Gippsland Coalition Members Gary Blackwood and Russell Northe have said they will oppose any move by the Andrews Labor Government to remove V/Line trains from using the metropolitan rail network as proposed by the Regional Citizen Jury which is part of Daniel Andrews Infrastructure Victoria.
In a report released 30 July 2016, the Citizen Jury recommended Gippsland V/Line services terminate at Pakenham, forcing regional commuters to transfer to Metro trains to continue their journey towards the inner suburbs and Melbourne.
The report recommends;
“Gippsland – Pakenham Rail Shuttle
Provide increased services on the Gippsland line that connect with metropolitan services at Pakenham.” – Page 30, Regional Citizen Jury Final Report.
Member for Morwell Russell Northe said the recommendation needed to be immediately knocked back by the Labor Government to show regional commuters it was serious about providing them with the public transport service they deserved.
‘This recommendation needs to be immediately ruled out by the Andrews Labor Government,’ said Mr Northe.
‘Regional commuters already face lengthy journeys to and from Melbourne each day and a termination of services at Pakenham will only add delay to their trip.
‘This service is used for commuters to and from work, to visit medical specialists in the CBD, to visit friends and family and by forcing a change of service at Pakenham it would unnecessarily and unfairly deliver a second class travel system for the Gippsland region.
‘There are no benefits to regional commuters in this recommendation, only cost savings for the Andrews Labor Government,’ Mr Northe said.
Member for Narracan said the report itself appeared flawed with not a single Gippsland location representative listed in the ‘Who Are We’ section that detailed which areas the jury members came from.
‘The Regional Citizen Jury Reports Who Are We section states that members were from a “diverse range of backgrounds, occupations and ages” and that they “represented all of regional Victoria” (page 4).
‘Of the 29 locations mentioned in that section of the report, not one location listed is within the Gippsland region.
‘It appears Daniel Andrews and his Government have no interest in Gippsland or providing Gippslanders’ with the opportunity to be part of Infrastructure Victoria.
‘For this report to state ‘in regional Victoria we have the fundamental right to expect the same core services as people living in Melbourne’ (page 3) and then recommend that the Gippsland V/Line rail service terminate at Pakenham proves it is a farce and that it does not prioritise the need of regional commuters,’ Mr Blackwood said.