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Punctuality for regional train lines has plummeted since the highly-anticipated Regional Rail Link opened last month, with Ballarat commuters feeling the brunt of slow and cancelled services.
The Regional Rail Link, which was designed to cut cut travel times between Melbourne and the state's major regional centres, has instead led to frequent cancellations and overcrowding. Some commuter trips between Melbourne and Ballarat that previously took little more than one hour have since blown out to an hour and 45 minutes.
Figures from Public Transport Victoria show that since the Regional Rail Link opened on June 21, only 67.8 per cent of V/Line services arrive on time.
In the week before the link opened, punctuality was reported at between 93.8 per cent and 86.6 per cent.
Ballarat's chronic overcrowding is the result of a decision to remove carriages from that line to add to trains travelling on the Geelong line, which now has more frequent services.
Many have taken to social media to vent their frustrations:
But relief could be months away, with few spare carriages available. A review of the regional rail link rollout is not due to start until late August.
Public Transport Victoria chief executive Mark Wild has promised to review V/Line's plummeting punctuality results.
Mr Wild, who answered questions from commuters on ABC radio on Wednesday morning, admitted that the Regional Rail Link had benefited the Geelong line at the expense of Ballarat. He added that the priority was to stabilise the network and promised new carriages across the network every couple of weeks.
V/Line spokeswoman Ebony Jordan acknowledged that times on the Ballarat line had been "disappointing".
"We've added two new carriages to the Ballarat line in the AM and PM peak this week to help with capacity on particularly busy services. We have new carriages coming out of the Bombardier workshop every two to three weeks and these will go where there is the highest demand," she said.
"We've heard the concerns of our customers and we will make changes as swiftly and smoothly as we can."
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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