North East rail service put under spotlight in parliament
Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan acted on poor passenger rail services in North East Victoria on Monday, putting trains in the spotlight in Parliament and later meeting with the CEO of the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
Ms McGowan moved a Notice of Motion calling on the Government to ensure passenger rail is a priority for the Australian Rail Track Corporation. Speaking to the motion Ms McGowan called for cooperation between all levels of government to act now.
“In November 2016 only 55.2 per cent of services ran on time,” Ms McGowan said.
“This was the fifth consecutive month where the North East line was the least reliable in the state. As of 1 January 2017, only 94.6 per cent of the services that left Melbourne actually arrived in Albury-Wodonga, the lowest in the state. Only 65.1 per cent of services on the line were on time, the second lowest in the state. The train is not arriving and when it does, it is late.
Ms McGowan said frustration around poor passenger rail services was one of the most pressing issues in the electorate. Local councils on the Hume rail corridor commissioned the Hume Corridor Passenger Rail Study which makes recommendations how to resolve the issues.
“The community has taken action and now it’s time for the Commonwealth and State Governments to do the same,” Ms McGowan said.
Ms McGowan said she welcomed the promise of a visit to Indi by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester. The Member for Murray Damian Drum has also indicated he will co-sign a letter to Victorian Minister for Transport Jacinta Allan around equality of access to passenger rail.
“I have been in regular contact with the Minister and we look forward to his upcoming visit to Indi. However looking at the problem will not be enough. Answers must be provided about what is going to be done.”
Ms McGowan also met with ARTC CEO John Fullerton on Monday to discuss engineering failures on the line which have resulted in speed restrictions in 23 spots.
The performance of the ARTC was questioned in a Senate Estimates Committee hearing by Senators Janet Rice and Derryn Hinch.