Passenger numbers on the north-east rail line could increase by 75 per cent if the service was improved as has been done with upgrades on the Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Traralgon lines.
That’s the conclusion of an independent report, the Hume Corridor Passenger Rail Study jointly funded by the Benalla, Wangaratta, Wodonga and Albury councils who want to use the results for advocating to both federal and state governments for improved passenger rail services.
Benalla Rural City Council contributed $19800 to the $90000 cost of the report.
A 75 per cent increase in passenger use would equate to more than 385000 additional rail trips a year with an economic boost of $113 million, with 487 more jobs in the north east.
Five areas were identified for improvement:
1. More reliable services;
2. Faster journey times with fewer stops;
3. More frequent services;
4. Elimination of bus replacement service; and
5. Consistency of travel time.
If these areas were addressed it’s estimated 59 per cent of existing, and 72 per cent of potential passengers would catch the train instead of driving, while 65 per cent of existing and 57 per cent of potential passengers would take additional train trips.
It would come as no surprise that a survey rated the north-east line as having the poorest service in Victoria, due to infrequent services, trains not arriving on time and slow journeys.
The study found one in five trains were more than 11 minutes late, while about 117 train services were cancelled in a 12-month period.
The study also found that the poor rail service and negative perceptions were significantly holding back regional economic and social growth.
It also stated that reliable rail services provide critical links for social inclusion and enhanced liveability.
Upgrading the service would include improving infrastructure to enable faster train speeds and to modernise rolling stock to ensure greater reliability and consistency of services.