It takes an average of 14 extra minutes to travel between Warrnambool and Melbourne by train

A V/Line locomotive at Warrnambool Train Station.
A V/Line locomotive at Warrnambool Train Station.

The Warrnambool train line has come close to meeting its punctuality target after a string of poor results, however, the time it takes to travel to Melbourne has increased by an average of 14 minutes since last year.

The line had a punctuality rate of 90 per cent for September, a dramatic increase from rates of 15.4 per cent and 12.6 per cent recorded in December and January.

The figure was the highest for the year, close to the 92 per cent target.

V/Line acknowledged the improvement was in part due to the introduction of a new timetable at the end of August that accurately reflected how long the journey was taking.

The average time it took to travel between Warrnambool and Melbourne in a timetable that ran from June 2015 to June 2016 was three hours and 29 minutes, while the average for the timetable introduced at the end of August was three hours and 43 minutes.

V/Line acting chief executive officer Carol-Anne Nelson said the new timetable introduced in August with extra time allowed passengers to better plan journeys.

Speed restrictions have been in place on parts of the Warrnambool line since a collision between a truck and train at Pirron Yallock, near Colac, in July last year.

More than 20 level crossings are due to be upgraded with safety features by the end of the year, which V/line says will restore journey times.

“Work to upgrade level crossings on the Warrnambool line is continuing and journey times will return to normal by the end of the year,” Ms Nelson said.

Ms Nelson said nine level crossings had already been upgraded, and the remaining 14 would be finished over the next few months.

South West Coast MP Roma Britnell said the spike in punctuality did not show an improvement.

“The goal posts have been moved and V/Line acknowledges that – it’s window dressing,” Mrs Britnell said.

“They’ve accounted for the ongoing delays in the timetable – they’ve increased the time it takes to get to and from Melbourne.”

The MP said she was pleased speed restrictions would be lifted, but questioned whether the timetable would be altered back to reflect better journey times. She said trains should continue to run express between Geelong and Footscray.