Adjournment debate: Warrnambool rail services

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Transport, and the action I seek is that she order a review into poor punctuality on the Warrnambool rail line.

Last week the Warrnambool Standard reported that the Warrnambool line has had the slowest regional services in Victoria for six consecutive months. It also revealed that trains on the line have not met punctuality targets since the end of 2014. Put simply, this is not good enough. My constituents, who rely on this service, deserve better. A delayed train into Warrnambool means an even longer trip for people in Portland, Hamilton and Mount Gambier, who use coach connections to complete their journey. A day trip to see a doctor, for example, takes over 19 hours for these people.

It just continues the trend of Labor forgetting that there is life beyond the tram tracks, like this week’s announcement of the new high-capacity trains for metropolitan lines. While they may bring benefits for commuters in the city — as long as the imported content is up to the task — once again the country has been forgotten. Some of the rolling stock on the Warrnambool line was built in the 1950s. It is old and uncomfortable and has inadequate facilities, but there has been no mention of new trains and carriages for long-haul journeys like the Warrnambool line.

Transport networks in my electorate are failing. The roads are in terrible condition, which means it is dangerous to drive on many of them, and our trains cannot be relied on. The people of South-West Coast and beyond deserve better than this. At the moment the Warrnambool trains stop at every station in the Geelong region, then at Lara, Wyndham Vale, Tarneit, Footscray and sometimes Sunshine. I ask: why? There are services to Geelong every hour that pass through these stations providing links for people living in those areas. The four Warrnambool trains need to run express from Geelong to Southern Cross. It would save many minutes.

There are 100 000 people coming into Victoria every year, the majority living in Melbourne. That is not sustainable. Regional areas offer a great lifestyle — wide open spaces, clean living, clean air, fishing, surfing, beautiful beaches, affordable housing, quality education and health services, a relaxed atmosphere and a growing arts culture. There are jobs to be filled in my region. I have spoken in this house about one employer that needs to fill 58 positions, the Porthaul company, and a further 550 positions need to be filled in another industry by the end of the year, the timber industry — but people are turned off by the distance to Melbourne. The poor roads and second-rate rail service do nothing to improve that perception. The only way to do that is to bring the regions closer to the city with better and more efficient transport networks.

I note that community consultation will take place in Warrnambool over the coming weeks, and while it is vital that community opinions are taken into account, the government has a job to run an efficient service. There are obvious improvements that any efficient business operator could see. They need to be implemented now.