Pain on the train

Commuters crowd at Oakleigh Station, on the Pakenham line, amid lengthy delays. 181842_01

By Rowan Forster

Embattled Pakenham train commuters have demanded compensation from Metro and the State Government over “abysmal” results on the rail line.

It comes as the Pakenham line has recorded the worst results in metropolitan Melbourne for five consecutive months, last month sinking to its lowest adherence rate since May, 2017.

Approximately one-in-five services arrived more than five minutes late, with a series of bungles leaving passengers stranded for up to an hour.

Lucie Grey, from Pakenham, is petitioning for commuters to be reimbursed for sluggish travel until the line’s service vastly improves.

Ms Grey was prompted to take action when she missed a job interview – which she labelled a “once in a lifetime” opportunity – because travel was delayed by 50 minutes earlier in May.

“They’ve asked us to be patient and we have, but enough is enough,” she said.

“We understand upgrades are taking place, but they’re planned – so delays of more than 40 minutes shouldn’t be happening.

“Families are impacted, children are stuck at childcare and jobs are on the line because people are getting stuck on the train network and arriving late to commitments.”

Among the delays last month included a Metro signal fault on 14 May, which left passengers stranded for up to two and a half hours.

Among the upgrades being carried out are several level crossing removals and construction of the Metro Tunnel – which has been touted to slash 25 minutes from a Pakenham-St Kilda Road commute.

Daniel Bowen, head of the Public Transport Users Association, said the Pakenham-Cranbourne timetable is in need of an overhaul.

“The Pakenham line continues to do poorly, with crowding being an issue that contributes to delays, both at peak hour and at other times of day,” he said,

“The opening of the skyrail, with removal of the busiest level crossings, provides an opportunity for authorities to revamp the timetable to boost services and cut delays and crowding.”

Under current arrangements, Metro Trains offers compensation to the equivalent of two daily tickets if performance results drop below 86 per cent on-time.

However, to claim the two free trips, commuters are required to fill out a two page document.

“It’s quite insulting that we’re supposed to put in all this time to get the equivalent of about $8,” Ms Grey said.

“That doesn’t really compensate the countless hours wasted and our employment being jeopardised – it’s quite offensive.”

PTV CEO Jeroen Weimar confessed that May’s results had “dropped”, citing a month of “unplanned disruptions” and “major infrastructure works”.

“On the rail network, major level crossing, signalling and maintenance works, impacted performance on metropolitan and regional services,” Mr Weimar said.

“Last month was a tough month for operators with a number of major incidents causing significant disruption on our public transport network and impacting performance.

“We recognise that these works are disruptive, and thank passengers for their patience as we invest in building a network capable of delivering more trains more often on our busiest corridors.”

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