Exciting trip from Upper Ferntree Gully station to Melbourne Central station this morning.

As always, never a dull moment with Melbourne PT. There were several phases to this game:

First you had to guess what time the next train would depart. Then you had to roll a dice (not provided). If you got a:

  1. drive to Glen Waverly station (hope there is enough parking) and catch train.
  2. catch bus to Box Hill and tram into city.
  3. catch bus to Oakleigh station and train into city.
  4. wait for train to leave again.
  5. argue with station staff.
  6. drive into the city.

The first three options were recommended by the station staff - but these options weren’t an option to all passengers - depending on destination - and I felt the car parks/busses/trams were going to be very full, so avoided these options - not having a dice I went to option 4.

Apparently all trains were stopped along the Belgrave (and probably Lilydale and Alemein lines) due to point failure and Camberwell. Somehow I ended up knowing more about the problem then the train drivers did (although I was initially told Electrical signal failure). The driver asked me to repeat the PA message, as he couldn’t understand it (due to poor PA quality).

Driver: What did they say? Me: No trains until further notice. Driver: No, what is the problem? I missed that part… Me: Electrical/Signal failure at Camberwell station (what I had been told by station staff) Driver: Arhh.

Just then the driver from the other train comes and asks the first driver what is happening, and the first driver points to me and says “ask him - he knows more then I do!”

Just one of the highlights during the wait.

I was also given the opportunity to guess who would win the argument when an angry passenger requested the station staff provide him with a refund for the ticket he just purchased - not very challenging though (as expected the station staff said they couldn’t provide a refund but gave him a refund form).

I arrived at 7:40am and the train ended up leaving at 8:25. …but wait… there is more…

Then we enter the next phase: guess where this train is going!

At UFTG station the train was marked as Flinders st. The significance of this didn’t sink in straight away. At:

  • Heathmont: sign said City Loop.
  • Ringwood: Verbal announcement (not automatic) said Flinders St direct.
  • Heatherdale: sign said City Loop.
  • Mitcham: Sign said Flinders Street.
  • Nunawading: Sign said Flinders Street, station staff yelled out Express.
  • Box Hill: south most platform - normally for Flinders Street direct trains at this time.

At Box Hill there was some confusion among all parties involved:

  1. Sign and signals for Flinders Street direct line.
  2. I went up to the drivers cabin, knocked on his door, and asked him (he just got off his phone). He said he didn't know, and was going to find out. I thanked him.
  3. Driver went to phone at end of platform, and came back saying it was a City Loop.
  4. Points changed to put train on Express line.
  5. Station announced train was an express. People got on.
  6. Points change again to put train on stopping all stations line. Train on other platform arrives (from Lilydale) and both trains are given green signals. The signs say one is an express/city loop and the other is a stopping all stations, but I have already learnt not to trust the signs anymore.
  7. Some alert from station again. People confused. Again.
  8. Annoucement (from train and station) that the train was really a stopping all stations direct to Flinders Street.
  9. The Express train was the train from Lilydale and I (along with a lot of other passengers) caught that.

I noticed that the stopping-all-stations train appeared to stop not far from Box Hill station - just past the points - not sure why - the line in front of it was clear all the way until Camberwell.

Connex must put a lot of effort into making the train trips as exciting as possible…