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Angry commuters who have been left stranded at V/Line stations across the state are demanding refunds for tickets they say have become "next to useless" in recent weeks.
Passengers are furious with the botched roll-out of the highly-anticipated Regional Rail Link, which has contributed to significant delays and cancellations across the network since it opened in June.
Frustrated commuters, especially from the Ballarat and Geelong lines, have swamped social media with complaints, claiming they are frequently late to work and the new timetable has significantly affected their lives.
Many are now demanding refunds or compensation.
V/Line offers compensation if it fails to meet its monthly targets and also to commuters whose train is delayed by 60 minutes or more.
Geelong commuter Garry, who didn't want his surname published, said he "couldn't believe" he was paying for a service that had tacked on an extra two hours to his daily commute.
"We're paying $300 a month for this," he said. "I think it's fairly pathetic. They've had six months to get this right."
He said all commuters wanted was "decent service", which was what he believes he received before the Regional Rail Link opened.
"I just want to see my family and get to work on time," he said.
V/Line Spokeswoman Ebony Jordan told Fairfax Media the number of requests for compensation was no higher than usual.
"Our figures show a total of 57 performance compensation cases have been received through our customer feedback team so far this month, with the majority of the submissions coming from Geelong line customers," she said.
"V/Line is continuing to work with Public Transport Victoria, as part of the new timetable implementation."
Public Transport Victoria chief executive Mark Wild and V/Line chief executive Theo Taifalos visited Ballarat on Friday in the wake of growing commuter anger. They have promised that Ballarat will be the priority for new rolling stock off the Bombardier production line.
However, any improvements in running times are not expected until after a review of the Regional Rail Link roll-out, and that is not due to start until late August.
Acting Minister for Public Transport, Luke Donnellan, acknowledged services have not been "up to scratch" and encouraged commuters to lodge claims for compensation.
"Compensation is available for passengers when V/Line services do not meet established monthly performance benchmarks. These targets have not been met this month on the Ballarat line," he said.
"We encourage passengers to access the compensation they are entitled to and we will continue to focus on improving the performance of Ballarat services."
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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