AN urgent meeting will be sought to get answers over a wave of cancellations on V/Line’s Albury to Wodonga service.
Four trains were replaced by buses at the weekend, with V/Line admitting it was no longer running to the timetable.
It blamed most of the service delays on Australian Rail Track Corporation track work.
Benambra MP Bill Tilley said he would speak to Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder this morning to confirm a meeting later this week with the corporation.
“I’m not in the business of giving excuses — I’m frustrated by the train service,” Mr Tilley said from Melbourne yesterday.
“The community told us very clearly and very strongly they want their trains back.
“When the trains come back, firstly they’ve got to be safe and secondly they’ve got to run on bloody schedule — to get on a train, get to Melbourne and get back home again.”
Mr Tilley said he would be joined at the meeting by other North East politicians affected by the cancellations — Murray Valley MP Tim McCurdy, Benalla MP Bill Sykes and Seymour MP Cindy McLeish
“Hopefully we’ll get confirmation on that sometime during this week because the problems are exacerbated by the condition of the track,” he said.
“We were told probably six months ago that there was about 18 months more work to do in what was a five-year program.
“This is not about ‘he said, she said’ but making sure they’re adequately funded because it is a federal government track.
“The state made its contribution when the rail relocation job was done.”
Mr Tilley said it was worth noting the line was principally for slow-moving freight trains, with far fewer services used by the V/Line passenger trains that have a maximum speed limit of 115km/h.
He said even with speed restrictions, “people should be able to get there in a reasonable time”.
Mr Tilley denied he and the other parliamentarians were seeking the corporation meeting simply to buy some time.
“We’re going in there boots and all to get to the bottom of the issue because as representatives we’ve got to be able to front up to our community with confidence and say ‘this is what we’re doing’,” he said.
Mr Tilley said he had received “significant” feedback on the V/Line problems, with many people making the extra effort to write to him.
“When people put pen to paper it’s not just talk around town,” he said.
“What frustrates me is that V/Line is a state responsibility, the track’s the feds.
“It’s not about divide and conquer. We’ve got to work together to make sure the passenger service and the freight service work well.”