Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Trains issues across Indi discussed

Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan hosted a public discussion at Benalla train station with V/Line and Australian Rail Track Corporation representatives.

MONIQUE FREER December 19, 2013 4:10am

Talking trains: Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan and Australian Rail Track Corporation chief executive John Fullerton.

Debate over Benalla’s train network was as hot as the temperatures on Monday when Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan joined V/Line and Australian Rail Track Corporation representatives at Benalla station.

Ms McGowan hosted the community event to give Indi residents the opportunity to discuss the works currently under way to improve the Melbourne to Sydney train line.

‘‘One of the big issues has been communication, and (Monday) was about communicating,’’ Ms McGowan said.

‘‘It was about getting the right people talking to each other, which I think is a really important thing.’’

More than 90 people attended the public meeting, putting V/Line and ARTC representatives under the pump.

Issues such as the absence of a Glenrowan train station, punctuality and reliability statistics, the need to upgrade the 1950s-era carriages and the need for more reliable and accessible services for those with a disability were all raised.

‘‘Getting feedback is always very important when we sit down and make decisions,’’ ARTC chief executive John Fullerton said.

‘‘I certainly enjoyed coming out here, people have been open and frank and honest with me and that’s important.’’

ARTC commenced the five-year $134million Ballast Rehabilitation Project in 2011 and Mr Fullerton said he expected to see continual improvement.

‘‘I think the key thing is to make sure we continuously improve — and we have improved to date,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve got works planned in the Christmas shut-down that relate to the regional rail works.

‘‘We’re taking advantage of that maintenance window and further works we’ve got planned for the first half of next year.’’

Voice for Indi president Alana Johnson said the meetings were beneficial to the public, but would only be effective if action was taken.

‘‘While we commend V/Line and ARTC for having these public meetings, we need to hold them to account for acting on the issues people have raised,’’ Ms Johnson said.

‘‘V/Line plans to establish a Customer Reference Group to ensure communication and consultation about service improvements but the effectiveness of this group will depend on how much clout the reference group has within V/Line and the relationship between the reference group members and their community.’’

The public meeting was one in a series of forums held in Indi. The Euroa community gathered at the Euroa train station on Monday, while Wangaratta and Wodonga residents had the opportunity to voice their opinions at separate meetings on Tuesday.

State Member for Benalla Bill Sykes also attended the Euroa and Benalla forums, and said it was good to see representatives from V/Line and ARTC hearing constituents’ concerns.

‘‘I and my Liberal National Party colleagues will continue to hold ARTC and V/Line to account until we get reliable, comfortable train services,’’ Dr Sykes said.

Nominations are being sought for a Benalla representative on V/Line’s Customer Reference group. For more information visit

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