Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Train ID

I am going to the station, Southern Cross but known by so many by its original name, Spencer Street Station. I prefer Ann's name, So Cross Station. I hope the train drivers understand this mess of signals. When we lived along side the Alamein line, the train track reduced from dual track to single track and often trains would wait outside our place for a train to come out, before proceeding onto the single track. I soon learnt that a red signal over a green signal means go. Perhaps it means go, but not too fast.


I don't mind So Cross station and I think it works quite well. A friend who visited the station recently complained to me about non working escalators. While it is a bit of a walk, there are lifts at the other end of the platforms. What I don't like about it is the stench of diesel fumes from idling trains. I don't remember it being a problem in other station I have been in.


I have written about Melbourne trains before, identifying different trains, including old models that are no longer in service. This is a simple identification of our four train types that you may travel on now and how to know which kind of train you are catching. There are trains and sets, six carriages or three carriages, but who cares. We know what arrives at the platform as a train.

This is a Hitachi train. It is very silver looking and with minimal branding. It is heated but does not have air-conditoning. There are only five or six of them left and I really want to ride on one before they disappear.  While they were ever so modern when they first arrived, with driver operated closing doors and heating, they really are not very good compared to our newest trains. Driver air con was added at some point. The government sold them all and then as passenger numbers increased, had to buy some back at premium prices. Does that sound like what a government would do? They are easy to identify, as they feel old and they are quite noisy and each carriage is quite separate, with a connecting door and the windows open. Apparently they were a joint Japanese Australian project with 59 built between 1972 and 1981.


Then came the  Comeng train, Commonwealth Engineering, an Australia Government company back then. For their time, they were very quiet and very smooth and a pleasure to travel in and they still aren't bad. They look less sleek than newer trains, have three doors each side per carriage which you have to pull open but the driver does close the doors. The best thing was that they are air-conditioned, and so deliciously cool in the summer, well, as long as it did not get too hot. Then the air-con failed and the train went out of service. As the trains aged, their air-con became increasingly unreliable and I think in the very hot summer of 2009, so many failed, a decision was made to upgrade the air-con. There are doors connecting each very separate carriage. There are 91 of them running, of the 95 built with the building of them starting in 1981.


Next off the ranks is the X'trapolis built by Alstom of France. There are 74 of them, built between 2002 and 2004, and they seem to have been our best trains for reliability. The air con works well and they have push buttons on the doors for passengers to open and close the doors. They are very quiet and have sliding doors between carriages.


In the early noughties, with the operation of the government owned metropolitan train system privatised, two companies ran the trains, the lines being divided between them. In absolute madness, as happened with trams too, the other company bought different trains, Siemens Nexas from Germany, between 2002 and 2005. There are 36 of them and they caused a lot of trouble with malfunctioning brakes and being slow to load and unload because, as the picture shows, there are only two doors per carriage, rather than three. Having said that, I like them the most, with the carriages open to each other inside without internal doors.


Tech Stuff: I say trains, meaning six carriages. Technically our trains are three carriages, with two trains to make up a set. You train to board is approaching, so you need to say, here comes my train set. Try it and see what looks you get.

Here is a bonus photo, I think a Gippsland bound country train, pulled by a diesel locomotive. The carriages are old, but superbly quiet and smooth, without a diesel engine thumping away under the carriage as in the case of the more modern Vlocity trains.


You may be able to see the etching on the train window. Less obvious are the riveted black metal strips at the side of the glass. These had to be added to stop the youf kicking the glass out. I maintain, the stocks would be the  best way to deal with them. 


13 comments:

  1. Being a bit of a train geek Andrew, I loved the post. Blimey, those Hitachi trains are antiques! Our local Scotrail just retired 6 year old and still perfectly fine rolling stock for beautiful new stock. Very quiet and electrified. Free wifi within 6 months we are told.

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    1. I am impressed Craig, although I would like to think that a train is good for more than six years. I will look a bit deeper.

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    2. I think they bought well Andrew and were able to sell the last generation of trains at a very good price to some other city or state. If you see dark blue trains in Melbourne start to appear, you know where they've come from!

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  2. I'm not a fan of air conditioning on trains, you still have to wait on hot stations and if catching a train usually you have to walk somewhere so you are in a icebox for 20 mts then back in the heat, not so bad in winter they don't heat them up so much.
    I know they were not popular because of the noise but the old red rattlers were not bad because they had windows that opened and you could have a nice breeze to cool you in summer.
    Merle............

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    1. Merle, I am so a cold weather person, that I gravitate to air con. But I do agree, I think you feel the heat more if you have been in air con and then go into the heat. I used to enjoy the red rattlers too, but as a kid, I never felt the heat much.

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  3. "...country train, superbly quiet and smooth."
    If only all trains could be like that.
    I like the look of the X'trapolis.

    You know a lot about trains, Andrew.
    All I know is they get me from here to there.
    Sometimes on time too.

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    1. Ah, you go for the French, River. I am interested in public transport and so I have learnt quite a bit from reading forums etc.

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    2. Hi Andrew

      I call it Sox. I wasn't around when it was Spencer Street. Surely Southern Cross Station has far too many syllables for our busy lives.

      So Cross is cannily appropriate as one so often does get that way when attempting to connect with the one very important train that will take one home to Eastern Victoria after a day out in the city.

      xxx

      Pants

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    3. Pants, I should think you are very cross at the moment without a full train service until October.

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  4. The diesel stench is really bad. When we go to the footy at Etihad and drive, we walk past the station and you can smell it as you go by. Revolting.

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    1. Fen, feel for the staff who have to work in there.

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  5. SoCro, I think, might be a good name!

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    1. I like the same sound Ian, but So Cross does put you in the right frame of mind for you public transport journey.

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