V/Line trains not the only ones arriving late 

Railway volunteer and former track worker Charlie Mead is met by V/Line’s Carol-Anne Nelson and Theo Taifalos. The clock shows they were more than an hour late to the meeting. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN
Railway volunteer and former track worker Charlie Mead is met by V/Line’s Carol-Anne Nelson and Theo Taifalos. The clock shows they were more than an hour late to the meeting. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN
Customer reference group chairman John McMillan.

Customer reference group chairman John McMillan.

V Line marketing & communications manager Colin Tyrus speaks to reference group member Anna Smith, of Benalla.

V Line marketing & communications manager Colin Tyrus speaks to reference group member Anna Smith, of Benalla.

V/Line chief Theo Taifalos and marketing & communications manager Colin Tyrus speak to the press.

V/Line chief Theo Taifalos and marketing & communications manager Colin Tyrus speak to the press.

 V Line executive manager of customers Carol-Anne Nelson speaks to reference group members Anna Smith, Bernice Vance and Merrill Boyd.

V Line executive manager of customers Carol-Anne Nelson speaks to reference group members Anna Smith, Bernice Vance and Merrill Boyd.

 V/Line chief Theo Taifalos speaks to members of the reference group.

V/Line chief Theo Taifalos speaks to members of the reference group.

Click or flick across for more photos from the meet and greet session. 

V/LINE’S new customer reference group got off to a slow start yesterday, arriving more than an hour late to meet with passengers and community members at Benalla railway station.

A big agenda and a flowing discussion at the group’s inaugural meeting was blamed for the tardiness of the six North East representatives who had met for the first time earlier that morning.

The committee had been set up in response to community concerns about the North East line, which has been plagued by track problems in recent years.

V/Line had advertised yesterday’s 10.30am barbecue and meet and greet on its website, but only one Benalla resident stuck around to meet with them when they arrived.

V/Line chief executive Theo Taifalos apologised for the delay, saying there was a lot of good conversation at the committee meeting at GOTAFE, which started at 8.30am.

“The conversation was really good so rather than try and stop it, I preferred to keep it going,” he said.

“There were a lot of really good ideas and suggestions that the whole group came up with and that’s why we were late, sorry.”

Bernice Vance, who has been chosen as Benalla’s representative, said it was a robust discussion.

“It was really great to hear that other areas were experiencing the same issues; it wasn’t just isolated to a particular town or particular part of the corridor,” she said.

Mrs Vance said the group looked at long-term and short-term fixes.

“Making a more punctual and suitable timetable was one of the short-term fixes, so people can get to their destination at a better time,” she said.

“More storage for luggage and bikes (also) came up, as well as the cleanliness of the train.”

There are customer representatives from Seymour, Violet Town, Benalla, Wangaratta, Wodonga and Albury.

A candidate for Euroa is still to be chosen, with two nominees coming forward this week.

The group will gather monthly for a year under the guidance of independent chairman John McMillan, who will report back to V/Line.

“There are things that might seem minor but are important to passengers, such as more bike storage and understanding needs for disabled people on the trains,” he said.

“Listening to the V/Line people around the table, they certainly gave me the impression that those things would be addressed quickly.”

Yesterday, V/Line announced today’s Southern Cross to Albury services would be replaced by coaches due to operational constraints.