Monday, June 20, 2011

Encouraged to catch a train?

In the 1970s and into the 1980s trains and trams entered a period of decline. Patronage was falling and the government was not putting money into the systems. Another chicken and egg argument that is lost on me because I believe that had the system had money and resources invested in it, the patronage would not have dropped. Our country train system became a static beast, except where lines were shut down.

While I caught the train to Melbourne a few times from Moe station in the seventies, I have no memory of the station itself. The train trip I remember well. I would try to get a compartment on my own, and make sure if it was cold that it had a foot warmer. The last train I caught from Moe must have begun its journey there as the foot warmer was cold and I was very disappointed, but it heated up as the train rocked along. I have since learnt about foot warmers. They used to be heated and depended on a chemical reaction to stay warm. Clearly when I caught the train, it was post heating them up first.

The line was electric back then and later unelectrified. Can you believe that? It was once an important junction, running on to Morwell, Sale and Bairnsdale with branch lines heading to Walhalla, Thorpdale and the coal mine at Yallourn.

This photo of Moe Station is from an excellent website Stations Past. It was taken in 1989. Now really, why would anyone want to catch a train from such a disgraceful building as this. I expect I must have mentally blocked any memory of Moe Station from by brain. It illustrates very well as to why train travel had declined so much and was deliberately neglected by successive governments.

PS The station has been significantly renovated since.


  1. it looks like all the stations on the Sandringham line. That timber bench seat is worth mentioning. The impressive length of the timber makes them highly desirable theft targets of/by furniture makers. The ones on Middle Brighton station went missing while I lived there.
    Younger readers would be unaware that back in The Olden Days stations had multiple staff, proud of the appearance, and often there were station gardens.
    Rosedale station is an impressive jungle these days.

  2. I don't know Moe but I know a tragedy when I see one.

    Joe and I lived in Bendigo for a few years, a city well served by the railway system. But the smaller towns, on less used lines, were hit by Kennett and his destroyers. Even gorgeous 19th century railway architecture went to ruin.

    I found one railway station in central Victoria (Maryborough) that was splendidly renovated, just as we would like it. Alas I suspect it was done for tourists and shoppers, more than for railway customers.

  3. I worked on the rail in wagon maintenance area for 36 years so i know exactly what you are talking about. One point i will make is that i worked in the yard next door to Nth Melbourne Station and on night shift we would arrive 36 freight trains every 4 hours until suddenly we only arrived 36 trains or less for the whole shift if that's not being run down i don't know what is. Newport and Nth Melbourne Workshops went the same way and closed :-(.

  4. Hello Andrew:
    British Rail went, we fear, in the same direction, or lack of it, in the 1970s and now is a complete hotchpotch of privatisation [of the actual trains] and something whose ownership is a complete mystery which goes by the name of Railtrack. The result, apart from on the very few main lines, is a complete lack of any reasonable service run at enormous cost to the paying public.

    We utterly sympathise with you.

  5. My very first job was in a railway station, back in the days when the travellers came into the station for cups of tea and food while the train did whatever it did on its break. I lasted about a day and a half before getting fired.

  6. Do the idiots not equate a growing population = more infrastructure needed?
    Fools, tools and bloody twats.

  7. Ann, remember the gate, controlled by platform staff. No ticket, no entry to the platform. Flag waved by the guard for departure, gate closed. How did it all go so wrong. Windsor Station garden was nice.

    Hels, Kennett has a lot to answer for. But then Labor renovated the track and made into a single track.

    Windsmoke, and how we now suffer on the roads because so much freight that should go by rail does not. Don't know if was your area, but I recently heard about a device stationed by the side of the track that measures bearing noise in the trucks and gives a reading of wear for each bearing.

    J&L, we copied you privatisation, with equally disastrous results, although not quite so many different companies. I could not get over the saving in the price of train tickets bought well in advance.

    River, the railway ladies at the refreshments rooms. I remember them well, and the particular cups that the tea was served in. I can't imagine how you got the sack from there. You probably weren't rude enough to the customers.

    Jayne, in furious agreement with you of course. It is unbelievable for such a rich country.

  8. Would have loved to have changed to the narrow gauge at Moe...

    I must be getting old (because I just wrote "because I must be getting old") because I remember the gate and the flag from the 80's. I think all that went out when the scratchy tickets were introduced.

  9. These devices do exist in South & Western Australia not only do they detect bearing noise they also detect excessive amounts of heat coming from any bogie parts such as the wheels, journals or bearings they don't work very well too many false readings :-).

  10. Yes, it would have been fun Ben. Don't know about you, but when I was a kid, the person at the station gates was a feared authority figure.

    Just refining the technology Windsmoke. Management will be pleased to hear about the false readings.