Ballarat Train Line: Poor punctuality drags on

DISSATISFIED: Ballarat Train Line recorded a slight drop in punctuality during September. It is hoped planned passing loops will provide some relief to delays.
DISSATISFIED: Ballarat Train Line recorded a slight drop in punctuality during September. It is hoped planned passing loops will provide some relief to delays.

V/Line has failed to meet its punctuality targets for the 11th straight month on the Ballarat Train Line.

Public Transport Victoria reported 86.2 per cent of services were on time in September, short of its 92 per cent target.

Committee For Ballarat’s board member and 59 Minute Ballarat advocate Nick Beale said there would be no improvement until passing loops were built.

“As soon as you get an incident it delays both ways, so the loops will improve the ability for the trains to recover,” he said.

“There is nothing happening on the line at the moment, if you ask people on the line, they will be very dissatisfied.

“When you start to put in a couple of loops at Ballan, one at Warrenheip, then people will understand the train has to slow down to go through that piece of work.”

The punctuality result was a slight drop from August’s figure of 86.7 per cent of trains arriving on time.

It was consistent with V/Line’s average of 85.9 per cent of trains on time since September last year.

There were also 151 new services introduced across V/Line’s network last month.

Across the entire regional network it delivered 87.1 per cent of trains on time, up from 85.2 per cent the month before.

The Ballarat Train Line is also faced with a booming population growth, including at Melton and Bacchus Marsh.

V/Line chief operating officer Carol-Anne Nelson said “dwell” times at stations and a higher number of ill passengers were the main reason for the slight drop in punctuality.

“We acknowledge delays to services are frustrating for people but the safety and welfare of our passengers is the main priority,” she said.

“This is something our staff take very seriously and will not compromise on.

“We recognise there is still room for improvement and we have a performance plan in place to make that happen.”

Trains were replaced with buses following the death of a commuter on a service near Bacchus Marsh on September 22.

V/Line evacuated passengers from one service during the incident.

Mr Beale said the only way for the line to get up to 98 per cent of its trains on time was to duplicat the entire length between Ballarat and Melbourne.

“I don’t think there is going to be much improvement on that figure (of 86.2 per cent punctuality) going forward,” he said.

“The only time it will improve is when you have got duplication.

“If there are commuter trains every hour during the day, they will continue, I don't think anything will drop off.

“But they will become longer trips, they will become less reliable, depending on how much work is being done with the Ballarat Train Line.”