Gippsland rail users will have to get used to an extended commute to and from the city while level crossing works are being carried out at Caulfield and Dandenong until February 14.
Buses began replacing trains from Pakenham on Tuesday.
Replacements are taking place between Pakenham and Southern Cross until February 9, and from February 12 to 14. Traralgon and Bairnsdale trains are being replaced for the entire journey, between February 10 and 11.
Gippsland V/Line Users Group’s Natalie Thorne said it usually took her 90 minutess to get into the city from Warragul, but she now faced a three-hour trip.
“It will be even longer for people travelling from Traralgon. This will make for a really long day. I’m making arrangements to stay in the city – which means time away from my family,” she said.
Ms Thorne was greeted by a bus at Pakenham on Tuesday morning which was slowed in traffic jams and road works.
“When we arrived at Pakenham, I immediately cancelled work meetings. I usually do some work on the train, but I can’t on the bus because of motion sickness.”
She said she knew other Gippsland commuters were looking at car-pooling into Melbourne or to work from home.
Ms Thorne was sceptical that the metropolitan upgrades would bring any real benefits for Gippsland rail users, and said “the only benefit will be high-speed signalling”.
V/Line chief operating officer Carol-Anne Nelson said V/Line had organised hundreds of replacement coaches while works are underway, and would “do everything we can to minimise disruption.
“Our replacement coaches are all air-conditioned and have toilets on board, to make the journey as comfortable as possible for passengers,” Ms Nelson said.