Border and North East councils push for better train action from Victorian government

Councils are hopeful a report showing the impact of a poor train service might convince the Victorian government to pay attention to the North East rail line.

Albury, Wodonga, Wangaratta and Benalla councils all committed to commissioning a report, after meeting with V/Line on Friday.

Wodonga Council chief executive Patience Harrington said they wanted to research not only the passenger numbers on trains, but how much the poor service has hampered social and economic benefits.

“We’re hoping to see that piece of research completed by December, which will serve as a good business case,” she said.

The collaboration group has been calling on Victorian politicians to invest money in lines like the North East, further away from Melbourne.

“None of that’s going to be solved until we get a strong focus this side of Seymour,” Ms Harrington said.

“Our citizens have told us clearly that they want a reliable service and they want an improved service on the journey.”

In the short term, that would involve trains which regularly run on time and, in the long term, an improvement in the tracks and rolling stock.

V/Line representatives at the meeting acknowledged the latest figures for September, which showed just 78.5 per cent of trains on the Albury line ran on time, compared to 85.8 per cent the month before.

“That’s a huge drop in a short amount of time,” Ms Harrington said.

“V/Line raised that themselves … they’ve been fantastic.”

A V/Line spokesman said the company valued the chance to hear feedback.

“We will continue to do everything possible to ensure that North East customers are provided with the service they expect and deserve,” he said.

Benambra MLA Bill Tilley also attended the meeting as the state representative and said it was important for Victorian and NSW groups to work together on a solution.

“We’re a long way off at this stage, but if this steering committee continues to work as it does, I think we can expedite it,” he said.