Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pathetic as usual

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, this contract job has kept me darned busy - just crashed through the working 7 days barrier and it wasn't pretty.

Haven't had much cause for a really whinge since being back on the train. Of course there is the regular annoyances like having to travel on a one-class train in peak hour. I reckon they should make at least one half of one carriage exclusively for 1st class ticket holders. Am I being elitist? No, but I do pay a premium compared to the economy ticket holder and I am being cheated out of that value.

Then there is the neat trick that V/Line pulls almost everytime I catch the 5.13pm service. Usually it is a minute or two late leaving. Then sits in the yards near the Lonsdale St Overpass for several minutes before finally getting a signal to move onto Nth Melb.

No wonder they are going to measure the forty-five minute "Flagship" service from Nth Melb to Nth Geelong.

Some nights it takes almost 10 minutes to get from Spencer St (aka Brack's Southern Cross Folly) to Nth Melb. Whilst I understand it is peak time, you'd think with those many tracks, switches and platforms that a service wouldn't have to wait so long between two stations so close together.

These are just general complaints, but par for the course and the long suffering commuter usually just cops them on the chin as part of the 'service' we get.

The other thing I'd bring up is from a feedback comment on the previous blog entry. Yes I have noticed that we are being referred to as "customers" rather than "passengers". I suspect V/Line is attempting to make us feel warm and fuzzy by such terminology.

Unfortunately as far as I'm concerned it is incorrect english. A customer is someone who can purchase a good or service. Whilst a person on a moving vehicle is a "passenger". We are only "customers" when we actually are in the process of purchasing the ticket.

And as the feedback pointed out, 'customer' denotes we actually have a choice, when clearly our 'custom' is quite captive!

On to last night's events. Of which I can whole heartedly point out are totally my own fault, but would have occurred to the poor souls on the 5.13pm anyway, if I hadn't gotten on the cursed train in the first place.

It was raining, and I jogged into Spencer Street Station (aka Brack's & Bachelor's White Elephant Southern Cross). I immediately saw the 5.13pm was still at the platform (I had intended to catch the 5.29pm) and it was 5.20pm.... needless to say when I heard a whistle I jogged faster and jumped on the train, as the door was still open and there was a gaggle of conductors, customer service officers and train crew, so didn't look like it was pushing off too soon.

I sat down ... pleased that I'd gotten the earlier train.

Then cognitive reasoning returned and comprehension dawned on me that perhaps this wasn't such a wise move after all. As the minutes crept by and the conductor announced a delay, my inner voice urged and begged me to flee the doomed train and make haste to platform 14 for the 5.29. It was like a prophetic vision.

Alas, I sat like a rabbit in a spotlight waiting for the fatal .222 bullet. At 5.33pm we finally departed. And then sat in the yards for another 3 minutes (I timed it). No chance of getting home this side of 6.30pm now.

Worse still, there was a gaggle of teenage girls carrying on like pork chops nearby and all of us had to endure their ignorant and disregard for their fellow passsengers (customers?).

Finally the horror ride was over and I was first to alight the back carriage (on the correct side, when the train had come to a complete stop) and into the car park via the rear stairs at Geelong.

Unfortunately it was to the remaining cars trying to get out of the carpark from the 5.29pm which had obviously arrived just a few minutes before us. About 8 minutes later I managed to get out of the car park and home at about 7pm after a quick stop at the supermarket for some comfort food and a strong drink.

Pathetic V/line. I wonder how we are going to be treated when the new timetables come into effect in a few weeks. I predict mass chaos and I will make a wager that the "45 minute Flagship service" will very rarely reach that target. Call me a cynic.

I actually think that those V'locity trains can do that express Nth Melb to Nth Geelong in 40 minutes or less, if given a clear run through from Newport to Werribbee. Unfortunately we have the suburban lines to compete with.

So, for the rest of this week I am boycotting V/line, even though I have paid for my ticket through until the end of September. At least I can get some value from the ticket by catching the trams as I am staying at a friend's apartment whilst he is away interstate for work.

Let me know of your travel woes!


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