News

Line given extra coach services

By Simon Ruppert

The Labor Government is adding new coach services for Benalla with the aim of getting more locals where they need to go, but the coalition say it is just a ‘‘Band-Aid fix’’.

State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the introduction of new services would give passengers more travel options and better connection — whether they wanted to travel to Melbourne or for city folk wanting to get out to our beautiful region.

However, State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said residents of Benalla did not want another coach service — they wanted a train network they could rely on.

‘‘If The Nationals are elected (in November), we will invest $633 million to completely replace Victoria’s old and unreliable trains with brand new V/Locity trains, adapted for long-haul travel,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘That means new trains on the north-east line, adding additional seats and improving reliability.

‘‘An extra coach service and a paint job is not going to make up for the years of frustration experienced by commuters.’’

Labor disputes this rhetoric and Ms Symes said the extra coach services would get more locals and visitors where they needed to go when they wanted to go.

‘‘We’re adding more direct services and better connections to give passengers in the north east greater choice for when they travel,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘I’ve listened to north-east communities, many are already driving to Seymour Station to meet a connecting train, the additional direct bus option will mean more people can leave the car at home.’’

Starting October 1 additional coach services across north-east Victoria will include:

●One extra morning service from Wangaratta to Benalla to Seymour and;

●One extra mid-morning service from Seymour to Benalla to Wangaratta.

The coaches will utilise the town’s current train stations as the stops.

All new coach services are scheduled to coordinate with connecting trains at Seymour.

The new services will boost the number of weekday train and coach services between Albury and Seymour to seven return trips every day, with five stopping at Wodonga.

There will also now be seven weekday return services between Wangaratta, Benalla and Seymour.

Work is also under way for the $235 million north-east line upgrade, which is part of the $1.75 billion Regional Rail Revival program.

The tracks between Albury and Melbourne will be upgraded to enable the state government to run its promised purpose-built long-haul trains on the line.

●The extra coach services will start on Monday, October 1, with passenger information and timetables available at V/Line stations and ptv.vic.gov.au