Train sched­ule crit­i­cised

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

The State Govern­ment is con­fi­dent peo­ple liv­ing in Ararat, Beau­fort and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties have an im­proved train timetable de­spite crit­i­cism about the new sched­ule.

La­bor Mem­ber for West­ern Vic­to­ria Jaala Pul­ford said there were 19 ad­di­tional ser­vices to the Ararat line timetable, giv­ing pas­sen­gers eas­ier ac­cess to work, school and events in Mel­bourne.

She caught a V/loc­ity train to Beau­fort to en­cour­age peo­ple to take ad­van­tage of the new timetable.

But Mem­ber for Lowan Emma Kealy be­lieves the new timetable con­nect­ing Mel­bourne and the Wim­mera had ex­posed a State Govern­ment cam­paign to im­prove pas­sen­ger-rail ser­vices as a sham.

Ms Kealy said a new timetable re­vealed what equated to a loss of a ser­vice for Wim­mera com­muters from South­ern Cross Sta­tion.

The timetable in­cludes a new week­day morn­ing ser­vice de­part­ing Ararat Sta­tion at 6.18am, con­nect­ing with a Mel­bourne-bound train at Bal­larat and ar­riv­ing at South­ern Cross be­fore 9am.

It also in­cludes a new week­day af­ter­noon ser­vice de­part­ing Ararat Sta­tion at 2.49pm, con­nect­ing with a Mel­bourne-bound train at Bal­larat, while the 2.16pm week­day ser­vice from South­ern Cross to Wen­douree has been ex­tended to Ararat.

Four new week­end ser­vices have also been added to the timetable, with the 11.08am train from Ararat Sta­tion on Satur­days and 11.15am on Sun­days, to con­nect with a Mel­bourne-bound train at Wen­douree.

A 12.16pm week­end train from South­ern Cross to Wen­douree will also be ex­tended to Ararat.

Ms Pul­ford said the An­drews govern­ment was giv­ing Ararat line pas­sen­gers ex­tra ser­vices, giv­ing them more travel op­tions to get to Bal­larat and Mel­bourne.

“Whether peo­ple want to get to Mel­bourne for work, a med­i­cal ap­point­ment, to at­tend the footy or visit loved ones, the ex­tra ser­vices on the Ararat line will make it eas­ier for pas­sen­gers,” she said.

Six-hour wait

Ms Kealy was less im­pressed and said Wim­mera peo­ple keen to catch a train out of Mel­bourne in the af­ter­noon from Mon­day to Fri­day now faced more than a six­hour wait if they missed a 12.16pm train.

“In­stead of hav­ing a 1.17pm train and bus ser­vice that ex­ists now, the new time-ta­ble has one train leav­ing at 12.16pm, with one ser­vice in­volv­ing the train con­tin­u­ing on to Ararat, but an­other chang­ing to a bus in Bal­larat. How is that sup­posed to work and be a good ser­vice?” she said.

“It re­ally doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. It’s cre­at­ing a dou­bled-up ser­vice while at the same time cre­at­ing a six-and-a-half hour gap be­tween ser­vices in the af­ter­noon from Mel­bourne – it is far from ideal.

“What it tells me is that re­gard­less of all the govern­ment an­nounce­ments of up­grades and de­vel­op­ments, what we’re see­ing in the cold hard light of day is that if you live in the Wim­mera, you are now go­ing to have one less com­fort­able op­por­tu­nity to get home.

“Surely we can come up with a more prac­ti­cal sched­ule. When there are two ser­vices avail­able, peo­ple are un­likely to use the one that in­cludes a bus – es­pe­cially when you con­sider many of the trav­el­ling pub­lic from the Wim­mera are el­derly.

“It would make greater sense to have an­other full train ser­vice leave Mel­bourne for Ararat in the af­ter­noon.

“Is the State Govern­ment pro­vid­ing a smoke and mir­rors cam­paign in pro­mot­ing its ef­forts to im­prove pas­sen­ger ser­vices in our part of the world? Sounds like it.”

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