Thu 16 February - A bit of fat...
Today I happen to glance at the platform clock at Balaclava and it's 07:17:30 - the scheduled time is 07:15. In theory we're over two minutes behind. Yet it's 07:28:30 when we pull into Flinders Street - on time.
The answer is that there's an extra minute or two in the timetable. Outbound journeys to Ripponlea are either 12 or 13 minutes, while inbound are either 14 or 15 minutes. Just an extra bit of padding to avoid the penalties. Add these couple of extra minutes to the five minutes and 59 seconds that still counts as "on time" and you have a buffer of just a whisker short of EIGHT MINUTES up your sleeve before you're penalised for being late!
How long before 16 minutes counts as "on time"? I'll give it five years. So in 2011 when the 17:27 pulls in 16 minutes past its scheduled time, as it does today, that'll get a big tick in the Connex log book (or maybe in the PDP-11's database, they're bound to still be running) for another service satisfactorily delivered. And I can also bet, that just as today, there will be zero announcements to tell us where the hell the train is as we stand on the platform wondering and the departure time of the following train rapidly approaches. Pathetic Sir Topham.