Monday, February 27, 2006

Could I run a better train service?

I thought a comment on my previous blog entry deserved a full reply here.

'Anonymous' wrote " Look you guys that are having a go at Vline, do you think that you could make trains run on time?" (check the comments on 3rd Day Lucky blog for where this came from).

Mr Anonymous, nowhere have I said that I'm eddie the train expert. But at times you don't have to be an expert to comment on the blatant inefficiencies of a service that I'm paying a premium price for. It is my right as a consumer, I and many hundred or thousands of Geelong commuters simply are not getting a reasonable AND reliable service.

Example: Today the 4.40pm (which is supposed to run as an 'express' service between Nth Melb & Nth Geelong) stopped for no apparent reason (nor was one announced) at Little River.

I've often thought (given the incredible overcrowding on the 4.40pm) that V/Line could run a service at 4.20 or thereabouts, being between the 4.07pm and 4.40pm and it may just alleviate some of the congestion, especially when one of the services is cancelled (invariably the 4.40pm).

Another example, is the comments reflected by senior v/line management not even knowing that they ran a 1st class service between Geelong & Melbourne. In relation to this, many services run a goods van OR the 1st class carriage has a goods area (where the conductor sits) so passengers with larger freight items can carry book them in.

With the introduction of the V'locity trains during peak hour times, not only is it the 1st class passengers who are at a disadvantage, but anyone who wants to transport larger freight items (such as bikes, pets or bigger loads of suitcases). A recent example is the guy who had to catch a taxi from Geelong back to Werribee after taking his pet to a vet in Geelong, because there were no more services stopping at Werribee that was able to transport his pet for him. (Thanks to 'da writa' for informing of that tid-bit from his local paper).

So all these millions of dollars spent, there is less service than when I started travelling over 4 years.

I don't blame the grunts on the front line (for example the conductors or service people or the drivers) but I do blame the head up their arse senior managers who clearly don't understand or care about the travelling public being inconvenienced by their inept and illogical decisions.

Someone wake me up when the V'locity trains actually break the speed record between Melbourne and Geelong .... as far as I understand (and I stand to be heartily corrected) it is still held by a Steam Engine & set in the 1950's ......... running the V'locity's on stop all stations aint gonna break that anytime soon .....

Could I run a better Train Service?? Well, maybe, I'd certainly give it a try, couldn't be worse than the present managers.

However, the solution is not a cheap one. Nobody in government wants to commit to the billions of dollars we should be spending on public transport infrastructure 'cos simply, there aint the votes in it. Easier to whack a car-park tax in the CBD or put speed cameras (oh sorry .. ROAD SAFETY) cameras and watch the dollars roll in.


Here's a more personal response to the above comment from "anonymous" from a long time commuter, he asked me to post here especially for him.

Dear anonymous,

The bloody railways are supposed to make the trains run on time.

That is their sole purpose.

We pay them large amounts of money for them to keep to the schedules they have posted. And I remember a happy time when they used to do it.

We ask nothing more nothing less than they do what they say the will do - timetables.

If they can't keep the schedules, then change the bloody timetables to reflect reality. It ain't rocket science.

They used to do it before Mr Kennett sold the railways to some people who thought the point of railways was to make money.

The point of railways is to move people from one place to another at the time you say you will do it in return for money - timetables. I don't care about the age of the equipment. I don't care about the condition of the stations. Just get me to my destination at the time you said you would.

The whole bloody point of the railways is to run on TIME!

Mussolini could do it. Is it beyond our current batch of failed school teachers and public servants?


Which is why I moved to Melbourne.

Hello to all my fans.

Da Writa!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Fawlty "V/Line" Towers

Well after a long absence, I'm back.

My whinging abilities have been rejuvenated in a two day crucible of V/Line failures and abject incompetance.

This blog will end up being too long so I will try to keep to point form.

1st Class ticket holders may as well give up on peak hour as V/Line's official policy is that they don't care that V'locity trains are one class and essentially anyone holding a 1st class ticket is travelling at a 'premium' but getting less service. Here's a few reasons why:

* Leg room is less than 1st class (I'll measure it when i get a chance)
* no Trays on back of seats

* Seats do not recline
* no footrests
* seats are marginally smaller in width.

The only "extra" is that they have a middle armrest which means you can make the fatties who sit next to you suffer instead of squashing you with their blubber.

(sorry I'm not feeling politically correct today)

Also, the new trains do not have curtains, and the window tint is inadequate to cut out the glare from the afternoon sun.

How the hell these trains got into service I do not know, they certainly do not meet the requirements of Geelong commuters. Especially when people are still standing up on the 6-car configurations.

For 2 nights I have attempted to catch the 4.55pm & both times have ended up on a V'locity train (and other people have had to stand up on this service, luckily I got a seat).

The simple fact is that if V-line is selling 1st class tickets, then they have a duty to ensure at least during peak hours, there is enough 1st class seats available. It is just not acceptable. And there has been NO official communication to 1st class ticket holders. I had to go and ask at the ticket office at Geelong. Somehow after all the aggravation of cancelled services, over-crowding and being late home I managed to stay reasonably polite & civil.

Outside of peak times, I don't have an issue with having a 1st class ticket & travelling with one class (ie economy).

I suspect that eventually they will just make 1st class carriages one class or eliminate them entirely, but that is just speculation.

I also heard that the 6.54am service today broke down at the station and was spraying oil on people who were unfortunate to be close to the locomotive. I know this for a fact as a work-mate has oil flecks all over his shirt. My advice to him was to buy a new shirt and charge V/Line for the expense.

You could not write comedy as good as the incompetence and contempt that V/Line demonstrates to it's customers. Basil Fawlty, move over, V/Line has it all over you!

yes I know many of you would say "move to Melbourne" like "Da Writa" a commuter of 15 years has. However, that is not the point, as personal circumstances prevent that for the moment and I have a reasonable right to expect to get what I pay a premium price for. We as Australians accept crap service too much.
I think politicians, bureaucrats and anyone in charge of transport decision making should have to travel on the services they are in charge of, and travel regularly, not just as a PR stunt.

Anyway, I'm back ... although part of me wishes I don't have material to write this blog with, however with the Commonwealth Games on soon, I can only predict V/Line will have ample opportunity to demonstrate their incompetance.

/whinge mode off!