V/line Annual Report Shows 23 Per Cent Jump In Patronage

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31st October 2008, 01:57am - Views: 650
30
October
2008


V/Line Annual Report shows 23 per cent jump in patronage

V/Line has posted its second consecutive year of record patronage growth, as detailed
in the rail operator's Annual Report which was tabled today in State Parliament.

Regional train and coach patronage jumped 23 per cent to a new record of 11.96 million
passenger trips across the state in 2007-08, up from 9.7 million the previous year.

The Geelong line continued to be V/Line's busiest with 3.08 million passenger trips for
the year (up 19.8 per cent), but the Gippsland line grew the fastest with a 47.3 per cent
increase to 1.54 million trips.

V/Line CEO Rob Barnett said low ticket prices at a time of rising car costs had seen a
major swing back to public transport.

"While the 29 per cent increase in passenger numbers in the previous financial year may
have been seen by some as an anomaly associated with the introduction of cheaper
fares, a further 23 per cent increase this most recent year is confirmation that we are
indeed experiencing a new era in rail travel.

"In just four years our patronage has grown 65 per cent from 7.25 million passenger trips
in 2004-05."

While high petrol prices encouraged more train travel, the V/Line Annual Report also
showed the business was hit hard by rising fuel prices and the drought, reporting a
deficit of $9 million.

Mr Barnett said fuel costs rose a staggering $7.2 million (to $25 million) during the
financial year at the same time the drought caused a $2 million drop in freight access
fees with smaller harvests resulting in fewer grain trains on the lines.

"Like many regional businesses we felt the effect of high fuel costs and the drought.

"V/Line is a publicly-owned business that has not been set up to report a profit, so this
result should be seen in context of the government's efforts to keep ticket prices low,
while also ensuring the network is well maintained for passenger and freight trains," he
said.

Mr Barnett said the business delivered a record $60 million worth of track maintenance
to support the long-term viability of country lines, despite freight revenue almost halving
during the year.
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Other key highlights tabled in the report today follow.

Operational performance:
V/Line ran a record 73,078 train services across Victoria (an increase of 5478
services on the previous financial year). This included 60,510 short distance
services (a 7% increase) and 12,568 long distance services (up 15%).
The business continues its record as one of the most reliable public transport
operators in Australia with 98.73% of trains running (very low cancellation rate of
just 1.27%). This is on par with the previous financial year of 98.85% reliability.
There was a 3% improvement in our long distance on-time performance with an
average 86.5% of trains on-time. But there was a slight (0.5%) decline in the on-
time running of short distance trains (86.1%).
However, V/Line's trains met on-time targets in the regional areas (93.8% on-
time for long distance trains and 94.7% on-time for short distance trains).

Customer satisfaction:
V/Line's customer satisfaction rating continued to be the highest of Victoria's
public transport operators. Satisfaction with V/Line trains rose 0.7 to a
Department of Transport index rating of 76.7 out of 100 (which indicates that
people are `somewhat to very satisfied' with the service). Satisfaction with V/Line
coaches rose 2.3 to 80.3 out of 100 (indicating a `very satisfied' rating).

Patronage:

We saw a record 11.96 million passenger trips made on V/Line trains and
coaches during 2007-08 (up 23% from the 9.7 million trips in 2006-07).
o Geelong line up 19.8% to 3.08 million passenger trips
o Ballarat line up 27% to 2.39 million passenger trips
o Bendigo line up 26.5% to 2.78 million passenger trips
o Seymour line up 5.5% to 1.2 million passenger trips
o Gippsland line up 47.3% to 1.54 million passenger trips.

While the combined patronage grew 23%, train patronage grew at more than
twice the rate of coaches.
o Train patronage jumped 24% from 8.85 million to 11 million passenger
trips.
o Coach patronage rose 9% from 874,000 to 952,000 passenger trips.

Copies of V/Line's Annual Report may be downloaded at vline.com.au/annualreport.

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