Saturday, October 13, 2007

Just when V/Line thought it was safe! I'm back!

The rumours of my untimely cessation of blogging were unwarranted, I've just been slack in keeping this blog updated (very slack!).

Has V/Line improved that much that my incessant whinging is not required? Nope, but I'll be the first to admit, if you don't have anything negative to say on a blog with the title "Whinger" then say nothing at all! ;-)

Okay, I'll stop with the "cute" comments (someone, allegedly a V/Line conductor, left a comment a while ago that this blog was a "cute little website" ... ahh gotta love such biting sarcasm, I'm still bleeding!).

I've actually been on holidays the past few weeks, but I still get occasional updates from friends who are travelling about various incidents, think I've missed a few good ones! On the whole, since my last post in June, things have been for the large part reasonably okay.

Good grief, I hear you say ... is that an admission that the service level has been tolerable? Well for the most part in my experience it has been. I suppose my expectation level is that I'm going to encounter at least one stuff-up a week, which you can't avoid.

On the whole, the 4.40pm homeward train has been good ... aside from the couple of times when it stuffed up multiple times in a week, usually the same old issue of V'Locity carriages either not being there on time at the platform or some 'technical' issues. Unfortunately those are the nights when things really go pear-shaped and impact not only that service but usually the 4.55pm and 5.13pm after it (and even the 5.29pm).

One such occurance happened a few weeks ago and by happy coincidence, although I'd jumped across to the 4.55pm, I still got to speak to some V/line Management about the situation and my wider complaints, criticisms and compliments.

I'm not sure if she has ever read this blog (I was a little hesitant to give out the address, thus blowing my relative anonymity) but I'd like to thank Ursula of V/Line Management to listening politely and attentively to the various things I had to say. Yes, I was polite & diplomatic, despite the complete cock-up (the second day in a row) but with a grain of salt I have to say, whether things get acted upon, I'm not sure but kudos for at least showing your customers (passengers) that you are not sitting in Ivory Towers and leaving the conductors to cop all the grievances on the coal-front.

The other week I did spend some time perusing the V/Line website reading statistics and information regarding performance results. There was an interesting chart that showed by percentage, the majority of Melbourne-bound trains were on time until they hit the suburban network. No surprise there. I just hope that some of the clever bureaucrats and consultants can come up with some solutions around this.

I'm not going to be smarmy and suggest "just build more track" as the quick-fix solution, because obviously that is a longer-term (and difficult) solution, but surely there is a way to improve how efficiently the track we have is used. Ideally, analysing the choke points on the system, perhaps building "passing" tracks where possible, improving signalling, changing to a system where multiple trains can safely be used on the same part of track.

Ah well, enough waffling (it's not really whinging!) and I'll see how my return to the trains goes next week. :)