Friday, June 27, 2008

Rail: to revile or scold in harsh, insolent, or abusive language

I've had it up to HERE with NSW's CityRail, so I have come here to rail against it. So that's where that word comes from!

I've tried, really, I have tried, to make it work. But there is just no effort from the other side.

I work for Monash University, in Melbourne, and live in Sydney. This means many early morning starts and evening returns from the airport. Sometimes I persuade my better half to take me there in the mornings, but sometimes I creep out before dawn's early light to get myself there. A train seems a good idea because I live two minutes' walk from the station, the service is usually quick in the mornings, and because my inner greenie wants to support rail transport and support the airport service. I think it is generally a Good Thing, even though we are close enough to the airport for it not to make much difference in cost.

But I've had enough, I can't try any more.

Episode 1: I get there at 5.30 am for a scheduled train, nobody to buy tickets from. I have a $50 note (for a $20+ return fare) and there is no change in the machine. I have no alternative but to hail a cab.

Episode 2: I am going to Melbourne for the day. I have a tight connection on the way back to get to a choir performance at the Opera House, so I want to save time. At Newtown station I cannot buy a return ticket Newtown/Airport/Circular Quay. No way. A return won't work. Newtown Station cannot sell me a Domestic/Circular Quay single. There is no alternative but to spend precious minutes at the airport struggling with baggage and running for time, getting the money to feed into a machine or to wait in the inevitable slow line.

Episode 3: I go to Melbourne Wednesday morning, and return Thursday evening. I like to be organised, and I make a commitment to travelling by train. It seems like The Right Thing. So I bought a return ticket. Put the ticket in my purse, and travel ensues. On my return, I get the ticket out, put it into the machine, which rejects it. The attendant points out the message on the ticket that it is valid DAY OF PURCHASE only! Naturally, you don't see this message (if at all) until AFTER you have purchased the ticket. I ask for my money back. No go. I get a form to fill out to request the return of my $10.10. Why on earth is my ticket invalid the very next day? I will fill in the form, and I will make my point.

Let's not talk about the sheer inconvenience of having to travel back to Central, then change platforms with my baggage. Wait for trains at Central outside in the cold, with my baggage. Deal with the steps at Newtown Station (more than forty steps, no lift, with my baggage).

So I try to support public transport, but every time I try it seems they throw ball bearings under my feet.

I'm pretty cranky about it!


  1. JulieB4:18 PM

    The ticketing system (returns only valid for one day, can't buy tickets for other stations from where you are) hasn't changed in the almost 30 years I've been catching the trains, so the restrictions shouldn't come as a surprise! No, the trains aren't flexible. Yes, they should be and it'd take a government with more brains than this one to do something about it....

  2. Blame the victim! Yes, I should know these things, but I clearly haven't internalised the restrictions in the same way you have.

  3. I agree; it is iniquitous. I've travelled in London recently and their Oystercard system is just so different from the debacle in Sydney. It works on all public transport at all times. It beeps differently to let you know when it needs topping up. It is a complete mystery why it should be so difficult here.