NEW V/Line North East services have been pooh-poohed by the Border Rail Action Group.
Labor Party Upper House member Jaclyn Symes on Friday announced fresh bus services linking Seymour to Benalla-Wangaratta and Albury-Wodonga.
From October 1, there will be return morning coach runs between the North East centres and Seymour to supplement the three daily return train services between Albury and Melbourne.
“I’ve listened to North East communities, many are already driving to Seymour station to meet a connecting train, the additional direct bus option will mean more people can leave the car at home,” Ms Symes said.
Seymour is serviced by regular Sprinter and V/Locity services as well as trains originating in Shepparton.
The new bus services will be scheduled to connect with trains.
BRAG chairman Bill Traill, who has argued since 2014 for a three-carriage shuttle train service between Albury and Seymour, was dismissive of the coach move.
“It’s inadequate in the sense it’s only a single service,” he said.
“If our original policy was applied we would have a shuttle that could do two return trips a day to adequately fill the gaps between the three standard services that are in place.
“It’s a minor contribution and a token of appeasement to a long-suffering line.”
Ms Symes said Mr Traill was being “a little bit harsh”, saying the track needed upgrading before new train services could be considered.
Benambra MLA Bill Tilley welcomed the bus runs.
“No one is going to knock back extra public transport in a region that is crying out for it,” he said.
However, the Liberal politician said the move papered over the problems of the line.
“The real issue here is the train service to Melbourne that Labor is trying to patch up and only the Liberal Nationals have committed to new trains, safer and more reliable trains, 96 locos and carriages delivered across the long haul lines from 2021,” Mr Tilley said.
“The question for Ms Symes is when will Labor make a commitment to buying new trains?”
Ms Symes said though the Coalition has nominated a June order date for trains, Labor’s position was similar.
“We’ve committed to new trains for the track and started the process,” she said.
“Are they going to come in and start from scratch with a differently designed VLocity train?
“I don’t understand why they think their commitment is any different to ours.”