Rainbow

Sorry, no time to do a proper blog post, so here’s a photo of a rainbow I snapped in Bentleigh on Monday, as dark clouds loomed:

Rainbow over Bentleigh

Frankston line: $100m of upgrades coming. What’s included, and what isn’t? #SpringSt #metrotrains

The Frankston line is to get upgrades worth $100 million — signalling changes to allow X’Trapolis trains to run, more shelter at stations, better CCTV, and better passenger information, including about connecting buses and trams.

The Premier, Public Transport Minister, local (Coalition) MPs, heads of PTV and Metro and even the Mayor of Glen Eira were at Bentleigh station this morning for an announcement.

IMAG0021

I heard it was happening, so decided to ambush the press conference and listen in. (Just like old times.)

The press release details what’s included:

“Frankston line passengers will also benefit from improvements to station lighting, the installation of extra CCTV cameras, the extension of station platform canopies to provide more weather protection, additional myki readers and disability access improvements.

“Frankston line stations will also have new passenger information screens installed which display real time updates for trains, trams and buses, providing improved information for commuters as they arrive at stations.

“The Coalition Government’s doubling in train frequencies to every 10 minutes during the day on weekends on the Dandenong, Frankston and Ringwood lines has been successful, and now it is time to roll out further improvements,” Mr Mulder said.

This all sounds pretty good.

In fact, it sounds like precisely the sort of upgrade which should be carried out on lines across the network.

Along with the ten minute trains now seen on the line every day, a good amount of shelter, good lighting and CCTV and real time connection information is not unreasonable to expect on all our rail lines.

X’trapolis trains

I had a quick chat to Andrew Lezala from Metro — it seems the acceleration of the X’trapolis and Siemens trains are similar, so they’d like to predominantly run those on the Frankston line, and tweak the timetable to match.

Presumably this means Comeng trains will go elsewhere — and it would also mean the Williamstown and Werribee lines will also get X’trapolises, since most Frankston trains through-route to there.

What wasn’t announced?

What’s missing?

More services — we’ve already seen ten minute services every day on the line during off-peak (though few people know about them) — better than any other line in Melbourne, so I think it’s fair enough to let that be for now. But peak could do with a boost to cope with crowding and a clean-up of peak shoulder would help too.

Ormond level crossing grade separation "delivered" according to local MP - not the last time I lookedGrade separation — North Road grade separation is coming along (though is not quite “delivered” yet, as a flyer from the local member recently claimed), but no others on this line are proposed at present. The Premier and Minister had caught the train to Bentleigh, and when I had a chat with him, the Premier noted the extremely slow speed over the Glenhuntly train/tram crossing. I think he may have made noises about improving it, but I’m assuming this does not amount to a promise to grade separate!

Southland station — One of the journos asked about Southland. Terry Mulder said that because it involves building on land owned by the shopping centre, they are in negotiations over that. He seemed to also say that it would happen soon, without giving a firm time line, but it did say it would definitely happen.

Station staff — Nup. They’re still pushing the PSOs policy, even though much crime happens before 6pm, and many stations see little or nothing happen.

Connections — The upgrade will include real time information about connections, but of course one of the things lacking is the frequency of those connecting services. Passengers in Glenhuntly are lucky enough to have trams every 10-15 minutes every day, but those relying on buses see mostly hourly weekend services, and some (such as the Bentleigh to Brighton end of the 703) don’t run on Sundays.

The gunzel version

X’Traps to replace Comengs on the Franga line! Get photos!!

When will things start to happen

It’s hard not to see that this package of upgrade works is aimed squarely at the row of marginal seats along the Frankston line. As such I’d be surprised if some of the more visible changes don’t start to happen in the next 12 months, well in time for the election in November 2014.

With trains every ten minutes, better realtime information and station shelters, enhanced CCTV, more reliable services… sounds like just the sort of thing that should be rolled-out across the rail network.

But $100 million is also a lot of money. For instance, yesterday it was announced that a new high school in the Mernda/Doreen area would be built… costing $11.5 million. Some are pointing out that $100 million would pay for duplication on some of the single-line sections of other lines, which would make a huge difference to reliability.

The week in house maintenance

It was house maintenance week this week. I took a couple of days off to do some de-cluttering and get some people in.

Hard rubbish got rid of two old mattresses, three former recycle bins, a big plank of wood, an old fan and two disused old bicycles. Amusingly, between putting stuff out/booking the collection and having it picked up, one bike disappeared, then came back, then the second went.

On Tuesday I got my ducts cleaned. (Note: This is not a euphemism.)

On Wednesday it was the pest controllers, as part of my self-declared War On Cockroaches. The guy sprayed inside and out, and we evacuated for a while to let the fumes dissipate — into the city for some lunch, a walk around, and some photography.

Princes Bridge and the Southbank footbridge, Yarra River, Melbourne

Of course, the most exciting news this week in the ‘hood has been the opening of the new Aldi store in downtown Bentleigh (in the old IGA site). Wednesday was opening day, and it was packed with people hunting down $10 kettles and toasters, and $89 Android tablets.

$89 at Aldi. Should I or shouldn't I?I must admit I was tempted by the latter. But in the end I decided not to buy it, for three reasons: [1] the check-out queues were really long, [2] although it’s cheap, a review reckoned this model of tablet has poor Wifi reception (and in fact the reviewer ended up returning it due to poor battery life), and perhaps most importantly, [3] I’d just spent days de-cluttering the house, and buying something I didn’t really need would be a backward step,

And after all, there’ll be other cheap tablets. Wait a few months and there’ll be a better one for the same price.

Live from the BBC (and a few other pics from this week)

Live from the BBC!
Live from the BBC

I’m no big fan of motor vehicles, but that is a fine looking machine.
I'm no big fan of motor vehicles, but that is a fine looking machine.

Advert for Myki top-up at 7-11 talks up the fact that it’s instant, without the delay of online top-up.
#Myki promo in @mxmelbourne talking up instant topup (no delay like online)

And finally, from a friend’s kids’ party last weekend… this castle had a high quotient of princesses in towers. Razing it was a lot easier than in medieval times:
Conquest of castles was never this easy in medieval days (1/3)
Conquest of castles was never this easy in medieval days (2/3)
Conquest of castles was never this easy in medieval days (3/3)

According to old ads, chemist used to sell stuff called “film” from a company called “Kodak”.

One of the chemists in Bentleigh is renovating, and this old signage has been revealed — soon to be covered up with something new. Apparently they used to sell stuff called “film” from a company called “Kodak”.

Old advertising at chemist in Bentleigh

The windows have also shown up some old ads. Anybody care to estimate how old they might be?

Old advertising in chemist window

Old advertising in chemist window

Evidently “Beyond 2000” finished in 1999.

What is cross linked elastin cream, anyway?

The sign on the top of the shop might be a good submission for Our Fading Past.

Halloween approaches

Just after I moved to my current address, I noted that some of the local kids went Trick Or Treating for Halloween. It’s been the same in subsequent years, and I fully expect the same next week.

I’ve decided that while I’m not into cultural imperialism and the adaption of American traditions to Australia, this is something I’m happy enough to support on the basis that it’s a good way to meet some of the neighbours.

In fact I’m seriously considering getting some fake pumpkins from the $2 shop and putting them up in the doorway to flag that we’re joining in. And I’m wondering if my kids want to have a go… perhaps the Dalek costume Jeremy built for my sister’s 40th birthday (theme: Best of British) might get another outing.

What’s the situation in other neighbourhoods?

  • About 24 per cent of Australians plan to celebrate Halloween this year, according to McCrindle Research. Social analysts suggest the commercialisation of the event is behind its growing popularity.The Age today

Want to dress like Sherlock Holmes? The menswear shop in Bentleigh is selling Deer Stalkers

Spotted at Stanley’s Menswear in Centre Road: UK-made Deer Stalker – a snip at $129.95.

Deerstalker in Stanley's Menswear, Bentleigh

(Apart from sleuthing, I guess you could also use it for stalking deer.)

New 40kmh limit on Centre Road: our community is not your highway

The new 40 kmh limit now applies along Centre Road in Bentleigh, 7am to 7pm, every day.

40 limit, Centre Road, Bentleigh

This is good news, particularly as earlier this year it appeared the plan was for it not to apply on Sundays — one of the busiest shopping days.

It’s official recognition that the street is not just for the benefit of motorists.

And it’ll improve safety, and help make the neighbourhood more walkable, as well as assisting public transport interchange, for instance for those changing between trains and westbound 703 buses (for whom there is no convenient pedestrian crossing).

Intriguingly, they also seem to have changed the traffic lights at Jasper/Centre Roads to activate the green man automatically — and not just on Saturdays.

That’s a good move too, a positive for pedestrians (previously one could just miss the lights and have to wait longer) — all these changes appear to be a reflection of the VicRoads “SmartRoads” strategy kicking in… it flags this area as prioritising pedestrians and buses.

PS. Another pic:
Centre Road, new speed limit