Sunday, March 26, 2006

16.40 Friday Fun again

If only picking the lottery tickets was as easy as picking that the journey home is going to be screwed up.

16.40 was late again docking for boarding, and whilst the minutes ticked by, suddenly (with no immediate announcement) the throng of unhappy commuters washed over the platform to where the 16.55 train & carriages were sitting.

It was then announced the 16.55 was now the 16.40. So dutifully like sheep, we all boarded. I sat with a older gentleman and we joked about the situation, truly it is the only way to deal with the farce that is daily commuting on V/Line.

Seems a few people were rightly confused as to which service we were on, as the 16.40 only stops at Nth Geelong and onwards. We had two V/line conductors, plus a senior V/Line customer service guy (who got on at Nth Melb). Train was pretty overcrowded.

Although we left late (by about 10 minutes I think), we managed to scrape into Geelong station only 13 minutes later than normal. I managed to negotiate the carpark & get out fairly quickly.

I'm thinking of doing a bit of 'viral marketing' ... anybody want a T-shirt that says "V/Line sucks" - have your say at


Friday, March 24, 2006

16.40: The service V/line doesn't give a Sh#t about.

16.40 again was reasonably full last night, but more or less on time, making it an almost normal week for once.

However 'Cooper' has reported that according to the V/Line Customer Service line person that he speaks to on a regular basis, those travellers on the 16.40 service should expect many cancellations after the Commonwealth Games finish today.

Why? well, because the 16.40 service is the 'easiest' to cancel (due to the fact it only stops at Nth Geelong, Geelong & Sth Geelong). Cold comfort to the 300 or more people that catch the service.

I think most people don't mind if a train is cancelled (well much anyways) but what gets people hot under the collar is not finding out until you actually get to the platform when at times the information is known well in advance.

Again 'Cooper' posed the question to V/line Customer Service "why don't you update your website with the information about the 16.40 being cancelled so people don't rush down expecting a train there" ... apparently even though they know at times as early as 14.30 that the 16.40 is not run, they wont update the website because it is "too much effort".

Ok, this is my rant now ... I work in IT, I know for a fact it is not that hard to update a website. Why have a website that has an area specifically for bulletins/news/customer information if its TOO MUCH EFFORT to keep your customers informed!!!

Even when calling at 3.00pm or 4.00pm and specifically asking the V/Line Customer Service line if the 16.40 is running, Cooper has been given the run around.

In this technological age of Internet/Sms & mobile technology, V/Line is left far behind. What are their senior management doing about it? What is our State Government doing about it? A well thought out solution to inform customers as early as possible assists people in being inconvenienced!

So the end result is they'd rather allow people to arrive and stand around until someone remembers to make an announcement or write on a whiteboard.

As an added thought, why aren't V/Line running the new 'Vulture' Trains on the 16.40? Surely these Very Fast Trains, should be running on an express service like the 16.40 ... oh I dunno, because maybe they will be able to do the journy in 40 minutes or so?? but no, instead lets do the opposite to logic and run the Vulture trains on STOP ALL STATION services, so y'know ... they can never actually go fast.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Perfect Train!

Last night (Wed night) I hung around a bit in Melb and socialised, and sauntered down to Southern Cross in time for the 19.20 back to Geelong, in the process I actually found that I could enter the station via Lt Collins St as they've put another set of traffic lights there (I feel sorry for motorists ... where pedestrians conveniently went UNDER the road in the tunnels, now we press the button and stop the traffic).

Pretty much nobody in 1st class on the 19.20, great. I also realised that the travel time is very subjective, even though it is a stop all stations train, it doesn't seem to bother me. Must be a peak-hour thing.

6.20 this morning ran fine (as it almost always does), social experiment #1 put my bag on the floor but nobody sat next to me today, fatty boombahs moved further down the carriage.

How did peak hour run Wed night?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hump Day

Well 2 "reasonably" okay days in the afternoon (as compared to last week), aside from the over-crowding.

This morning ran OK, I was nice enough to let a woman who got on at Weribbee (and flashed a red card to conductor ... what's the red identity card??) to sit next to me. I'd done the seat on bag trick ... I know, totally bad of me ... however it did prevent me from being "fatty boombahed", I've had my share of that thanks.

Good call on some of the comments on yesterday's blog. Sounds like the Bendigo line has it worse than us. Good to see "Weasel" Batchelor spinning more bull-crap on stuff he clearly has no idea on.

And "Cooper" you are absolutely correct about V/Line. They have no reason to give good service, as there are no repurcussions for the CRAP they give us and call it 'service'.

Maybe if senior V/Line management had to travel on trains ONLY or received performance penalties or salary reductions for consistent issues then we might see some changes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Free trip to Eastern Victoria!

Bit on the tired side today, stayed up past my bedtime. Thankfully the train was deserted this morning, so had a seat to myself & no annoying morning "chatters" around me either. I don't remember much of the journey, and woke up with a start as we approached 'southern cross' station. Nearly earnt myself a trip into the countryside!

We were on time this morning (for the 6.20am), not quite as early as yesterday, but as usual just proves the majority of mornings seem to run smoothly. Just the evenings are a fiasco, although last night was not too bad, with the 16.40 departing ONLY 5 minutes late (as noted by a feedback comment on the previous blog entry ... and 'Sain person' put your glasses on mate).

Let's see if the 16.40 is actually AT the platform when I get down there tonight.

16.40 was there! Left a tad late due to "signalling issues in the spencer st area".

Nth Melb 1st class was packed, people sitting in the aisles, and in conductor's van. Apparently the 16.07 failed to stop at Nth Melb ... ooops. Reasonably on time. Car park shenanigans as usual at Geelong (another whole topic I could discuss!)

Monday, March 20, 2006

I'm so stupid ?

Got a feedback comment on the previous blog entry:

"overcrowding could be avoided if unhappy souls drove their cars instead of bitching about something they know nothing about."

Well I'm sorry anonymous, but your logic is so flawed that it deserves a blog entry in response. First point is how are we supposed to know the trains will be overcrowded as we do not have access to the same sort of empirical evidence that V/Line has.

Then there's this thing called the Commonwealth Games, you know, where the government has been telling us to all catch public transport and DONT drive?

F#$K you Mr Anonymous, I DO know that I PAY to be taken by train from Geelong to Melbourne and that the service in the past 4 years has become WORSE. That's what I know. I don't know what fairy-land you live in, but I think you need a reality check.

Driving is not an option for me, for the simple reasons of (a) Petrol prices (b) Parking prices & (c) Revenue-raising cameras. Not to mention the other stupid drivers on a road that should be 110 km/h speed limit or more (that's a whole other subject to discuss).

Thanks to connexwhinger for adding his comments too, at least he can see the logic clearly.

Anyway, I'm not "wounded" this morning (as Mr Anonymous calls me), as V/Line is actually on time (6.20am service) and I have the added pleasure of hearing a woman get told off by the conductor for getting on at Werribee.

I'm not sure whether she works for yarra trams or not, but I've been meaning to question V/Line how they can get on as they are essentially suburban travellers. Well, from the conversation it appear they are not supposed to be travelling during the peak hour (which is defined as any train that arrives at Melbourne up until 9.30am.

Not holding my breath for tonight ... no doubt some adventure will ensue! :)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Another week of woe

I can count the number of times the services I have caught that arrived on time in the past week on one hand.

The excuses have ranged from nothing (ie no announcements) to "signal failures". I mean for F#$K sake's what have they actually upgraded in the past 3 years for millions of dollars for the f#$king signals to still not work reliably?

Last night's issue with the 4.40pm was the fact that despite having 38 new "Vulture" trains, V/Line still had problems finding an engine to dock to the carriages.

Overcrowding is also an issue, last night was the first time I've heard the conductor in 1st class actually loudly demand that all V/Line employees & Police vacate their seats. Too bloody right. If you ask my opinion, "special" people who get to sit in first class without holding a 1st class ticket should ONLY get to sit down AFTER the last pickup stop, so it will ensure all PAYING 1st class customers actually get a seat.

Here's clue senior V/Line management, maybe you should have considered the Commonwealth Games and ensured adequate services, or if you DON'T have the rolling stock (as I suspect), contract coaches as standby JUST in case. Don't make people stand around wondering what the F$#K their options are when things invariably go pear-shaped.

At least this morning the 6.20am was sparsely populated, no-one beside me & it arrived on time. I'm not holding my breath for tonight!

16.40 ~ not there & when carriages arrived no engine, as we waited it was announced the 16.55 was cancelled due to a defective engine replaced with coaches.

I waited some more, then another announcement saying 16.40 still delayed ... so I took a gamble and went to the coaches .... can someone let me know if the 16.40 eventually went?

The coach got me home at about 6.20pm ... so more or less two hours door to door. Rather ironically, I kind of expected this to happen, cos Vline is just useless.

Maybe if we are lucky we might get one day a week with normal afternoon services ... maybe.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Timetables? just for show!

Ok a couple of updates.

I bought a 1st class ticket again (after much consideration).

Remember when I complained about some peak hour services not having a 1st class service (I don't count the 'Vulture' trains (aka V'locity) as 1st class for reasons previously mentioned) and the lady at the ticket office said to me "we advise people when they purchase a 1st class ticket that SOME peak hour services do not have a specific 1st class service".

Well when I bought my ticket the day before last, from the EXACT same lady in the ticket office who had given me this advice ... she didn't tell me that AT ALL. So effectively she LIED! If V/Line were interested in 1st class customers, then they would be sure to issue a bulletin advising of the situation, not leave the staff to just make up stories that they don't remember to stick by even when it came out of their own mouths!

I chopped and changed trains recently & noticed that some services in the morning that previously used to have two 1st class carriages on them, no longer do. Great customer service V/Line!

Last night I must have walked fast down Collins St, because I actually made it to the 16.40 in about 10 minutes from my workplace. Just as well I caught that train, because for whatever reason (it was never announced) after Werribee we ran at a snails pace & ended up arriving at Geelong nearly 20 minutes late.

What good are timetables if you cannot rely on them? Come on V/line ... you can't blame signals, because they've just been totally upgraded! You can't blame a slow train in front, because the tracks now have "passing lanes" so if our express service is being held up by a slow stop all stations train ... then make them pause & let us pass at the appropriate place!

An express service should take 55 minutes not 75! I suppose it could have been worse, they could make the 16.40 a Vulture train service & then we'd be over 30 minutes late for sure!

(another great story I heard about the vulture trains is they actually SWAP the front carriage with back, instead of using the driver cabin at the back carriage & also the locks are easily "tampered with" with anyone who has that knowledge!)

Vulture trains are so named because they are circling the dead carcass of V/line!

A friend sent me a link to an article on the Age today, seems the Geelong Line isn't the only dodgy one that people are complaining about. Good to see our fellow travellers on the Bendigo line are not being left out of the wonderful service that V/Line provides:

Age Article

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Predicting V/Line's Bad Service ... not hard!

Last night it seems that my decision to not rely on V/Line was well justified, as the 4.40pm service was cancelled and replaced with buses. Apparently not enough buses as after the last one left people were still standing waiting.

The 4.55pm (which usually terminates at Geelong) did not get extended through to Sth Geelong (which in most circumstances it does if the 4.40pm is cancelled). Great service yet again!

This morning I caught my old regular train (6.44am) which always used to have two 1st Class and for a while now it seems to have lost that 2nd carriage. I was not surprised to find the carriage was packed even before the first pickup at Nth Geelong. Pity the 1st class passengers wanting to get on at Lara, no wonder on the 6.20am 1st class carriage has many getting on at Lara, they would never get a seat on the next service.

I can't understand why a peak hour service that so obviously enjoys good patronage actually loses resources.
Thankfully I only have to survive tonight's journey home, although I may see if I can get a ride home again with my friend who is driving.

I wonder if V/Line actually did a customer service survey they would actually get any good results or even satisfactory!


Well V-Line gets me again tonight. I leave work at 4.35pm to catch the 4.55pm train, only to find the lovely customer service people writing up on the whiteboard that the 4.55pm is now replaced by buses. Too bad I have to walk another city block up to the coach terminal in about ten minutes ... F$%K that for a joke. So I wait around for the 5.13pm (which of course is the V'locity train one class, so my 33% extra premium 1st class ticket is made worthless again).

We get to Nth Melb, and wait ... and wait, I look my watch 5.23pm ... so in 10 minutes we've managed to get from Melbourne to Nth Melbourne, yep its gonna be another long trip home.

Finally walk in the door at 6.35pm ... Two hours door to door, thanks V-line! Reliable service once again. My first class ticket expires on the 7th of March ... I have to seriously think about the value I'm getting out of it now.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A new month starts but the same crap service continues.

V/Line got me again this morning.

I planned to travel to work a bit later this morning, as I had a guest stay over last night & didn't exactly want to make them rush to leave at 6.00am this morning!

So anyway, I arrive in time for what I think might be the 7.46am or thereabouts. Standing on the platform for about 2 minutes & an announcement comes over advising that the next train has been cancelled and replaced with a road coach.

Murphy's Law!

We eventually get to Melbourne just after 9.00am or so.

I heard that the 7.21am V'locity service stopped in between Corio & Lara for no discernible reason (nor was one given for the delay). So perhaps this morning was just a bad one for V/line.

Nothing new, more crap service for passengers.

Only good thing was the coach was more or less there, so no real waiting around.

Needless to say, V/Line gets a big fat raspberry from me in regards to trusting them to get me home on time & with no hassles tonight. I've arranged a lift with a friend who is driving.