Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Train Rant

Two mornings in a row I have heard on the radio that the 6.49 train to Pakenham has been cancelled with the next train being at 7.22, Monday and Tuesday. This is outrageous. It is supposed to be a suburban train service.  I have checked the timetable and this means there is not a direct train from Flinders Street arriving in Pakenham between 7.09 and 8.30. There are ways to get there in between these times by changing trains, but I expect this requires some train knowledge and a reading of timetables, clearly beyond the skills of the traffic reporter. I should think that when there is already a large service gap, trains should not be cancelled to make it into an absurdly long gap. Why are so many trains cancelled anyway?

Speaking of knowledge of the system, we all know trains on the Sandringham line don't run express. I am so sure of it, I would never bother to check to see if for some reason it was otherwise.

And I expect nor did the distressed man who was lost in the wilds of Kew who I came across.  He had an appointment, the time of which had long past, at the corner of St Kilda Road and High Street. English was not his first language but I gleaned enough information from him to piece together what happened. I can be kind at times and I gave him the best directions I could and drew him a little map showing how to get there using two trams. It is important when giving directions to strangers not to give them the quickest was to get somewhere, but the simplest, even if it takes a bit longer.

He had planned to catch the Sandringham train to Prahran and then walk ten minutes to St Kilda Road. I think he must have been travelling from the city, or less likely in the other direction from a station along the way. If it was the latter he must have realised at Balaclava that the train wasn't going to stop at Prahran and left at Balaclava. The more likely is that he was on the train from the city and the train did not stop at Prahran or Windsor and so he got off at the next station when the train stopped, Balaclava. He saw a tram with St Kilda on the destination and thought it said St Kilda Road. Regardless, the tram had long passed along St Kilda Road and through St Kilda and he ended up at the end of the line in Kew. Had he have caught the same route tram going the other way, he would have been fine.

My sense of direction is usually good, but I recall being completely bamboozled when we stepped off the train in Ueno in Japan at night time after we arrived from Australia. I knew our hotel was very near the station and I had a mental image of the way to go. I did not realise the station would be monstrous or there be big roads, pedestrian bridges and overpasses. I was ill prepared. Lesson learnt. I could not even work out which side of  the station we had exited. R wanted to get a taxi, but I was determined that one of my first memories of Japan was not being laughed at by a taxi driver who we would pay to take us two hundred metres. I asked a policeman and he showed me on a map where we were and which way we were facing and we worked it out from there. So I do know what it is like to be in an area you are completely unfamiliar with and quite bewildered.

As for trains running express on a line where there are never express trains, bad form Metro, although I would just about wear it if it was very well publicised before anyone boarded the train. But if you don't speak the lingo or read English, you are done.

Later edit: The 6.49 to Pakenham was cancelled again this morning, for the third day in a row. Further, cancelled Thursday too. It seems it is a planned cancellation because of works, which makes it even worse that a train is deliberately not run and there is such a huge gap in the service.

12 comments:

  1. I have to ask, does the govt implement an English test for new immigrants?

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    1. For some classes of immigration, I think Michael. Obviously not for refugees. I think there is an English to pass before gaining citizenship.

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  2. Good of you to help him out, I try to when I'm asked as well, but usually I only know the way to places I often go to. If I really don't have any idea I'll direct them to the metro ticket place where they can get timetables and maps and other help.
    I think all new people should be handed a transport map and a bunch of timetables for their city and suburbs, or at least told where to get them.

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    1. River, maps just don't work for some people. They need conversation and reassurance. This bloke was maybe late thirties. He could check a map on his smart phone, and I bet he had one. I just don't understand, but that is my problem, not his. I helped because I could and he seemed distressed.

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  3. Since private companies are only in the transport business for profit and not to work as a community-owned asset, I would assume the cancelled train is going to be withdrawn, permanently. It is the private company's way of sticking their two fingers up into the face of the travelling public.

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    1. Not sure Hels. There was a notice on the website saying because of 'works' some trains maybe cancelled. Like you, I hate having service organisations driven by profit.

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  4. Public transport in Australia is a joke.

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    1. Or an oxymoron, Diane?

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    2. Daine, compared to much of Europe, it is. Even Great Britain does it better.

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    3. Not better than Perth Andrew :))))

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    4. Disappointing to hear Grace.

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    5. No I meant Perth does it better than everyone :)))

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