Bendigo Advertiser reporter BLAIR THOMSON and photographer BRENDAN McCARTHY jumped on board the 6.33am train to Melbourne on Tuesday to find out how the V/Line service fared...
Related coverage: Video: Bendigo V/Line service: The daily commute
LONG-TERM Bendigo train line users say the service has become less reliable, longer and more prone to delays.
While people who have recently started using the system generally give the service a positive rating, experienced commuters are less happy.
Des Heagney of Castlemaine said the past few months had been the worst period in his 12 years catching the train.
“This train is regularly 20 minutes late arriving into Melbourne,” he said. “You’re spending more time getting to and from work, less time at work and less time with your family.
“It was reliable up until three months ago... two per cent of the time it stuffed up and stuffed up really badly, but lately, 20 per cent of the time you get to work or home on time.”
V/Line performance data shows 85.5 per cent of Bendigo line trains ran on time in December, down from 87.1 per cent in November, 90.2 per cent in October and 90.5 per cent in September.
Kyneton resident Terri Strong said she was frustrated by the delays and angry regional users were a secondary consideration to metro passengers.
“They’re getting priority and we’re getting the raw end of the deal,” she said.
“I’ve been catching it for 10 years to work... it’s actually gone backwards... the other day it took two hours and 20 minutes to get to work.”
Fifteen-year commuter David Skillen of Riddells Creek said the electrification of the Sunbury line had caused delays and the loss of a service.
Mr Skillen said he welcomed upgrades that would separate city and country lines. He said the carriages would be crowded when university returned for the year.
Nimue Shirvington rated the service 5.5 out of 10 and Kylie Hicks said she was constantly late to work at Melbourne University.
Suzie Pilcher said the service had slowly deteriorated over the past six years.
But Sam Howard, who catches the train from Bendigo to Castlemaine each day, said while
there were delays the service was cheap and “not too bad” overall.
Zoe Jordan started catching the train from Maryborough last week and said she had only experienced delays of about five minutes.
Tony Cormack said he had big frustrations with unexplained delays and said regional users were pushed behind city users. But he said he tried not to let it get to him.
“Everything could always be better, but it could be a hell of a lot worse as well,” he said.
“I try not to let it get me down too much otherwise I get frustrated with the commute.”
Bendigo residents Chelsea Thompson and Emma Dobbie said they were happy with the service and said it was better than driving.
“We’ve only just started school so a couple of weeks we’ve been travelling to Melbourne from Bendigo,” Ms Dobbie said.
“We haven’t really experienced (delays) so far... hopefully we don’t get many delays.
“It’s really good.”
Golden Square resident Marnie Wells travels from Kangaroo Flat to the city each day and said she was also happy with the service.
“There’s a long wait between trains; whenever I finish work I have to wait an hour,” she said. “They need to run a bit more frequently.
“But it’s pretty good.”