I would like to share the letter I have sent to Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan with readers of The Border Mail. It is as follows:
I contacted you in May last year regarding the atrocious train service on the Albury line, seeking explanations and asking why adding a fourth train set to the standard gauge fleet had produced no benefit.
Your reply dated July 17 acknowledged passengers’ frustration and said that PTV had referred the matter to V/Line, which had reported that the fourth train was under repair and apologised for my inconvenience. This course was disappointing as I specifically communicated with you, not V/Line, which is particularly adept at making excuses whilst delivering nothing.
The ongoing and very public frustration all along the route has seemingly gone unnoticed for close to a decade.
You went on to say that Albury trains operate on NSW (which they don’t) standard gauge (which they do) tracks and “there is no flexibility to move trains off other lines if there is a fault”. This is so but misses the point that whilst only two sets are required to run the daily timetable of three trips, V/Line has four sets, so that the daily timetable is supported by 100 per cent redundancy.
To substitute a bus for an Albury service (other than for a failure during actual running) when there are two spare sets available somewhere in the system is unthinkable, and a gross mismanagement of resources.
You next regaled me with promises of impending improvements to door locks, upholstery, curtains, baby change tables and, joy of joys, a new livery. You also told me that the Andrews government is committed to improving regional rail.
Minister, are you aware that far from improving, the Albury line train service has continued to deteriorate to the present low in which 50 per cent of trips are operated by buses and train cancellations notified in advance? I feel that it is my duty to inform you of this because you are obviously unaware of it. If you were, you and the Andrews government would be doing something about it.
It can’t really be a rolling stock problem. The locomotives, power vans and carriages used on the Albury line, whilst aging, are of sound construction and quite capable of being operationally maintained well into the future. It is apparent then that V/Line is incapable of managing its assets.
V/Line’s inability to reliably operate a simple three-trip “out and back” regional train service not only raises the question of whether it can be viewed as a competent public transport operator but also tarnishes the reputation of the government as owner of the railway. So, what is going on and what is to be done about it? You are the responsible minister and I want to hear from no one other than yourself.
David Watson, Seymour
Keeps getting worse
What a useless mob of parasites we have running this once great state. Along with the non-gang problems we have roads falling into disrepair everywhere, power stations closing without viable alternatives, beautiful old buildings (Mount Buffalo Chalet ) falling down around our ears, Lake Mokoan drained and turned into a drylands and traditional camping areas in the North East with grass one metre high. And 35-plus North East train services either cancelled or replaced with buses over the Christmas-New year period. Thanks Dan, keep up the good work and we might be rid of you. Trouble is the other mob won’t be much better.