Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Landing at Williams Landing

Apart from a list of 'shoulds', I should do this, I should do that, I had nothing planned for the day so I decided to visit the new train station at Williams Landing. I deliberately did not look up anything online for two reasons. I did not want look at the PTV website again so soon after my last disastrous visit, and I like to test how user friendly systems are to get around for the stupid and the ignorant who don't look things up in advance strangers.

Curious about the name Williams Landing? Royal Australian Air Force Point Cook base and RAAF  base Laverton were amalgamated to become RAFF Williams. World War I pilot Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams KBE CB DSO is regarded as the father of the RAAF.

I knew I wanted the Werribee line. Ah yes, Williams Landing is listed on the screen at Flinders Street Station, platform nine at 13.01, and I don't have to go through the City Loop. The train departed on time and after Newport Station, it seemed to go for miles and miles and miles at quite a high speed before reaching the next station. The time passed quickly and some 33 minutes later, I arrived at Williams Landing.

Wow, that is quite some walkway, crossing Princes Freeway, the road to the second largest Victorian city of Geelong.

I like the look of the station building. It looks like a train carriage. I did not go up the long long ramp, but used the fast and clean lift, unlike the lifts at Flinders Street Station and Laverton Station.

Plenty of room for developments, and maybe more carparking, although I have just read that the station is in ticket Zone 2, so parking may not be such a problem.

Not only a long walk, but not great if it is raining, which apparently it does very occasionally in Victoria.

The Geelong bound VLocity has its own track.

The car park is large. This woman and perhaps her daughter were taking photos and then heading to the platform to catch the train. I asked how full the carpark was and she said it wasn't full but they had to drive a bit to find a space, and then a long walk up the ramp to the station. I used another lift up to the concourse.

You can have a rest along the way up the ramp.

Buses coming and going. These poor lasses walked all the way down the external ramp, back past the five bus stops to the first stop, almost right where the lift comes down from the concourse.

I used the ramp to get back down to the platform from the concourse, following the ladies who I had spoken to earlier.

Metro fail.

The station does look futuristic. I like the design.

Parkiteer bicycle parking. Parkiteer. Get it? Not open yet. Three bikes were chained up outside, a good sign on the first proper day of operation.

I was a bit hungry and there appeared to be no local shops for local people, let alone a visitor. I know. I will go to Altona. That is a nice and quiet little place with local shops where visitors are welcome. But how to get there. No, I won't check on my phone. I will look at maps and time tables on display. There were none (Metro fail).  I had to do something I dislike doing, ask. The staff at the ticket counter was behind thick perspex with slots to speak through that seemed to not allow audible speech to be returned (Metro fail). The staff had a significant accent too. I managed to catch the word Laverton. I did know Altona Station is on a diversion from the mainline which sometimes sees through trains and sometimes a shuttle service. It must be a shuttle service during the day and I guessed I had to change at Laverton.

There was an announcement on the train to change for Altona Loop service, but once on the platform there was no information and no announcement (Metro fail). I saw a train sitting at another platform, so I climbed the stairs. On the concourse, a man was telling woman that the train I was heading for was not the Altona train, as it normally leaves from this platform, as he indicated one without a train. He added, the trains only go that way on that track. Oh. She looked unsure about what to do and nor was I sure. The electronic display on the concourse certainly wasn't indicating the the Altona Loop train was sitting where I was heading (Metro fail). As I reached the top of the stairs down to where the train was sitting, I could see the train headboard displaying Newport. So that is the right train. It was 14.03 and the platform display indicated the train was leaving at 14.26. Surely that can't be right. It wasn't (Metro fail). The train departed at 14.06, as I guessed it would.

I looked around the carriage once we departed and there was the woman, who had clearly not taken the advice of the chap up on the concourse. It was a decent hike without a stop across some swamps to the next station, Westonia. The following was Altona where I alighted and found a cafe for a sandwich and coffee.

This is the kind of area I am a bit more used to, the Altona shopping strip.

Almost unbelievably, Melbourne still has some single track train lines, rather too many. Even more unbelievably, a dual country rail line was replaced with a single line.

 This breaks the functionality of a train station.

You can't really see the numbers, but take it from me, this is another Metro fail.

I had noted the time I left the train and less than forty minutes I was back at Altona Station to go home. There was no train time indicator on the station platform, but I had noticed one outside that I thought was only for buses. I went back out and sure enough, next shuttle train to Newport at 14.52, however the display said 30 minutes before the next train to Laverton, and 1 minute for the next train to Newport. It was 14.48 with four minutes to wait for the Newport trains and less than 30 minutes for the train to Laverton (Metro fail).

The train stopped at Seaholme Station, a nice looking place and I could see the sea through the trees, and then we journeyed through industrial areas and across more swamps for some time, where I saw a lot of ducks, a wading bird I did not recognise and even a rabbit fleeing from the travelling iron monster.

The train is arrived at Newport and there was nearly ten minutes to wait for the Flinders Street train. Bit of a painful process for people who use the train regularly (Metro fail). Once the train reaches Flinders Street, it goes on to Frankston and not via the City Loop, so if people want a Loop station, they have to change again (Metro fail). No wonder the local MP rails against the government. (Note, services were very disrupted that day and I may be wrong about the train not going through the City Loop and on to Frankston.)

Why are all those people on the opposite platform? Ah, waiting for the Williamstown shuttle service. Hang on, that doesn't operate during the day on a weekday surely. The reason became clear to me from the evening television news service.

I was a bit far from the platform loud speaker but I did hear an announcement that the train I was waiting for was delayed. I missed how late it would be, but I could see train headlights approaching. A less formal announcement was made by station staff that we should ignore the auto announcement and that the train was on time and approaching. (Metro fail)

The rest of the journey was uneventful, but even if you dispute some of my Metro fails, there are rather a lot of them.

I love passing by Buddha standing serenely at the unfinished temple in Footscray.


  1. As I am someone who rarely travels west of the city (except for one year when I worked in Geelong), your post is a timely one.

    I was wondering if Melbourne needed more railway stations rather than more trains. But apparently that part of the western suburbs is populating like mad, especially with young families. So the new train station at Williams Landing is needed now and will be needed even more urgently in the near future.

    Hopefully the new infrastructure and staff will sort out the bugs quickly.

    1. Hels, it is a very much needed station, only adding a minute to the travel time on the Werribee line. Travelling west does not come easily to me, well not past Kensington. I made an effort.

  2. God almighty - my son in law takes the train from Williams landing now to CBD - because at last there is a bus from their place out near the RAAF base to the station - he was unsure of parking - but at the rate people are moving here they will need to add floors to the parking station soon enough - Its the closest station to my house - sounds like you had "fun" how on earth does a newcomer figure it all out? must try someday. I like Altona and often walk along the bayfront

    1. MC, I think the parking is ok for now, but it won't last. I just learnt that Laverton is the last Zone 1 station, and its carpark is not big enough. You work it out by being needy and asking lots of questions of a lot of people, and if you are still not convinced, ask even more people. Or, you can look up a timetable.

      Altona is nice and I too have walked the seafront. I recall a lot of noise from jet skis on one occasion.

  3. I cannot tell a lie, sir, I did catch a train once without checking a timetable first. The year was 1973, and I didn't have to wait long.

    I checked timetables constantly when commuting from Franger to city for work. Sometimes station staff scratched their heads and said the timetables were wrong. The timetables were reprinted and, apparently, still wrong.

    The overhead signs at SoCross were often wrong - loop trains would dump one at Flinders Street, sometimes the trains left from different platforms. Sometimes the trains would take one from SoCross to Flinders St and the very next stop would be SoCross.

    "Laverton" is a good name for a station with grotty toilets. If this logic was applied consistently, however, 90% of all stations in the metro area would have the same name.

    As for Williams Landing, oh my goodness what a lot of walking involved. Thank you for doing the hard work on my behalf. I'm glad you found a good place to lunch in Altona.

    1. Sounds very nineties FC, when Jeff G K was at his prime. I recall when tram timetables posted at stops were wrong. Now it is the internet site that gets it wrong.

  4. Oh Andrew, I'm ever so glad you do these things, so the rest of us don't have to undergo such excruciating failures.

    1. Fen, only to you would I confess that I enjoyed my outing to WL.

  5. It's nice to see seats along that long, long, ramp.
    I used to be uncomfortable asking people for directions etc, but I'm over it now. I need to get where I'm going and if I need to be there at any specific time, I'm asking anybody behind any counter. oh dear! I'm turning into my mother.

    1. River, I just don't like asking for information. It should be up on display to work out for oneself. If I need to be somewhere at a specific time, I look it up well in advance, and then probably drive.

  6. You're amazing Andrew, I love that you take these jaunts and report's not likely that I'll ever need to use these trains and timetable info, but you do make the trip most enjoyable! Where are we off to next?

    1. Yes, I am Grace, I know. Ummm, maybe to look at a house featured on a new Sunday night tv show.

  7. Anonymous6:04 pm

    Do you know what time does the commuters park their cars and catch the train? I was there at 7.30 and the parking was full.

    1. Sorry, can't help. I live on the other side of town.