V/LINE has marked an unwanted milestone this month, notching up three straight years of Bendigo line trains running late.

According to the operator’s performance monitoring data, V/Line has recorded as on time less than 92 per cent of its Bendigo trains for 36 consecutive months.

Figures released last week show that 85.4 per cent of trains for April were on time, an increase of 2.5 per cent on the previous month but still nearly seven per cent behind the operator’s target figure.

“This is the highest punctuality result on the Bendigo line in the past six months and we will be working hard to ensure this trend continues,” V/Line CEO James Pinder said.

Across the network, one in every seven trains did not run within V/Line’s on-time target of five minutes and 59 seconds for short-distance journeys (Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, Seymour, Traralgon) and nine minutes and 59 seconds for long journeys (Swan Hill, Warrnambool, Bairnsdale, Shepparton).

V/Line did meet its target 96 per cent for reliability, with 97.4 per cent of trains delivered across the network.

Bendigo services saw their third straight month of meeting reliability targets, at 97.5 per cent for April.

The performance figures came as the Victorian Auditor General released a report into the effectiveness of the $3.65 billion Regional Rail Link project.

The report found that it is difficult to determine whether value for money on the project has been delivered, given the former Department of Transport’s “poor benefit management practices”.

”It is very challenging, and perhaps impossible, to measure the expected benefits of the project. It is therefore unclear what level of value for money has been achieved,” the report stated.

The Auditor General found that since the link’s opening the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Rescources and Depertment of Treasury and Finance have not attempted to assess the value or achievement of any realised or potential benefits delivered by the project.

What was clear in the report is that Bendigo has not benefitted as greatly as other regional areas, with no increase in two-hour peak services to Bendigo since 2012.

In the same time, at least one such service has been added on each other regional line, including the Gippsland corridor, and only five of the projected 11 peak services delivered on Metro lines.

It found that the expected capacity generated by the project had not been reached, and that any Airport Rail Link using Sunshine as an interchange could add further strain on that increasignly congested part of the network.

– Joel Peterson