Six hour trip from Melbourne

PASSENGER confusion over timetables during bus replacements has led Gippsland South MLC Danny O’Brien to call on the state government to lift its game in Gippsland after a visitor claimed it took six hours to travel from Melbourne to Sale on July 7.

Mr O’Brien said he was contacted by a traveller who said he caught the bus from Southern Cross on that Friday “about 2pm”, but didn’t arrive in

Sale until 8pm after a lengthy wait in Traralgon when he decided to wait for a direct service to Sale instead of taking the connecting bus via Maffra.

The passenger said he was told by V/line staff there would be a direct bus to Sale from Traralgon, but instead had to wait more than two hours at the station.

Mr O’Brien said the incident showed that Gippsland passengers and visitors to the region were frustrated at the ongoing delays and disruptions to Gippsland trains and coach services.

“Everyone understands there will be disruptions and changes to the services offered during upgrade works, but for a passenger to have to endure a six hour journey from Melbourne to get to Sale is simply not acceptable,” he said.

However, a V/line spokesman said the claims did not match with station records, and urged all travellers to check timetables.

He said that a bus direct to Sale was available at the time the passenger said he arrived at Traralgon, as well as the bus that travelled to Sale via Maffra. The spokesman said connecting buses were always made to wait at the station until all passengers from connecting services had arrived.

Express coaches are being provided for Rosedale and Sale passengers during the planned disruptions between June 30 and July 9, with the journey expected to take about three hours and 25 minutes.

“These express coaches ran three times each day in both directions on weekdays, departing at times that trains to Sale would normally depart Melbourne,” the V/Line spokesman said.

“We encourage passengers to double check the timetable during planned disruptions to ensure they are on the correct service that will get them to their destination in the shortest possible time.

“If passengers have any questions about their journey, we ask them to phone V/Line on 1800 800 007 or speak to a V/Line staff member at the station prior to travelling so we can help in getting people where they need to go.”

The V/line spokesman said passengers who missed connecting buses because of late services caused by V/Line were provided with alternative transport, such as taxis.

He said it was important that passengers checked with staff to ensure they got on the right bus to get to their destinations on time.

But Mr O’Brien was adamant the passenger had been given the wrong information. He said the issue highlighted the fact that the state government needed to “be working more with V/Line to ensure these mistakes don’t happen again in future”.

Mr O’Brien has been campaigning for some time for the extension of VLocity trains to Sale and for a dedicated line for Gippsland services.

“It’s great that the federal government-funded upgrade of the Gippsland line is proceeding, and we understand this will cause some disruption, we can’t have something as ridiculous as a six hour journey from Melbourne to Sale continuing to occur,” he said.

A state government spokesperson also encouraged passengers to carefully review the timetable before getting on a service, and speak to V/Line staff for help if they needed it.