The Auditor-General has released a scathing critique of V/Line’s passenger services, saying “V/Line has not successfully dealt with the challenges it has faced over the past decade”.
The audit showed that patronage across the V/Line network had jumped 88 per cent over the past decade, including a 102 per cent increase in Western Victoria on services such as Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh and Ararat.
“V/Line did not foresee this growth or fully understand the causes of its poor performance because it lacked the necessary capability. It also lacked focus, until recently, on managing its assets,” the report read.
The report also revealed V/Line requires more than $534 million to undertake urgent maintenance across the network. The cost blowout comes after the public transport provider changed its maintenance approach from ‘fix on fail’ to ‘predict and prevent’ in 2015.
Among the list of recommendations put forward by the review is for V/Line to strengthen its monitoring processes for measuring on-time running of trains and coaches and to devise a long-term plan to improve efficiency.
The report also calls on Public Transport Victoria to work with V/Line to “more accurately reflect actual performance and passenger experience”.
The report comes as commuters on the Ballarat line continue to late and crowded services, with V/Line failing to meet its stated monthly punctuality target of 92 per cent since May 2015.
In the month leading up to July 21 43 six-carriage services on the Ballarat line were cut in half in response to urgent maintenance across the network.