Old photos from November 2008

Continuing my series of ten year old photos

The coal industry trying to pretend they’re good guys. I don’t know if they even pretend these days… note yesterday Adani announced it would press ahead with its new coal mine, in the middle of a state bushfire crisis — nice touch.
"New gen coal" ad November 2008

Warrnambool holiday! This was fun. Should go back sometime.
Central Warrnambool

Unprotected level crossing somewhere near Warrnambool. With little traffic, and about half-a-dozen trains per day, probably not going to be removed anytime soon.
Railway crossing

I remember we hired a car from a place in the ‘Bool where the bloke said “No worries” about every 20 seconds, so we could drive part of the Great Ocean Road. Here it is. Straya.
Kangaroos

Plenty of tourists at the Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles and many tourists

Back in Melbourne, a train ride to “Unknown Line ID”
Train going to "Unknown Line ID" November 2008

Motorcycles parking all over the pavement are not a new problem, but as the CBD gets busier, they’re a growing issue. This is a photo snapped for a blog post about them back in 2008.
Motorcycles on the footpath, November 2008

The election of Barak Obama. I was watching on a CRT, obviously… and blogged a whinge about the ABC cropping the CNN ticker of useful information.
McCain/Obama election November 2008

A big Connex advertisement in Newmarket. This was the month they moved Werribee trains out of the Loop on weekdays, and started running the Clifton Hill loop clockwise all day. Not everyone liked it, but both changes have helped enable more trains to run.
Connex Melbourne "We're moving more people every day" November 2008

Election wrapup

Many people have written about the state election result. I thought I’d add my two-cents worth… noting that as of Wednesday night, some seats are still in doubt.

The Coalition crime fear campaign didn’t resonate. The stats don’t match the rhetoric, and while the accounts from actual victims could be harrowing, Melbourne is not a crime-infested cesspit. That’s no comfort to those who have been victims of of course, and more can be done to combat crime, but this is not an unsafe city.

Anecdata is only convincing (eg reflective of reality) if enough people are directly affected. How many people do you know who have been the victim of a violent crime? I thought the rhetoric, especially when the Coalition got to the point of declaring that anybody who committed any offence while on bail would be locked up, over-the-top.

(Amazingly, the Federal Libs are still pursuing this rhetoric in some parts of Melbourne this week.)

The anti-Skyrail campaign didn’t resonate. People living underneath it might dislike it (though not all do) – but ultimately the broader community didn’t hate it. All the seats with skyrail in them now (Caulfield, Oakleigh, Mulgrave, Keysborough) and getting skyrail (Bass, Carrum) swung towards the government, not away from it.

Perhaps that was helped by the fact that skyrail exists now. It’s real. Perhaps it’s not pretty, but it’s not covered in graffiti or filled with drug dealers as some claimed it would be.

Skyrail at Carnegie, November 2018

From where I was sitting, the Coalition had few prominent, positive policies. They took a back seat to the negative campaigning.

Their best (in my book) policy was announced and then quietly dropped: trains every 10 minutes. What a shame.

Their decentralisation policies seemed a good idea at a high level, though the fast rail pledges looked undercooked, and some of the detail around the rest of it either wasn’t thought out in detail, or wasn’t communicated well.

The ridiculous intersection grade separation plan didn’t resonate. Plenty of people drive absolutely everywhere, but I don’t think many of them thought this was a good idea.

Former Liberal Premier Ted Baillieu said it well:

The campaign didn’t work. The policies didn’t work. The organisation, the administration didn’t work, the leadership didn’t work. We didn’t have any cut through. Across the board it didn’t work.

Big swings to Labor, putting normally safe Liberal seats like Hawthorn and Brighton at risk showed that even though people live in wealthy suburbs, it doesn’t mean they’re dinosaurs, and they were clearly not keen on the crime narrative, nor the Liberal party being dragged to the right by the likes of Dutton and Abbott.

Meanwhile, Labor’s narrative of “a positive and optimistic agenda” (this literally became their catchcry) was perhaps clichรฉd, but also justified by some big achievements in just four years. Who’d have believed they’d get 29 level crossings removed? It meant many people overlooked their failings such as the redshirts affair.

Daniel Andrews claims victory, State election 24/11/2018

So now we have four more years of Labor. More level crossing removals – which is good. And thanks to the benefits of incumbency, plans for rail upgrades that are arguably more logical than the Coalition’s ambitious (perhaps impossible) pledges for high speed rail.

Labor will borrow more money to pay for infrastructure. I remember being at a transport breakfast thing years ago with some bigwigs who were saying it was ridiculous that governments have such a fear of borrowing. You borrow to buy your house, and it costs money, but it’s good. Why not borrow to invest in infrastructure that grows the economy?

I don’t have a major problem with this, though the question is: are the specific big projects they’re borrowing for actually worth the money? North East Link, for example – Infrastructure Victoria gave it the thumbs up in 2016 based on a cost of $5-10 billion, but a Business Case released early in 2018 appeared to inflate the benefits.

Speaking of business cases and infrastructure, the Suburban Rail Loop doesn’t yet have a business case. If the project happens, it may be decades away. But it caught the imagination of the populace, and I’m told the ALP reckon they saw bigger swings in the electorates nearby.

In the meantime, what about Metro 2, which by any logic is a higher priority to ensure Fishermans Bend is a success and the Werribee and Mernda rail lines cope with growth.

And right here and now, there has to be a commitment to upping all-day service levels on the existing infrastructure.

Melbourne is growing fast, and we can’t wait for the Metro tunnel to open in 2025 to see more trains running.

Let’s hope the newly re-elected government realises that it’s not just infrastructure that’s important — how you use it is vital.

Update Thursday lunchtime: The Premier has announced a reshuffle. The new Public Transport Minister is Melissa Horne. Jacinta Allan picks up Transport Infrastructure. Roads Minister is Jaala Pulford.

Low bridges in Euroa

Family business took us to Euroa on Saturday.

The station is on the western side of the town centre. The main street goes over the railway line to the south of the station — Wikipedia notes that the the road overpass was built in 1960 during the first round of standardisation. The second round, last decade, converted the other track to standard gauge as well.

North of the station the railway line is elevated… but not by much.

One bridge has 2.5 metres clearance, and this one has just 2.3 metres:
Euroa railway bridge over road

Euroa railway bridge over road

There’s also a pedestrian underpass that’s even lower – only just a bit higher than me, so about 2.0 metres. An adult wouldn’t be able to ride a bike through here.
Euroa railway pedestrian underpass

Unlike the Montague Street bridge in Melbourne (3 metres clearance), a quick search finds no records of collisions with the Euroa road bridges.

I mentioned the Euroa bridge on Twitter. I was pointed to a 2 metre clearance on a freeway overpass in Pyrmont, Sydney, and also this 1.7 metre railway bridge in Wales — just high enough to fit a conventional car, with a manually-operated part time level crossing adjacent for taller vehicles — amazingly, not too long ago something similar was proposed for the Dandenong line!

Decarbonising my home

While my most pressing home renovation need is the bathroom (planning to do this the next time my sons are away on a trip), I was also thinking:

Governments should be doing a lot more on climate change, but what are the major emissions in my home, and how could I decarbonise?

The car. I recently bought a petrol car, because given how little I drive, I couldn’t justify the cost of hybrid or electric, and with brown coal power generation, electric cars arguably just move emissions from the tailpipe to elsewhere. Hopefully by the time this car is replaced, most electricity (certainly in my house) will be green and electric vehicles will be more affordable. So let’s leave the car aside just for the moment.

In the house itself, several of the appliances involved are quite old and inefficient, and may need replacing anyway in coming years. So there’s an opportunity to move away from gas (unavoidably fossil fuel) to electricity (which can be renewable).

Gas central heating — this system is more than 20 years old, and not very efficient by modern standards. Maintenance also seems to be increasing.

Current thinking seems to be that split system air-conditioners are more efficient than has central heating, particularly from electricity from renewable sources.

There’s a cost there of course — each area of the house would need a new unit fitted. I got one for the main living area a year ago for cooling, which is the other obvious benefit of installing them.

Good insulation also helps. I’ve done the roof, and we have external blinds for summer, as well as ceiling fans, but wall insulation is worth doing too.

My ancient stove

Gas cooking — my ancient gas cooker still works around 90 years after it was installed. It’s got minor problems though with gas leakage, and both the oven and cooktop are small and lack precision. We’ve learnt to live with this, but modern facilities would be nice – for instance an oven that’s big enough to cook multiple pizzas.

Replacing these with electric could be the way to go. Electric cooktops can be induction or ceramic — I like the sound of induction, though that may require replacing some of my cookware.

Gas water heaterten years ago I got solar hot water with a gas booster. It’s worked well, though a bloke who came recently to clean the panel mentioned that parts are likely to need replacing before too long — perhaps in the next five years.

Options might include a conventional electric hot water heater (expensive to run) or a heat pump, which can be expensive to install (up to about $3000), but are apparently quite cheap to run. Though come to think about it, I think I paid about $4000 for the solar hot water system.

Solar panels on a roof in Bentleigh

Electricity — currently I pay for green power, but an obvious upgrade would be to invest in PV panels, which have dropped in price markedly, and the new subsidies make it more affordable, even if the feedback tariff isn’t very high anymore.

One benefit of removing the solar hot water would be making more space on my relatively small roof for more PV panels. Some owners of houses with a small roof have been quite creative about maximising the number of panels – see photo above.

There are also different options for PV panels, which some expensive ones generate more power — and of course one can install batteries to make use of the power generated rather than feeding it back into the grid (typically during the day) and having to buy it back at peak times (typically in the evenings). Batteries are really expensive though, well over $10,000 it seems.

Can rooftop solar generate enough power at the hottest part of the day to run air-conditioning?

I also need to keep in mind future development around me. My neighbours on the western side have rebuilt their house as two storeys, reducing sun onto the roof in the afternoon. If the same happened on the eastern side I wouldn’t be surprised — there’s been a lot of similar development in my street.

Put all these things together, and (for a cost) I could move off gas completely, and move most of my power generation to solar, cutting my household emissions to hopefully near zero.

I’m sure I’m not the only one pondering these issues. What are other people doing?

Old photos from October 2008

My monthly post of ten year old photos

My day job had me working in Collins Street, and occasionally we’d get to go to the upper levels and check out the view. That’s Manchester Lane at the bottom left, and near the top left you can just see the Shrine. Newspaper House dates from a 1933 revamp of an 1884 building, and at the time was owned by Herald and Weekly Times. The renovation also added the lovely mosaic on the first floor.
Collins Street, October 2008

Looking down at Swanston Street you could see the Burke And Wills statue, well before it got moved to make way for the metro tunnel works now underway.
Bourke and Wills, October 2008

A-class trams at the Town Hall superstop
Trams, Collins Street, October 2008

How many people would know that a 108 goes most of the way of a 109? Not many I suspect, which is why the mystery route numbers were always a bad idea.
Tram 108 to Montague, October 2008

Before the days of Myki, queuing for a V/Line ticket at Southern Cross station. You have to wonder how many people actually missed the train and had to wait an hour or more for the next one because of the queue.
Queues for V/Line tickets, Southern Cross Station, October 2008

Above you can see the flatscreens were working for V/Line… not so for suburban services, which were using temporary CRTs on the concourse.
Southern Cross Station - temporary screens, October 2008

Myki had yet to start properly — that would be in December 2008 in Geelong — but it already a spot had been reserved at SoCross for an information booth.
Myki booth at Southern Cross Station, October 2008

The disrespect that some traffic engineers have for public transport is evident in this photo — they had allowed off-peak parking in front of the bus shelters for one of the busiest bus stops in Melbourne. Checking Google Streetview, not fixed as of November 2017, but at least now it’s a loading zone, not general parking, except on Sundays.
Lonsdale Street bus stop, October 2008

I think this was an RTBU campaign to get more railway stations to have staff. What happened instead was the rollout of Protective Service Officers, mostly after 6pm.
RTBU campaign for station staff, October 2008

On a trip to the country, I found this wind turbine. I’m betting critics of the newer type don’t feel the same wrath at these more traditional models.
Windmill in the country

A protest at Flinders Street Station in favour of more sustainable transport. Note the “no tunnels” signs; this was in the wake of the Eddington Report, which is where the East West Link gained prominence, and was in the lead-up to the Victorian Transport Plan, which was the Brumby Government’s response.
Transport protest, 26/10/2008