Ampol boss Matt Halliday has called for a nationally consistent approach to managing future COVID-19 outbreaks, warning that short, sharp lockdowns of states and cities are undermining the economic recovery and sapping business confidence.
As Australia’s first Pfizer vaccine injections were rolled out on Monday morning, the head of Australia’s top fuel supplier said businesses were still fearful of sudden closures of state borders in response to any future outbreak of COVID-19 infections.
“There needs to be a consistent set of rules in place, so that when you do see outbreaks there is a predictable and risk-based response to the approach … not prompt border closures,” Mr Halliday said. “Companies can’t plan their activities and their investments when there is considerable uncertainty about what the response to the outbreak is going to be.”
Ampol, formerly Caltex Australia, has been hit hard by coronavirus travel restrictions hammering demand for petrol, diesel and jet fuel, and on Monday posted a $485 million loss for the 12 months to December 31.
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South Australia will extend its hard border to cover the whole state of Victoria from midnight, after the Victorian Government announced a statewide lockdown.
South Australia will impose a hard border on the whole of Victoria from midnight tonight
Arrivals from Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport since February 9 will be required to quarantine
Testing requirements for Greater Sydney and Greater Perth will be lifted a day early
SA health authorities imposed a hard border with Greater Melbourne on Wednesday but travel between SA and regional Victoria had still been allowed.
But Victoria’s Holiday Inn outbreak, and its decision to enter a “circuit-breaker” lockdown for five days, have prompted SA authorities to impose tougher restrictions.
“We [will] extend our border restrictions which were previously in place for just the Greater Melbourne area to all of Victoria,” SA Premier Steven Marshall said today.
“From today, the 12th of February, transit through [Melbourne’s] Tullamarine Airport to South Australia will no longer be permitted without 14 days of quarantine.”
People already in SA who have been in the airport’s Terminal 4 since February 9 must quarantine for a fortnight, and their family members and close contacts must quarantine until they return their first negative test.
Anyone who has been at Tullamarine Airport from February 7 “needs to test and isolate until they get a negative result”, Mr Marshall said.
Their family and household contacts must also get tested and isolate until the first negative test.
South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said it was estimated about 500 people have come into the state after passing through Terminal 4 since February 9.
She said she was most concerned about the potential exposure from a worker who was infectious at the Brunetti cafe inside Terminal 4.
“They had a very long shift there — an eight-and-a-half hour shift while infectious,” Professor Spurrier said.
“Fortunately we have national guidelines and mandatory requirements for masks in airports, but obviously if you are going to get a coffee, you are going to be drinking a coffee and you’ll have your mask off.
“Previously when we’ve had lockdowns with Victoria, we have not allowed transit through the airport and that was particularly important.”
Uncertainty for major events
Professor Spurrier said her team was in the process of contacting people considered to be at the greatest risk.
“The Terminal 4 Jetstar and Rex flights are at higher risk, so those are the ones we are focusing on getting a phone call through and an SMS through to,” she said.
In announcing his state’s lockdown, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the UK strain of the virus was moving at a velocity that has not been seen anywhere in Australia over the last 12 months.
Professor Spurrier said Mr Andrews used “appropriately strong language”, given the possibility of “superspreading”.
“By the time they are diagnosing the close contacts and then the secondary contacts, the secondary contacts are already positive.”
Adelaide is set to host several major arts events in the coming weeks, as well as the Adelaide International women’s tennis event.
Professor Spurrier said the implications of the new restrictions for those events was still being worked out.
“We want to make sure that we maintain events as much as we possibly can but we need to weigh that up,” she said.
While new restrictions were imposed on Victoria, the Premier said SA will remove testing requirements for people travelling from Greater Sydney or Greater Perth a day early.
That restriction will be removed from midnight tonight.
“We know [restrictions] are hugely inconvenient but by working together we can keep our state safe … and that’s going to be particularly important as we lead up to the Adelaide Fringe [and] Adelaide Festival,” Mr Marshall said.
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A driver has died in a fiery crash involving three trucks in Victoria’s far west, near the South Australian border where coronavirus travel restrictions were reimposed overnight.
The main border crossing between Victoria and South Australia has been closed
One of the trucks burst into flames and a truck driver was killed
Two other drivers have been taken to hospital
The main border crossing between Victoria and South Australia has been closed as a result of the crash, which occurred during a late night rush for the border.
Victoria Police said the accident happened on the Western Highway at Serviceton about 2:20am, and SA Police are also currently on scene.
The highway is closed in both directions and motorists are being diverted to the Wimmera Highway at Naracoorte.
It is believed a truck crashed into a stationary truck, which then collided with the truck in front of it.
One of the trucks burst into flames, and the fire spread to the other two vehicles.
The crash scene is about five kilometres east of the South Australian border.
“The driver of the first truck, a yet to be identified man, died at the scene,” Victoria Police said.
“Emergency crews are still on scene and an investigation into the incident has commenced.”
Two people have been taken to the Bordertown Memorial Hospital in a stable condition.
He said the circumstances of the crash would be investigated, but confirmed the trucks were queuing to get into South Australia.
“My understanding is the trucks were heading to South Australia. One truck has gone into the rear of another vehicle and forced it into another truck, and those trucks were already in a line waiting to enter South Australia,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“This is clearly a tragic set of circumstances where a person has lost their life, but the reality is we’ve been doing these checkpoints for months and months. There are always going to be obstructions on our roads.”
Witness ‘saw the blast’
SA Police’s Bordertown coronavirus checkpoint will be closed as police investigate.
“The Dukes Highway is currently closed in both directions and access to each state will not be possible at this location,” SA Police said.
“SA motorists heading to Victoria are being diverted south onto Meatworks Road toward Naracoorte; access to Victoria will be via the Wimmera Highway.”
Truck driver Steve told ABC Radio Adelaide the incident occurred amid heavy traffic and a rush for the border. He said he “saw the blast”.
He said it took “five hours to get 10 kilometres … to get to the front of the line, to drive through an empty marquee”.
Another witness, Tracey, who boarded a bus at Ballarat, said she saw the blaze.
“The bus driver slowed down to say, ‘I think something’s happened up ahead’,” she said.
“Our driver has brought us to Kaniva and he’s just waiting on his boss to decide whether or not to continue to Adelaide, or take us back.”
Travellers from Greater Melbourne are now barred from entering South Australia due to new coronavirus cases in Victoria, after a hard border kicked in overnight.
SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier defended the snap lockdown, saying it was a necessary response to Victoria’s Holiday Inn cluster.
Exemptions apply for essential travellers, SA residents returning home, genuine relocations and people escaping domestic violence, SA Police said.
People already in South Australia who had been at, or are a close contact of anyone who had been at, the Holiday Inn from January 27 onwards have been directed to contact SA Health immediately, and enter quarantine.
Anyone who has been in Greater Melbourne who had already arrived in SA prior to the travel ban will have to remain in quarantine until they test negative.
Travellers from Victorian regions outside Greater Melbourne are still permitted to enter SA and will not have to be tested or enter quarantine.
“People are permitted to transit through Melbourne Airport providing they have been in a low community transmission zone… for 14 days, have only been in the airport for two hours or less and have worn a face mask for the entirety of the time they are in transit including during the flight,” SA Police said.
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A far-right mayor in France threw down the gauntlet to the central government on Tuesday by reopening his city’s museums in defiance of coronavirus rules.
Arguing that the French needed access to culture despite the threat of Covid-19, Perpignan Mayor Louis Aliot, deputy leader of the far-right National Rally, officially reopened four museums that had been closed since October 30.
“There is a virus and it will be with us for a long time… There are treatments, there are vaccinations, there are precautions we can take. Let’s get used to it and start by trying things out,” Aliot told reporters at the Hyacinthe-Rigaud art museum.
Cultural venues across the country are desperate to reopen — even partially — to give the French some enjoyment after months without exhibitions, theatres, cinemas and live entertainment.
The Hyacinthe-Rigaud art museum was among those to reopen on Tuesday with an exhibition devoted to portraits of French queens AFP / RAYMOND ROIG
The Hyacinthe-Rigaud museum told AFP that roughly 50 visitors had arrived on Tuesday morning within 15 minutes of it reopening.
“There are a lot of people,” a receptionist said by telephone.
The Casa Pairal museum of Catalan art and the Natural History Museum also confirmed they had reopened. The fourth — the Joseph Puig coin museum — is set to reopen on Wednesday.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government, which is trying to bring down stubbornly high infection rates, ruled that all cultural establishments, bars and restaurants should remain closed after the second lockdown ended in mid-December.
Louis Aliot argued that people would have to start getting used to the virus AFP / RAYMOND ROIG
On Monday evening, the state’s regional representative went to court to try to keep museums in Perpignan closed.
But with frustration growing at the continued shutdowns, the government has signalled it could soon change tack.
On Monday, Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot promised that museums and national monuments would be the first cultural venues to reopen, but only when infection rates drop.
After talking to 30 museum directors, Bachelot said they had been “very open” to dramatic limits on visitor numbers of one visitor per 10 square metres (110 square feet) compared with one per 4 square metres before the lockdown.
Last week, hundreds within the art community signed two petitions to the government urging it to allow museums open.
“For an hour, a day, a week or a month — let us reopen our doors, even if we have to shut them again in the case of another lockdown,” they appealed.
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Closed state borders have set tourism businesses back $7 billion in what should have been the busiest trading period of the year.
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Since the pandemic began, state border closures have been a moveable feast as COVID-19 outbreaks have heated up and simmered down across the country.
Monday saw three local cases recorded in Greater Sydney, while Greater Brisbane’s three-day snap lockdown to stop the spread of the UK COVID-19 variant will be lifted at 6:00pm local time.
Following this, several states and territories have changed their border measures, with some downgrading Greater Brisbane from a COVID-19 hotspot.
However, strict measures remain in place in several states and territories for those who have visited, or are from, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.
Here’s where we’re at.
I want to go to …
Tap through to find out where you can travel to, depending on where you are travelling from:
New South Wales
NSW’s borders are open to every state and territory except parts of Queensland at the moment.
You cannot visit NSW if you have been to City of Brisbane, City of Ipswich, Lockyer Valley Region, Logan City, Moreton Bay Region, Redland City, Scenic Rim Region or Somerset Region since January 2.
There are no restrictions for moving around within NSW, but the State Government has asked people to avoid non-essential travel to the regions, particularly Greater Sydneysiders.
That’s because most of NSW’s cases are concentrated within the Greater Sydney area, which includes the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong.
People who have visited a Greater Sydney hotspot within the past two weeks are not allowed to enter Queensland.
Areas include the Blue Mountains, City of Sydney, Central Coast, Wollongong, Parramatta, northern beaches and several more.
Queensland residents returning home from a hotspot have to quarantine for 14 days in government-arranged accommodation at their own expense.
If you have been in Victoria during the past two weeks, you need to get tested once you arrive in Queensland and quarantine at home until you receive a negative test result.
Visitors from other states and territories are free to enter the sunshine state without a border pass or quarantine period.
All interstate travellers will require a permit to enter Victoria under new travel rules for the state.
From 6:00pm Monday the permit system will be operational, with travel allowed from “green zones” and “oranges zones”.
Travellers from “orange zones” will be required to be tested within 72 hours of arrival and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a relaxation of the state’s hard border with NSW, moving regional NSW into the orange category.
Travel from a red zone — currently Greater Brisbane and Greater Sydney, including Wollongong and the Blue Mountains — is still banned.
The red zones will be under daily review.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT has announced people from Greater Brisbane will no longer need to quarantine in the capital.
Those who had come from Greater Brisbane and were undertaking their mandatory quarantine period already were free to go at 2:00pm AEDT on Monday.
It followed a Friday announcement which ordered people who had been in Brisbane since January 2 to self-isolate for 14 days.
Greater Sydneysiders or people who have visited that region are still not permitted to enter the ACT, as the city battles several clusters.
However, returning ACT residents who have been in Greater Sydney can return as long as they undertake a 14-day quarantine period.
All other NSW residents are free to go to the ACT without declaring travel or quarantining.
Tasmania has eased its quarantine requirements for people who arrived in the state from the Greater Brisbane area before last Friday morning.
Health Minister Sarah Courtney said people who arrived in Tasmania prior to 9:00am on Friday, January 8, would no longer need to quarantine as they posed no risk.
People who arrived from the Greater Brisbane area after that time are required to continue to quarantine, with a review due on Wednesday afternoon.
Greater Brisbane remains classified as a high-risk area, with anyone arriving in Tasmania from the region still required to quarantine.
Travellers are not allowed into Tasmania if they have been to several Victorian venues recently, including a Nike store, a Nandos restaurant, a yacht club and a brewing house. The full list is here.
People coming from the Greater Sydney area into Tasmania are also required to quarantine for 14 days, either at a suitable premises or government accommodation.
Western Australia currently has some of the toughest state border rules in the country.
People from Queensland, or who have been there since January 2, are not permitted to enter Western Australia.
Travel from anywhere within Victoria or NSW is not permitted either unless the person is exempt — for example, they are a diplomat or military personnel.
People from the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania can visit as long as they fill in a form and complete a health screening on arrival.
Anyone who wants to go to South Australia has to fill in a form, known as the Cross Border Travel Registration.
However, people who have stopped in Greater Brisbane must enter self-quarantine for 14 days, and be tested on days one, five and 12.
The SA Government says this does not include essential travellers, people escaping domestic violence, people who normally live in South Australia and those relocating to South Australia.
If a person lives within 100 kilometres of the NSW and South Australian border, they’re free to enter South Australia, as long as they haven’t been anywhere else in NSW during the past two weeks.
The Northern Territory
Everyone headed to the Northern Territory is required to fill in an exemption form to enter the Top End.
However, people who have been to a COVID-19 hotspot must go into mandatory supervised quarantine at their own cost ($2,500) upon arrival.
At the moment all the COVID-19 hotspots are located throughout the area of Greater Sydney, including the city of Sydney, Parramatta, the northern beaches and Hornsby, visible on a map here.
On Monday the NT Government revoked its hotspot declaration for Greater Brisbane.
That means people who have been in Queensland’s capital and its surrounds will no longer need to quarantine in NT.
Brisbane was declared a hotspot on Friday after a quarantine hotel worker tested positive for the more contagious UK strain of coronavirus.
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“Each one of these requirements does require you to have a permit though, so there’s a little bit to do, it’s going to be interesting to see how they roll that out.
“If we had a national response, like the traffic light system, where all the rules are all the same … that would make a lot of sense.”
Professor Thompson said it was “really, really hard” to understand border rules when different state and federal leaders waged debate around the issue and suddenly instated new closures.
But he said for now, the “detail isn’t entirely clear” about how the Victorian government would set thresholds for which zone is which.
“The problem is when the rules get changed – if you’re in a spot that was green and it’s gone to yellow – that’s when it gets tricky,” Professor Thompson said.
“If you’re sitting in Sydney and it’s been nice and green, and you’re about to jump on the plane and it turns yellow, that would be slightly annoying.
“If there’s people out there who have a virus and are walking around in the community, then they can transmit it to someone else. So we need to know where they are and where the hotspots are.”
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They fear returning to COVID-affected Sydney to stay for free with family could further imperil their chances of getting home.
“We’ve been trying to get an exemption, and have been waiting to hear back,” he said.
“We don’t really know, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of anxiety.”
Thousands of dollars out of pocket from booking last-minute accommodation in Culburra Beach on the NSW south coast, Mr Reiss said the indefinite wait for an exemption was “hugely stressful” – mentally and financially.
They have found a few days’ relief at a friend’s home in Jindabyne but will soon need to find somewhere else to stay.
“There’s only so many places you can book at these huge Christmas period rates without running out of money,” Mr Reiss said. “If that’s what we have to do, we’ll be in the car with the cat.”
Other renters, such as Melbourne-based school teacher Michael, are facing being stood down without pay due to the ongoing border closure.
Michael, 34, who did not wish to use his last name so he could speak freely about his employment, also had his plan to leave NSW thwarted. He is paying for rent in Melbourne, as well as covering payments on an apartment in Sydney he has not been able to find a tenant for since mid-2020.
He will now miss a series of mandatory courses required of him to be certified to begin teaching classes again this year.
“I’ll be stood down without pay until I can go off my own bat, try and organise these mandatory courses and qualifications that only happen so often and [cost] hundreds of dollars,” he said.
Consumer Affairs Victoria said some renters trapped in NSW may be able to negotiate rental relief under Victoria’s emergency COVID-19 laws.
A spokesman said tenants who were deemed in ‘severe financial hardship’ could also give a notice of intention to vacate within 14 days or in some situations can apply to VCAT for an order to end a fixed-term tenancy early.
Tenants in these cases would also not be liable for lease-breaking fees if they end a tenancy early.
Amidst the thousands of people applying for border exemptions are also those who need to get home to empty rental properties as leases end. Consumer Affairs Victoria advises that landlords are required to store personal property of tenants for up to 28 days so they can be collected.
“We’ve [also] extended the evictions moratorium in Victoria until 28 March, to help to protect tenants experiencing severe hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” the spokesman said.
“We encourage tenants to come to agreements with their landlord which suit their financial situation – whether that’s negotiating a rent reduction or ending a rental agreement.”
“If a tenant and landlord cannot reach an agreement they should contact Consumer Affairs Victoria for assistance.”
Craig Nixon, principal lawyer at Tenants Victoria, urged tenants to take up their case with Consumer Affairs even if the initial; response from their landlord for a rent reduction is declined or ignored.
“We’d recommend a renter immediately approach their landlord or agent but don’t wait too long for the answer, even if it’s a ‘no’ initially you are still can seek a rent reduction through the formal process,” he said.
“It’s really important to note that if you successfully obtain a rent reduction you may also be eligible for a rent relief grant from the Victorian Government which is worth up to $3000.”
If tenants or landlords need further information, advice or help to negotiate, they can contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.
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Rachael Dexter is a breaking news reporter at The Age.
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The end of coal-fired generation in Australia is inevitable.
Zero marginal cost, zero-emissions energy is now a reality. Wind and solar are cheaper sources of new electricity than coal in most cases, putting significant pressure on the profitability of the inflexible, aging coal generators.
The only questions are when coal-fired power stations will close and how well Australia will manage that phasedown.
That’s why we need to talk about the role governments can play to ensure the transition is orderly, maintains energy security, avoids price spikes that have followed past closures, looks after affected workers and communities, and ensures Australia meets its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 26-28% below 2005 levels.
At least halving emissions from coal-fired power stations (which account for about 90% of electricity sector emissions) by 2030 is an obvious route to achieve Australia’s international commitments.
Given most state governments are already committed to forcing renewables into the grid at a record pace, that could happen even without federal action.
But continuing down the current path will be unnecessarily costly, and pose significant risks to supply and prices as coal-fired generators exit on sporadic timelines based on their viability. These risks are part of the reason why Australia’s Energy Security Board is considering mechanisms that facilitate an orderly transition from coal-fired generation to renewables as one of four priority reform areas.
Read more: ‘Unjustifiable’: new report shows how the nation’s gas expansion puts Australians in harm’s way
National leadership and careful policy design are needed to enable coal plant operators to bow out of the market gracefully, and in a manner that secures certainty for investors, consumers, workers and communities.
Learning from past closures
Past closures of South Australia’s Northern and Playford B power stations in Port Augusta (in 2016) and Victoria’s Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley (in 2017) illustrate this point.
Price spikes followed the closure of these plants. In the case of Hazelwood, majority owner Engie gave barely five months’ notice of its closure in March 2017. With Hazelwood, a brown-coal-fired generator accounting for 20% of Victoria’s electricity supply and 5% of national output, the supply ramifications were significant. Victoria’s average electricity prices increased from A$60 to A$100 per megawatt-hour (MWh).
These offer a stark warning to policymakers. The market requires adequate notice of coal-fired generator exits. Greater certainty provides investors with the assurance they need to build enough capacity to replace retiring coal plants, and the infrastructure to connect them to the grid. A haphazard transformation is in no one’s interests.
A new Coal-Generation Phasedown Mechanism
We outline a market-based mechanism to achieve just that in a report published by the Blueprint Institute, an Australian think tank established last year to promote rational, pragmatic policy proposals.
The Coalition has generally claimed to oppose market-based mechanisms – such as emissions trading schemes or carbon taxes – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the Abbott government in 2014 introduced an emissions trading scheme alongside its A$2.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, a mechanism the Morrison government rebadged in 2019 as the Climate Solutions Fund. A “Safeguard Mechanism” sets emissions caps for the country’s highest-emitting businesses, with emissions permits tradeable on the open market.
Read more: Australia’s new cap on emissions is a trading scheme in all but name
To facilitate the orderly phasedown of coal-fired electricity generation, we propose a “Coal-Generation Phasedown Mechanism” (CPM), leveraging the Safeguard Mechanism to establish sector emissions targets – for 2026, 2028 and beyond 2030.
A key component of the CPM is the use of auctions to achieve withdrawals of coal generation from the electricity market. Auctions are commonplace in commercial and government contexts. The federal government has long used auctions to allocate telecommunications spectrum, for example, and the Emissions Reduction Fund uses reverse auctions to buy the most cost-effective emissions abatement.
The CPM would set emissions targets to phase down coal-fired generation to halve current emissions by 2030. Under a well-designed auction system, the least profitable coal generators would withdraw from the market first, ensuring emissions reductions occur at minimum cost.
One possible scenario is shown in the graph below. Example generators have been chosen based on their operating costs and approximate remaining life. Those with higher costs and a shorter remaining life have greater incentives to bid for earlier exits.
The CPM should also be designed to ensure financial support for affected workers. This could be in the form of redeployment, retraining opportunities or generous remuneration in the case of retrenchment.
Who should pay?
A phasedown of coal-fired generation will come at a cost to someone – either taxpayers or investors in coal-fired generation. This cost can be made larger or smaller. It can be hidden from view. But it cannot be avoided. The proper role for government is to minimise and fairly distribute those costs.
We can’t predict exactly how much the phasedown will cost, because that depends on information known only to the generators. But a market-based mechanism is sure to minimise those costs.
The CPM can be designed to ensure the least viable plants close first. How much money generators receive to close or pay to stay open is an entirely separate question. The CPM can be designed to accommodate any financial commitment by taxpayers.
At one extreme, the federal government could pay generators to close by fully compensating auction participants for the loss of future profits, as has been adopted in Germany. But this would likely require a federal funding commitment significantly larger than under the existing Emissions Reduction Fund, which might make it politically unpalatable.
At the other extreme, the government could charge operators for the right to stay open. One significant advantage of this option is it would raise revenue that could then be used to support directly affected communities. This could be modelled on Western Australia’s “Royalties for Regions” program, which allocates a quarter of the state’s mining and petroleum royalties to programs benefiting regional and rural areas.
A funding allocation between these two extremes is also possible, decided through government negotiation with the industry.
Ultimately, the question of who pays is a political decision. But political difficulties shouldn’t be used as an excuse for delay. The economic rationale for the CPM stacks up either way.
We must avoid another Hazelwood or Port Augusta, and coordinate an orderly grid transformation that provides certainty to communities, workers, investors, and consumers alike.
Authors: Daniel D’Hotman – DPhil Candidate, University of Oxford | Steven Hamilton – Visiting Fellow, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University
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Border controls have caused major disruptions to public transport with coaches replacing trains and travellers needing to find their own way interstate. V/Line advised on December 31 that from New Years Day, no V/Line trains would run to Albury. “All Albury train services towards Melbourne will originate at Wodonga (not Albury). “Passengers who are permitted to travel from Albury should make their way to Wodonga station to board the train. “The shuttle coach between Albury and Wodonga will no longer operate. These changes will remain in place until further notice.” However, 10 services that were due to run on the Seymour line have been replaced by coaches since January 1. The 7.05am service from Melbourne on Tuesday arrived at Wodonga station shortly before 11am. Meredith Ward took the coach from Southern Cross and said she only found out that morning it would not run as a train. “As far as I knew it was going to be a train, and then I got there and there were all these people around in vests telling everyone it would be replaced by a coach,” she said. “There was a lot of confusion and a lot of disgruntlement, the staff in Melbourne said it was arranged at 5 o’clock this morning. “I’m not quite sure why there was a sudden change.” Ms Ward said she was only bound for Wodonga for a meeting and to stay with friends, so did not require a permit, but others were unsure how they would get to Albury. “Everyone was told you’ll have to make your own way to Albury,” she said. “People were discussing getting a train or a taxi. “They were just kind of left high and dry, trying to make arrangements on the spot.” Ms Ward said terminating the service at Wodonga seemed unnecessary. IN OTHER NEWS: “You’ve got to get a permit to come back in … it’s absolutely over the top,” she said. Establishing staff arrangements were the reason some trains on Monday and Tuesday were replaced by coaches while V/Line worked through complex rostering requirements. “We have been working closely with DHHS to set up the appropriate arrangements for transport staff to cross the border safely in line with the previous border closure. We thank passengers for their patience,” a V/Line spokesman said. “All passengers are reminded to ensure they wear a mask on public transport and inside stations, practice good hygiene and not to travel if they are feeling unwell.” Albury trains will resume running to and from Melbourne on Tuesday 5 January for the evening services. A NSW TrainLink bus appeared to be taking passengers from the V/Line service. Passengers originating from NSW are also being left to arrange travel on a state-by-state basis with the Sydney to Melbourne XPT service terminating at Albury. “From 2 January 2021, the NSW-VIC border will remain closed until further notice. For travel beyond Albury please organise alternative arrangements for your onward journey,” is the travel advice.
Border controls have caused major disruptions to public transport with coaches replacing trains and travellers needing to find their own way interstate.
V/Line advised on December 31 that from New Years Day, no V/Line trains would run to Albury.
“All Albury train services towards Melbourne will originate at Wodonga (not Albury).
“Passengers who are permitted to travel from Albury should make their way to Wodonga station to board the train.
“The shuttle coach between Albury and Wodonga will no longer operate. These changes will remain in place until further notice.”
However, 10 services that were due to run on the Seymour line have been replaced by coaches since January 1.
The 7.05am service from Melbourne on Tuesday arrived at Wodonga station shortly before 11am.
Meredith Ward took the coach from Southern Cross and said she only found out that morning it would not run as a train.
“As far as I knew it was going to be a train, and then I got there and there were all these people around in vests telling everyone it would be replaced by a coach,” she said.
“There was a lot of confusion and a lot of disgruntlement, the staff in Melbourne said it was arranged at 5 o’clock this morning.
“I’m not quite sure why there was a sudden change.”
Ms Ward said she was only bound for Wodonga for a meeting and to stay with friends, so did not require a permit, but others were unsure how they would get to Albury.
“Everyone was told you’ll have to make your own way to Albury,” she said.
“People were discussing getting a train or a taxi.
“They were just kind of left high and dry, trying to make arrangements on the spot.”
Ms Ward said terminating the service at Wodonga seemed unnecessary.
“You’ve got to get a permit to come back in … it’s absolutely over the top,” she said.
Establishing staff arrangements were the reason some trains on Monday and Tuesday were replaced by coaches while V/Line worked through complex rostering requirements.
“We have been working closely with DHHS to set up the appropriate arrangements for transport staff to cross the border safely in line with the previous border closure. We thank passengers for their patience,” a V/Line spokesman said.
“All passengers are reminded to ensure they wear a mask on public transport and inside stations, practice good hygiene and not to travel if they are feeling unwell.”
Albury trains will resume running to and from Melbourne on Tuesday 5 January for the evening services.
A NSW TrainLink bus appeared to be taking passengers from the V/Line service.
Passengers originating from NSW are also being left to arrange travel on a state-by-state basis with the Sydney to Melbourne XPT service terminating at Albury.
“From 2 January 2021, the NSW-VIC border will remain closed until further notice. For travel beyond Albury please organise alternative arrangements for your onward journey,” is the travel advice.
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