Bendigo line punctuality plummets

The V/Line crisis has had a dramatic effect on Bendigo train commuters, with punctuality plummeting from 83 per cent in December to just 64 per cent in January.

Performance data released last week revealed the line had the worst punctuality figures in the state. Reliability (services running as advertised), at 89 per cent, was also down from 98 per cent in December.

The latest figures come amid a crisis that led to the resignation of V/Line chief executive Theo Taifalos, with thousands of services cancelled due to ongoing problems including an escalated rate of wear on the wheels of VLocity carriages and the failure of trains to trigger boom gates.

Long-time Woodend commuter Robert Knight said while replacement buses running express to Melbourne could sometimes be quicker, the saga had caused significant disruption for many people.

‘‘It depends on your timing,’’ he said. ‘‘I deliberately get there early because I’ve been through this before.

‘‘Some people do get really angry about sitting on a bus, waiting for it to fill up before it leaves. I know others who get there, miss that bus and have to wait a long time for another one. It throws your whole schedule out.’’

Mr Knight said free travel had done little to ease commuters’ pain.

‘‘You just want a good service; you pay a lot of money for it,’’ he said. ‘‘When it works, it’s fantastic, but they’ve got to get it back to working well.’’

Describing the train crisis as inexcusable, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan has ordered a review of V/Line operations.

Opposition public transport spokesman David Hodgett said Ms Allan and Premier Daniel Andrews had created a “train wreck” of the regional rail network.

“Daniel Andrews’ and Jacinta Allan’s bungled handling of the chaos on V/Line is costing taxpayers $4 million per week … all we get from them is more excuses and blaming.”

V/Line expects services on the Bendigo line to steadily improve from mid-February, but it will be months before full services resume.