Friday, March 18, 2011

Trains, Pollies & Autobuses

(Photos: 'Trainless' Countrylink platform, Sydney Central)

(Photos: Cake & Circuses minus trains, Sydney Central)

(Photos: 'Countrylink Train' bus, Flickr, Kaine1991)

Lovely as 'Harmony Day' may be, when you're at a train station you want trains!

Yet again interminable trackwork faced rail passengers today. Yet again it was revealed that this nation cannot run trains according to publicised timetables.

Australia just isn't to be trusted in the public transport arena - we just don't get it.

How is it that 'Countrylink' & 'City-Rail' train lines ('train' being the operative word) have fleets of buses displaying their insignia?

* Why are there are protocols in place for 'train-travel' by road?

* Why is so much passenger time spent on roads rather than on railway tracks?

* Why are Countrylink personnel so uber-jolly in the face of passenger misery & inconvenience? ...the following exchange was almost too much to handle - I did my best...

Officer Countrylink (looking at my ticket): Ohhh! 'Sco-one'! Aren't we a lucky girl?! Such a pretty little place, 'Sco-one'!

Me: It's a facade, I can assure you - just like your rail network!!!......(jeez, beam me up, Scottie, please...sigh)

* Why aren't we shouting from the rooftops?

* Why do we put up with this 'shit'?

* & why don't coal trains ever stop running?

...but I digress; back to the 'Trackwork Pantomime'...

From what I've observed over my considerable experience as an Australian Public Transport user, there is still no glaringly obvious evidence of benefits from the incessant 'trackwork':

- nothing works better,

- trains still don't run on time,

- trains actually don't run

- buses make you sick


Aaaaahhhhh, somebody, anybody - what's the story?'s looking at you, kid! & we'll always have "Trackwork"!!!

(cut to fuzzy lens & piano: Da-da, Da-da, Da-daaaah)


  1. "From what I've observed . . .there is still no glaringly obvious evidence of benefits from the incessant 'trackwork'"

    That's only because you aren't one of the people being paid to lean on a shovel and/or toss rocks back and forth over a wall.

    "what's the story?"

    Don't ask if you don't want to know, but it can be worked out by the perspicacious mind from the above. To my mind the interesting question has always been how anyone could stand to "make a living" in that manner. It might well be a "living," but it's certainly no way to live.

  2. But did you get your bike onto the bus? In Victoria when trains are replaced by bus the driver can decide, and usually does, not to carry your bicycle. Just a bit of a problem when you are relying on the train to carry you 100km or so.

  3. Nik,

    Yes, the same problem here in Queensland. If the trains are replaced by buses (usually on weekends because, hey, who needs to travel anywhere other than for work...?) then you cannot take your bicycle.

    What a wonderful public transport system we have...

    For the long distance trains they make you dismantle the bicycle for transport (yet large suitcases, wheelchairs & prams aren't dismantled). Cycling is still seen as either a sporting pursuit or a fringe activity by weirdos in Australia... sigh.

  4. ...notwithstanding your erudite comments, kfg, I still want to know why my country is always undergoing the type of trackwork that knocks trains off the tracks - everyone knows that railways have to do trackwork maintenance but other nations seem to manage to keep on running their trains simultaneously - no kidding Australia has zero rail to boast of - I think it's a plot to clear the decks for our avaricious mines who are busy supplying the world with coal

    ...and Nik, in answer to your question...NO! - totally maddening!!!!

  5. "other nations seem to manage to keep on running their trains"

    Not including my own I'm afraid. Once our rail system was second only to the Swiss; now James Kunstler likes to comment that we have a rail a system the Bulgarians would be ashamed of, and yes, carrying a bicycle on what we have left can be a real pain in the bum, if allowed at all.

    I'll leave you with something else to ponder; when Tokugawa Ieyasu cemented his position as Shogun of Japan one of his first edicts was to make it a criminal offense to . . . repair a road. Internal checkpoints for "security" came next, with the security officers free to act essentially arbitrarily without oversight.

    The point of the whole exercise being simply to make travel difficult, traumatic and even downright so dangerous that most people wouldn't risk it. People stayed on their home turf "voluntarily" without the need to formally bind them to it by law.

    Sometimes there is method behind the apparent madness.

  6. There is no reason for it and no excuse for such an abysmal service. The underlying assumption seems to be that trains are for losers, weirdos and the poor. If you are stupid enough to take the train, you deserve everything you get.

    The other common assumption is that there is no demand for a decent train service, which is nonsense. There is understandably no demand for a train service so slow that it has not actually increased speed since the days of steam and one that runs a train perhaps once a day.

    The fact is there is easily sufficient population to support a decent train service on the NSW north coast. Paul Mees, in his latest book, explains how it could so easily be done using Switzerland as an example. There are some tiny hamlets over there that still get a regular bus service which then connects with the waiting train at the nearest intersection. All it takes is a little effort and a single organisation planning and running it.

    PS: The book is called "Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age". Highly recommended.

  7. Thanks for the recommendation, Edward, - I'll look out for it!

    ...your summation is chilling stuff, kfg, & definitely seems to fit with government behaviour!!