The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has welcomed the Coalition’s pledge to order new VLocity trains for use on long-distance lines in Victoria, if elected in November.
PTUA Regional Spokesperson, Paul Westcott, said the existing long-distance trains were overdue for replacement.
The Coalition promise would see older locomotive-hauled trains replaced by more modern modified versions of the VLocity carriages used on commuter lines today. They are planned to include the same first class and buffet facilities currently seen on long-distance locomotive-hauled services.
“Trains used on long-distance services are past their use-by date,” Mr Westcott said. “They’ve served the state well for over 30 years, but they’re outmoded and too unreliable for a modern railway network. Faster and more dependable trains will keep regional Victorians connected to the rest of the state.
“VLocity trains work well on long-distance services to Ararat and Maryborough, so they should provide a good service on the other long-distance lines.”
While the PTUA welcomed the announcement of faster and more reliable trains, it stressed the importance of running trains frequently.
The Coalition has pledged to procure only 16 new trains, and will remove the old sets as the new ones come into service. That would mean no net increase in the number of trains running on long-distance lines.
“Faster and more reliable trains are important, but having trains run more frequently is vital,” Mr Westcott said. “Most of the lines in question see only two or three trains per day, leaving huge gaps between services.
“In many cases, the last train is in the late afternoon, so if you want can’t travel until the evening you’re stuck till the next day. Faster journey times are great, but having to wait several hours – or overnight – till the next train makes the service unusable for a lot of people.”
Mr Westcott noted that an increase in the number of trains will help provide a more usable train service, that allows regional passengers to get to and from Melbourne when they want to, and encourages more people to move to regional areas.
“Passengers hope that the Coalition is open to delaying the retirement of the older trains, and to procuring more of the new trains after placing the initial order,” he said.