A series of community based Regional Rail Forums have been held in Moe, Morwell and Traralgon during the past week.
Government officers and representatives from Regional Rail Link, the successful tenderer of the Traralgon corridor upgrade have been explaining the project to the community and fielding questions.
The forums have been supported by the local members of Parliament Ian Maxfield and Keith Hamilton, local government representatives, Liberal and National party candidates and of course members of the public.
“The forums are highlighting that the project must be viewed as part of an integrated total network to achieve the best results for existing and potential customers to the network,” said Wendy Everingham, Environment Victoria Regional and Rural Public Transport Campaigner.
At each forum the community highlights that metropolitan services have a significant impact on the reliability of country services. Country passengers want improvements the entire length of the corridor to enhance performance, not just in the country sections. Timetable redesign is essential.
“New timetable development must be for all sections of the network and not just the country section. This will ensure better pathways for country train services through more crowded metropolitan corridors,” she said.
“In addition the new services need to be integrated better within the total system. This includes co-ordinating existing bus networks and ticketing arrangements,” she said.
A member of the public raised the issue of having a Zone One metropolitan ticket included automatically with every country rail ticket purchased.
“This would significantly improve the simplicity of the system, ease of use is a key requirement for patronage growth,” said Ms Everingham.
Key issues raised at all three forums were the need for more frequent, reliable, comfortable and linked services. Naturally people were in support of the new trains stopping at major stations, Traralgon, Moe, Morwell and Warrigul. There was some discussion about supplementary stopping all station services in addition to the Faster Rail services to cater for the smaller communities along the line.
The forums build on the work developed by the local community at the Rural and Regional Transport Forum hosted by Monash University Gippsland in August last year.
“The Regional Rail upgrade is a reality. As a community we need to make sure the project is fine tuned correctly so the new product and associated transport networks reflect 21st century needs,” concluded Wendy Everingham.