Tuesday, 1 December 2009

I Hear the Train A'Coming

Newspapers and commuters have been getting a little hot under the collar here in Victoria this week about Metro Trains, the Hong Kong based suckers who yesterday officially took over from the much-hated Connex as the private operators of the Melbourne train network.

Unsurprisingly their first 48 hours in charge have been full of the same kind of commuter-torturing fuck-ups that typified Connex’s reign. Personally I think it was a bit hopeful to expect a smooth handover of a system responsible for over 500 million journeys a year, but still the press have been dispassionately quick to point an accusing finger and seek out angry commuters to tell us that how their lives have been ruined by public transport.

I think I’ll give Metro a chance to get their feet under the table before I eventually decide that they're a bit rubbish, but I will say now that I’m disappointed by their decision to re-record some of the on-board passenger announcements. A daily highlight of my journey was pulling into North Melbourne station and hearing the robot-lady advise passengers that they might wish to 'change here for trains to Werribee, Williamstown, Sydenham and (with a voice bordering on the incredulous) Craigieburn?!' I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d added 'Really? Craigieburn? They have a train station?! In Craigieburn? Those fuckers? Really? Craigie…? Burn...? Get the fuck out of here! Craigieburn?! Well, fuck me…'

Sadly I noticed today that Robot Lady has seemingly come to terms with the inclusion of Craigieburn within the Greater Melbourne public transport system and no longer sounds quite so disbelieving. Shame. Perhaps Metro Trains has been counselling staff – of real and artificial intelligence - to cope with anticipated trials ahead. If they haven't then I’d suggest that they start now… pretty soon they might need it.

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