V/LINE has defended its performance on the Albury-Wodonga line, saying the number of trains running on time is at a 12-month high.
That follows a series of cancellations of services over the past couple of months.
These included Albury-Wodonga passengers waiting 1½ hours for a train that never came last Sunday, with two more services affected that day.
But a V/Line spokesman yesterday said its August punctuality figure of 84.5 per cent was the highest for more than a year.
“It’s not at the level we’d like to see, but it does indicate that track works are having a positive impact,” he said.
“It is regrettable that damage to one of our trains as a result of a fallen tree in August resulted in the cancellation of so many services.”
A locomotive from Albury hit a tree at Longwood, between Avenel and Euroa, on the night of August 23.
The spokesman said there were three train sets on the Albury line and “unforeseen events” could result in trains being replaced by coaches.
“Cancellations in July were due to a fire in the Australian Rail Track Corporation radio control room,” he said.
“For safety reasons, we cannot operate trains if we do not have radio communication.”
The problems have prompted the North East’s three state MPs calling for a meeting with V/Line, the corporation and Victorian Transport Minister Terry Mulder.
Benalla’s Bill Sykes, Benambra’s Bill Tilley and Murray Valley’s Tim McCurdy want to discuss the track and V/Line’s response to the issue.
V/Line statistics show that 17 of the 146 services were cancelled in July with only 43.8 per cent of trains on time. V/Line’s benchmark requirement is 92 per cent.
A train is ruled on time if it arrives within 10 minutes of the scheduled time.
Reliability was 88.4 per cent, compared with the benchmark of 96 per cent.
Reliability was at 86.2 per cent last month with 150 of the 174 scheduled trains running at a punctuality rate of 84.5 per cent.
Twenty trains were cancelled last month because of the fallen tree, three for of maintenance work and one for corporation track work.
In July, 11 trains were cancelled because of the control room fire and four because of a V/Line radio fault.
A V/Line spokesman said people preferred trains “but when we do need to cancel services, coaches are put in place to get people where they need to go”.
The Albury-Wodonga service uses two locomotives, two power vans and two carriage sets, totalling 10 carriages for the three daily return trips.
A third locomotive, power van and carriage set are sidelined for maintenance when the other two are in service.