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Unhappy Cats fans have blasted V/Line and the State Government over the absence of “footy express” services between Geelong and the MCG yesterday.
V/Line confirmed last week that Geelong trains would not run to or from Richmond Station yesterday due to level-crossing removal work on the metropolitan network.
Wandana Heights resident Karen Kelly Kiss said many Cats and Magpies fans had opted to travel by road rather than train due to the inconvenience posed by the lack of a direct service.
“It’s been an absolute dog’s breakfast, the way it has been handled,” she said.
“When you have so many people wanting to get from point A to point B and not have a direct service — it’s asking for delays and missed trains. I was speaking to a woman at the game who was a Collingwood fan and she hadn’t heard the news about the change in train services. A lot of people at the game were very frustrated.”
Grovedale resident Mick Kelly said many fans were forced to drive due to the train switch. “There’s so many people that want to go to the game but they have to change and plan ahead for the inconvenience,” he said.
“If you’ve got your grandkids with you, or you’re not as able as you once were, it really slows down the process of getting to and from the game. Does the government want more cars clogging up the roads around the MCG?”
Seven Geelong trains departed from Southern Cross Station in the two hours following the game — the first 50 minutes after the final siren.
Only four services travelled all the way to Waurn Ponds.
Opposition Geelong spokesman Andrew Katos said the State Government had failed to invest in the Geelong-Melbourne line to keep up with commuter demand.
“What VLine and the Andrews Government are saying over the footy trains doesn’t add up,” the South Barwon MP said.
“If Geelong-Melbourne trains are operating as normal and trains between Southern Cross and Richmond are operating as normal, why can’t the service go straight though?
“It’s a classic case of this government not focusing on the current needs of commuters and talking about a way-off future bullet train instead.”
A spokeswoman for State Transport Minister Jacinta Allan did not address the reason for the lack of a direct link but criticised the Baillieu-Napthine government for its investment in rail.
“V/Line have made arrangements to ensure Geelong passengers can get to and from the game quickly and safely whilst the construction blitz is under way,” the spokeswoman said.
“We thank passengers for their patience while we build a better public transport network across the state.”
Public Transport Users Association convener Paul Westcott said V/Line were not at fault for the issue.
“Usually, the footy train service between Geelong and Richmond has access to stabling at Caulfield,” he said. “Because the level crossing work is going on, that restricts that ability.
“It’s really beyond VLine although you’d hope that the situation is resolved before the next Geelong Cats game at the MCG.”
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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