Trains North East Rail Letter to the Editor

A lot of noise, not a lot of action on rail issues

20 March 2017


The Editor                                                                                                                  
As Addressed

Re: A lot of noise, not a lot of action on rail issues

People are sick to death of the duck shoving and the political blame game that is being played over the north east line.

The latest debacle, which saw one bus trip from Albury to Melbourne take seven hours on the long weekend, is just another
example in a long list of restricted or cancelled services. 

Over the past few years, I have spent a lot of time trying to get to the bottom of the issues on the line. 

The problems with the service are now two-fold. 

Firstly, the Victorian Government needs to get the trains themselves up to scratch.

The age of the trains and the state's failure to invest in new rolling stock is one of the reasons services are frequently cancelled.

Over the past two years, the Andrews Government has spent no money on trains on the line, save for some new paint and
upholstery. There have been studies and a great deal of talking, but all of it has been used as excuse to delay any kind of
meaningful investment under the guise of 'planning'. 

The second issue is the state of the track itself, which is owned by the Victorian Government but is leased to the Australian Rail
Track Corporation (ARTC). 

In 2008, when a deal was struck by the then Victorian Labor Government to give the ARTC a 45-year lease on the line, a
performance agreement was negotiated. 

The ARTC is correct when it says it is meeting its obligations under this agreement. 

The problem is that the operational standards set out under this deal were sufficient to run freight but not passenger trains. 

As a statutory corporation, the ARTC is run by a board of directors and the Federal Government cannot instruct it how it should
operate.

Nevertheless, next month Federal Nationals Transport Minister Darren Chester is coming to ride the line with me and I will be
putting the case to him - as I have many times since he took up the position - for additional funding to improve many of the ongoing
issues with the line. 

Separately, I have raised the issue about the condition of the trains in Parliament on many occasions with Labor’s Public Transport
Minister and have also asked her to examine renegotiating the contract with the ARTC, however those requests seem to fall on
deaf ears. 

We need to work together to find a resolution because when it all boils down, we all want the same thing and that is a reliable train
service for our region.

Steph Ryan MP
Member for Euroa
Deputy Leader of The Nationals

 

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