Commuters powerless as possum zaps power to trains, homes

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Thomas Hunter

An ill-fated possum cut power to more than 400 homes and caused major delays for thousands of Melbourne and regional train commuters today.

The possum electrocuted itself on residential powerlines in Newport at 3.58am, short-circuiting a switch controlling power to Newport railway station as well as 430 homes and businesses in Newport and area, said a spokesman for electricity company Jemena.

The blackout caused chaos for public transport users in Melbourne’s west.

Signals at Newport station failed, leaving thousands of city and regional train users to endure major delays on the Williamstown and Werribee Metro lines and V/Line services to and from Geelong.

Metro spokeswoman Geraldine Mitchell confirmed trains were suspended after “an external power supply fault” caused the signals and points systems to fail at Newport station.

“We’ve had to suspend the lines between Newport and Werribee, and the line between Newport and Williamstown,” she said.

“We’ve got buses running between those stations and then trains running from Newport into the city. They’re stopping all stations and there’s delays because of it.”

Ms Mitchell said services had resumed by 10am but were suffering residual 10-minute delays.

V/Line spokesman James Kelly said all services to and from Geelong were cancelled as a result of the power outage.

But limited service had resumed by 9.30am, with trains expected to be running back on schedule by lunchtime.

Passengers travelling from Geelong had been urged to find an alternative to the train to get to work today.

Mr Kelly, who said the infrastructure failure had affected V/Line’s busiest period of the morning, urged passengers travelling to ring V/Line to check today’s timetable.

The power failure follows delays on the Belgrave line caused by the theft of copper wire near Upper Ferntree Gully Station early today.

A unknown length of copper wire was dug out of the ground and cut free by thieves, which cut power to the signalling system at Upper Ferntree Gully.

Trains between Upper Ferntree Gully and were replaced by buses until normal service resumed about 8.30am.

The Jemena spokesman said power had been restored to the affected homes and businesses by 9.30am.

Source: www.smh.com.au