The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has repeated calls in State Parliament for a solution to underperforming Gippsland trains amid ongoing fears the Andrews Labor Government intends to terminate Gippsland trains at Pakenham.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr O’Brien called on the Minister for Transport Infrastructure to investigate the options and feasibility of a dedicated line for Gippsland trains through Melbourne’s south east through to the city.
“Gippsland trains regularly get stuck behind a Metro service once they hit Pakenham and crawl all the way into the city. It’s one of the reasons we have the worst punctuality performance in the state.
“This is not a new issue and the Government has known about it for years.
“The Minister had been very vocal recently about additional platforms at Pakenham as part of level crossing removal works and about the alleged benefits of the Suburban Rail Loop for Gippsland passengers, but these projects fail to address the fundamental issue affecting reliable and punctual performance of Gippsland trains,” Mr O’Brien said.
“I fear the Government’s ultimate aim is to terminate Gippsland trains at Pakenham or Clayton and force Gippslanders onto the Metro system, rather than actually address the root cause of the problem.
“I can appreciate that new dual tracks all the way from Pakenham to the City is unlikely, but nevertheless the matter needs to be investigated and solved. This might be a combination of passing loops, tunnels or improved signalling.
“Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo have dedicated lines through Melbourne’s west so why isn’t the Government delivering the same for Gippsland passengers?
“At the very least, the Government should be investigating the options before Gippsland is consigned to a permanent second-rate train service.”
Mr O’Brien has also called on the Government to outline when additional services will be offered beyond Traralgon.
“The Government has been promising the Gippsland line upgrade since 2017 but has given no indication of when we might get the benefits via additional services. With Sale and Bairnsdale having just three return services a day and 19 to Traralgon, we deserve a better level of service.”