Last week in State Parliament Member for Morwell Russell Northe used Question Time to again call for the Government to explain what benefits Gippsland commuters will receive, once current rail upgrades are completed.
“Gippsland commuters are continually experiencing delays, cancellations, disruptions and are faced with regular replacement services – they’re fed up with the poor public transport services they endure”, said Mr Northe.
“In fact more delays were experienced over the weekend with maintenance and power upgrades occurring, buses replaced trains Friday evening, all day Saturday and all day Sunday” Mr Northe added.
More disruptions are scheduled for September 21-25 with the State Government offering free travel to commuters, as buses replace all trains on the Gippsland Line once again.
“Whilst we understand rail infrastructure upgrades are important, I’m consistently being asked by commuters as to what improvements will Gippsland travellers benefit from into the future – and specifically will travel times be reduced?”
“In addition many commuters are concerned that future proposals might include that Pakenham will become an interchange for Gippsland rail services. People feel that such a proposal would be grossly unfair as other major regional centres such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo have dedicated rail lines into Melbourne yet Gippsland seems to be the poor cousin”, Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe has previously raised community angst in various forums with respect to the unreliability of rail services in the region and the fact that commuters in our region are forced to pay more for inferior services in comparison to other major regional centres.
“Without a commitment from the State Government to deliver a dedicated Gippsland line, local commuters can be forgiven for thinking that their situation isn’t ever going to improve”, Mr Northe lamented.
“That’s why I questioned the Government as to what benefits Gippsland commuters are going to see once these proposed infrastructure works are complete, and whether the Government will rule out terminating our V/Line services by using a Pakenham interchange scenario”.
Mr Northe said he appreciated the Ministers comprehensive response and was pleased that the Minister had stated that future travel times on the Gippsland line would be improved; however specific details were not provided in relation to what services this will apply to and by how much travel times will actually be reduced.
In regards to the prospect of a future Pakenham interchange for Gippsland commuters and the Ministers response, Mr Northe said one might interpret her answer that Gippsland commuters could be better off catching a metro train at Pakenham rather than on a direct service.
“My concern remains that Gippsland trains will continue to be placed at the back of the cue when they hit the metropolitan network and that services in our region continue to remain inferior” Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe also continues to call for an investigation into Latrobe Valley fares having recently written formally to the Minister for Public Transport.
If commuters do have concerns about services, ticketing problems, delays and disruptions they can contact the Public Transport Ombudsman on 1800 466 865 online at https://www.ptovic.com.au/contact or vial email firstname.lastname@example.org