Member for Morwell Russell Northe has written to the Minster for Public Transport, pleading for the State Government to commence the necessary planning, design and costings that will be required for a dedicated Gippsland V/Line route into Melbourne.
“The frustration of Gippsland commuters is palpable given the unreliability of services with people either missing medical appointments, missing important transport connections, missing events and functions and in many cases losing work because they are running late”, Mr Northe said.
“We all know that once Gippsland trains hit the metropolitan network they are forced to slow down, and nothing will change if the Government ignores the real issue. Simply saying it’s too hard or too costly to consider dedicated lines or passing loops on the metropolitan network for Gippsland trains, really is a pathetic response given the Government has announced hundreds of billions of dollars for transport infrastructure projects in Melbourne”, Mr Northe said.
“I welcome and am supportive of, investment that is currently occurring across Gippsland in station upgrades, parking and passing loops; however the choking point and reason why Gippsland V/Line services continually fail performance benchmarks on punctuality, is because of our interaction with the metropolitan rail network”.
“It’s obvious that if those issues relating to metropolitan congestion are not addressed, then nothing will change and Gippsland rail services will always be the poor cousin in comparison to other major regional areas of Victoria” said Mr Northe.
Major regional rail networks in Victoria such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo have dedicated lines into Melbourne, and yet Gippsland does not. “This is not acceptable”, Mr Northe said, “and this cripples our train network’s ability to deliver services reliably and on time, as well as holding back local industry without having better options for freight”.
Mr Northe has constantly raised these ongoing legitimate issues on behalf of Gippsland commuters in Parliament and to the attention of the Minister; however, it appears the Government is not interested in taking action.
“The State Government must undertake the necessary work to understand what is possible in getting Gippsland trains to Melbourne and back in a reasonable timeframe. Even if there is a combination of dedicated line and passing loops on the metropolitan network, surely this needs to be explored urgently and comprehensively” Mr Northe said.
“17 years ago the then Labor Government promised that it would take 94 minutes for trains to travel from Traralgon to Melbourne, yet in 2018 if one’s journey takes 140 minutes, then there is much rejoicing. This is simply not acceptable for a major regional centre in this great State, and Gippsland commuters deserve better”.