EDITORIAL: All talk, too little action
V/LINE passengers would take the train all the way from Albury to Broadmeadows under a plan floated by Victorian Transport Minister Terry Mulder.
He has called on V/Line to consider running Albury line trains between Albury, Seymour and Broadmeadows where passengers would catch Metro suburban trains to complete their trips.
It would mean fewer buses being used in the North East, especially when further line works start closer to Melbourne, causing track disruptions in the state’s west.
Mr Mulder yesterday said while it was pleasing the regional rail link — a $5.8 billion project to untangle Victoria’s metropolitan and regional rail networks — was running “on time and on budget”, it would require more track closures.
“My suggestion is one in which V/Line might be able to reduce the number of coaches they are using,” Mr Mulder said.
“As far as possible, I’d like to see passengers be able to use trains rather than replacement road coaches.
“In the end, however, V/Line has to make sure that any timetable changes are feasible and that other authorities such as the Australian Rail Track Corporation agree.”
In a letter sent to media yesterday, Mr Mulder acknowledged the plan was “not without its challenges”.
Trains would have to travel to the McIntyre rail loop at Sunshine where the locomotive would switch ends.
Toilets would be cleaned and catering needs met at Broadmeadows, instead of at the South Dynon depot.
V/Line might also require Broadmeadows staff to help passengers who have difficulty negotiating the station’s ramps.
A spokesman for Mr Mulder said the proposed changes would reflect passengers’ desire to avoid coaches where possible.
“The community overwhelmingly tells us it prefers trains to coaches,” he said.
“In a coach, you’re constrained to your seat and it’s particularly frustrating for passengers travelling to and from intermediate stations like Chiltern to Wodonga, because they have to take the stopping-all-stations coaches.
“Ultimately it’s up to V/Line but it’s certainly a possibility.”
V/Line did not respond to questions from The Border Mail, releasing, instead, a one-line statement: “V/Line continues to work in collaboration with Regional Rail Link, Metro, Public Transport Victoria, the ARTC and the office of the Minister for Public Transport to minimise the impact of track works on our customers”.