Cathy McGowan demands a better commitment to trains

INDI MP Cathy McGowan has called on the state government to make a firmer commitment to the Albury-Melbourne V/Line train service.

The independent MP has questioned why the North East was excluded from a $100 million program, funded in last month’s Victorian budget, to rollout free Wi-Fi and improved mobile phone coverage on regional trains.

Benambra MP Bill Tilley said these train lines — including Bendigo and Ballarat — were part of a trial for the Wi-Fi service which, if successful, would be rolled out on other lines.

“There is a rollout, we are committed to it, we aren’t dragging our heels — we just want to get it right,” he said.

Ms McGowan made the comments during her grievance debate in Parliament on Monday night.

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She said though performance and reliability figures had improved — last month reaching 94.5 per cent, compared with 73 per cent in February — passengers still lacked faith in the service.

“It will be a long time before the people of North East Victoria trust the train line,” she said.

“I commend the investment made by the state and federal governments in their respective 2014-15 budgets to build infrastructure across Australia and Victoria ... but I will call out loudly in this place that rural and regional communities and our trains not be forgotten.”

Ms McGowan said the Australian Rail Track Corporation needed to give people a definite completion date for repairs.

Mr Tilley encouraged Ms McGowan to continue lobbying the federal government and ARTC, and that the state government and V/Line was committed to providing “the best passengers service it could”.