Sunday, July 26, 2009

Clippy's log - page 8

18/7 2:20pm. Midga splashed $US2 on a Metro pass, in order to get in range of the trains. Union station is only on one of the five lines, and is treated like any ordinary station (20sec dwell time). Frequency seems to be around 8-10min, on a Saturday arvo - not bad. The trains have an outline like the Perth A sets, and run in two-carriage units. Each carriage is 18m long and has three doors. Seating is 2+2. Today they're running in six car sets, but the platforms seem to be long enough for eight. The pax are informed by PA of train length (it's also on the PIDS) and they ALL move up! The doors are VERY quick opening and closing. The motors sound like a Z3/A-class tram! The platform is an island, 10m wide and 190m long. It has several PIDS on widescreen LCDs, but some of them seem to be off or defective. The PIDS displays service interruptions on all lines, including station-based ones like lifts being out of order. The lines go through the city centre and out the other side, but they're U or C shaped so it's not very intuitive. A few trains are running late and it's announced as "The train is now servicing Brooklyn, it will be here to service you in approximately 8 minutes". The ticket barriers are very like Metcard ones, but slower moving.

3:26pm. Having arranged emergency plans with Rosuav, Midga and I are now going for a ride on the Metro. At one level all Metros are the same, so Midga can validate his ticket faster than some of the locals. Interchange between the Red Line and the others is at two places - Gallery Place for the Green and Yellow lines and Metro Centre for the Orange and Blue. Those pairs meet at another station, so there's three different places to interchange. Not exactly an ideal arrangement, but at least there's no case where two lines never meet and it takes another journey to make the interchange.

3:37pm. We get on. There's fairly good loading, all the seats are taken. The interior is clean, it looks like the carpet has been replaced recently. Seats are vinyl covered and have fairly good padding. There's no internal PIDS but the driver gives good announcements.

3:45pm. We're at Gallery Place. The upper level has the Red Line and the lower level Yellow and Green lines. The levels are a right angle apart, and each have just two platforms, one each way. No recovery time. The upper level is side platforms, which is rather annoying if the lower level (which is effectively the footbridge for swapping sides) is full of pax making it hard to cross. There are no clocks on any of the platforms! The fare system is a flat fare per trip, but the trip is from station entry to station exit, so interchanges aren't a disincentive to travel. Late running is getting bad for some reason, so it's impossible to tell what the frequency is. There's no timetables, it's a TUAG service, which would be great except for the service interruption. We get on another Red Line train to see if it will pop above ground at some interesting place. It's sardines, apparently there's been an accident or something. Unlike a suburban system, they can't bustitute a section, it's a busy city up there! So they just run really late. Dwell time is blown out too, so instead of going to Shady Grove terminus we bale out at Woodley Park.

4:34pm. Underground stations are dead boring! Some have slightly different features, but they don't hold interest. They're clean though - even nicer than Melbourne Central. There's not much rubbish on the floor and no grime - people will happily sit down on the platform. There's no AT&T service in the station - a flat No Signal everywhere. Other people seem to be using phones though - maybe AT&T only.

4:41pm. There seem to be various sub-classes of rollingstock. 6096 has a PIDS (just saying Red Line) which 4027 didn't. Also it has a white interior instead of cream. But all seem to have the same body shell and traction package (since they can MU). So far we've seen leading digits up to 6, and second digits up to 2. Some in the 1xxx and 2xxx range have AC underneath. Current working theory is that the leading digit is the batch or generation, batches can be up to 300 cars, and the early ones have been retrofitted with air con.

5:03pm. We get on AT LAST, should be no problem getting back to Union by 5:30. We're on the leading car in an attempt to avoid the crowds, although it doesn't help much because it's the dwell time that will kill us. We're spending about 2min in each platform! People and staff have no concept of waiting for the next service - or else they think there isn't going to be another.

6:31pm. Having left his water bottle at Kate's, Midga looks around Union Shopping Centre (it's like an airport, in three levels and including a movie theatre) for somewhere to buy a new one. No luck, the place is full of eateries and beauty shops, not a single mini-IGA. Oh well.

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