Where are V/Line’s prob­lem ar­eas?

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS -

Growth

V/Line has strug­gled to deal with a rapid growth in its pa­tron­age over the past decade with a 30 per cent in­crease in pas­sen­gers us­ing the North-East Line since 2006-07.

Ur­ban sprawl and an in­creas­ing num­ber of com­muters trav­el­ling from re­gional cen­tres such as Sey­mour have put pres­sure on V/Line to in­cor­po­rate more fea­tures of an ur­ban com­muter net­work.

The ex­ten­sion of the elec­tri­fied Metro ser­vice to Craigieburn helped re­lieve some pres­sure on the V/Line net­work in 2007.

The North-East Line has ex­pe­ri­enced the sec­ond­low­est growth in the en­tire V/Line net­work, one place be­hind the North­ern Line (14 per cent) and well be­low the 88.3 per cent net­work av­er­age.

The Sey­mour and North­East Line have some of the most com­plex chal­lenges to face in terms of main­te­nance in the en­tire V/Line net­work.

The ser­vice has strug­gled to cope with an age­ing rolling stock fleet that has been in ser­vice be­yond its 30-year life ex­pectancy.

The clas­sic H-se­ries car­riages used on the Sey­mour line have been in ser­vice since 1983 and cost $9.99 per kilo­me­tre to ser­vice (ver­sus $6.94/km for VLoc­ity car­riages).

The re­port iden­ti­fied a sig­nif­i­cant and on­go­ing boost in main­te­nance fund­ing was re­quired to ad­dress high fail­ure rates and the back­log of car­riages in need of re­place­ment or re­fur­bish­ment.

Main­te­nance

A boost in main­te­nance fund­ing, as out­lined in the 2016-17 state bud­get, will help ad­dress th­ese on­go­ing is­sues but a long-term so­lu­tion is needed.

The Aus­tralian Rail Track Cor­po­ra­tion is re­spon­si­ble for in­ter­state and freight ser­vices on the North-East Line while V/Line op­er­ates a longdis­tance pas­sen­ger ser­vice on the stan­dard gauge track.

V/Line is re­stricted to which car­riages run on the line due to the gauge of the track.

In March 2017 more than a quar­ter of morn­ing in­bound and evening out­bound peak ser­vices on the Sey­mour line were at 100 per cent ca­pac­ity.

More than a quar­ter of ser­vices were 70-79 per cent full while just under half were between 90-99 per cent full.

On av­er­age, around a quar­ter of ser­vices filled up be­yond 90 per cent ca­pac­ity on the Sey­mour line with a small num­ber, around a 12th, fill­ing up to or be­yond full ca­pac­ity.

The fig­ures are un­able to ac­count for the num­ber of peo­ple left stand­ing on any par­tic­u­lar ser­vice or for how long.

The VAGO re­port was es­pe­cially crit­i­cal of V/Line’s method of mea­sur­ing and re­port­ing on punc­tu­al­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity to pas­sen­gers, sug­gest­ing that the fig­ure was mis­lead­ing.

By mea­sur­ing against the timetable com­mu­ni­cated to pas­sen­gers in their jour­ney plan­ner, rather

Ca­pac­ity Punc­tu­al­ity

than the mas­ter timetable, V/Line’s re­ported per­for­mance did not rep­re­sent its ac­tual per­for­mance, the re­port said.

VAGO found this method of re­port­ing did not re­flect the pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially when there were sig­nif­i­cant changes to a ser­vice.

Interconnectivity

The re­port said Public Trans­port Vic­to­ria, which is re­spon­si­ble for co­or­di­nat­ing public trans­port in Vic­to­ria, did not mon­i­tor V/Line train con­nec­tions with re­gional town bus ser­vices.

When trains don’t run on time some pas­sen­gers may miss con­nec­tions with other public trans­port ser­vices, such as routes 1-5 within Sey­mour and from Sey­mour to Puck­a­pun­yal.

VAGO said it was clear in their re­port that PTV was not aware of the ex­tent of the is­sue.

Look­ing for­ward

Fore­casts for 2016-17 pre­dict an in­crease of about $40 mil­lion in main­te­nance costs on the year 2013-14.

The re­port showed the num­ber of car­riages in the V/Line fleet had flat-lined under the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment due to cost-cut­ting mea­sures.

The cur­rent $1.6 bil­lion Re­gional Rail Re­vival pack­age is a start, pro­duc­ing 87 new trains and feed­ing $600 mil­lion into V/Line’s main­te­nance and op­er­a­tions bud­get.

A long-term plan will be re­quired for the V/Line net­work to ad­vance into the fu­ture.

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