Any plans for today, I asked R. No? Let's go to Geelong for lunch. R has never used his two free train passes he receives each year, so here was an opportunity to use one. I checked the train times and there was an express with only a couple of stops at 11.00 and the country train from Warrnambool stopped at Geelong to pick up at 1.50, with only two stops between Geelong and Spencer Street. Perfect. We had to reserve seats on the country train for our return journey, so we did so at Southern Cross Station. We had time for coffee and a snack before boarding our train.
I hate this gambling advertising at So Cross Station. It makes the place look very cheap.
Our train was a VLocity, described as high speed multiple diesel unit, and was waiting at a platform I had never noticed before, 8S, the S for south. It was not too busy and we sat opposite some backward facing seats for extra legroom, club seats I think they are called. The seats are incredibly comfortable. I have been on a VLocity once before to Sunbury and back. They have a top speed of 160 km/h and I am sure we reached that speed at times on the way to Geelong. The only problem I have with them is that the motors are under the floor and are quite noisy, especially when under load, but the ride and air conditioning is quite good. A fellow traveller was ferreting around under a luggage area and found a power point to charge his phone. Three times the train had to slow for trackworks and once for bad track, I think by the way the train was moving around. Still, it reached Geelong only one minute late. It was a 52 minute trip with three stops along the way. (I assumed Vlocity trains had diesel engines connected to electric generators. Is this not the case? They are direct drive through a fluid transmission?)
Odd building just out of the station.
It appears the repairs to Melbourne's embarrassing large ferris wheel are complete.
We kind of know Ryrie Street in Geelong and the waterfront, but little else. When Sister lived there, we usually just drove straight through, as we do now when going to The Bellarine. Malop Street proved to be quite interesting with lots of shops. I had no idea Geelong had so many fine, preserved and restored buildings. I won't bore you with them all but here are a few.
I have since read that a mayoral candidate wants to increase the building height limit in Geelong City. No, no and no. Nothing should take away from the existing buildings, least of all glass towers.
We had some lunch and I bough a new pair of jeans in Myer. I was looking at them and I then said to R that I wasn't in the mood for clothes shopping. I seldom am. Then I saw a sign that said they were 25% off, so I decided I was in the mood for clothes shopping, tried them on and bought them.
We wandered around the shops for a bit. Had the weather been better, we would have gone down to the waterfront.
On the way back to the station we walked through Johnstone Park, with what must surely be one of the best rotundas in the world. In the small but very nice park, lots of birds were darting around at speed. I don't know the name of the breed. They just flew around constantly without landing.
Here we are, back at the station. To the left out of shot are the bus parking bays.
The station waiting room had some interesting photos. There are no longer passenger trains from the regional city of Geelong to the regional city of Ballarat. It is now a coach service but I think the railway line is still operational for freight.
The opening of the railway line in 1857.
A tram waits in the forecourt. That would have saved us a walk. I suppose there are buses now but who could be bothered working out which one to catch. How good would it have been to just hop on the tram for a couple of stops.
Our journey back took much longer and was not so pleasant. We had been allocated seats facing backwards. The elderly couple opposite us never stopped talking. The seats were incredibly uncomfortable. As it was a conventional train with the engine up the front it was quieter than the Vlocity we travelled on earlier. I later worked out the carriage must have been about thirty years old and it was showing its age. The N Class engine appeared to be unable to go much faster than 100 km/h and even with one less stop on the return journey, it took its full 64 minutes, that is 12 minutes longer than the down trip. We did have to stop at Little River, while another train passed by. I think it is double track, so that seemed odd. However, it arrived at So Cross on time.
We really do need some new country engines and carriages. In spite of the noise level, maybe more of these Vlocity trains could replace the old engines and carriages. Perhaps 1st class needs to be added to them, or is the present 'quiet carriage' adequate?
I sent an sms to Sister who replied and inspired this post's heading, and to Bone Doctor about the outing. Bone Doctor replied she was doing a sports medicine clinic in Geelong and could have met us for lunch. Later Sister said, you could have caught a train to Pakenham if you wanted a train ride. Where Mother lives? No thanks.
I think next year the Geelong train will follow a new route via the regional rail link project line. I am pleased to have have travelled over the old route before it closed.Well, not actually closing but used differently.