Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mornings are stuffed!

Both yesterday and this morning the 6.20am has been late. Yesterday was due to signal problems between Hoppers Crossing & Aircraft and this morning, no idea but we were nearly a good 15 minutes late.

Last night the 17.13 was late, mostly due to either the 16.40 or 16.55 running late. Ended up being around 10~15 minutes late (I didn't really pay much attention in the end).

I had an interesting chat to the conductor before getting on. I do feel for the conductors as most of the time they are not told why delays are happening (for trains departing at the station). He made the observation to me that Vline customers seemed perpetually unhappy compared to Connex customers (where he had worked previously).

After last week's debacle, is it any surprise!?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Swapping Morning Trains ....

I caught the 6.01am from Geelong today. For the first time in around a year it was a two-car Sprinter.

Last year before it changed to a loco-drawn train of one 1st class and two (three?) economy, the two car sprinter had quite a few spare seats. Obviously as people gravitated towards the service, it has become a bit fuller.

I know conductors count numbers, so who is the bright spark in V/Line who decided to stick a 2-car Sprinter on a service that has obviously expanded in patronage!

I reckon there must be a shortage of carriages again, as I noticed the 6.44am has dropped a 1st class carriage as well (it normally has two). So once again 1st class passengers are being shafted.

V/Line should either bite the bullet & cancel 1st class on the Geelong line altogether OR provide a decent service & value to those who are prepared to pay the extra premium and not this half-arsed approach.

Still, the Sprinters do cut a few minutes off a stop-all stations ... and to be honest, I prefer them to the V'Locity white elephants, as I know which seat to aim for that gives me heaps of leg room & almost always guarentees no-one sits next to me.

Tossing up between comfort & earlier home today (17.13 vs 16.40).

p.s. interesting comment in feedback on track blog, re V/Line petitioning to have the 90 km.h increased on the A-grade tracks, makes sense.

Monday, December 11, 2006

No Hassles Monday

6.20am ran on time (as most morning trains that I catch do).

17.13 actually departed on time, and even more amazingly did not do the stop start, stop start, journey through the yards. Indeed we made it to Nth Melb in a record time of around 4 minutes. I think that is the fastest an afternoon train that I've caught in a long time has done the Melbourne ~ Nth Melb distance!

Unfortunately we then proceeded fairly slowly between Nth Melb & Footscray and Newport, but made up time after that and arrived around 18.09, only a few minutes later than the fastest time the 17.13 has done.

Should be smooth sailing tomorrow (hopefully) as it is not heating up again until Wed or Thu.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Self-Education ~ Hot Summer = Slow Speeds

With a seemingly long hot summer ahead of us, unfortunately I think us commuters had better get used to longer train journeys. I browsed the V/Line website and found the following article:

High temperatures in many parts of Victoria provide a timely reminder that V/Line services can be affected when the mercury climbs into the 30s.

As a safety precaution track operator Pacific National imposes speed restrictions on V/Line trains when the forecast temperature is 36 degrees and above (32 degrees and above for some sections of track in outer regional areas).

This has been standard operating procedure in the Victorian rail industry for more than 10 years.

High temperatures can affect rail track and the speed restrictions are designed to ensure trains are able to continue to operate safely.

Pacific National has advised that when speed restrictions are imposed during the summer, V/Line trains will not be able to operate above 90 km/h

Hooray, this fills me with joyful anticipation and not only do we have to worry about carriages that have defective air-con (even the new V'locity's suffer this issue, especially when left standing in the sunlight in the yards all afternoon), but commuters will enjoy the extra 10~15 minutes added travel time.

Anyway, this led me to read up on railway tracks and I learnt about "sun kink" which is an issue that can cause derailments.

Engineers try to heat the rail to a temperature roughly midway between the average extremes of hot and cold (this is known as the 'rail neutral temperature'). If temperatures reach outside normal ranges however, welded rail can buckle in a hotter than usual summer or can actually break in a colder than anticipated winter.

From: ""

So I'm thinking that as soon as temperatures get above 32~36 this is the 'rail neutral temperature' that our new tracks between Geelong & Werribee (were the new tracks were laid), are rated for. You learn something new every-day.

It still doesn't make me happy, but you can't argue with science & engineering and safety precautions!

Friday, December 08, 2006

A clean sweep! - late again!

As I predicted, 4 days in a row LATE (and if I'd been at work on Monday & caught my usual train the 17.13 it was late that day too, so would have been 5 days LATE).

Tonight I caught the 4.40pm and guess what ... we caught up to the 4.07pm which was running late & as it is a stopping all stations train, we had to crawl along. So we ended up being around 15 minutes late.

Ummm correct me if I'm wrong but are there not change-overs or whatever they are called that allow a faster train to overtake a slower train (obviously as long as there is no other train coming the other way). We caught up at Werribee, we could have passed at Lt River or Lara, but nope ....

F#$King pathetic V/Line ... but as I knew this would happen (no matter which train I aimed for tonight) I'm not all that fussed, just resigned to the week being totally crap service. Come on, you've had MONTHS to work out this time-table and settle things in.

I see weekend services have been replaced by coaches, I guess they are scared the trains can't handle the heat tomorrow, so have to keep them tucked up in the shade. Even the brand new V'locty's ... can you spell WHITE ELEPHANT?


What I don't understand is how the majority of the time the morning trains can run okay (except for the Flagship service in the morning which I know from friends who catch it is ALWAYS late by at least 10~20 mins) but when it comes to the afternoons, the wheels (well not literally) fall off and it seems to be all too hard.

Anyway, the weekend is here & I can forget the woeful service, at least until Monday.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

50th Whinge!

Woohoo, I just noticed this is whinge number fifty about V/line's crappy service to Geelong.

Tonight was no exception. At least they actually managed to get the 17.13 running tonight, albeit 4 minutes late from departing the platform. Hopes were dashed as we stopped before even clearing the end of platform 3. Indeed, it took nearly ten minutes to even get past the Latrobe St Overpass and out of the yards proper, a new record I think.

Total travel time ended up being another 25 minutes late. At least I got to travel in 1st Class comfort and not jammed into a V'locity.

Even the conductor tonight was making comments about "we should get to Geelong, sometime before 7pm?" I feel for the front line customer service staff, I really do. They are just as powerless when cock-ups happen as us passengers.

The real blame lies at the feet at the senior management of V/Line and of other bodies such as DOI and EDI and the State Government. Trains have been around for nearly 150 years plus ... how F#@#ng hard is it to get it right? You bunch of morons!

I can live with the occasional inconvenience, maybe once a week ... but THREE days in a row! Blistering Barnacles!

I remain skeptical as to whether tomorrow will be any different, after all it is a Friday. Roll on the really hot weather, the trains will not run at all if the one mildly hot day we had this week is any example.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Two in a row!

A quick temporary post as I'm late for going out.

17.13 cancelled, 17.29 only 1 velocity available at proper departure time, by the time the other two hooked up & crowds of people get its 17.50 departure ... no stop at Nth Melb (so heaps of people there unhappy) and train stops at Lara cos lara people got on. Apparently 16.40 also had same probs & overcrowded.

Vline ... if you were a cricket team, you'd be england, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

p.s. Gods of Fate, you suck too! :)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hot = Go Slow

Dammit internet, I'm still here!

I get up every day and pray to the gods of fate that my journeys on V/Line will be pleasant and fast and uneventful. The gods of fate answered me and told me the wish would be granted on one condition: Cease and desist thy petty ponderings and complainings!

And so I have been quiet through many happenings. Blissfully I avoided the 2+ hour delays that plagued some commuters a few weeks ago on the homeward journey. I endured sickness yesterday and avoided a late 17.13 service. Unfortunately the gods of fate did not uphold their end of the bargain.

Hot weather struck, and millions spent on upgrading tracks & signals were all for naught as several peak hour services were reduced to crawling between Lt River & Lara and again between Northshore & Nth Geelong until we arrived around 25 minutes late at Geelong Station.

I feel for the people on the 17.29 "Flagship" 45 minute FAST train who were stuck behind us, at least until Lara when they changed tracks and went past us, only to find themselves stranded just after the Lara crossing and waiting for us to go past again due to another Melb-bound train (I think) ... what a debacle!

An aside: Can V/Line please make its mind up what it is going to do with 1st Class? I don't give a rats arse about getting a refund when more and more services are "one-class" but trying to persuade me not to buy a 1st class ticket when I've specifically stated that's what I want, please, I have the intelligence to work out after several months of the new timetable exactly which services have a 1st class carriage and which don't (the star on the timetable is a big help!). I'd rather take a service that gets me in 5 mins earlier than the Flagship service (that always runs at 51 minutes, not 45) and have a peaceful and comfortable journey home, than be crammed in a packed V'locity in seats that are smaller than 1st class, not adjustable, no curtains to cut out the sun-glare and have to put up with the "general" public and queue up at the station before the one I want to get off at because every bastard wants to get off first and lines up blocking the walkways.

There you go, I started whimsical and silly and ended on form. I'm back and V/Line you are still pathetic despite the glossy propaganda pamphlets you put out declaring otherwise. Spend the money on providing a decent & reliable service not spouting bullshit. That's my job. ;-)

p.s. Screw you Gods of Fate too, the deal's off!