V/Line will not enforce Sunbury ban

Bernie O'Farrell

Restrictions barring Sunbury commuters from Bendigo-bound V/Line trains will not be enforced until next year.

The state government has also promised that Sunbury will receive 10 extra peak Metro services a week, while it will investigate extra off-peak services to provide more trains and seats for people travelling to and from the town.

The measures announced on Friday followed an outpouring of complaints after a new Public Transport Victoria timetable effectively snubbed Sunbury passengers.

Sunbury MP Josh Bull, who sought urgent action on the matter in Parliament last week, said Sunbury would get an extra morning peak city-bound service and another evening peak service within six to eight weeks.

Mr Bull said he had been advised the introduction of “pick-up and set-down” restrictions would be delayed.

‘‘This means [passengers] will still be able to catch a V/Line train until additional services come on board,’’ he said.

As reported by

Star Weekly, the new timetable announced by PTV removed Sunbury as a pick-up station for Bendigo trains travelling through to Melbourne in the morning peak. It also removed Sunbury as a drop-off station for evening peak trains travelling north.

Overcrowding on country train services between Melbourne and Bendigo has been a long-running issue for peak-time commuters since the electrification of the line to Sunbury in 2012.

The restrictions were hailed by people in towns such as Woodend, but Sunbury passengers were furious, having long been promised that they would continue to have a choice of services.

Sunbury Residents Association president Bernie O’Farrell was among those who urged Transport Minister Jacinta Allan to intervene.

‘‘The decision was completely unexpected and totally out of the blue,’’ Mr O’Farrell said. ‘‘Both the Labour Party and Liberals promised Sunbury people would continue to be able to catch V/Line after electrification.’’

Mr O’Farrell said many people were concerned about the reliability and frequency of Metro services. Prior to the changes announced by the government on Friday, Sunbury received about half of the services that travelled to Watergardens.

Sunbury commuter Paul Campbell said he was disappointed the timetable was announced without any consultation.

Mr Campbell, who works in Melbourne’s CBD and has a son who attends Sunbury’s specialist school, said the changes would have had a dramatic effect on his family.

‘‘The [Metro] frequency is just not good enough,’’ Mr Campbell said.

‘‘That one V/Line service I am catching gets me to his school within a couple of minutes either side [of him finishing].’’