Carrum?

The new Siemens train rolls through the burbs, resplendent in the latest train company colours.

A middle-aged man chats into his mobile phone about planning permission for a four story storey monolith in a residential area of one story homes, with the voice of experience and reason, rather than that of the outraged NIMBY. He’s not talking loudly, but that whole section of the carriage can hear him, and he’s oblivious to the dagger stares of every little old lady within ten metres.

A well-dressed woman boards. Grace, poise, all signs pointing to a respectable corporate worker, apart from a slightly edgy nose stud.

In the mostly-offside-doorway, a man leans against the bright yellow railing, pondering what he might blog about later, trying to decide if he should change at Richmond for a direct train to Flinders Street (thus avoiding most of the rain on the walk from Parliament, but probably ending up in the subterranean platform 13) and increasingly aware that the particular outfit of clothes he’s chosen that day make him look a little like a crusty old maths teacher. Lucky no leather elbows.

The train’s Next Station display confidently states “Carrum”, thoughout the trip, though Carrum is 20km back. Sometimes they’re accurate. Sometimes they’re a station out. Sometimes, like this time, they’re totally whacked.

Why? This is not the most complex technology in the world. I seem to remember similar devices working okay on the London Underground last time I was there six years ago. And they have huge swathes of track unable to pick up satellite GPS signals to determine their position.

Surely here with most stations aboveground, a combination of GPS and trackside or other locators (with GPS taking priority where applicable) should do the trick?

And don’t think I haven’t noticed the Siemens trains claim Flinders Street when they should say City Loop…

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5 Replies to “Carrum?”

  1. Yeah, was on a newbie train last week. We’d arrived at Newport and the announcement was “The next station is Melbourne Central”… WTF?!

  2. On Wednesday I caught my 8:20 from Hawthorn to Flinders St. It was three carriages, packed like sardines, I simply compressed myself in, much to the bemusement of the crowd. I predicted there and then that we would end up at platform 13, and yep, there we were. As we were behind the drivers cabin, I so wanted to start a chant of “No platform thirteen please!” or something like that.
    And now my damn metcard has died, doesn’t expire til 22nd of June. Bastards.

  3. Like Ren, I travel on the Werribee line. About two weeks ago my morning train got its mind fixed on the idea that it wanted to go to the seaside, and announced that the next station was going to be Brighton Beach, Brighton Beach, Brighton Beach, all the way from Footscray through South Kensington, North Melbourne, and on into the Loop. I ended up feeling sorry for the unhappy, unfulfilled thing.

  4. Aaahhh…the lovely “jika” trains…
    (the inside reminds me of the concrete corridoors connecting all the wings at Jika Jika, at Pentridge – a spooky place even after it was closed)

    I especially love how in peak hour nobody moves away from the doors. If I see one coming for my morning train I can usually just keep reading my book as there is no chance of getting on (and if I do, there being nothing to hold onto)

    Can’t beat Progess! Gimme a hitachi train any day (except for the hot ones :-)

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