01 August 2010

Transport Mismanagement 101

Everyone employed on the Melbourne metropolitan train system has done the course it seems.

Last night we went to the Bledisloe Cup rugby match at Etihad (Docklands) Stadium.

When we finally made our way to Southern Cross railway station afterwards the indicator board told us that all trains bound for the south-eastern suburbs (Frankston, Pakenham, Cranbourne), any one of which would suit us, would depart from Platform 13.

We descended to the platform, where a train was just departing for Sandringham, and the indicator on the platform showed a succession of trains heading for Frankston etc. We were told by station staff, however, and there was an announcement over the public address system, that the train which had just departed would be the last train from that platform for the evening, and all passengers for Frankston etc should make their way to Platform 12.

As I was riding down the escalator to Platform 12 I was a little bit disturbed to see that the indicator for Platform 13 was now showing a train departing for Frankston in 11 minutes. I was reassured, however, to see that the indicator on Platform 12 showed a train for Pakenham departing in 3 minutes. That counted down to train departing for Pakenham in 1 minute, and then went blank at just about the time that the Pakenham train pulled into Platform 13, the platform from which we had all been hurried off to Platform 12.

We were told to board the train on Platform 11 and change at Flinders Street, but of course we had no more chance of catching the train at Flinders Street than at Southern Cross – arrived on the platform just in time for the doors to close in our faces. Fifteen minutes until the next train, so we left the station and caught a tram home.

Good one Metro – I’ll bet stuff-ups like that don’t make it into your on-time running statistics. The train was on time, but the passengers didn’t make it because they were assembled on the wrong platform.

When an event like that occurs, I always have one little question in my mind – did the operator actually know which line the train was on and fail to communicate with us correctly, or did the sudden chops and changes represent confusion as to which line the train was on? Are we safe?

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