Line given ex­tra coach ser­vices

Benalla Ensign - - News - By Si­mon Rup­pert

The La­bor Gov­ern­ment is adding new coach ser­vices for Be­nalla with the aim of get­ting more lo­cals where they need to go, but the coali­tion say it is just a ‘‘Band-Aid fix’’.

State Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Ja­clyn Symes said the in­tro­duc­tion of new ser­vices would give pas­sen­gers more travel op­tions and bet­ter con­nec­tion — whether they wanted to travel to Mel­bourne or for city folk want­ing to get out to our beau­ti­ful re­gion.

How­ever, State Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan said res­i­dents of Be­nalla did not want an­other coach ser­vice — they wanted a train net­work they could rely on.

‘‘If The Na­tion­als are elected (in Novem­ber), we will in­vest $633 mil­lion to com­pletely re­place Vic­to­ria’s old and un­re­li­able trains with brand new V/Loc­ity trains, adapted for long­haul travel,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘That means new trains on the north-east line, adding ad­di­tional seats and im­prov­ing re­li­a­bil­ity.

‘‘An ex­tra coach ser­vice and a paint job is not go­ing to make up for the years of frus­tra­tion ex­pe­ri­enced by com­muters.’’

La­bor dis­putes this rhetoric and Ms Symes said the ex­tra coach ser­vices would get more lo­cals and vis­i­tors where they needed to go when they wanted to go.

‘‘We’re adding more di­rect ser­vices and bet­ter con­nec­tions to give pas­sen­gers in the north east greater choice for when they travel,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘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.’’

Start­ing Oc­to­ber 1 ad­di­tional coach ser­vices across north-east Vic­to­ria will in­clude:

● One ex­tra morn­ing ser­vice from Wan­garatta to Be­nalla to Sey­mour and;

● One ex­tra mid-morn­ing ser­vice from Sey­mour to Be­nalla to Wan­garatta.

The coaches will utilise the town’s cur­rent train sta­tions as the stops.

All new coach ser­vices are sched­uled to co­or­di­nate with con­nect­ing trains at Sey­mour.

The new ser­vices will boost the num­ber of week­day train and coach ser­vices be­tween Al­bury and Sey­mour to seven re­turn trips ev­ery day, with five stop­ping at Wodonga.

There will also now be seven week­day re­turn ser­vices be­tween Wan­garatta, Be­nalla and Sey­mour.

Work is also un­der way for the $235 mil­lion north-east line up­grade, which is part of the $1.75 bil­lion Re­gional Rail Re­vival pro­gram.

The tracks be­tween Al­bury and Mel­bourne will be up­graded to en­able the state gov­ern­ment to run its promised pur­pose-built long-haul trains on the line.

● The ex­tra coach ser­vices will start on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 1, with pas­sen­ger in­for­ma­tion and timeta­bles avail­able at V/Line sta­tions and ptv.vic.gov.au

Ja­clyn Symes

Steph Ryan

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