Adjournment Debate – Rail Services

I wish to raise a matter for the Minister for Public Transport, and the action I seek is for the minister to apologise to residents of the south-eastern suburbs, Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley and to amend the latest policies in a number of areas.

In August 2016 Metro Trains Melbourne and V/Line rail commuters on the Cranbourne, Frankston, Pakenham, Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines continued to learn what a four-year ‘hard Labor’ sentence means. On Tuesday, 9 August, the electrical overhead was disarranged near Dandenong. For a substantial part of the morning trains on the Pakenham line did not operate between Dandenong and Berwick, while trains were also cancelled en masse between Dandenong and Cranbourne.

Passengers on the 4.36 a.m. train from Traralgon spent 3 hours corralled on their V/Line train stopped between Hallam and Dandenong, with travellers unable to alight or do anything except use their smartphones or look out the window. Some arrived at work after 11.00 a.m. In at least one case a person was informed that they were not required at work since it would be pointless to come in for a shortened workday.

On Tuesday, 16 August, there were overhead power failures on the Frankston line and also on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines. This comes on top of the Minister for Public Transport and the Premier’s imposition of the unwanted, visually intrusive, graffiti and vandal-attracting sky rail onto thousands of residents between Caulfield and Dandenong and soon the level crossing removals between Cheltenham and Frankston. Compare that to placing rail lines in cuttings and minimising noise emissions.

Then on Monday, 15 August, we had an announcement by the minister that the construction of Southland railway station had commenced. This project was originally slated for completion by December 2016. This then became January 2017. Now it will be a full year late, with a supposed completion date of December 2017.

To add insult to injury, we had the minister’s Infrastructure Victoria hand-picked, non-Gippslanders, so-called ‘citizen’s jury’ advocate that Traralgon and Bairnsdale V/Line trains only operate between Pakenham and east of there, with passengers forced to stand on crowded Metro suburban trains from the city to connect to V/Line. It would be too bad if one of Metro’s designated connecting trains was more than a couple of minutes late — the V/Line train would leave without that connecting passenger.

The minister refuses to include two new underground platforms at Osborne Street, South Yarra, as part of Melbourne Metro. This will lead to more overcrowding of Frankston line trains between Caulfield and South Yarra and to a lack of quick access to the sporting precinct around Richmond station if one is using the Cranbourne or Pakenham lines, which are Melbourne’s busiest. The action I seek is for the minister to apologise to the residents of the south-eastern suburbs, Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley and to amend Labor’s policies in every one of the above areas.

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