Saturday, September 20, 2014

Going down under and Adam misses a train

We recently caught up with a friend at a Thai restaurant in the suburb of Ormond. We parked in the train station carpark and used the pedestrian subway under the train line to get to the restaurant.

I was reminded of Prahran Station from where I have occasionally caught a train over the years. The last time was a while ago. I knew what time the train was but I was a bit later than I would have liked to catch it. Ding, ding, ding, down came the booms as I approached the station, stopping me from sprinting to the platform to catch the approaching train. Of course I could run around the booms, but it is a dangerous thing to do and I was not in hurry, rather I just did  not want to wait fifteen minutes for another train.

Of course many do make the dash around the booms as the train approaches, and I don't blame them too much. A few years ago none of this dangerous activity would have been necessary at Prahran, as there was subway, like the one we used the other night. It was only a short subway, not a long and badly lit one that can be perceived as being dangerous. No, just this simple little tunnel that gets you under the railway line. Maybe it is too steep for some people. Well, there can still be facilities to cross the line at ground level. As it was, many used to stray onto the road rather than use the tunnel.

Yet the government seems to be removing tunnels and what happens then? Yes, more people going around the lowered booms to catch a train and more people getting hit by trains. If anything, they should be building more tunnels.

Still on trains, what a hoot! The Age newspaper transport reporter Adam Carey was on his way to a press conference called by the Minister for Transport. You know, one the grandiose announcements that come from politicians. He has the misfortune to live on the Upfield line which has a single track near the end and so can only operate a twenty minute service, peak hours and otherwise. The train he intended to catch was altered to run express to catch up time as it was late, and so it bypassed his station. He missed the press conference and so the Minister's 'good news' was not really reported.


Now if you have to wait an extra say ten minutes for your train in such circumstances, it is bad enough, but when it is only a twenty minute service, and a train is cancelled or runs express past your station, then that is a forty minute gap between trains, assuming the next one is on time and not running late because it is taking a double load. This is an absolute disgrace. Only in extreme circumstances should something like that happen. If it is only a twenty minute service, it should be left to run and stop all stations.

It has been suggested that this is how Metro Trains is improving its punctuality figures, by altering stopping all station trains to express trains. That is one thing, but a cynic might suggest it is better to do such things to a line that runs in government un-winnable political seats as was the case this time, rather than trains that service marginal seats.

The service on the politically sensitive Frankston line however is much improved but remember what happened when the express train from sensitive seats in Sydney's Blue Mountains simply had to be on time at a certain point so that it did not get caught behind stopping trains, arrive late and displease passengers who would take out their wrath on the governing party at the polls,  yes we had the Granville train disaster.

Adam's piece has been copied here.

15 comments:

  1. He has lovely teeth

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    1. A not unattractive bloke, John.

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  2. Andrew, I love trains but at my place it is expensive means of transport especially when you travel long distances with the family so it is cheaper by car. Maybe at your place is different,

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    1. Gosia, our long distance trains are quite cheap, but the service is quite poor and most people who use them are either old or socially disadvantaged. They are not a good option to get anywhere quickly. Our suburban trains are quite good.

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  3. I had never heard that about the Granville train disaster. Interesting. And sadly unsurprising.

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    1. EC, apparently speed reductions on curves that should have been in place were not, all to keep the speed of the train up.

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  4. Goodness - "but a cynic might suggest it is better to do such things to a line that runs in government un-winnable political seats as was the case this time, rather than trains that service marginal seats".

    Call me a cynic! All the big public hospitals were moved out of the City (which was easily reachable by everyone) to the outer suburbs (which were impossible to reach by public transport). Ditto all the new universities. I don't know about individual train stops, but I imagine all Conservative governments want to ignore inner suburban populations and enhance outer suburban and near-rural populations.

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    1. Hels, except in my seat, now the seat of Prahran, which is not a safe seat. But a fat lot of good it does being in one.

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  5. "..the government seems to be removing..."
    I think they should remove themselves.
    Or they should be made to live in an area where services have been cut, for a full year, with no concessions or wage perks. Let them finally understand how the average underpaid family lives and manages.

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    1. River, it would be a good lesson. Politicians in Melbourne often brag that they used public transport, except all it means is they hop on a tram and go a few blocks when out for lunch.

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  6. P.S. my husband missed being on that fated Granville train because he was running late that morning.

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    1. Wow. That is a bit frightening. It must have been awful for you to hear if you did not know he was safe.

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    2. He left home late and got a ride with a friend.

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  7. When I commuted between Boronia and the city pre-privatisation it was a continual irritant that if there was the slightest problem the express trains were downgraded to all-stations services, and to hell with timetables, bus connections and occupation of single-line sections (and there are still a few in the outer East). Nowadays the reverse seems to be true. As usual, it's the passengers that bear the brunt of whatever decisions the faceless people in charge make - and changing express to all-stations or vice-versa creates FUD. I think the controllers are honestly trying to see the 'big picture' and keep as many services as possible running on time. A recent example I saw was the cancellation of the 09.02 through Williams Landing to Werribee - it had been converted to an express so would at least have been able to pick up its return working from Werribee on time. So a few passengers heading away from Melbourne would have been inconvenienced but a hell of a lot more heading towards Melbourne would have had a right-time service. For train controllers it often seems to me they're wrong if they do and wrong if they don't when there's a disruption.

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    1. Chris, yes a don't disagree with the principle of the big picture, no matter how bad it is for the individual, but not when it is only a peak hour twenty minutes service, which then becomes forty minutes.

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