Slow train to Shepp

August 10, 2017

Lower than state-average patronage growth on V/Line's north-east rail corridor, reflects overdue investment in services, says State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed.

V/Line’s north-east rail corridor, which includes the Seymour and Shepparton lines, has seen significantly slower recent patronage growth than the Victorian average, according to a report from the state’s auditor general.

Shepparton’s State MP Suzanna Sheed believes the report, handed down yesterday, paints a clear picture of the development of regional rail lines where investment had been forthcoming, contrasting with the slow progress made by those overlooked.

The Seymour, Shepparton and Albury corridor has grown 30 per cent since 2006/07, well below the state’s 88 per cent average growth across all rail corridors.

The same corridor had seen improvement in total performance measures since 2013, but scored lower than the state average across the past four years.

Meanwhile, overcrowding was less of a concern on the Seymour line than others.

Ms Sheed said the Shepparton line simply hadn’t had the investment needed ‘‘for any capacity to grow patronage’’.

She said lines with more frequent service, and better patronage had that because they were invested in.

‘‘We haven’t because we weren’t,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘It does show ... build it and they will come.’’

The Shepparton state MP stressed the report was more recognition and supporting evidence the Shepparton line had been ‘‘underdone’’ and needed to be addressed.

Ms Sheed said it was disappointing that overall the findings supported the lack of attention regional rail had been given.

‘‘It’s been very low on the agenda, and particularly the long-haul rail lines.’’

The report is critical of the regional rail service which is struggling under a $534.8million maintenance backlog and failing to meet targets.

The state’s auditor-general found V/Line’s system to be plagued by cancellations, delays, overcrowding and slow maintenance, according to the report tabled in parliament on Wednesday.

Years of inadequate maintenance funding and a lack of attention to customer needs led to the failings over the last decade, the report says.

— With AAP

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