By Brendan Rees
Commuters faced frustration on the Cranbourne line in January after industrial dispute caused cancellations across the Metro network.
New figures, released by Public Transport Victoria showed the punctuality rate on the Cranbourne line in January was 88.2 per cent – which was short of Metro Trains’ performance benchmark of 92 per cent.
Overall, 86 trains were cancelled compared to 65 in December.
In a statement, a Metro spokesperson said although January was a more consistent month overall for performance – “we are deeply disappointed that we weren’t able to meet our targets”.
“An industrial dispute significantly impacted the reliability of our services, and had this action not taken place we would have exceeded both targets.
“Passengers are eligible for compensation because that’s what they deserve,” the spokesperson said.
The industrial dispute caused significant driver resourcing issues, causing almost 400 cancelled or delayed services across the network.
The dispute was resolved through the Fair Work Commission on 31 January.
Heat-related speed restrictions of 70km/h were applied across the entire Metro network on 31 January during a day of temperatures in excess of 42 degrees.
Services on the Cranbourne/Pakenham lines were also impacted by an equipment fault during the extreme heat, which saw more than 160 services on those lines impacted.
Department of Transport Head of Transport Services Jeroen Weimar said it was disappointing passengers continued to be impacted by industrial action.
“It is frustrating that these disruptions impact our passengers who rely on trains and trams to get them where they need to go,” Mr Weimar said. “All parties need to come to the table and come to an agreement quickly to prevent further inconvenience for our passengers”.
State Liberal MP for Gembrook Brad Battin called on the State Government to “act immediately to provide the service Cranbourne commuters pay for”.
“Again Cranbourne residents have had to face another month of failed punctuality,” he said.
“Labor needs to get their priorities straight and start focusing on getting the essential services right and provide the reliable public transport service commuters in the south-east”.
Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen said the State Government must prioritise duplication of the track between Cranbourne and Dandenong.
“It is disappointing to see the Cranbourne line again performing so poorly in January,” Mr Bowen said.
“This came on top of rail replacement buses running for most of the month between Caulfield and the City, and just added to the delays for passengers travelling on the line”.