V/Line delay fury

Sonia Riffkin is all smiles after finally arriving back home. Photo Matan Slonim.
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Frustrated commuters are demanding action over V/Line services. Matan Slonim reports.

Commuters say they are increasingly frustrated by the continual delays of V/Line services and the impact it is having on their everyday lives

V/Line is in the spotlight after regional Shadow Public Transport Minister Steph Ryan demanded answers from the government in May in relation to just one V/Line service meeting its punctuality target. 

This is not the first time the regional public transport operator has come under pressure. The ABC reported that in 2018 V/Line paid $750 for passengers to ferry to Melbourne after multiple breakdowns on regional services.

Sonia Riffkin has been commuting from her home in the South Easton suburbs of Melbourne to Ballarat using the V/Line for the past 15 years.

Riffkin estimates that at least once a week there is a delay on the Ballarat Line.

She has calculated this to mean that on average she is has to work an extra 26 hours due to train delays.

According to the V/Line performance indicator, the Ballarat line is punctual 84 per cent of the time. Meaning that on average, one in every five trains on the Ballarat line are delayed.

It is not just commuters on the Ballarat line suffering from delays. According to V/Line, the Wendouree line has not met its performance target since October 2016.

Fresh government data shows that 14 out of 16 metropolitan train services were less punctual in 2018 then they were 15 years ago.

Twenty-year-old university student, Devin Goralsky, believes the V/Line delays “are an unfair burden on university students who rely on efficient transport to get from home to university”.

Goralsky is frustrated by the fact that he needs to leave home an hour earlier then he should, to ensure he arrives at university on time.

Devin Goralsky studying at Monash University before a long journey home. Photo Matan Slonim.
 

Minister for Public Transport, Melissa Horne responded to the criticism during question time by stating, “V/Line has improved its performance to be better than ever before”. 

Riffkin says she believes that “improvements must continually be made until trains are running on time close to 100 per cent of the time”.

She does not believe that the government is providing resources to make such improvements.

Public Transport Users Association Ballarat convenor, Ben Lever, told The Courier responsibility must be taken by both the State Government and V/Line for the continual delays of V/Line and metro services.

Delays with public transport in Victoria extend beyond the V/Line with many regular Metro services continuously delayed.

According to Riffkin, the government does not understand “the stress and angst such delays are having on people”. She wants the government to interact with commuters to visibly see their anger.

The Victorian government recently announced as part of the state budget that regional public transport will receive $615 million in funding.

In addition to this $615 million for regional transport, the government has announced plans for $27.4 billion upgrades for suburban transport.

In some further positive signs for Victorians, federal treasurer, Josh Frydenberg has committed $2 billion in the federal budget for a fast rail link between Melbourne and Geelong.

When told of these plans, Goralsky expressed frustration that this won’t help him during his time at university but is pleased “the next generation of Victorians will be able to benefit from such plans”.

Both Riffkin and Goralsky acknowledged that some of the delays are out V/Line’s control and believe it’s a government issue as well.

The planned improvements are all expected to be completed within the next decade which provides an end point for angry commuters.

V/Line, Metro and Members of Parliament were unavailable to comment on the issue.