The North East rail line has continued to live up to its reputation as being the most unreliable in the state, with more than 18 of its passenger train services cancelled in the past week.
The unacceptably low reliability of the service was against the backdrop of state and federal politicians continuing to fight over desperately needed regional rail funding.
The $1.45billion Regional Rail Revival, the showpiece of the Victorian Government’s plans for regional Victoria, would have gone a long way to addressing the ongoing issues but the project now hangs in the balance.
The Federal Government has refused to pay up on money the Andrews Government says is still owed to Victoria from the Port of Melbourne sale.
Zac Formosa lives in Euroa and regularly takes the train to Seymour to study at TAFE and to Benalla to attend school and to work. He turned up to the Seymour station on Friday to find out the train to Albury had yet again been cancelled and replaced with a bus service.
‘‘It’s usually cancelled at least three or four times a week. I’m always running late to school or late to TAFE. It is very frustrating,’’ Zac said.
‘‘Half the time they don’t tell you why — they just say it’s cancelled. I usually sit there waiting another half an hour for the bus to come.’’
Another passenger, Linda O’Sullivan of Seymour, was also forced to travel on the same bus.
‘‘It’s convenient for me to catch the train ... I’m not in any rush, but once we get on the road, if we have traffic issues and if I find that I’m half an hour late getting to where I’m supposed to be going, then I might be somewhat miffed,’’ Mrs O’Sullivan said.
‘‘I think there was a breakdown with some kind of engine last week that’s caused a problem. There isn’t enough replacements — that’s just what I’ve gained in the last 10 minutes, that’s what the issue is here today.’’
Cancelled services at 7.05am and 12.05pm between Southern Cross Station and Albury have also caused major overcrowding on the Seymour line.
Passengers have been shunted to a parallel Seymour service before connecting to replacement coaches for the remainder of their journey. The corresponding return routes have also been affected.
A spokesperson from V/Line told the Telegraph, ‘‘We have had some maintenance issues with trains on this line. Due to the gauge of the line, we are limited to others we can run.’’
The Victorian Government refuses to give in to the Federal Government, which in turn refuses to negotiate on the deal it says is invalid.
The cancellations continue to occur on a daily basis.