Late trains are far from Shepparton’s biggest concern when it comes to moving toward a rail service the city deserves or can be proud of.
But the fact 30 per cent of the city’s services were late last month is disappointing.
As one community leader said, it was another unfortunate result of a rail services that was ultimately less than what the Shepparton community expected and deserved.
And while more and better services remain the main aim for the city, the impact of continually late trains goes further than just creating a minor inconvenience for visitors.
If it is ever going to be taken seriously as a way to commute to work, there cannot be such a level of uncertainty as to the time the train will arrive at its destination.
Those commuting for doctor’s appointments, university, meetings or other events need to be able to plan with a degree of confidence the time advertised will be when the train will actually arrive at the destination.
If this does not happen on a regular basis, potential train travellers will lose confidence in the service’s ability to deliver.
It also makes it more difficult to choose to take the train instead of a car as a preferred method of transport.
Last month’s punctuality figure is not the first time the Shepparton line has fallen short of its punctuality target either.
Mixed performance results have been recorded in the past six months, with similar reasons — congestion leaving the shared metro network and speed-related heat restrictions — cited.
We do not for one moment pretend it is an easy task managing a regional train service, especially rail lines such as the Shepparton line, clearly deploying past date rolling stock.
But as previously stated, a modern, reliable, regular (and on time) train service, is among the city’s greatest needs if it is going to be able to grow and thrive to its potential.
And the reality is Shepparton is not going to get a state-of-the-art train service overnight.
But investment has been delivered to get it a little closer.
It will take time and further investment, to make sure it gets to the point where the upgrades are completed to pave the way for this improved level of service.
In the mean time, let’s hope some of the obstacles to a punctual service can be addressed so commuters can, at the least, have confidence they can arrive at the time advertised.