Friday, 28 September 2012

Train problems

I acknowledge that I may prattle on it a bit about our local train services - but this article suggests that there may be some justification:
Note that the "minutes to departure" column on right-hand side is blank for city-bound trains!
It seems that the number of cancelled trains may have decreased - although cancellations definitely still occur.    But two things in particular irritate me.  One of them is mentioned in the article, that is, there are trains that are supposed to run through the loop, but don't.   You can live with this sort of thing when it's an inbound train (because it's not a big drama to change at Richmond or get to your city destination from Flinders St) but what is really, really annoying is when you're waiting at a loop station and "hear" (if you're lucky) a garbled announcement that the outbound train you thought was coming is not now coming, because it is running direct from Flinders St to Richmond.   The barely-audible announcement is often made at about the time the train is due - in other words, frequently after you've let a train or two pass that would otherwise have taken you to Richmond where, with luck, you might have connected to the errant train.

In fact, this happened to me this week.   The problem of garbled announcements at Flagstaff was avoided - there was no announcement at all! Only by closely observing the monitors did I discern that the train wasn't coming.

The other thing is when a stopping train is changed to an express, so as to make up time.   This is often done with little notice, and in this case also, the manual announcements are often very poor and there's a massive risk of confusion.

Admittedly, in such situations, the reason seems often to be because the train is already late, and so the wait for the next train - if it's on time - may not too great.   However, this isn't always the case.

It's interesting that the statistics seem to indicate that satisfaction is down.  This may have something to do with the fact that, of the cancellations and other issues that do occur, many are at times when large numbers of people are travelling.   For example, in one case recently the train I caught at quite a busy time of day was the only one in a group of three that was operating - both the train before and the train after were cancelled.  On top of that, the display suggested that next scheduled train after that was running about 10 minutes late.  Instead of waiting until after the peak period to get their trains back into order, I suspect that Metro make changes at the first opportunity - even if this means that a greater number of passengers are inconvenienced.

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