ECHUCA’S train services – or lack of them – are back in the news with Campaspe Shire councillor Leigh Wilson calling on the Victorian Government to add another service.
Speaking on Tuesday, Cr Wilson said there were not enough services for people to get to and from the ever-growing region.
“The timings are just wrong,” Cr Wilson said.
“There is only one service in the morning and one in the evening,” he said.
“That doesn’t suit everyone and our communities want more – it could be a great service.”
In a report conducted by the Campaspe Shire, it concluded 73 per cent of respondents travel by train on the Echuca line.
A further 87 per cent don’t use the services available because the timetabling is unsuitable.
The report concluded a lot of people were taking alternate modes of transport because they are unable to utilise the single train service per day.
“The preference would be to use the train service more often,” Cr Wilson said.
“Bendigo is increasingly seen as the ‘capital’ of northern Victoria, providing a wide range of regional services including health, education, recreation, and specialist consumer products,” he said.
“With increasing regional reliance on Bendigo the opportunity exists to reinforce the role of the city through regional transport solutions.”
According to a spokesman from V/line, in the 2016-17 financial year, 19,463 passengers travelled on the Echuca line and in December 2017, 2910 passenger trips were taken to and from Echuca station.
A university student from Moama said she was “appalled” with the services on the line.
“While the long journey from Echuca to Melbourne is good for studying and catching up on sleep, it’s inadequate in accommodating anyone who needs to go to Melbourne for a specific purpose,” she said.
“I need to be at my university in the city by 10am, to do this I have to leave Echuca by 5.30am.
“Once I’ve finished in the city for the day, the latest service I can catch is at 7pm, which means I don’t get home until almost 11pm.
She said the track was a good line and catching the train would cut out the wasted time on the bus between Echuca and Bendigo or Murchison East.
“If there were more train services available to Echuca, the amount of time would be significantly reduced which would be more beneficial for everyone,” she said.
The shire report disclosed opportunities for the line, including the potential to examine a train service to Bendigo rather than a straight through to Melbourne service.
Long-term the report outlines possible outcomes such as track works to cater for higher speeds between Bendigo and Echuca.
Currently it is only 80km/h, meaning it is slower than the normal road traffic.
“We’ve been working with the local community – who have told us loud and clear they would like to see more services but they also want to see faster services,” acting Public Transport Minister Phil Dalidakis said.
“Funding is allocated as a part of the funding received by the Federal Government to update the tracks and signalling for the Echuca line – which will pave the way for faster and extra services.”
It is believed Transport Minister Jacinta Allan will be holding talks with Federal Infrastructure Minister Barnaby Joyce about the expectations of the rail project.