A BORDER rail supporter and V/Line consumer committee member will host a meeting in Albury this week to discuss issues relating to the train services to and from Melbourne.
Bill Traill is inviting individuals, community groups, businesses and politicians, including local councillors, with an interest in North East rail services to the meeting on Thursday.
The event will be held at Albury railway station from 5.30pm to 7pm.
It follows comments last week from member for Benalla, Bill Sykes, and member for Benambra, Bill Tilley, that the punctuality of V/Line’s service had improved dramatically.
But Mr Traill said the tirade of criticism directed at Dr Sykes and Mr Tilley for their defence of the service was not surprising.
“Rail patrons were unanimous that V/Line was anything but ‘back on track’,” Mr Traill said.
Mr Traill said as Albury’s representative on the customer reference group, he was regularly in contact with many rail travellers who had well defined objectives for the service based on speed and reliability.
He said critics were prepared to give V/Line some space and accept slow trains following the botched rail revitalisation project in 2010 so long as there was a bright future.
“Four years on, and after some notable track improvements, V/Line is operating on timetables that are akin to those of 50 years ago,” he said.
“The reliability that Mr Tilley and Dr Sykes were spruiking was based on temporary timetables that unfortunately have become embedded.
“A modern market will not buy that and they certainly are not dills likely to fall for political spin.
“Mr Tilley compounded his problem by denigrating the critics and accusing them of ‘political noise’.”
Mr Traill said he had checked the Albury-Southern Cross scheduled travel times with six daily services varying from three hours 35 minutes to four hours 20 minutes.
“In 1937, V/Line’s legendary Spirit of Progress reliably covered the journey in a range of three hours 35 minutes to three hours 45 minutes,” he said.
“Recently I travelled to Melbourne from Albury on the XPT in a travel time of three hours 16 minutes.
“Let that be the benchmark for timetabling for V/Line and the Victorian government.
“The latest Victorian budget seemed very committed to funding transport, except all the largesse was applied to the metropolis and the surrounding commuter belt.”