THE embattled North-East railway line has recorded its worst monthly punctuality result since November 2016 with just 56.2 per cent of services arriving on time in January.
Ongoing concerns about the standard of sections of the track between Albury and Melbourne are being blamed for close to only half of the services on the line running to schedule.
The November 2016 figure was 55.2 per cent with the latest being below the January 2017 return of 65.1 per cent, but there was an improvement in reliability compared to a month ago.
Services bounced back from the horror Christmas-New Year stretch with 82.8 per cent delivered – an improvement of more than 6 per cent.
V/Line has a target of 96 per cent for reliability and 92 per cent for punctuality.
“We continue to work closely with ARTC to improve the track’s condition and enable us to offer a service that our customers deserve and expect,” V/Line chief executive James Pinder said.
“We have teams from different parts of the business regularly meeting with ARTC and as part of those discussions, we provide advice on maintenance priorities.
“V/Line would like to sincerely apologise to Albury line passengers for the disruption to services during January.
“Engineers have been working hard to maintain our standard gauge fleet and it was pleasing to see an improvement in reliability last month but we recognise there is still room for improvement.”
The ARTC says it remains committed to working closely with V/Line and other Victorian government agencies to address the “broad range of causal factors contributing to V/Line’s poor performance”
"In relation to the track ARTC does have some temporary speed restrictions in place – which depending on the direction of travel may be between five and nine minutes over the total journey," an ARTC spokesman said.
"These are well within thresholds that allow for trains to arrive on time and ARTC continues to meet all of its lease obligations for the North East Victorian track with the Victorian Government.
"We are aware that V/Line does apply additional speed restrictions on their rolling stock and we have been working constructively with them and other Victorian agencies to identify a broad range of improvements that can be implemented to improve the quality of the rolling stock and track to meet the needs of passengers. We hope to be able to report on these initiatives soon.”
NSW TrainLink said the cameras were operational at the time of the incident.
“CCTV is installed to protect NSW TrainLink property and customers,” a spokesperson said.
Benambra MLA Bill Tilley said next week in parliament he would be asking public transport minister Jacinta Allan to explain what plans she would put in place to protect V/Line trains.
“We know Ms Allan has little interest in the rolling stock, her own planning documents suggest we won’t see our ancient trains replaced under this Labor Government before 2022,” he said.
“The least she could do would be to protect them overnight from these graffiti clowns.”
V/Line will consider providing additional measures at Albury station as part of ongoing discussions with NSW TrainLink, Transport for Victoria and Public Transport Victoria.
"V/Line continuously reviews its safety and security at all stations across the network and will consider additional measures where it's most needed," A V/Line spokesperson said.