Friday, May 27, 2005

And a sickness descended upon him ...

Well, V/Line has been safe from my whinges this week only because I've spent the week at home trying to recover from a particularly nasty cold and cough that laid me out in bed for 3 days.

The irony is that the previous week I had gotten my flu shot!

At least I didn't inflict my sickness upon fellow travellers or workmates, like alot of people seem to do.

So that's my whinge for this week ... if you are really sick ... stay home & don't spread the germs!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Freezing Friday

So it's another glorious Autumn day, clear skies & a magnificent sunrise over Melbourne. Unfortunately in the darkest hours, when I struggle to rise from bed, its probably only nudging a few positive degrees above freezing, thus I didn't manage the 5.28am & instead settled for the 6.05am service this morning.

Still no sign of the sprinter, the days of warmth are fading fast to be replaced with being freezing before & whilst on the train now. Although there was a brief glimmer of hope as I sat in the first class carriage, I could almost detect the barest hint of a warm breeze. At first I thought I was merely dreaming, but lo and behold, I do believe the heater was actually working!

Alas, it was not to be, a couple of minutes later it conked out, and the rest of the journey was spent sitting in the stunning frigidity of the morning air.

A few minutes late, and it really does confirm the theory that it must depend on the driver as to whether we arrive on time (7.05am) or around 7.15-7.25am, plus or minus.

A quick detour to go straight to my "happy place", the regular cafe I get my morning coffee at & was in the office by 7.30am.

'Da Writer tells me I should be out photographing in this morning light, and "he who jumps off morning trains" tut tuts me for missing the early train.

At least it is Friday, although its a lottery as to which train I should try for hometime!

Update: Caught the 4.55pm home & it was no probs (the 50/50 rule applies!)

Only other notable thing is after several months break, I finally had a Sara Lee Hi-Pie Apple Crumble Pie with custard & icecream for dessert tonight ... there had been a search for the ol' Hi-Pie as it seemed to have disappeared from supermarket shelves (there were several addicts quite distressed over this fact), however the mystery is solved as they have renamed it "Deep-Dish Apple Crumble Pie" ... mmmm I like pie.

And if you don't understand the pie obsession, you must visit this website:

Thursday, May 19, 2005

50/50 Chances

Thursday rolls around with the anticipation of the weekend on its crest & I managed to catch the 5.28am service to Melbourne (the very first train service of the morning).

All is ok until we have almost reached Spencer Street station. A few hundred metres short of the platforms we stop. Around three or four minutes pass & I see a strange flash whisk by ... yep another sighting of the elusive V'Locity Train, off on a trip with no-one on board, normally seen parked by the useless Sprinter trains at the Spencer St yard. I have a theory now, I reckon that they only have one train which they run around & make it look like we are going to get new ones soon .... well paint me green & call me a martian if they are in service on the Geelong line before the end of the year (you read it here first!).

Anyway, only 5 minutes late on the morning train when the driver finally decided which of the 14 free platforms he was going to park at.

In the afternoon, I try my luck at the 16.40 Service, quite crowded but get a seat next to a friend & work colleague who is often a regular 5.28am commuter as well (he of the nimble jump off train whilst moving trick).

Bad luck got me, we were 15 minutes late leaving due to an "electrical fault", but as it is an "express" service, we made up a few minutes and only arrived at Geelong Station around 10 minutes later than normal.

Par for the course really ... at least its Friday tomorrow, it can't get worse can it? With odds like these V/Line should start its own casino, the house will always win & us punters will lose all the more often.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Wednesday of Woe

Ok, so a quick recap on how the travelling is going this week:

6.05am Monday - Which is no longer a sprinter train anymore, so the trade off is a first class seat for me, but no heating & pot luck whether we actually arrive on time. I manage to walk in the door of the office at 7.16am, so it was an ok run.
4.55pm home, as usual no huge problems, however we did stop for a while between Nth Geelong & Geelong station for no apparent reason for a minute or so.

6.05am Tuesday - must have been a different driver, because we ended up 15 or so minutes late, not really sure where we managed to lose time.

4.55pm home, again no problems, although running slower than normal between Corio & Nth Geelong for some reason.

Then we get to Wednesday, I'm really pushing my luck this week, getting these later trains, but in the interests of good "blogging" I have to get a representative sample of the morning services! Well that's my excuse for a bit of an extra sleep in and I'm sticking to it.

So this morning I caught the 6.20am, managing to catch up with a friend and work collegue who is my travelling companion on the 4.55pm, he shall be named "Da Writer" to protect his identity & reputation.

Depending on what music I'm listening to on my u-beaut iRiver mp3 and how the train is going, I can usually be sure of where we are when I open the peepers for a quick peek. This morning, rather than somewhere between Footscray & Nth Melbourne, I instead saw the refineries of Altona ... hmmmm not looking good.

Gradually our pace slowed, not quite to a crawl, but not far off. Eventually we reach Newport, stop & promisingly depart once more. Then the dreaded slow down & stop. Couldn't quite decide where we were, and to his credit the conductor did announce quite quickly we were delayed because of a broken down train further ahead.

A twenty-five minute wait then ensued before we again slowly made our way again. Finally arriving and getting to work just after 8.05am or so, only about 30 minutes late or so.

4.55pm home, again no real hassles except a notable slow down after Corio. Definitely something go on around there for speed restrictions, just really annoying when you are getting so close to home!

Will be trying the 5.28am tomorrow morning, as haven't travelled on that for a few days now, plus (fingers crossed) want to try for the 4.07pm tomorrow ....

And today was a caffeine free day, very silly of me!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Friday the 13th Strikes Back!

Yes well, to those who have been checking for the regular whinges (mostly thanks to a link from connexwhinger) about V/line, it has been (mostly) smooth sailing aside from the usual lateness or delays when I've caught the 16.40 Service from Melb to Geelong. My regular ride of the 16.55 is quite punctual and lacking the usual annoyances. I believe this is also due to me wearing the extra expense of a first class ticket.

First class, hmmm it really should be named "normal class", because in essence the only advantage is that the seating arrangements allow for only one person to sit next to you, and they would have to be an elephant size to squash you, as the seats about twice the size as in "cattle" class. Oh and you can recline the seats (particularly good for scaring the breakfast out of the person behind you if they have been playing with the tray on the back of your seat & annoying you ... ).

However, I am digressing from the main point of this entry, which is to relate the homeward journey I experienced on Friday the 13th.

Having had an 'interesting' week at work, and with enough time up my sleeve, I decided to catch the 16.07 service from Melbourne to Geelong.

It wasn't really a promising start when at 4pm, when we boarded the train, the conductor came around and told us we had to get off again. Apparently the driver was most upset that we boarded before he had docked the train properly. Never mind it was late in doing so in the first place!

So everyone disembarked and then five minutes later were allowed to re-embark. This placed us seemingly at the normal departure time. I had mentally noted this fact and made a wager with myself that luck was not on my side tonight and we would most likely be slightly delayed.

At almost 16.25 we finally had an announcement from the conductor that we were delayed and the brakes were being checked and we would get under way shortly.

At around 16.30 we finally did.

Just as we entered Werribee, the conductor again announced we were running twenty minutes behind and due to the length of the train, the driver would not be able to make up any time.

At this moment I felt like jumping out of my seat and singing "R.F.T.L" to the tune of the Village People's song "Y.M.CA."

Think about it "Regional Fast Train Link" .... I'm sure you can make up the words to the song as well as me (and appropriate actions).

So resigned to the fact we were going to be late, I thought that 17.30-35 was not so bad, after all, it was the normal arrival time of the 16.40, which would be stuck behind us anyway!

Finally we arrived at North Geelong. And never left.

Five minutes passed, with no announcement.

Ten minutes.

Given that I lived within thirteen minutes walk of Nth Geelong, the only reason I was still on the train was because my car was at Geelong Station, having driven there to meet up with a workmate who was driving up that morning. If only I had gotten him to pick me up at home!

Fifteen minutes and still no announcement. I decide to walk. Meeting up with an ex-workmate in the same predicatment, he walked home with me, and then onto Geelong.

What a total sham. Fair enough if the train had broken down, but at least let passengers know! From what I could see the conductor was going from carriage to carriage telling people he had no idea if or when the train would go again. I felt sorry for the other two trains that were banked up behind us (the 16.40 and I think the 16.55 was further back).

Well done V/Line, you managed to prove yet again that your fleet of locomotives are poorly maintained & your contingency planning sucks like a dog-slobbered tennis ball.

A special mention for Peter Batchelor here, how about you up the purchase of 38 V'locity trains to about 50, so we have some spare ones because like the "Sprinter" trains, I am sure the new trains will spend most of their time being "maintained" instead of being in service.