By Rowan Forster
Hooligans are tampering with Pakenham’s level crossing sensors, causing boom gates to jam and bringing the suburb’s traffic network to a screeching halt.
Metro Trains confirmed the rail corridor was brought to a standstill on Wednesday night, with barriers shutting at McGregor Road, Cardinia Road and Racecourse Road due to trespassers.
Impatient drivers held up at the intersections are gambling with their lives, veering onto the wrong side of the road to navigate through the closed gates.
A witness has since come forward, sharing photographic evidence with the Gazette of several teenagers who appear to be interfering with line infrastructure near Cardinia Road.
Harrison Martin – who spotted the alleged vandals – said they were using a “trick” to set off the sensors.
The Gazette has chosen not to outline the method of the trick to prevent its exploitation.
“If the kids think disrupting everyone’s day and causing a commotion is a good laugh, then they need to wake up to themselves,” he said.
“It’s senseless and ridiculous.
“My first reaction was to yell out and get them to piss off.”
“It’s a real concern that the system is so vulnerable to being stuffed up by a few idiots.”
It comes amid new statistics revealing 328 hours of delays occurred on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line in 2017 – mostly caused by signalling and infrastructure issues.
Gembrook MP Brad Battin said he was also aware of the “trick” that vandals are using to create commuter chaos.
He said it stemmed as far back as two decades, which indicates the ageing infrastructure still in use on Victoria’s train network.
It comes as the Andrews Government has announced a nine-day construction blitz on the Pakenham line in August, to replace the overhead wiring and signalling structures which are easily manipulated.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan even confessed that infrastructure had become severely outdated, allowing it to be tampered with.
“Some of the equipment across the network belongs in a museum – so we’re not wasting a minute to deliver these vital upgrades,” she said.
Metro Trains admitted the “trick” triggers a circuit overhead, which can activate the boom gates.
Spokesman Marcus Williams said a dedicated Metro security and surveillance team is working with Victoria Police to catch those responsible.
“There’s no place for this sort of behaviour on our network – that’s why we’re working closely with police to stop it from happening, keep our passengers safe and minimise disruptions,” he said.
“Trespassers risk their lives, cause distress for our train drivers and can delay thousands of passengers and motorists.
“We urge anyone who witnesses illegal activity to call triple zero or contact our staff immediately.”