Train group urges commuters to sign petition

Sunbury Train Associaton members Ange Millar, Paul Campbell and Melissa Limb. Picture: Joe Mastroianni

A Sunbury group fighting to keep metro and rural train services is urging commuters to sign a petition ahead of its meeting with Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.

Formed after controversial changes aimed at eventually stopping residents catching Bendigo-bound V/Line trains, Sunbury Train Association (STA) has also distributed more than 200 survey forms, giving people a chance to have their say.

The group’s mission is to provide a balanced platform and ensure an accurate representation of views. Its petition calls for V/Line services to be reinstated until adequate changes are made to Metro timetables.

Spokeswoman Melissa Limb said the response had been incredible. She said the overwhelming majority of respondents wanted ongoing access to V/Line services, as promised by former Labor and Liberal governments before the Metro line was extended in 2013.

‘‘We’re really happy that people are standing up for their town and doing something about this,’’ Ms Limb said. ‘‘We’re not taking sides, we’re just doing what we can to ensure Sunbury gets the services it deserves.’’

The survey asks commuters when and where they catch trains and provides an opportunity for them to rate Metro trains for frequency, safety, reliability and speed.

Participants can also share information about how the changes could impact on school pick-ups, work and education commitments, and access for people with disabilities.

The group has already met with Sunbury Labor MP Josh Bull and will present its findings to Ms Allan later this month.

As reported by Star Weekly, 32 V/Line services now available to Sunbury commuters will go once restrictions are enforced from next January.

The state government last week announced the extension of two Metro services from Watergardens to Sunbury, with an extra service in the morning and afternoon peaks. It has also promised to investigate extra off-peak services, but Ms Limb and others said the changes barely scratched the surface.

There have also been reports of disagreements between conductors and commuters.

Mr Bull said he was pleased with the way STA had gone out to commuters and promised to work with Ms Allan on the best possible solutions.

STA members will be at The Valley Cellar Door from 7-8pm this Wednesday. Petitions are also available at businesses around town.