Trains running up to 30 minutes late on the Albury line are considered an acceptable benchmark by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
Following pressure in Senate estimates hearings in Canberra last week, the ARTC has released the previously secret lease it holds with the Victorian government around performance on the rail track.
The documents reveal a delay of 30 minutes per trip is the benchmark to meet the requirements with the government, but the target was only up to 20 minutes.
The Border Rail Action Group and Senator Janet Rice, who pressed the ARTC with questions in Canberra, say the targets are not good enough.
“It’s pretty appalling – that’s not what people think is acceptable on the train,” Senator Rice told The Border Mail.
“It seems like the residents that are using this line are getting a dud deal.”
It seems like the residents that are using this line are getting a dud deal.Senator Janet Rice
Documents also revealed the ARTC had comfortably met its targets around the line’s key performance indicators between July and December 2016.
BRAG member John Dunstan said he suspected the numbers were averaged out to look positive because, even though there were about 23 small speed restrictions between Albury and Melbourne, the rest of the line ran smoothly.
“It’s obviously a very soft target,” he said. “It’s especially impossible to read a book going down to Melbourne now (because of bumps caused by mud holes).”
Mr Dunstan and Senator Rice called for the ARTC to go a step further and release the “schedule of agreement” with the Victorian government, detailing how the KPIs were determined.
“It’s good that we’ve got some information about the KPIs, but we really need to have more than that to see how they have been trending over time,” Senator Rice said.
“I don’t know how these compare to other services.”
She called on the ARTC to acknowledge the poor state of the Albury line and commit to a long-term investment.
“We know that people will use a top-quality rail service,” she said.
Indi MP Cathy McGowan said the “soft” targets did not compare to what was considered acceptable service on metropolitan passenger lines.
The MP will also write to Transport Minister Darren Chester asking for more information to fill in the gaps of the ARTC’s report before he visits Indi.
“Under current contractual arrangements, the North East line will never meet the standards set for premium passenger rail lines elsewhere in Victoria,” Ms McGowan said.
“Rail users in Indi are looking forward to the minister’s answers to fix the service.”