Dear Daniel Andrews,
We the citizens and people of Gippsland do not agree with the recommendation that regional train services be terminated at Pakenham and our vulnerable, disabled and elderly be forced to change trains on their journey to Melbourne. Many of these people are the disadvantaged of our community, often seeking medical assistance & appointments in metropolitan medical centres that are not available in our region.
This change would also affect the bike tourists and young families who would also have difficulty with young children, prams and bikes changing trains to and from crowded metropolitan rail. The Gippsland area is being promoted as a great tourist region with economic benefits and as a way of overcoming the demise of the coal and timber mill industry and continual rail service is a must for this to succeed.
Other frequent users of the system are our people who work in the metropolitan centres and choose to live in the regional and rural areas here for the lifestyle and community opportunities that we have. The current system is unreliable and often runs late, this additional transfer and changeover time will add to the already overly long trip and decrease the reliability of the transport system to them, not to mention the additional time needed to be added to the start of the trip, getting up earlier, the changes in timetables that will be required etc.
We understand that the cost of upgrading the metropolitan system is a burden, but can Gippsland at least have the same standard as the other Victorian regions, that our Melbourne trains actually go to Melbourne, as they now do.
The Federal Minister for Infrastructure who is a resident here has promised his support in working with the state government to help sort the congestion problem.
We ask that you do not accept this part of the report from the citizens jury on face value and seek further consultation with the impacted communities and federal counterparts as you work towards an upgrading of the lines to at least the standard that the other Victorian Regions rail systems already have.