Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Statements on tabled papers and petitions



Report 2021–22

Michael GALEA (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (17:25): I am pleased to speak on the 2021–22 V/Line annual report. V/Line services are a vital link in our public transport network, boosting connectivity across our state. The success of V/Line is of importance to communities across Melbourne and especially regional Victoria. I note that the Andrews Labor government has remained committed to providing needed funding to V/Line and has enacted much-needed reforms in recent years. In particular we have seen a number of developments through the Regional Rail Revival as one aspect of Victoria’s Big Build which has seen improvements across the V/Line network, in particular in the west of the state on the Ballarat line with the duplication of the track with new crossing loops; 135 new services each and every week; upgraded stations at Bacchus Marsh, Ballan, Rockbank and Wendouree; a new 20-minute peak time frequency, 40 minutes off-peak; a new station at Cobblebank; and new stabling at Ararat, which has enabled the provision of an extra weekday daily service as well.

To the north-west of the state around Bendigo we have seen new stations at Goornong, at Huntly and at Raywood. In the north-east we upgraded stations at Donnybrook and Wallan, with 10 extra trains a week already running to Shepparton, VLocity trains coming to the Albury and Shepparton lines and new stabling and station upgrades as well. To the south-west on the Geelong line we have seen duplication of the track from South Geelong to Waurn Ponds, a hugely important project for that growing part of southern Geelong; three level crossing removals; as well as upgrades to Waurn Ponds, South Geelong and Marshall stations. We have also seen an extra daily service to Warrnambool, with VLocity trains again coming on that line soon, which has been a much-needed boost to those communities. On the Gippsland line we have upgraded stations at Bunyip, Longwarry, Morwell and Traralgon, along with duplication of the track and the new Avon River Bridge near Stratford.

Most importantly of all, though, we have fairer fares with the introduction of the regional fare cap of $9.20 per day or $4.60 for concession travellers. We have seen the absolute difference this makes to all regional rail travellers and to regional communities as well. I note my colleague Ms Ermacora made a number of comments this morning in her account of what people in Warrnambool said to her and what a difference it made to their lives when that policy came in.

There is a lot of work that this Andrews Labor government is doing when it comes to V/Line, and there is much more that we will be doing. It is fantastic to see as well a bouncing back from COVID. Patronage has rebounded strongly, recovering from the 2020–21 financial year. There have been an additional 1.77 million patrons, a 20.6 per cent increase, with 19.6 per cent more train and coach passenger trips in the financial year 2021–22 when compared to the previous year. This is a government that is investing in our public transport infrastructure and services in Melbourne and, most especially, in regional Victoria.