Shared track holds up V/Line train services

ALL scheduled services on the Bairnsdale line were delivered in December, with the latest performance figures showing 100 per cent reliability.

On the Traralgon line, 97.2 per cent of services were delivered for December, with both lines exceeding the 96 per cent reliability target each month for the past year.

Punctuality dropped in December, with 76.6 per cent of Traralgon services and 52.8 per cent of Bairnsdale services arriving at their destination on time.

V/Line chief executive James Pinder said the main reason for delays to Traralgon and Bairnsdale services in December was trains being held up in the shared section of track.

“We know Gippsland passengers had a frustrating experience over the past month — and we apologise for the inconvenience caused,” he said.

“As part of our plan to improve performance, we are looking to improve our interface with metropolitan services on shared sections of track,” he said.

“With the Victorian government’s new contract with Metro Trains Melbourne, we expect that going forward this will give our Gippsland line trains a more reliable pathway when travelling through the metropolitan network.”

Mr Pinder said work was also continuing to upgrade power and signalling on the section of track V/Line shares with metropolitan services, to remove level crossings and prepare the line for new trains.

“When these projects are complete, we’re expecting to see fewer delays and cancellations to our services that are as a direct result of signal faults and level crossing incidents in the shared section of the network,” he said.

“We thank our passengers for their patience while this important work is being completed and train services will resume as normal on the Gippsland line for the first service next Thursday [yesterday].”

Other reasons for delays on both lines in December were temporary speed restrictions at some level crossings and the additional time trains were required to stop at stations, to allow passengers to board and depart services.

Across the V/Line network last month, 83 per cent of services ran on time and 96.4 per cent of all V/Line train services were delivered.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said the latest figures highlighted the failure of the state government to plan for a dedicated rail link through south-east Melbourne for Gippsland.

Mr O’Brien said the government had shown no interest in planning for a dedicated line, and its Skyrail project had almost certainly killed off any prospect of such a development on the existing route.

“The Gippsland train performance goes from bad to worse, with the latest figures from December showing the Bairnsdale line was late almost half the time,” he said.

“It’s no surprise to most Gippslanders that V/Line has in part blamed this poor performance on congestion at the Melbourne end.

“Gippsland commuters know that the train mostly runs smoothly and on time to Pakenham, where it often gets stuck behind a metro train stopping all stations.

“I’ve been calling on the government to, at the very least, begin investigating a dedicated Gippsland line or other options to improve congestion at that end, and yet Daniel Andrews has completely ignored the needs of Gippsland commuters.

“Labor spent billions on the Regional Rail Link providing a dedicated country line for Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, but won’t even commit to a feasibility study or a dedicated Gippsland line.”