VICTORIA'S public transport minister has turned up the heat on the Australian Rail Track Corporation in the wake of a worsening trend continuing for punctuality of trains between Albury and Melbourne.
Last month's V/Line punctuality and reliability figures were revealed on Thursday with just 32.1 per cent of trains on the North-East line being on time.
It follows a result of 48.3 per cent in July after four successive results in the low 50s in the previous four months of this year.
In comparison, the reliability score was 100 per cent and the first time since November last year a perfect result was attained.
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Minister Melissa Horne said the punctuality result wasn't good enough.
"It's frustrating for passengers and it needs to be improved," she said.
"V/Line continues to work with the ARTC to carry out essential maintenance to improve performance.
"We secured $235 million needed to upgrade the North-East line and we are getting on with the job of ordering new trains which will improve services for passengers."
Border Rail Action Group spokesman John Dunstan said the high number of temporary speed restrictions was a major contributing factor, but acknowledged some improvement had been made following the recent three-day works blitz overseen by ARTC.
"Hopefully the number of speed restrictions has dropped back from 28 to 23," he said.
"But it's still pretty bad.
"As far as BRAG is concerned and how long we've been in existence that is a record.
"For any improvement to occur the amount of additional maintenance work they do has to continue."
ARTC is expecting to let the contract for the main body of works before the end of the year and is still working to a mid-2021 completion.
V/Line described the number and length of delays due to the track condition last month were "beyond frustrating for us and our passengers".
"Punctuality was also affected due to signalling faults and vandalism," a spokesperson said.
"It was pleasing to see a large amount of maintenance work completed by ARTC in early September, which resulted in the reduction of track speed restrictions."
"Reliability on the Albury line was 100 per cent last month, with all 168 services running."
ARTC Projects Victoria general manager Ed Walker acknowledged the August result was "very disappointing".
"Whilst there are a range of factors that impact passenger service performance, we recognise ARTC's role," he said.
"In terms of the North-East rail line upgrade project, we are on target to appoint the main works contractor before the end of the year and the project remains on track for completion in mid-2021.
"We also have additional early works and track resurfacing planned between now and the major contract commencing."