More needed for rail: Users group

More carriages on peak train services and a program to build new car parks at Gippsland train stations has been met with mild enthusiasm.

On Monday, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan announced three new carriages would be added to peak Gippsland train services.

The three carriages will add 222 seats to the 6.27am from Traralgon to Southern Cross Station and the 4.58pm from Southern Cross to Traralgon – doubling space for passengers on these busy peak hour services.

The $9 million program will also build 100 new car parks at Traralgon Station and 60 new spaces at Morwell

But V/Line’s March performance data show trains are rarely on time and is the least reliable service in the state with 76.1 per cent of services arriving on time.

The regional rail service’s reported figure is also an 8.3 per cent drop from last month’s data.

Gippsland V/Line Users Group spokesperson Natalie Thorne said the three new carriages would be welcomed by commuters, but it felt like the Gippsland line was only “clawing back” to where it was years ago.

“Extra car parks are good, but it’s a small thing compared to the major investment needed to improve the speed and reliability of the service and increase the services we have,” Ms Thorne said.

Ms Thorne said the “bottleneck” between Caulfield and Dandenong needed track duplication and Gippsland remained the slowest service in Victoria.

“It travels around 40 kilometres through that long section between Caulfield and Dandenong,” Ms Thorne said.

She said it was a critical time for the Gippsland region and the government needed to consider a growing population and job uncertainty.

“Without this connection to the city, this will be a big impediment to growing jobs and new industries in the region.”

Ms Allan said there was a growing demand for more train services in Gippsland and acknowledged there was a need for an infrastructure upgrade for the corridor as identified in the Regional Network Development Plan released last year.

“While we’re working towards that, we’re looking to make improvements where we can and we don’t want to wait till those infrastructure works have been completed,” Ms Allan said.

The four stations at Moe, Morwell, Traralgon and Trafalgar are also set to be more accessible for people with disabilities, with new ramps, upgraded toilets and lowered ticket counters.

Vic Track will carry out the work due to be completed in early 2018.