Jaded V/Line commuters plead for fix

Opposition leader Matthew Guy meets with local MP Wendy Lovell commuter Angela Sloan and Kyneton station. Picture: Damjan Janevski.

Bendigo-line train commuters fed up with being late for work and missing family dinners have called for more to be done to fix the woes that have plagued V/Line services since the start of the year.

Kyneton’s Angela Sloan has supported Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s plea for an ‘‘around the clock’’ plan to get train services back on track.

Ms Sloan, who works in Melbourne’s CBD, said the public transport crisis had been a major disruption to the lives of thousands of people.

Not only has she been late for work many times since buses started replacing trains, she’s also faced the extra worry of not knowing if she’ll be home in time to put her daughter to bed.

Time normally dedicated to working on the commute has also been lost due to the confined spaces of bus travel.

Additional traffic caused by the end of school holidays and roadworks on CityLink have added to the frustration.

‘‘I’ve been late for work regularly since this started,’’ Ms Sloan said. ‘‘The other morning I caught the 7.20am bus from Kyneton and didn’t get to work until 9.30am. The train normally takes an hour and 15 minutes.’’

As reported by Star Weekly, Bendigo-line punctuality plummeted from 83 per cent in December to just 64 per cent in January.

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.

While replacement buses running express to Melbourne can sometimes be quicker, there are often long delays because drivers are unable to leave until a bus is full.

Lost bus drivers

Passengers have also had to deal with drivers getting lost down side streets.

Ms Sloan recently had to use her phone to help a driver who had taken a wrong turn but had no GPS to find his way.

‘‘It took more than two hours that day,’’ she said. ‘‘This is the kind of thing that’s going on. We’ve all had enough.’’

Mr Guy, who visited Kyneton railway station last Tuesday to discuss the government’s handling of the crisis, said Transport Minister Jacinta Allan had to put more pressure on V/Line.

“If there is a major wheel-wear issue … then for god’s sake have a 24-hour effort to solve the situation and get on with it,’’ he said.

‘‘Stop working on a nine-to-five basis to try and solve what is the biggest transport crisis of V/Line’s history. I can’t understand how this is going to take seven months.”

Mr Guy also called for replacement bus services to be more reliable.