With a reduction in V/Line fares set to kick in from March 31, Nationals MPs have raised the need for improved service delivery, punctuality, reliability and investment.
After The Nationals announced a comprehensive fare reform policy across Victoria’s public transport network in the lead up to the November election, the Labor Party scrambled to put together a policy that aligned regional and metro train fares.
Speaking from Parliament, The Nationals former Shadow Minister for Public Transport Danny O’Brien, who announced the Coalition’s fare reform policy in the lead up to last year’s election, said fare relief was welcome but would not paper over the cracks in the regional rail network.
“We have now got the government once again following the Nationals when it comes to public transport policy,” Mr O’Brien said.
“They have come to the party with this policy of regional fare caps, which is good for those regions that have got reliable services.
“While reduced fares are great, what people really want is an actual service that turns up on time. They want a train that comes as a train and not as a coach.”
The Nationals Member for Euroa, Annabelle Cleeland, said the government needed to invest in infrastructure and services to meet demand.
“What I have regularly been contacted about is the overcrowding of trains on the Seymour and North-East lines,” Ms Cleeland said.
“With changes to the V/Line fare structure, I hope the Victorian government has completed some modelling on the projected patronage increase that may occur as a result of reduced fares.
“They must ensure quality of service is not further sacrificed, crowding is alleviated and investment in rolling stock is made to support growth in demand.”
Ms Cleeland said the $200 billion fee on the Andrews Government’s Suburban Rail Loop was a slap in the face for regional communities still dealing with substandard services.
“Funding the Suburban Rail Loop means less money for health, education, public transport and basic state services,” Ms Cleeland said.
“The primary concern of regional commuters is not a dreamt-up metro project that might be delivered decades in the future for hundreds of billions of dollars.
“What our region wants is efficient, punctual, reliable services and confidence that the public transport system won’t let them down.”