Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood has used debate in the Victorian Parliament to call on the Minister for Public Transport to be honest and transparent with Gippsland regional commuters.
In addressing Parliament, Mr Blackwood said the failure of the Brumby Labor Government to include Gippsland in the Regional Rail Link had now resulted in the service issues facing Gippsland commuters.
‘The Brumby Government’s failure to include the Gippsland line in the Regional Rail Link program, signed off in 2010 by then Minister for Public Transport, Martin Pakula, has now come back to hurt Gippsland commuters who face cancelled rail services and slow buses day in day out until midyear because of mismanagement and underinvestment by Labor,’ Mr Blackwood said.
Mr Blackwood said Gippsland commuters had been deliberately misled by the Minister about the extent of service cancellations using state wide rail statistics to hide the true extent of service disruptions on the Gippsland line.
‘Gippsland commuters have faced confusion and delay now for weeks, with months more to come, and are rightly fed up with the inaccurate and misleading information they are receiving from the Andrews Government and Minister for Public Transport.
‘To compound local commuters’ frustrations the Minister stated on 4th February that regional services were stable with 80 per cent of trains running in regional areas.
‘That number was based on an average across all regional lines deliberately hiding the extent of cancellations on the Gippsland line.
‘Only 27 per cent of weekday rail services are running as trains with the remaining 73 per cent running as busses.
‘This Minister has buried the real extent of rail disruption from local commuters who have been left to fend for themselves under this Andrews Government and its inaction.
Mr Blackwood said working parents were spending longer on trains meaning less time at home with family, making them late to work and that small local businesses along the Gippsland line, including ChooChoo’s coffee shop at Warragul Station had been impacted as commuters are unable to take food onto replacement bus services resulting in a sharp decline in sales.
‘As well as working parents not getting to see their children before bedtime and students being late for classes or missing lectures, businesses are also suffering – for example, ChooChoo’s coffee shop on the Warragul Station platform is suffering an 80% drop in turnover,’ said Mr Blackwood.