Visitors ditch train travel

March 14, 2018

Data shows only about one per cent of Shepparton visitors arrive by public transport.

Shepparton’s mayor believes a less than reliable train service could be holding back visitors.

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe often wonders how much tourism Shepparton might have with an efficient, regular train service.

Visitation data this year reported only about one per cent of Shepparton visitors arrived by public transport, compared to about 95 per cent by car.

All Shepparton V/Line services were delivered last month, but only 70 per cent were on time, a situation described as predictable and the result of years of under-investment.

Delays on parts of the network shared with metropolitan rail lines and heat-related speed restrictions were flagged as reasons.

Cr O’Keeffe said it was alarming only about one per cent of visitors arrived by train.

‘‘Absolutely, that one per cent figure is alarming ... how many would we have if we had better rail services?’’ she said.

‘‘The problem is it’s faster to go by car.’’

Cr O’Keeffe said additional coaches announced recently were welcome, but were unlikely to ensure a faster journey to the city.

In September, figures found 97 per cent of domestic day trip travellers to the region for the previous financial year came by car, while almost all the region’s domestic overnight tourists arrived by car.

At the time, the quality of the region’s rail service and volume of train travellers were numbers Goulburn River Valley Tourism executive officer Leanne Hulm wanted to see improve dramatically.

She had said the limited public transport into the region was not convenient for all, and that boosting the number of visitors who arrived by rail was not going to happen overnight.

Cr O’Keeffe said if the region was to be attractive to visitors and residents, a rail service people could depend on was needed, especially for a city growing as fast as Shepparton.

‘‘We don’t want to be held back any longer, we want to be up there with other regional cities,’’ she said.

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