THE BENDIGO rail line has room for improvement, according to Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder.
Speaking to the Bendigo Advertiser this week, Mr Mulder said he understood commuters’ frustrations but rail services were being improved.
“Until the Regional Rail Link project’s completed we’re not going to see the full benefit of the investment the government are making,” he said. “The Bendigo line performs well, but I think it can perform a lot better.”
Mr Mulder said the Regional Rail Link, which will separate city and country rail lines, the addition of rolling stock and introduction of Protective Safety Officers at stations would be positive.
“We’ll get a far better outcome once we finish these major projects, when we get some more reliability into the network, and we get the additional rail cars on and make the stations a safer precinct,” he said. “We’re getting much better at punctuality and reliability in the metropolitan area, nevertheless there are still incidents in the metropolitan network that do impact on regional Victoria.”
Rail, Tram and Bus Union locomotive state secretary Marc Marotta said Bendigo had one of the better services in the state.
He said while drivers were frustrated by delays caused by line upgrades in Melbourne, the changes should eventually create a better service. “If the Regional Rail Link operates the way they describe, it should be an improvement on travel times,” he said.
“The fact there’s disruption, it’s not comfortable for the passengers or the drivers.
“But given those delays are about improving the performance of the rail system, it’s a necessary evil at this stage.”
Mr Marotta said the Bendigo line was far superior to the problem-plagued north-east line, which services Seymour, Shepparton, Wangaratta and Wodonga.
“It’s a superior service in terms of frequency and the north-east line has issues affecting old rolling stock in terms of maintenance, availability, air-conditioning and problems with the train tracks.
“It compares favourably if you look at north-east Victoria. The Bendigo service would be on par with lines like Geelong and Ballarat.”