Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Delaying trams, trains, buses, cars

One argument from our train company Connex in their defence over delays that struck a chord with me was Australian culture. Things that other countries do to keep their trains moving, would be unacceptable in Australia.

I recall a fatal accident that we happened across on major Bangkok road. I asked a person later who knows about such things, and he told me that a response team will be there very quickly, the body and car will be quickly removed, and traffic would be back to normal within half an hour. In Australia, you could expect the road to be completely closed for four hours minimum, possibly six hours while pc plod ponderously go about their investigations and a haulage machine to remove the car is brought in from 50 kilmetres away. Getting the road moving again is not a priority. So many people are inconvenienced and the flow on effect can last for hours later.

I am not sure how trams and buses work in other cities around the world if a passenger falls ill, but in Melbourne, the vehicle will remain stationary until an ambulance arrives. In the case of trams, that means no vehicle will move, since trams can't get around a stationary tram in front. I had an experience of this once, when a fellow passenger took a fit. Fortunately the tram was at such a location that it could turn a corner and get out of the way of a major route and wait for the ambulance, only inconveniencing a minor route.

If it is sick passenger on a train, the train will remain stationary at a station until an ambulance arrives and the paramedics remove the person from the train. In other countries, the ill passenger is removed from the train, with a staff member to look after them and the train goes on. Well, we can't do that hey, coz the only staff member at an unmanned station, and there are a lot of unmanned stations, is the train driver.

A sick passenger on one train may delay tens of thousands over the day from flow on effects. How about this Connex? A fast response team to get to a station to attend to an ill person who has been removed from a train.

Or even in the extreme, dump them on a platform, call for assistance for them and the train continues on.

People fainting on a train seems to becoming more common. Connex would like you to believe that the reason is that people aren't eating a proper breakfast. They are not going to say it is because of overcrowded trains. We westerners are clearly different to Asian people, who sometimes get crammed and pushed into trains.......and we all know nothing stops a Japanese train.

How many people are on a packed Melbourne train? I don't know, a thousand? That so many should be inconvenienced, plus the flow on effect, by one passenger having a fainting fit and the train having to remain stationary until an ambulance arrives, seems wrong to me.

Should I have a fainting fit, I would be very embarrassed, but even more embarrassed if I knew that I had totally stuffed up the train system, by the train having to wait until an ambulance arrived and I was removed.

I really don't think Connnex's argument is sound. It is not Australian culture that delays our public transport, in the mentioned area at least. It is Connex's way of dealing with such matters.


  1. Anonymous10:17 pm

    I think the cultural reason is a ridiculous excuse; it's not quantifiable. And why didn't Connex use this excuse for every cancellation? I'm very skeptical.

  2. They need to spend a little to prevent a lot; staff on stations = immediately removing ill passengers from train allowing it to go on its way, less violence, less damage, increased patronage, more security instead of paying for all of that (and more) after it's become a shitty eyesore.

  3. "In other countries, the ill passenger is removed from the train, with a staff member to look after them..."

    In Britain we just chuck 'em through the window whilst the train's still moving.

  4. maybe we need to go back to the old horse and cart days. It would probably be more efficient!

  5. Anonymous9:45 am

    1. Kosky is at station.
    2. Reuben is at station.
    3. Kosky makes excuses when confronted by irate Reuben.

    I told you the Australian culture was no good; patriotism is a lost cause on this desert island.


    I'm in the clip on the right-hand side.

  7. Anonymous6:32 pm

    Recently a passenger took ill on an overcrowded train I was on, just before arriving at Burnley. No one did anything but for an older man and myself. He and I managed to carry her off and rather than delay the entire train and the dozens behind it, I elected to stay with her.

    She was only feeling faint, so made her lie down, gave her a bottle of water and saw her off on a train home when she felt better. Was 45 minutes late for work, but also arrived with a clear conscience for having helped someone in need and not delayed trains needlessly.

  8. Free public transport tomorrow wherever the lines aren't melted that is. It is amazing what Connex will come up with as an excuse. Now it's those pesky drivers wanting to fix scratches in train windscreens

  9. It is absurd Reuben, and because you have a US passport, no cuff across the ears for putting k in sceptical instead of c.

    Motherhood statement Jayne. Perhaps Connex should look up motherhood and take some advice.

    I doubt that Brian, but I do wonder how UK pt deals with such matters.

    Kinda of right Fenz. Olden day trains were never affected by heat. Every subsequent model has been less reliable.

    You stalking her Reuben? Surely you don't listen to ABC Melbourne Radio.

    Well done MD. That is what it takes. But of course it should be a staff member.

    Yes LiD. The red herring. Scratches in windscreens can be very distracting and I know why they pull the train for that reason. Because it is the only way to get it fixed. I don't think the free transport will cost nearly as much as it might have a week ago.

  10. Anonymous8:32 pm

    Well I did learn recently that some trains stop in Japan when there's heavy snow and strong wind...And several years ago a train line was severely damaged during the Niigata earthquake. It took almost a year to repair it. But I'd still rate the Japanese public transport system much higher than Melbourne's. In the first scenario, I was put on the very first bullet train the following morning at no extra charge. And in the second instance, buses were used to ferry people while the line was being repaired. The buses generally left and arrived on time, so people weren't inconvenienced. Vik.

  11. Ah, we did not realise that you did not pay extra for the bullet train Vik. You might have nearly got there before your scheduled train?

  12. Anonymous8:17 pm

    Unfortunately, no. The bullet train had me home just after 1pm but if I'd been on the night train as scheduled, I'd have been home around 11:30am. Not such a big time difference.

    I'm glad they didn't charge me extra for the bullet train as I had to pay for an extra night in Tokyo. Vik.

  13. It has finally stuck in my head, even if the spelling hasn't, Shinkasen. Did they make it easy for you with clear instructions etc?

  14. Anonymous8:27 pm

    Yeah sorry, in my emails to you I and R I said 'shinkansen' which is the Japanese word for 'bullet train'. No, I wasn't given any instructions but I didn't need them as I'd been on the shink (abreviated Japanese!) before. Besides, the shinks usually have bilingual info 'coz lots of tourists use them. Vik.