into a default position, evacuating the building,” Mr Bria said.
“Overall, it was a controlled evacuation of the building, a controlled shutdown of the network, and a controlled reopening of the network”
Trains were stopped in their tracks from 8.28am until 8.43am. But delays were felt across the system for almost an hour.
Passengers wait to arrive at Flinders Street Station after the false fire alarm Picture: Nicole Garmston
Mr Bria said a backup system did not kick in because that took 50 minutes, while the situation had been resolved within 15 minutes.
There had therefore been no need to send staff across the city to the other control room.
Premier Daniel Andrews backed Metro’s response, saying that the proper protocols had been put in place.
“Trains stop right across the network when there is any risk that continuing to run them would be unsafe,” he said.
“Safety has to come first — but I do apologise for any inconvenience,” Premier Andrews said.