V/Line Sunbury reprieve ‘misses the point’

Sunbury rail commuters say moves to allow them continued access to V/Line services until the end of the year are inadequate and a betrayal of a state government promise.

They have vowed to fight for a permanent choice of metropolitan and country services.

There have also been complaints that the planned rollout of new Metro services will do little to improve service frequency as well as fears that extra trains could make traffic at the intersection of Gap Road and Horne Street even worse, with boom gates down more often.

Western Metropolitan Liberal MP Bernie Finn, who is leading a petition against any changes, said the measures announced last week missed the point.

‘‘Labor gave us a firm commitment in writing that Sunbury people would continue to be able to access V/Line,’’ Mr Finn said.

‘‘The fact is it shouldn’t be happening. Sunbury people didn’t want electrification. They just wanted a few more V/Line services.’’

Both Labor and the Liberal Party promised the town would continue to have a choice of services following the extension of Metro services in 2012.

As reported by Star Weekly, restrictions barring Sunbury commuters from Bendigo- bound V/Line trains will not be enforced until January.

Sunbury MP Josh Bull said the town would receive 10 extra peak Metro services a week and the government would investigate extra off-peak services.

He said Sunbury would get an extra morning peak city-bound service and another evening peak service within six to eight weeks.

Until now, Sunbury has received about half of the services that travelled to Watergardens.

Mr Bull said that while catching a regional train from Sunbury station saved passengers time, it was putting significant pressure on
V/Line services. He said completion of the Regional Rail Link had sparked the change.

‘‘Sunbury passengers are already benefiting from the project, with more reliable services between Sunshine and the city as a result of the project, separating metropolitan and regional trains in this section of track,’’ Mr Bull said.

The latest measures followed an outpouring of complaints after a new Public Transport Victoria timetable released last month effectively snubbed Sunbury passengers.

Overcrowding on country train services between Melbourne and Bendigo has been a long-running issue for peak-time commuters.

The restrictions were hailed by people in towns such as Woodend who have since expressed frustration that crowding on peak services will continue in the short term.

A passenger, who did not want to be named, said they feared ongoing tension could lead to arguments between commuters.