New trains please

Book a seat on the V/Line train and more often than not you’ll instead hit the road on a bus.

The unreliability of Border passenger services have been plaguing the region now for several years.

Much of that initially stemmed from the botched job done on replacing the line, with whole sections having to be fixed because of major issues with the track ballast.

Put simply, sink holes rapidly began to appear, making it unsafe for trains to stay on the rails.

For what seemed an inordinate period of time, this meant all train services were cut. But even with the work completed, the problems continued.

If trains were not being forced to go at much slower speeds on sections because of track issues, they were being badly shaken by the shoddy line. But the main issue in more recent times has been purely the quality of the current rolling stock.

Given that the N-Class trains on the line are some 35-years-old, passengers clearly have had to put up with substandard assets that should have long since disappeared from the V/Line passenger service.

Where regional areas closer to Melbourne have been treated to new rolling stock, namely the high-speed VLocity services, Border train travellers have had to constantly miss out.

It is a debacle that has been passed from one state government to the next, from Labor to the Coalition and back again.

The government though appears to have finally taken action on the issue, albeit in an extremely limited way. That came with its announcement that an extra V/Line train will be servicing the North East by March next year.

A workshop in Melbourne has begun a project to refurbish old carriages. The upshot of that for the Border’s passenger service is that the Albury-Wodonga line’s three five-carriage sets will instead become four four-carriage sets.

The Border Mail was underwhelmed by the news when it was revealed in April, a sentiment shared by many readers in recent days.

But the government has promised the changes will result in less train services being replaced by buses while it continues to consider new rolling stock.

The extra train set is welcome, but Border residents have a right to expect some real action on new trains in the not-too-distance future.

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