Australia: audit into V/Line operator highlights problems

Victoria’s regional rail operator V/Line has consistently failed to meet targets, the auditor-general has found. Between July 2013 and March 2017, V/Line did not meet performance standards 47% of the time. On average, the report found seats ran out on more than half of peak services on the Geelong line in the nine months to March.
Patronage on trains and buses run by V/Line has grown by almost 90% over the last decade to 17.7 million passengers in 2015/16, leaving commuters facing delays, cancellations and overcrowding.
“V/Line’s performance over the past 10 years has mostly fallen short of its targets and community expectations, despite infrastructure improvements and timetable changes. … V/Line was not prepared for the strong growth in patronage and the resulting increase in service demand following the opening of the RRL [Regional Rail Link], which fundamentally changed the nature of its operations,” the report said.
“The scale of funding required to address the maintenance backlog is significant – approximately $534.8 million across the entire V/Line network,” the report said. Additionally, some rolling stock has been on the rails for 60 years, which was double its design life.
The auditor-general recommended that V/Line strengthen monitoring processes to make sure trains run on time and improve its system for analysing whether it was meeting performance benchmarks.