Entry of four councils into campaign for better V/Line rail service is welcome but more needed

THE pitiful V/Line train service provided to Benalla, Wangaratta, Springhurst, Chiltern, Wodonga and Albury has provided a mass of migraines to travellers.

Sadly the route’s unreliability has become so predictable that passengers tend to be surprised when a bus has not replaced their scheduled train service.

The Border Mail has chronicled the failings over years and indeed we have written seven other editorials on the V/Line service just in 2016.

We have called on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to turn his concern about the service’s woes into action and urged his colleague Transport Minister Jacinta Allan to provide a timeframe for new trains on the route.

Sadly there has been little movement at the station otherwise known as the Victorian Government.

Now another constituency, councils, plan to take stronger lobbying action by commissioning a report in relation to the service.

Albury, Wodonga, Wangaratta and Benalla have committed to research which will examine passenger numbers and how much the poor service has hurt their areas socially and economically.

The hope is that the results will be influential in stronger government investment in the line and the service.

Such a move is welcome and not before time.

Sadly the Border Rail Action Group has largely been a lone voice in continually lobbying both Coalition and Labor Victorian governments for better conditions for passengers.

Councils in contrast have been largely meek, with mayors reticent to be outspoken about the deficient service.

They could take a lead from Greater Shepparton Council which has been vocal in campaigning for more services.

Then mayor Dennis Patterson was part of a 2015 protest which saw a delegation wear pyjamas to the steps of Parliament House to highlight the need for more train services to Melbourne.

Some would label it a stunt, but it attracted metropolitan media attention and was backed up by a push from Shepparton MLA Suzanna Sheed which is ongoing.

A similar measure should be considered to draw attention to the plight of the North East, because for too long it has been easy for Victorian governments to ignore long-suffering passengers.