Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, has gained a number of commitments from V/Line to further improve the service on the North East line, including increased customer consultation. Ms McGowan discussed the long-standing issues with the train service with interim V/Line CEO Gary Liddle on the train to Wodonga this morning.
Ms McGowan was told performances have improved on the V/Line service; however, customers are still looking for a higher standard than currently experienced.
“The On Track RACV report rated the service the worst in Victoria so there is much more to be done,” Ms McGowan said. “Mr Liddle acknowledged there were issues and V/Line had taken action to resolve some. His visit today was to better understand the needs of the passengers.”
Mr Liddle gave a commitment to re-form a customer service advisory group, and to provide regular reports on the V/Line service. These will be made available on Ms McGowan’s website. Ms McGowan said V/Line also committed to further improving reliability, increasing communications with customers, and cleanliness of trains. The new locomotive added to the service in late 2015 has had a positive impact and improved the service’s reliability.
Ms McGowan said the community continued to have reservations about the standard of the passenger service on the Northern line. She was disappointed to learn the buffet cart on the V/Line service will remain closed during some sections of the journey due to track conditions.
“One of the other frustrations V/Line passengers face is when the train is replaced by a bus. V/line informs me that this will need to continue into the near future in some instances. This is extremely disappointing for customers,” Ms McGowan said.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation released the Ballast Rehabilitation Program final report this week. When the program started, temporary speed restrictions applied to 18 per cent of the track between Melbourne and Sydney, and this has now been reduced to one per cent, according to the report. Ms McGowan welcomed this improvement and has committed to continue to monitor performance.
“Mudholes were a major issue and ARTC has said isolated parts of the track will require ongoing targeted maintenance above the regular maintenance program,” Ms McGowan said. “I have asked V/Line for regular reports on any track issues that impact their service. I will then report directly to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester.”