Rail users ‘at end of tether’

Recent V/Line delays and disruptions on the Gippsland line resulted in frustration from Latrobe Valley train users.
file photograph

Recent V/Line delays and disruptions on the Gippsland line resulted in frustration from Latrobe Valley train users. file photograph

Latrobe Valley train users were left frustrated and inconvenienced by significant delays and disruptions to V/Line services on Monday, May 14.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he had been contacted by many users as the situation escalated until services were delayed by more than three hours and V/Line urged passengers to delay unnecessary travel.

Disruptions carried over into Tuesday morning with road coaches replacing some trains.

"Regular users are at the end of their tether. The whole thing is a debacle," Mr Northe said.

"It's the Gippsland commuters who are being continually delayed and disrupted but nobody in the government is able to or willing to articulate if there is any benefit."

Mr Northe said he knew of one commuter who missed a specialist medical appointment in Melbourne and was forced to pay for overnight accommodation despite allowing an extra two hours to get there.

Other travellers told Mr Northe they had lost casual hours and shifts because of the disruption.

A state government spokesman said an issue with the signalling system between Oakleigh and Dandenong meant that trains couldn't run safely at normal speed during the morning peak and again in the afternoon peak.

"The lengthy delays on the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Gippsland lines on Monday were incredibly frustrating for passengers and simply not good enough," the spokesman said.

Opposition transport spokesman David Davis said the Andrews government had not been able to deliver improved reliability or punctuality.

"This severely impacts on commuters who rely on the service," Mr Davis said.

"People want a safe, comfortable, reliable and punctual service - not a lucky dip or lottery as to whether they will get to Melbourne today or tomorrow."

The Gippsland V/Line Users Group has called on the government to provide express buses, "proper assistance" to disabled passengers, reduced fares and improved communications to passengers.

In a letter written before Monday's significant disruptions and published on the group's Facebook page, Premier Daniel Andrews said the "major power, signalling and track upgrades to remove level crossings and prepare for the new high capacity metro trains [would] also improve the reliability and performance on the Gippsland line".

Mr Andrews wrote that a number measures were trialled to provide passengers with more reliable services, free Wi-Fi and better information.

"I hope that these changes made your journey better while we undertake these major upgrades," Mr Andrews said in the letter.

Mr Northe said he also felt sorry for V/Line staff who had to contend with disruptions and delays on a regular basis but added "staff should be going to commuters and saying, 'by the way, you are eligible for compensation'".

The government spokesman also encouraged affected passengers to contact V/Line to check their eligibility and make a claim for compensation.

Compensation may be available to V/Line customers who experience a delay of 60 minutes or more in a single journey while monthly performance compensation is only available to myki pass holders for a daily fare provided their myki pass meets specific requirements.

Claims for compensation must be made within 60 days of V/Line posting performance results on their performance page.

For further information about compensation, visit vline.com.au/About-V-Line/Additional-pages/Compensation.

Mr Northe said he was still waiting for a government response to his question to Parliament on May 1 about whether travel times would be improved as a result of current works.

The government has 30 days to respond.

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