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THE chief executive of V/Line resigned yesterday, hours before the regional rail operator tabled its annual report, which confirmed 2011-12 was a record year for passenger numbers.
In total, 15.55 million people travelled on V/Line's rail and coach services - a 6.2 per cent increase on the previous financial year, and more than double the passenger numbers of 2004-05.
But despite the strong growth in patronage, V/Line reported a much smaller surplus than the previous year of $1.8 million, down from $12.7 million in 2010-11.
V/Line spokeswoman Clare Steele said the reduced surplus was in line with forecasts.
''Key factors affecting the surplus this year were costs associated with increased fleet maintenance, reintroduction of services in the north-east corridor, and infrastructure maintenance including flood damage repairs,'' Ms Steele said.
The government subsidy for each V/Line trip also dropped fractionally, from $18.36 to $18.27 per passenger.
Chief executive Rob Barnett, who announced yesterday that he will step down on Friday after more than seven years in the role, said he believed he was leaving V/Line in ''terrific shape''.
''V/Line has been the fastest-growing railway in Australia,'' Mr Barnett said.
Mr Barnett said train traffic on V/Line's freight lines had increased almost 50 per cent in 2011-12, due to bumper grain harvests. Trains also returned to Clunes on the Maryborough line in December after an 18-year absence.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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