A horror year with thousands of cancelled trains and poor maintenance has led Victoria's regional train network to post a $23 million loss.
Regional commuters spent six months catching buses instead of trains when V/Line trains were banned from metropolitan tracks over faults at level crossings in January.
At the same time V/Line discovered it hadn’t done enough maintenance on tracks and wheels were wearing thin.
V/Line’s annual report reveals the post-income tax loss of $23 million in 2015/16 was significantly higher than the $2.1 million loss posted in 2014/15.
The network spent an extra $15.5 million on fleet maintenance above the previous year’s total, and an extra $18 million on repairs and maintenance.
When asked about the loss and Labor’s plans for the service, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan pointed to the former coalition government taking $120 million out of V/Line and halting carriage orders for two years.
“We’ve restored and increased funding to V/Line, ordered 48 new carriages and added more than 340 extra services every week, with 170 more to be introduced next year,” she said in a statement.
“V/Line is now back on track, and ready to deliver the improvement in infrastructure and services we set out in the Regional Network Development Plan, and have already started implementing.”
Opposition public transport spokesman David Hodgett said the government’s “ham-fisted” management of V/Line meant money was wasted.
“Passengers were often late for work, late to get home and missed important meetings and appointments,” Mr Hodgett said.
“It’s also why V/Line customers posted an overall satisfaction rating of 67.5 per cent in 2015/16, down from 71.3 per cent the year before.”