Sign of the times: if you think there are more train replacement coaches on the road than normal - you are probably right. V/Line’s Twitter feed reveals a dramatic rise in coaches replacing trains in the first five months of this year. ​

by Ian Blyth

DESPITE its March 2018 figures claiming a 97.3 per cent reliability and 86 per cent punctuality rate, V/Line’s actual performance, in the eyes of commuters, is less than satisfactory.

Since January 26, V/Line has experienced 498 delays to scheduled services and has seen an additional 206 replaced by road coaches. Interestingly, those 206 coach services are not counted in the V/Line punctuality calculations because they are not actually a train.

But they are counted in the reliability data due to the fact that they eventually get passengers to where they are going.  Note that V/Line considers a service to be on time if it is less than six minutes late.

Staff sickness also attributed to the cancellation of 42 rail services and train faults to a further 157. Track work (97) and maintenance (51) completed the list.

Seymour commuter, Samantha McCormack, waited one and a half hours on the platform recently as her train was late leaving Seymour. It later broke down at Kilmore East.

“A V/Line text said to board then next service which came an hour late because it was stuck behind the earlier broken down service. So I left home at 7.15am and got to work at 10am, an hour late. I am often late for work due to late running or cancelled trains. People are starting to drive to work or drive to a metro station so they don’t lose their jobs for being consistently late because of this service,” Ms McCormack said.

Member for Euroa, Steph Ryan, has also expressed concern for the commuters on the Seymour line forced to take buses. Ms Ryan said the state government’s management of the Seymour line had become an embarrassment and commuters were fed up. Clearly, by responses to a call for experiences posted on the North Central Review Facebook page, local commuters agree.

Many have also complained about the ongoing cancellations and delays. With one saying; “Trains are habitually 20 minutes late getting into Southern Cross station for all morning peak hour trains. I have had to start catching the 6.20am train from Wandong so I can be on time for my 8.45am shift start. My supervisor finally had enough and said I need to be on time or else,” they wrote.

“Being late for work, is one thing, buses take longer to arrive at your destination. How would you feel if you lost your job because of continuous delays with public transport? Then, there’s the lack of seating, overload of carriages at peak times. Something needs to change.” Cristine Cursio said.

“With my train being, on average, 15 minutes late into Southern Cross almost every day, it has been a tedious and unreliable service. When questioned, V/Line has had several excuses including blaming their paying customers for the ‘dwell time’ on platforms,” Kellie Speechley added.

Reacting to concerns, Member for Yan Yean, Danielle Green and Member for Northern Victoria, Jaclyn Symes have set up an online survey at ww.daniellegreen.com.au/seymour-line-survey/

The Minister for Transport, Jacinta Allen, advised Parliament last week that V/Line has a team examining in detail the issues on the Seymour line.

“I have asked V/Line to continue to work with passengers. It is really important that we have the voice of passengers and the experience of passengers as we look at what else we can do,” Ms Allen said.

Readers will recall Minister Allen hosting a transport forum in Wallan in April 2017 and while, ideas where abundant, actions have been clearly lacking.

Social media at the time was rife with comment over the poor attendance at the forum due to the timing of the meeting. It was pointed out that many who were interested in attending were still on a V/Line service on their way home from work.

The Minister opted on the night to take V/Line to Wallan for the forum and missed the opening due to the late arrival of her train.

Join the discussion on the North Central Review Facebook page.