V/Line customers in Bendigo will not receive compensation or discounted tickets despite the line’s closure for most of October, resulting in delays of up to an hour.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan announced the closure at the Bendigo Railway Station yesterday, saying compensation would not be offered as, unlike issues which plagued the rail service earlier in the year, the works related to “regular maintenance”.
“Because this is part of a regular V/Line program of maintenance works it’s different obviously to the issues that were there earlier in the year, so regular ticketing will apply,” she said.
“I do acknowledge that it will cause some disruption and for passengers we are asking them to allow up to an extra 60 minutes to plan their journey.”
Ms Allan said the works would coincide with the removal of two level crossings at St Albans which would have meant regional trains could only go as far as Sunbury anyway.
“It was an opportunity that has been grasped to do a big blitz of maintenance work on the V/Line part of the network during a time when the line was going to need to be shut anyway because of those level crossing removals on the metropolitan part of the network,” she said.
“They’ve been able to bring a whole lot of works together during this period of time when the line is going to be shut anyway, which is reducing over the course of the year the disruption to passengers that would have to otherwise happen.”
Ms Allan said the $46 million works on the Bendigo line would include projects at Malmsbury, Taradale and Elphinstone.
“Part of this big maintenance blitz that’s being undertaken by V/Line also includes some really critical maintenance works on the Malmsbury and Taradale viaducts and also on the Elphinstone tunnels,” she said.
“These are historic features of the Bendigo line, and again, it’s a great opportunity to do these vital works while the line is shut for these level crossing removals.”
Meanwhile the number of people fare-evading on V/Line services reached a record low of 4.3 per cent of passengers travelling without a valid ticket, including a 1.3 per cent fall on the Bendigo line.
The most common reason for fare evading on regional trains was an insufficient myki balance.
Public Transport Victoria customer experience executive director Alan Fedda said the figures showed the majority of customers were willing to pay their way.
“What we are seeing across the state is that more people are paying their way and we’re doing a lot of work to make it easier,” he said.
Buses will replace all train services on the Bendigo line between October 4 and October 30.