Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tue 28 March - Well, Sir Topham...?

As is often the case, I'm indebted to a fellow commuter who keeps me fed with useful information pertaining to Connex. In this case the interesting titbit was Sir Topham Hatt’s rather frank assessment of the issues he faces as fat controller of the Sodor rail network. For those who are interested it's here. Thanks to CB for the link.

So, Sir Topham, this is all very interesting, but what are YOU going to do about these problems? Perhaps those slides with your proposed solutions were missing from the end of your presentation?

The 07:14 is on time.

Home on the 18:01 and it's on time too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am not a fan of Connex, as I am impacted by the appalling service they provide as well. As Bruce Hughes passes the buck to the government in his presentation and recommends some serious infrastructure spending, there are certainly some things Connex could do as well to easy the confusion by pushing their passengers around (or from platform to platform ).

If Connex would get the basics of PR and communication right, they should be able to get the public behind them in pushing the Peter Batchelor into spending some serious money on the required upgrade of the rail network.
A first step for Connex should be to consider us as paying customers and not passengers they push around, squeeze in overcrowded trains and carry as freight over their network.

28 March, 2006 09:41  
Anonymous Sam said...

Ok Connex - here's a change you could make right now, only you won't because it will cost you money. Chris, this one's for you too.

Why the bloody hell can't Connex fit out trains so as to have basic safety precautions for people standing? By this I mean simple rails to hang on to. Chris, this is why people stand around doorways - they are the only places on some parts of the train that have rails to hang on to. I know, I was one of them this morning.

I would have happily moved towards the emptier space at the end of the carriage (I was on the first carriage of one of the older trains) but there was nothing to grab over the 3 seaters that face inwards so everyone crowded around the door had to hang on to the pole there. Even then some people had a very tenuous hold of it. As for the newer trains - would be nice if Connex also realised that not all passengers are 6 feet tall. Hanging on to those squeaky plastic grips for 20 minutes is enough to have me walking off the train with pins and needles in that arm and a sore shoulder - wouldn't like to be hanging on for longer than that!


PS - the other day a "daniel bowen" posted here. Is this the same Daniel Bowen that is president of the PTUA?

28 March, 2006 11:36  
Anonymous Andrew said...

As Connex showed in the UK, they are not prepared to spend the money on rail services and as such, they lost two of their three UK rail licences. They were useless there and are useless here. They appear to be unable to learn a lesson.
They are hated in the UK and seem to provoke a similar reaction here. They keep proving that it is profist and not people that count.

28 March, 2006 12:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of communication, as we all seem to agree that connex's communication skills are relatively poor at best, maybe they could consider something like sydney in todays hearldsun:


Sorry, i don't know how to post links, just paste in IE browser.

But if they did implement something like this, I imagine it would randomly be used like the sms system they sometimes utilise.

28 March, 2006 15:07  
Blogger Connex Whinger said...

Anon 1 - agree, if Bruce were smart and he really wanted to get things moving, getting passengers on side would be a pretty smart move. A big task from where they are today!

Sam - I must admit, I totally disagree with Chris/The Met's simplistic view of not standing in doorways. I can't envisage a homeward bound train that is not crowded, even when they're running to the timetable. The concept of there being enough free space to have everybody keeping well away from the doors is laughable.

Andrew - I gather the UK had already flicked Connex before Melbourne even signed up. You'd have thought somebody might've twigged they would not be the best choice.

Anon 2 - a web portal showing up-to-date info would be excellent. However, since they can't tell the passengers waiting on the platform what's happening, it's hard to see them getting anywhere with this type of technology.

28 March, 2006 20:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought this below (from the Department of Infrastructure website (www.doi.vic.gov.au)) might help to explain some of the problems you seem to believe are attributed to Connex:

The partnerships clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of the operators, the State Government and the supporting organisation, Metlink:

• Day-to-day operation of trains and trams to Government performance standards
• Responsibility for customer service, including tickets sales, passenger security and station staff
• Employment and management of staff
• Maintenance and cleaning of vehicles, tracks and stations.

State Government
• Safety regulation
• Sustainable funding
• Coordination of timetables between trains, trams and buses
• Long-term network and strategic planning
• Development of a new ticketing system.

• Representation of tram, train and bus operators across Melbourne
• Marketing of public transport across Melbourne
• Management of day-to-day operation of the ticketing system through a contract with OneLink
• Provision of service information to passengers through a web-site and call centre
• Collection of data on patronage
• Allocation of revenue from ticket sales between public transport operators.

Therefore, the acquisition of new trains, infrastructure and any actual money output comes from the State Goverment (NOT CONNEX). As Melbourne's rail network hasn't been changed significantly in the past 100 years (City Loop excluded) shouldn't we be focussing on the Government and not the operator??

It appears from the information that Connex just act as a manager and the owner of the system is still very much the State Government.

29 March, 2006 09:08  
Anonymous sam said...

Phil - while I don't agree that it is a major cause of a failing system, I can see that the doorway thing is an annoyance, probably best put under "bad commuter etiquette". There have been many times when there is plenty of standing room, even seats and people get on and stand either side of the doorway instead of moving further into the carriage, reducing the amount of space for the next lot of people to get on. More a problem with the older trains. Aisle-seat-sitters are another one that shit me. Instead of simply moving over to the empty window side seat next to them, they make people climb over them.

To anon. - I think you'll find a fair bit of flack here aimed at Peter Bachelor and the government for their complete lack of action over the past 8 years or so in regards to the metro rail system. However as you pointed out, Connex is responsible for the day-to-day running of the trains (or lack of running) and therefore communication about what is and isn't run must come from them. In the big scheme of things I see it as a joint problem and at the moment each side is pointing and blaming the other instead of getting anything done.


29 March, 2006 11:02  
Blogger The Met said...


Blind? there are handrails at the end of every row of seats.

Want me to count them for you?

If you look up, there should be handles, if you can see, there are poles. About 2 metres to grab onto...

Three problems;

- trains weren't designed to carry as much people in peak
- cost of re-furbishing trains with more handles accounts to more problems, more delays...!
- These TRAINS were ordered by PREVIOUS M>TRAIN and cannot be changed nor blamed for Connex misfortune.
- Connex can't provide enough services due to a long long list of problems.

Mr Whinger, i never account that doorway crowding is the ONLY way to delay trains, but it's a factor to a degree.

I've travelled enough time to witness a lot of stupidity. I was on a packed train. Before Middle-Brighton, i found myself a seat furthest possible away from doors, with STANDING ROOM adjacent to where i was sitting. No-body would bother to move further into the carriage, while others were attemtping to get into the train.


PS older train were FAR MORE SUPERIOR in carring peak time loads than newer trains, it's only because the public found them squeeky, uncomfortable and lack of air-con.

29 March, 2006 15:38  
Anonymous sam said...

I realise there are handrails at the end of the seats. I use them frequently. However the most standing room is around the doors, and the seats facing inwards, and there is not enough places to hang on to anything here. And why can't Connex modify the trains now? I assume they have to be taken "off duty" for maintenance at some regular interval - can't modifications be made then?


30 March, 2006 14:00  
Blogger The Met said...

Modifications may be possible, as mentioned cost and time.

Firstly additional 'parts' would need to be ordered, ie the handles.
Time & Costs; again.

Installing the would take practically more than a day. Don't vouch me on that, but thats how it is. Maintenance requires, 2 dependants; if it's light it really is a short 'maintenance' duty time for cleaning, or heavy with technical issues.

Currently, some of Melbournes fleet of newer "Connex" trains that were originally ordered by Connex, are having their suspension replaced. (Long story short) it's been over 4 weeks, since the first set has been volunteered.

Now, another things, the only seats that face 'in' are on older train, which are soon to be out of service, no point really doing anything major now.

Other trains, ie newer 2 door styled 'Siemens' train,s reserve inward facing seats (which are behind the drivers console) for disable passenger, ie those with bikes, pushers, prams, wheelchairs etc.

31 March, 2006 21:41  

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