Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

NOTE: This post was meant to be written for 31 December 2014, but was delayed for numerous reasons.

Reflecting back on 2014

2015-01-05 Stats for 2014

This blog received over 255 thousand views in 2014, a time during which:

Posts with the most views

  1. Paper tickets to be retired and replaced with Opal, 1 June 2014 (7,693 views)
  2. Badgerys Creek infrastructure and noise impacts, 16 April 2014 (6,969 views)
  3. Sydney maps: real and fictional, 12 February 2014 (3,484 view)
  4. Opal’s hidden gems, 31 January 2014 (3,008 views)
  5. Metro plan could cost more and Northern Beaches Rail Line in the planning, 3 February 2014 (2,818 views)

Opal and its rollout garnered a great deal of interest, particularly given the bulk of the rollout occurred during 2014. Most the posts with high traffic were also either original content (Sydney maps: real and fictional or Opal’s hidden gems), or covered specific current issues in greater detail than other media did (Badgerys Creek infrastructure and noise impacts or Metro plan could cost more and Northern Beaches Rail Line in the planning).

11 June was the single day with the highest traffic volumes, with 1,924 views. This was the day after the Asset sales to fund Sydney Rapid Transit post was published. That post was not the most viewed post, but was likely viewed many times on the home page, rather than as a specific post.

Posts with the most comments

  1. This week in transport (7 December 2014)7 December 2014 (128 comments)
  2. This week in transport (30 March 2014)30 March 2014 (121 comments)
  3. Metro plan could cost more and Northern Beaches Rail Line in the planning, 3 February 2014 (92 comments)
  4. Commentary: Why a 2nd Harbour road tunnel is a good thing, 22 November 2014 (63 comments)
  5. Asset sale to fund Sydney Rapid Transit, 10 June 2014 (60 comments)

The 7 December post was in relation to the CBD and South East Light Rail (CSELR), while the 30 March post was in relation to the North West Rail Link. All up, Sydney Rapid Transit was responsible for igniting debate in 3 of the top 5 commented on posts, while the other two were in relation to the CSELR and a future Northern extension to WestConnex. All are projects that are still for the most part in the planning stages, with construction either yet to begin or only recently having begun.

The most frequent commenters over the last year were Simon (140 comments), Ray (123 comments), QPP (84 comments), MrV (77 comments), JC (58 comments).

Thank you to all commenters for engaging in discussion. Comments are always welcome.

Posts with the most activity on social media

  1. Paper tickets to be retired and replaced with Opal, 1 June 2014 (42 shares on Facebook and 3 tweets on Twitter)
  2. Opal soon to be available on entire Sydney Trains network19 February 2014 (41 shares on Facebook and 1 tweet on Twitter)
  3. Comparing Opal to Myki and TCard, 29 January 2014 (21 shares on Facebook and 11 tweets on Twitter)
  4. Live Blog – All Stations Challenge (22 December 2014), 22 December 2014 (18 shares on Facebook and 15 tweets on Twitter)
  5. The cost of transport and fare setting10 January 2014 (24 shares on Facebook and 2 tweets on Twitter)

Opal was, again, the issue that got readers to share posts from this blog. All up there were 2,651 referrals to this blog from Twitter and 1,971 from Facebook during the past year. Together they represent about 1.8% of all views on this blog.

Terms with the most searches

  1. Rail map (1,064 searches)
  2. Badgerys Creek airport (966 searches)
  3. WestConnex (238 searches)
  4. Sydney transport blog (191 searches)
  5. Sydney trains (184 searches)

Over 100,000 referrals came from search engines, of which approximately 95% were anonymous searches. The remaining 5% of searches were ll quite different, so similar search terms (e.g. Badgerys Creek airport, Badgerys Creek airport flight path, Badgerys Creek airport noise map, etc) with more than 5 searches were added up. Various combinations of rail maps and Badgerys Creek airport each yielded the greatest number of searches. However, it is difficult to tell if these are a representative sample of all searches.

Looking forward to 2015

The first half of this new year will see the opening of the South West Rail Link (February), the NSW State election (March), and the start of construction on the CBD portion of the CSELR after the Centenary of Anzac Day (April). Changes to the CBD bus network are also set to be announced during this time.

The new year will also see the rollout of Opal Concession cards and ticket machines plus the start of construction on the M4 and M5 portions of WestConnex. Details are also awaited on which alignment is chosen for light rail from Parramatta and specific information on enhancements to be made to Western Sydney’s heavy rail network in order to expand network capacity once the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link is closed in 2018 to be integrated into the Sydney Rapid Transit network.

VIDEO: Cityrail Challenge (2011)

Today I will be taking part in the All Stations Challenge. This post will be updated throughout the day, sporadically. For updates throughout the day, check my Twitter feed @bambul or using the hashtag #AllStationsChallenge. A live blog of my previous attempt can be found here.

All up I will be out from around 4AM to midnight, so I am packing plenty of food and drink for the day:

The All Stations Challenge requires a full day, close to 24 hours in some cases. Here is the food I'll be taking with me for the day. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author)

My current plans will have me completing the entire Sydney Trains network (176 stations) in a bit under 17 hours. It begins at 5:33AM, with the key points being at 3:36PM, where I am hoping the train to Richmond is running late, in order to give me enough time to make the mad dash across Blacktown Station.

If I miss that connection then I will need to watch out for 7:34PM, where I have to run from the Sprint platform at Lidcombe to catch another train arriving at the same time as my train that recently departed from Olympic Park.

Below is a rough plan for the day.


12:05AM – While checking my plan in bed I notice that my arrival time at Granville is actually the time I arrive at Merrylands. This means I miss my planned connection. Some furious last minute amendments gives me a new plan of 17 hrs 25 mins, rather than the original 16 hrs 25 mins. If the Emu Plains train is running late then there is a chance I can still catch it and achieve the original time.

The good news is that the only problematic time is now 10:46AM-10:48AM at Town Hall, where I need to transfer from the T4 Eastern Suburbs Line to the T2 City Circle. If I miss that, then I can still do the City Circle at the end of the night, adding a few minutes to my time. This is a very acceptable variation.

Unfortunately, this has also robbed me of precious sleep time. I will be doing this on about 3 hours of rest, less than I’ve had in previous attempts.
5:11AM – Made it to Central. My first train is the 5:33AM to Homebush. That will complete the Inner West Line.
5:27AM – After meeting up with John, Leam, and Jake, I head off to platform 19. Along the way, I bump into Craig. That makes 5 of us so far, though I believe there will be 8 in total.
6:00AM – Made it to Homebush. The train ended up being 2 minutes late and real time data is not working. I really hope it gets back up soon and stays up as I will be relying on it to gauge any tricky transfers or changes to my plan. The next train is the 6:17AM to Lidcombe.
6:26AM – The 6:17AM train was important as it is one of the few that stops at both Homebush and Flemington, thus preventing backtracking and saving some time. Arriving at Lidcombe I make a quick transfer from platform 4 to platform 5 for a T3 Bankstown Line train back to the city. It gets to Redfern at 7:14AM. After that I head South towards Hurstville, in the counter peak direction at the start of the morning rush hour. I will need to cover the Sefton portion of he Bankstown Line later today.
7:24AM – On a T4 train to Hurstville after changing at Redfern. From Hurstville it’s another train to Cronulla, then backtracking to go to Waterfall. A return trip to Bondi Junction will complete T4 entirely. No major issues yet, though the first major challenge for the day will be a 10:46AM arrival at Town Hall from Bondi Junction, which leaves only 2 minutes to get to the 10:48AM City Circle train on the other side of the station, requiring me to go up 2 floors and down 2 floors again.


9:07AM – Having completed my journeys to Cronulla and Waterfall I begin my 17 minute wait for the return train to Bondi Junction. Thankfully, there is a toilet at Waterfall, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Actually, perhaps half an hour earlier would have been slightly better, but I digress. So far I have visited 55 of the 176 stations, but the long trip back to Bondi Junction means this tally won’t rise much for another hour or so. After Bondi Junction comes the 2 minute dash at 10:46AM in Town Hall.


10:30AM – The train ride to Bondi Junction took just over an hour. A quick dash to the other platform for the train that was waiting there should get me back to Town Hall. 61 stations visited out of the 176.
10:38AM – The train is scheduled to arrive at Town Hall at 10:46AM. Real time data now says the other train is running 1 minute late, which gives me 3 minutes to run up and then back down to the other platform.
10:47AM– That was a lot easier than expected. It’s now smooth sailing until 2:10PM!



11:38AM – Arrive at Revesby. Not the easiest transfer as it requires crossing to a separate island platform. But I was after some photos.
11:41AM – On the next train to Macarthur.
12:15PM – Macarthur is the 88th station, making this the halfway point to 176 stations. It has been almost 7 hours and there are still well over 9 more hours to go, probably close to 11 hours. At this point I’m still hoping the Emu Plains train is at least 3 minutes late when I get to Granville. That also relies on my train being on time.
1:23PM – Waiting at Cabramatta for 16 minutes in the middle of the day is a reminder of how hot it is outside. Having been inside an air conditioned train for most of the day, I almost haven’t noticed. To make it worse, an S-Set comes to take me to Sefton. There are few of these still in service and they are the only remaining trains without air conditioning.


2:08PM – Today’s critical point approaches. My train arrives at Granville at 2:13PM. But I want to catch the Emu Plains bound train that is scheduled to also arrive at Granville at 2:10PM. If I make it, then I finish at 10PM. If I don’t, I finish at 11PM.
2:13PM – I was never going to make it unless the other train was seriously late. The Emu Plains train actually blocks off access to the platform for my train, and so my train was not going to be able to get to Granville until the other train was long gone. It’s unfortunate, because it was a simple cross platform transfer. Now, instead of heading towards Emu Plains, I’m remaining on my train until Lidcombe. Next up are Olympic Park and Carlingford.
2:35PM – I ran for the Olympic Park train, but it was well and truly gone by the time I got there. Had I reached it, I might have opened up some other options, but I was unaware of it at the time. This is the second S-Set for the day and I am getting really hot. I’m now down to just my white bonds shirt.


2:43PM – I briefly consider dashing for a Richmond train, abandoning my plans for Carlingford. But then I realise that I have misread the timetable and that this particular train had already left Lidcombe Station before my train had arrived. Back to the standard plan.
3:43PM – The return trip to Carlingford is done. All that is left now is T1, which will take about 6 hours. 112 out of 176 stations done.
4:00PM – I’ve reached Parramatta and am ready to take an express train to Emu Plains. An incident at Wynyard has caused disruptions near the city, but the Western portion of the network seems quite unaffected.
4:55PM – I spoke too soon. Trains going into Richmond have been delayed by 40 minutes or so. I am going to be delayed by about half an hour at this point.
4:59PM – Having made it back to Penrith from Emu Plains, my train to Blacktown has now been delayed by 10 minutes and will depart at around 5:09PM. I am running low on battery, so I’m turning off my phone and working from my iPad for a while.

5:09PM – The train is now an express, presumably to help it make up lost time. I need to stop at all those stations I missed by taking an express up to Emu Plains, so I’ll have to wait.
5:15PM – I’m being informed that the incident was a fatality. It has really affected train services. Those delays have pushed out West and are now hitting this part of the network.
5:20PM – An all stations train arrives, set to leave at 5:26PM. It is about 27 minutes later than my originally planned train, but I still need to see what happens around Blacktown for the Richmond train.
5:21PM – The train leaves early! I am now only delayed by 22 minutes.
6:28PM – After a quick changeover in Blacktown I am at Richmond. My current ETA for completion is 10:58PM, ironically the same ETA before all the disruptions from the fatality at Wynyard (not to mention the freak rainstorm). However, the train schedules remain very unpredictable, so that finish time could blow out, or potentially even narrow slightly too. There is no longer much choice in terms of where or when I go, so I just have to ride this out and let luck play its part. Battery life is also starting to strain. My iPhone is on 20% and has been turned off. My iPad is still on 30% and I will probably run it down until there is none left, then turn the phone on again. It also appears that I had previously forgotten to count Sutherland, so I have completed 1 more station than I had originally anticipated: 134 out of 176 stations done.
6:50PM – Approaching Blacktown Station. Very hard to predict timetable changes at this point, they keep changing. Trains are routinely running later or earlier than was earlier predicted, and this has delayed my ETA to Central back to 11:28PM. I am now expecting to reach Strathfield at 7:47PM.
7:38PM – Approaching Strathfield. ETA is now 10:28PM, but it requires two very tricky transfers. First, I need to go from Strathfield’s platform 4 to platform 6 in under a minute. Strathfield has ramps but no stairs, so moving from one platform to another in a short space of time is quite a challenge. If I manage that then I need to do a 0 minute transfer from Epping’s platform 2 to platform 5. This requires going down 2 sets of escalators (easier than going up, but still very tricky).

7:43PM – Train arrives at Strathfield about 8 minutes earlier than anticipated. I will easily make the 7:51PM train to Epping.
7:57PM – The 7:51PM was an extra 6 minutes late and is now the 7:57PM train to Epping. I can kiss that 0 minute transfer goodbye.
8:04PM – The butterfly effect is at play. The earlier closure of Wynyard meant that City bound trains from the North Shore were all bunched up and delayed going into the City. They eventually all made it through and out West to Richmond, Penrith, and Blacktown. These trains are now all returning through the City and up North. Because of the irregular schedule, they are very hard to predict. However, all the bunching up also gives me a rare commodity at this time of night: high frequency services.

Ordinarily in this situation, I would take a train from Epping to North Ryde, then another train back up to Hornsby, before finishing up the rest of the North Shore Line in one go from Berowra to Milsons Point. However, that big gap in the service I mentioned earlier means that there are few trains going from Epping to North Ryde right now. So instead I’m going to take one of the frequent Epping to Hornsby trains to complete the Northern Line. I can’t take my current all stations train all the way to Hornsby because these trains all terminate at Epping. Hopefully, by the time I reach Chatswood and have to do the Macquarie Line from there (rather than Epping) there are plenty of trains going in both directions. This will remove a long waiting time that currently exists if I head towards North Ryde now while services are infrequent.

8:32PM – Made it from Epping platform 2 to 6 in the 1 minute required. Am going North now, rather than South, under the original plan that required 1 minute to reach platform 5. The train I just got off had been delayed too much for the plan to be an option anymore.
8:46PM – I reach Hornsby. Both my train (Northern Line) and the train I needed to transfer to (North Shore Line) were running late and were held waiting before reaching Hornsby. By a stroke of luck, my train was allowed into the station first. After speaking to a train guard, they have informed me that the delay is due to a large number of trains being temporarily stuck at Hornsby. These trains are using up platform space, preventing other trains from entering Hornsby. These stuck trains are here because of all the delays – staff have finished their shifts and have gone home, but with not enough available staff to replace them. As a result, they sit there while we wait for staff to arrive to drive the trains back into the city. But until that happens, some trains cannot enter Hornsby Station. In this case, I was lucky.

The next train will take me to Berowra, at which point it turns around and heads back to the City via the North Shore Line. I will be getting off at Chatswood to complete the 3 stations on the Macquarie Line, then heading into Central. 153 out of 176 stations done.
8:54PM – I reach Berowra. Current ETA is 10:50PM. 157 out of 176 stations done.
10:02PM – With Macquarie Uni done I get on a Chatswood terminator almost missed it, and in fact completely forgot that these were still running. I had expected to wait 15 minutes for a direct train into Central. Instead I will be able to get a connecting North Shore Line train to Central. ETA is now a very respectable 10:37PM. 171 out of 176 stations done.
10:33PM – My train arrives at Central a few minutes early. That makes it an even 17 hours 0 minutes. A quick dash to the Sydney Terminal concourse to where the big clock is and I get my celebratory photo.

I had expected to complete this challenge in 17 hours 25 minutes. If I got lucky with my Granville connection, then it might have dropped down to 16 hours 25 minutes. But I missed that connection and was hit instead with major delays. To have then managed to bring the time down to 17 hours 0 minutes is something I am quite proud of. Doing so is where this challenge comes into its own. When things go wrong, you re-evaluate your plans, take into consideration the layout of the network, and use the changes to your advantage. A similar thing happened to me last time I attempted this in 2013, and I was able to complete the network in 16 hours 39 minutes by taking advantage of the disruptions.

Finally, a quick overview of the different trains sets I caught during the day. If I caught the same train twice (such as an end of line terminating train which I caught back in the return direction) then I only counted it once.

12 A-Sets (Waratahs)
7 T-Sets (Tangaras)
3 M-Sets (Milleniums)
3 S-Sets (unairconditioned silver trains)
2 V-Sets (intercity silver trains)
1 C-Set (airconditioned silver train with non-reversible seating)
1 H-Set (OSCAR)

Getting on the news

Posted: May 6, 2014 in Personal, Transport

Video: Vandals graffiti train at Granville, Seven News (5 May 2014)

This blog’s author was quoted on the news yesterday, both on Channel Seven’s 6PM bulletin and the Parramatta Sun newspaper. It came from a 4 minute video of 3 men vandalising a train between Harris Park and Granville Stations, taken and uploaded to YouTube on Saturday. A number of photos were also taken.

One of the three graffiti vandals tagging the side of a train. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

One of the three graffiti vandals tagging the side of a train. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Other than posting a link of this video to social media, this blog’s author did not seek out any further media exposure and was instead contacted by the two aforementioned media organisations.

Video: Graffiti vandals tagging a train near Granville , Author (3 May 2014)

Despite this, it can be useful to know what to do when you see something happening and want to document it for the media. Victorian public transport advocate Daniel Bowen, who has done his fair share of passing on information to the media, wrote some useful tips. The key points are reproduced below.

Show the problem. Show the scale of the issue; some context. A crowded train doorway on its own isn’t a problem. The entire carriage being packed, and people giving up and waiting on the platform is a problem.

Make notes about what it is you’re showing, and post those (even if brief) with the material. Are we looking at a tram that’s packed because the three before it were cancelled (so the problem is service reliability) or it’s packed despite everything running smoothly (so the problem is service frequency and the number of trams)? Why is this significant? Is it part of a wider problem?

Don’t mislead. If you’re aiming to get a problem fixed, your photos and video are only part of the evidence — it may be what sparks further investigation, but fundamentally you’ll be wasting your time (and quite possibly set your cause back) if it turns out you implied something which didn’t really happen.

Don’t be creepy or irritate people — when I’m trying to film packed PT, I’m not trying to film individuals, I’m filming crowds. Occasionally I’ll get stares, and I’d be happy to explain what I was doing if ever asked, but do I think there’s a way to film in a crowd while not lingering on specific people, and not giving the impression of creepiness.

If possible, be prepared. Sometimes things happen spontaneously, and it might be a struggle to whip out your phone camera in time and snap a pic or shoot some video. Other things are regular events. For the summer timetable crowding, I knew it was happening every day, so took along a proper camera and positioned myself at the end of the carriage to be able to get good shots.

Be safe and considerate. Don’t do anything silly to get a good shot, and don’t get in the way.

For videos

Hold that shot. You’re aiming for footage in a news report, not a music video, so don’t wave the camera around too much. Hold it still and steady, and get shots of at least 5 seconds each, preferably a bit longer.

Vary the angles. For television footage, they’ll need to chop up your video so it works well for viewers. Be sure to provide a few different angles. For January’s crowded train footage I included a shot through the end-of-carriage door into the next carriage. It was a bit arty, but worked well — they used it — and helped show context as well — it wasn’t just my carriage that was sardine-like.

Video is, of course, better for TV, but photos also sometimes get a run on TV, and online and in newspapers. A mix may be good, if you can manage it!

Don’t talk over it. If you’re trying to be a reporter, rather than a witness (if you know what I mean) then don’t talk over the vision. The noise from the event itself may be more important than a commentary, which can be added later. That said, spontaneous commentary can work okay.

Finally… but critically…

Shoot video in landscape. It seems to be way too easy to forget that whether it’s on the TV news or Youtube, most video is better viewed landscape, not portrait. Turn your phone 90 degrees before you start shooting – it makes much better use of the camera’s resolution.

Where to take the footage?

All media outlets these days look for contributions, because good photos and video are invaluable. Contact the newsroom at your preferred outlet, explain what you filmed and why you think it’s important.

For a story to get a good run, it may be better to initially give it to only one outlet unless it’s utterly explosive (perhaps literally).

And be prepared to be interviewed/quoted, though depending what it is, they may be prepared to take it anonymously, or at least not identify who had the camera.


Happy New Year. 2013 has been an eventful one. This blog received almost 138 thousand hits during a year in which:

In the coming year, we can look forward to the opening of the Inner West Light Rail extension to Dulwich Hill and the completion of the Opal rollout (currently scheduled for the end of 2014). Meanwhile, expect the major parties to begin to announce their transport plans ahead of the next state election in early 2015, with things like a Second Harbour rail crossing, a Western Sydney light rail network, Bus Rapid Transit for the Northern Beaches, and potentially plans to privatise the state owned electricity transmission network as a means to pay for all the much needed infrastructure all likely to feature prominently.

But until then, here are some of the major events and stories from the past year, as posted, shared and commented about on this blog —

Posts with the most hits

  1. Draft 2013 timetable (part 1): Introduction 20 May 2013 (7,959 hits)
  2. 2013 timetable re-write (part 3): Untangling the network 22 February 2013 (4,844 hits)
  3. What the 2013 timetable might look like 13 May 2013 (3,908 hits)
  4. Draft 2013 timetable (part 2): AM Peak 22 May 2013 (1,430 hits)
  5. WestConnex plan finalised 19 September 2013 (1,296)

The new timetable drove a lot of traffic to this blog over the previous year, particularly when a draft of the timetable was leaked in May.

Posts with the most comments

  1. 17km Macquarie Park light rail proposed by Parramatta Council 30 August 2013 (50 comments)
  2. How might the NWRL work? 16 October 2013 (49 comments)
  3. Should the North West Rail Link be a metro? 8 February 2013 (47 comments)
  4. How might the CBD and SE Light Rail work? 9 October 2013 (46 comments)
  5. North West Rail Link – policy or politics? 11 June 2013 (43 comments)

The clear thing in common here is the North West Rail Link (NWRL), which tends to generate a lot of discussion back and forth in the comments section. The post on the Macquarie Park light rail was the most commented on post and not actually about the NWRL, but the comments soon shifted towards discussing the NWRL.

Posts with the most activity on social media

  1. All Day Challenge (October 2013), 1 October 2013 (89 shares on Facebook and 3 tweets on Twitter)
  2. Draft 2013 timetable (part 2): AM Peak 22 May 2013 (43 shares on Facebook and 8 tweets on Twitter)
  3. The worst sort of NIMBY 25 September 2013 (27 shares on Facebook and 6 tweets on Twitter)
  4. Opal running 4 months ahead of schedule 28 August 2013 (31 shares on Facebook 2 tweets on Twitter)
  5. Western Sydney makes its case for an airport of its own 15 February 2013 (11 shares on Facebook and 9 tweets on Twitter)

This probably understates the level of sharing over Twitter as tweets are only counted once, regardless of how many times that one tweet may be re-tweeted, whereas Facebook shares are each counted uniquely. That said, the most shared posts have tended to be driven by shares on Facebook rather than tweets on Twitter.

Most searched terms

  1. westconnex (635 searches)
  2. cityrail map (323 searches)
  3. westconnex map (257 searches)
  4. transport sydney (170 searches)
  5. sydney train map (170 searches)

WestConnex was by far the biggest generator of hits from web searches, with the home page being the destination rather than the post itself (preventing those posts about WestConnex from ranking higher) and reflects the fact that the car remains the primary mode of transport for Sydney residents. This is in contrast to activity in the comments section and social media, both of which are more likely to be transport enthusiasts, neither of which had WestConnex in their respective top 5 for the year.

This does perhaps provide a reminder to some advocates of public transport (the writer of this blog included) that there remains some disconnect between them and the regular person on the street when it comes to enthusiasm for public transport and dislike of cars or roads.

Happy birthday to Penny Sharpe

Posted: October 22, 2013 in Personal

Unlike #ImOnlyTalkingToGladys, I know the Shadow Transport Minister reads this blog. So happy birthday to Penny Sharpe!



This post will be updated throughout the day to track my progress, and hopefully that of Colin and John who are also taking part. I’ll be Tweeting a bit more frequently on @bambul using the hashtag #AllDayChallenge as the day progresses. Also check the Facebook page and the earlier post.

Here is my plan of attack. If everything goes as planned, I start at 5:37AM and finish at 10:24PM.

There is a contingency plan if I miss the 7:41AM service to Waterfall from Sutherland, with 2 opportunities to catch up if the trains stop operating to the exact timetable and the difference goes my way by a few minutes (Plans 5A and 5B). It’s not essential I catch the 2:37PM Lidcombe service, so as long as I make the Sutherland connection all my other connections will have quite large buffers through to 4:48PM.

The other big opportunity requires me to get ahead of schedule at one of 3 points:

  • I catch the 12:50PM service at Hornsby, which leaves 2 minutes before I’m scheduled to arrive (Plan 3A), OR
  • I catch the 1:56PM service at Epping, which leaves 3 minutes before I’m scheduled to arrive (Plan 3B), OR
  • I catch the 3:04PM service at Lidcombe, which leaves at the same time I’m scheduled to arrive (Plan 3C).

If any of these 3 occur, then it sets up the possibility of getting the 3:41PM serivce from Clyde, which leaves 1 minute before I’m scheduled to arrive (Plan 4A). This would allow a finish time of 9:22PM, or 15 hours and 45 minutes for 176 stations. Otherwise, the finish time should be 10:24PM, or 16 hours and 47 minutes.

But those 5 times in bold are the ones to keep an eye out for. If anything’s going to change, then I reckon it’ll happen at one of those times.

4:53AM – On the bus to Central. Should get there around 10 past 5, ready for the 5:30 start. 26 people on this bus, quite impressed by the strong patronage at this ungodly hour.
5:12AM – Under the clock at Central. Waiting for John and Colin.
5:20AM – Colin arrives. John follows a minute or so later before ducking off to buy his ticket.
5:30AM – We are all starting on platforms 24/25. I’m going to Bondi Junction. John and Colin are heading to Helensburgh. Ten random stations are drawn for bonus points.
5:50AM – I arrive at Bondi Junction on T25. It’s the same train back to Hurstville, leaving Bondi Junction at 5:56AM.
6:12AM – 2 police get on at Redfern. I decide not to take a photo, just in case. Will pass through here later anyway.
6:18AM – Terrible photo at Sydenham, can’t see a station name sign. Am moving down one carriage. Slightly further away from the police too. The worst I could get is a bit of a talking to, but even that could mean missing photos of some stations.
6:21AM – The police get off at Wolli Creek.
6:35AM – John and Colin just reached Helensburgh.
6:38AM – Made a mad dash from platform 2 to platform 4 at Hurstville. Was on the wrong end of the train to get to the stairs, but there’s only one path South of Hurstville and my new train has to wait for my previous train to pass through before the path is clear. So this was always going to be a 2 minute transfer, despite both trains arriving almost simultaneously. Am now on my way to Cronulla where I’ll meet up with John and Colin.
6:52AM – Hit my head on the luggage rack. Ouch.
6:55AM – I got my first “what are you doing?” from another passenger.
7:13AM – Seems I didn’t notice the 7:13AM train to Sutherland, so am catching it instead of the 7:20AM. That means I’m not meeting up with John and Colin as expected. I am off plan now, but running ahead of time, so it’s a problem I’m happy to have.
7:30AM – Didn’t manage to snag the 7:29AM service, but it wouldn’t have sped up my journey because I’d just be waiting longer at Waterfall (nor could I go on to Helensburgh as there was no train that would get me back in time to keep to my schedule). So instead I have a much more relaxing 11 minute wait for the next train to Waterfall.
7:35AM – I’ve missed the target plates on 2 of the trains I’ve been on so far. Luckily I’ve only taken Tangaras, and did get a photo of my first train (which also happened to be my second train when it turned around at Bondi Junction), so I have proof of using a Tangara for points. (NOTE: At this point I thought you only got points the first time you rode one train type, and then got no points for subsequent trains of that type. Instead you got points for each train you take, but more points for rarer trains.)
7:56AM – Made it to Waterfall. Still need to stop at Como at Oatley on the way back, and then I’ll have finished the Eastern Suburbs/Illawarra Line.

8:27AM – Stopped at Como and Oatley to finish the line. Now for a relaxing 25 minute ride into Redfern.
8:37AM – A medical emergency at Lidcombe has caused delays for inbound Inner West Line trains and outbound North Shore Line trains. Luckily, my next train is an outbound Inner West Line train, and these are still running to schedule.
8:48AM – Approaching Redfern. The plan is to take an Inner West Line train to Carramar and then a Bankstown Line train back to the City Cicle. That’s 37 stations in about 2 hours. I’m currently on 33/176 stations, so that would put me on 70/176 or about 40% done.
9:09AM – Train is 1 minute late. Just saw 3 Waratahs go past, but I get an S-Set. Boooo. Good thing the temperature is still reasonable. If it was midday and approaching 30 then I’d prefer something with air con.
10:00AM – I have some slack in the schedule, so I stay on my train throughout Cabramatta to get it out of the way early (and maybe score some additional points). Get checked for my ticket by police while I’m there. My second run in with police so far today, but no issues either time (except for the missed photo at Redfern, which I had to get later).
10:08AM – Millenium Train! The platform is too short to take a photo of the target plate. I’ll have to grab that when I get to Wynyard (I have a 14 minute wait for a train there). I’ve now taken S, T, and M set trains today. There are loads of Waratahs around and there’s a chance I’ll get an Endeavour. So right now it’s OSCARs and V-Sets which I’m missing. Am planning on a short incursion into the Blue Mountains, so that’s my best bet. More train types equals more points!
10:40AM – Just noticed another opportunity to gain some time. If I can catch the 1:13AM North Shore Line service from Wynyard, which is timetables to leave 1 minute before I arrive, then I reach Epping 15 minutes earlier. That puts me in the running for the negative one minute transfer at 3:41PM at Clyde. But if I miss that, then it’s back to schedule.
11:16AM – My train was 2 minutes late, so no chance of getting the other train, which would have had to have been 3 minutes late. Real time data wasn’t working, and I didn’t want to risk not getting a photo of the Millenium Train’s target plate. That gives me a 12 minute wait till my next train. Not enough for a decent toilet break. But it should be enough to do a big enough update on how things are going. Withwynyard (and Cabramatta) I’m up to 71/176. He next key point is at 12:50PM at Hornsby. I need to arrive at least 2 minutes before my scheduled 12:52PM arrival time, and/or for the 12:50PM train to Epping to be at least 2 minutes late.
12:30PM – Finally reach Berowra. Train is running a few minutes late, so my 13 minute layover is more like 9. Not really enough time for a safe toilet break, so that will have to wait. Spent the last 3 hours on 3 trains, over an hour on each. But this next leg involves lots of transfers in quick succession. Am arriving at Hornsby at 12:52PM, but if I can get the 12:50PM train from there then it enables another opportunity later in the afternoon. I’m taking a guess at which carriage will be in front of the stairs for a mad dash from platform 1 to platform 3.
12:52PM – There was no train on platform 3 when I arrived, but there was enough time for a toilet break and the toilets were unlocked. Hurray! The difficulty in making this transfer (or the one at Epping later on at 1:56PM) is that the train I’m transferring to is about to start its run and so is very unlikely to be running late. My best bet is the fourth and final opportunity, the zero minute dash at Lidcombe.


1:34PM – With North Ryde done (102/176) that’s half the Northern Line completed. Now I have to back track and finish the lower Northern Line. If luck is on my side, I might get the earlier train at Epping (I need to be at least 3 minutes ahead of schedule), but for reasons outlined above I highly doubt it.
1:37PM – 6 minute layover at Chatswood and then a train back to Epping. Hopefully this train isn’t late!
1:39PM – Bumped into a friend at Chatswood who was on his way to Macquarie Park, so we traveled along together. In other good news, the train was an OSCAR. That ticks off one of the two intercity train sets I need. Hopefully I’ll get a V-Set when I head out West later today.


2:11PM – There was no way I was going to make the earlier train. But I’m now on my first Waratah. Heading towards Strathfield, where the transfer is 4 minutes. Doable, so long as I’m not running late.
2:38PM – I got to Strathfield 2 minutes early. So that was a really easy connection. On to Lidcombe to meet up with John and also Craig, who is joining John for a portion of today.
2:45PM – A brief scare as the train doors close 5 minutes before the train is scheduled to leave. We all jump on quickly and start moving to the front of the train via the inside doors. (This is an S-Set, yuck!)
2:55PM – The three of us have a chat and discuss the day so far before a few photos at Olympic Park. I realise that the train back at Lidcombe that arrives at the same time as the Olympic Park train does is running about 2 minutes late, so I make a dash for it. John and Craig have to head East to cover a few more stations before going to Carlingford, so we part early.

Olympic Park

3:06PM – I make the early train to Clyde. Having a late running train is good for me making the connection, but if it’s too late then I’ll miss the connection at Clyde for Carlingford. But it’s only 2 minutes late, so I should just make it.
3:13PM – I make the Carlingford train at Clyde quite comfortably. Even better for me is the news that the next train to Clyde is also running late. Ordinarily it arrives 1 minute before I would, but it’s running 5 minutes late. If I make that train then I can finish by 9:22, which is incredibly early! I’m very excited by the prospect.
3:48PM – The 3:42 train was 5 minutes late, so I managed to get it. I am now scheduled to finish 62 minutes early!
4:00PM – Colin discovers that I’m on this train and finds me. We spend the rest of the train trip talking about his previous attempts, this is this fifth, as well as his fourth hour attempt at the suburban and intercity network.
4:32PM – The train terminates early at Penrith. I can still finish at the original time, but can also add some extra Blue Mountains stations without making that finish time any later. The plan is to go out to Blaxland, but Warrimoo is also an option. A quick check on Google maps shows that Warrimoo is an island platform, so a cross platform transfer could be an option. I’ll watch the train times carefully. Colin has decided to cut his losses and try again tomorrow.
4:50PM – On a Blue Mountains train. Heading to Blaxland at least.
5:03PM – I get off one stop early at Glenbrook (133/176 plus 2 extra). It was an accident, but timing was looking pretty tight anyway, so it’s was probably a good move.


5:15PM – On the train heading back to Sydney. It didn’t stop at Lapstone, and I think it might even run express to Parramatta. I get the feeling e trains on this line might no longer be running to timetable. I really don’t want to give up now.
5:18PM – The train now skipped Emu Plains. This may not be too bad. I can still get a connecting train to Richmond at Parramatta. But I’ve now got no idea when I’ll finish. Still aiming for before 10:30PM
5:22PM – The train stopped at Penrith! I do some quick checks on TripView and it looks like the next train from here to Blacktown gets there in time for a connecting train to Richmond. Might even be possible to finish earlier than 10:24PM if my connecting train at Glenfield is 3 minutes late.
5:32PM – There’s a train to Blacktown in 2 minutes. It gets there 6 minutes before the next train to Richmond. Looks like I would have missed that Richmond train if I’d stayed on till Parramatta. It was a quick decision to get off at Penrith, and luck seems to be back on my side.
5:47PM – I’ve got a 6 minute layover and there’s a McDonalds here. I decide to wait till Richmond, which has a longer layover and also has a McDonalds. As Blacktown has 2 sets of platforms, I need to exit the gated section, which means my first use of my ticket since the police checked me for a ticket at Cabramatta earlier this morning. In my original plan I didn’t change at Blacktown, either to or from a Richmond train, so I wouldn’t have needed my ticket again until the end of the day.
5:55PM – I’ve decided to get the Schofields train and then change for the Richmond train. Mainly to spice things up a bit. Still not tired. Have 4 cans of red bull in case I need them, but haven’t needed any yet.
6:03PM – The next train is a Waratah. Woooo!
6:15PM – I’m pretty set on my timetable. I doubt that the East Hills train at Glenfield will be 3 minutes late, but it’s not out of the question. And the platform layout of Glenfield makes it one of the few stations where this could happen.
6:26PM – Reached Richmond. That makes 142 stations out of 176, plus 2 bonus stations. Time for a McDonalds break. Will try to upload a video.
6:44PM – Back on the train for the return journey to Granville didn’t get enough time to upload the video. Will do it when I get home tonight. It’s me running across Clyde to get the train that would put me an hour ahead. Still need to stop at Toongabbie, Pendleton Hill, and Wentworthville, then that’s the Western Line done. John is on track to finish at 10:35PM, shortly after me at 10:24PM. Will see who has the most points, I think he will.
7:35PM – Toongabbie, Pendle Hill, and Wentworthville round off the Western Line. 145/176 +2
8:30PM – My train from Granville has reached Glenfield and terminated. The East Hills train I was hoping would be at least 3 minutes late is running 26 minutes late! This is good, as the Glenfield platform layout is not quite as I expected, and I wouldn’t have been able to do a cross platform transfer. Instead the plan is now to take the next South Line train down to Campbelltown, then an Endeavour from Campbelltown to Macarthur. There I’ll catch the late running East Hills train which I mentioned earlier (it turns around at Macarthur, so it running late means I’ll be able to get on that train instead of the next one).
8:55PM – Arrived at Campbelltown on a C-Set. Just add the Endeavour and that means every train type except for K-Set. Doing well!
9:00PM – How easily fooled I am! I didn’t realise the Endeavours left from a different platform hidden away at the back. So I instead caught the late running East Hills train, which arrived at about the same time. The good news is that I’m currently on track to finish at 10:08PM. Which would give a total time of 16 hours and 21 minutes. I’m quite pleased with that.
9:05PM – Leaving Macarthur. I’m on 160/176 stations, with 2 bonus stations. ETA is still 10:08PM
9:39PM – Did I say 10:08PM? Turns out I need to change to an all stations train. So make that 10:16PM. Though that’s still earlier than the unmodified 10:24PM goal at the start of the day.
12:06AM – We head to the pub across the road to work out how many points we all got. John had most of his day on in an excel spreadsheet on his tablet already, and had inputted some of mine and Colin’s based on our plans. We managed to work out where Colin was based on common trips we each made with him. I manage to come out on top with 193 points, while John gets 158 points. Colin is disqualified for not completing all stations. I then caught the last 372 bus of the day back home, having caught the first one in that morning.


It seems I named this post with the wrong date. It has been corrected from the 2nd to the 3rd of October.

Overall the day ran quite smoothly, John commented that he did not miss any connections due to delays, but did get on the wrong train at one point which ended up adding about 40 minutes to his total time. The early delays actually benefited me, allowing me to catch both the late running Lidcombe to Clyde train and then also the late running Clyde to Emu Plains train. However, that second train was running so late that it terminated early and prevented me from getting to Emu Plains on time. Had it reached Emu Plains then it would have been a very tight connection at Emu Plains and then Blacktown, but I might still have finished half an hour earlier even if I had missed one of those two connections. The other major delay I experienced was on the East Hills Line, which again enabled me to catch an earlier service when that train was running late, enabling me to finish at 10:14PM instead of my then ETA of 10:24PM.

All up, I took the following train types:

A-Set: 7
C-Set: 1
H-Set: 1
M-Set: 1
S-Set: 7
T-Set: 10
V-Set: 3

John also pointed out that since I did the North Shore Line first and the Northern Line second, that it was a waste of time to travel all the way from Epping to Chatswood and back. I could have gone into North Ryde and changed there on the underground island platform, catching the previous train. This would have also enabled the opportunity to make the negative 1 minute transfer at Clyde without having to make the zero minute transfer at Lidcombe that I was successful in achieving.

Speaking of which, here is the video of my mad dash at Clyde from platform 1 to platform 5.

All Day Challenge (October 2013)

Posted: October 1, 2013 in Personal
Tags: ,
Sydney Trains network map. Click to enlarge. (Source: Kypros 1992)

Sydney Trains network map. Click to enlarge. (Source: Kypros 1992)

This Thursday, the writer of Transport Sydney will be joining a few other brave souls in attempting the All Day Challenge (previously known as the Cityrail Challenge) and try to travel to all 176 train stations in the Sydney Trains network in a single day. This is one of the final opportunities to do so under the current timetable before the new timetable comes into effect on 20 October. Under the new timetable, Inner West Line trains will no longer operate past Homebush, but the Cumberland Line will operate all day rather than just during peak hour.

Facebook group has been setup and rules posted. In brief, the rules are:

  • Participants must begin and end at Central Station.
  • All 176 stations in the Sydney Trains network must be passed at least once on a train that stops at that station
  • Travel must be by train only. Leaving a station is allowed for breaks, but travel must recommence from that station
  • Points are awarded for being first to stop at a station, travelling on different train sets, being first back to Central, etc

Anyone wanting to keep track on the day can either follow the action on the Facebook page or on Twitter with the hash tag #AllDayChallenge.

I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read this blog, but happy birthday to the Transport Minister. Now please hurry up and build that Second Harbour Crossing!


100,000 hits later

Posted: July 24, 2013 in Personal

Transport Sydney racked up its 100,000th hit late last night (ironically while I was watching the transport episode of Shitsville Express on ABC2). A big thank you to all those who have visited, liked, shared, and commented on this blog during the last almost 2 years. That includes those who did so by voicing dissenting views to those aired here – we may not always agree on the specifics, but its great to see people passionate and interested about the important issue of transport infrastructure!

I must admit that it is humbling to see that something which started out as a way for me to express some views of interest for my own purposes has grown into something which is read so widely.

100k hits

I’d also like to apologise for the lack of content recently. I began a new job last week and this has eaten up much of my spare time. I will try to continue to do about one post per week, though posts on recently occurring events/news may be somewhat delayed until I have time to gather my thoughts and turn them into something in writing.

In other news, today is also my 30th birthday. Wishes of a happy birthday in the comments section (purely for my own ego) are welcome!

This is post number 150 for this blog, which has now been running for almost 2 years since it began in August of 2011, the month after the author of this blog visited every station in the Cityrail suburban network in one 24 hour period using only the rail network to get around (video below).

In recent months, a typical week will see this blog get 1 or 2 new posts, receive about 1,000 hits, representing 500 unique visitors, generating 3 comments, and being shared 3 times on social media. About 100 of those visitors are regular readers (RSS feeds, email subscriptions, etc) or referrals from social media, while the remaining 400 are split fairly evenly between web searches and image searches. Last month, this site passed the 50,000 hits milestone.

50k hits

It’s worth re-visiting some of the posts which were read and commented on a lot during that time.

Posts with the most views

  1. Media fooled by UNSW monorail hoax 31 July 2012 (4,809 views)
  2. Point to point vs zonal ticketing 2 September 2011 (2,058 views)
  3. Light rail extension update 15 February 2012 (650 views)
  4. History of Cityrail: Eastern Suburbs Line (1979) 8 November 2011 (645 views)
  5. Are there alternatives to the metro plan? 11 October 2011 (601 views)

The most viewed post was one which was not really covered by the TV, radio, or online media, other than ones falling for the initial hoax. The lack of any competing source covering this story led to this particular post going viral, with 85 tweets and 178 shares on Facebook, including by the University of New South Wales, resulting in 3,270 hits on 31 July 2012 alone.

The second most viewed post, written in the first few weeks after this blog was started, is about different ways in which fares can be calculated. It is likely to remain an item of interest as Opal is rolled out and the possibility of integrating fares in Sydney is considered.

Posts with the most comments

  1. Should the Northwest Rail Link be a metro? 8 February 2013 (30 comments)
  2. Problems with the M4 East and Strathfield Metro 24 October 2012 (15 comments)
  3. Western Sydney makes its case for an airport of its own 15 February 2013 (13 comments)
  4. Infrastructure NSW Report (part 3): The ugly 6 October 2012 (13 comments)
  5. Infrastructure NSW Report (part 2): The bad 5 October 2012 (10 comments)

It is interesting to note that none of the 5 posts in the first list (most viewed) are repeated in the second list (most commented). As a general rule, people are more likely to comment on a post when they disagree with it, while they share it on social media when they agree with it (leading to more views). That probably explains the difference in each list.

The posts about the Northwest Rail Link and Sydney Airport in particular were great examples of commenters who disagreed with the contents of the post. Both the articles, along with the comments and follow-up responses, are a fantastic read for anyone looking to get a more in-depth discussion of those particular issues (but doesn’t who want to dip their feet into the world of online transport discussion forums).

Happy 2013

Posted: December 31, 2012 in Personal

I’m spending Christmas and New Year with family, so apologies for the lack of posts during this time. Instead, here’s some stats about Transport Sydney over the past 12 months. Many thanks to all those who visited this site in the past year, especially to those who commented on and shared posts.

See you all in 2013, in which hopefully we will see a continued rollout of Opal to the Manly ferries and City Circle trains, the completion of the Kingsgrove to Revesby quadruplication, and a major revamp of the Cityrail timetable!

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 41,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Cadbury Joyville steam train

Posted: June 29, 2012 in Personal, Transport

One of the highlights of passing through a train station or transport interchange on a regular basis is passing by people handing out free samples. Yesterday at Central Station there were not only people from Cadbury handing out free chocolate, but there was also a 1913 era steam train (a 2705 steam locomotive), restored in the purple Cadbury colours as part of its Joyville marketing campaign.

2705 steam engine

I was tipped off about it a few days beforehand via a cryptic tweet and allowed to ride in one of the carriages on the train between Central and Sydenham, with a stop at Redfern Station, before it returned to Central Station.

Cryptic tweet

There were a few other rail enthusiasts on board, some of whom had gotten up at 5AM to get in early for some photos of the steam train arriving. The train did 3 runs: 10AM, 12PM and 4PM. We were on the midday one.

Also present was a band that played music. I didn’t get a very good shot of them at Redfern or Sydenham as we mostly had to stay inside the train, but I was able to film them for a little bit at Central. At Redfern there was a purple mat that they stood on, and luckily a train stopped on the other side of the platform and dropped off a bunch of passengers who were able to see them play and grab some chocolate, as it was only at Redfern and Sydenham for a few minutes in order to fit in with the train timetable.

In between stations I managed to have a bit of a walk inside the train. This is the first time I’d been on a steam train, and it was quite luxurious. Clearly rail was the chosen mode of travel by those able to afford it 99 years ago, with big seats and tables for everyone. There were even framed photos on the walls as decorations.

And of course there was the reason all of this was here – the free chocolate!

Free chocolate


I recently got back from a 3 week holiday from all over the USA (which also explains the lack of activity here of late – my apologies for the lull, but I’ve had a bunch of things to catch up on and this hasn’t been high on my priorities). As it’s my first post since I getting back, I thought I’d write a bit about my encounters with public transport during my travels.

  1. Monorails are quite common. I saw them at a number of airports (Orlando, Atlanta, JFK and San Francisco) as well as both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I took a video in the Orlando Airport one and included it below. In all these cases (with maybe the exception of Disneyland) they were used as a form of mass transportation, rather than a glorified tourist trap like the Sydney monorail
  2. Wheaton Station on the Washington D.C. Metro has the longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere. I went there to check it out for myself, and took two and a half minutes to get to the top of it. See video below.
  3. Los Angeles really is designed for cars, rather than public transport. The city actually has a good network of cris-crossing lines that can get you from just about anywhere to just about anywhere else, but because the city is so spread out this can take a very long time. Only the poor people who cannot afford their own car use public transport. I drove there for one day, and the freeways seemed quite well designed, operating at full capacity, but with the use of traffic lights on the on ramps to keep them from going over the maximum capacity and leading to traffic jams on the freeway. This leads to localised traffic jams around the city, but keeps them from spreading through to the rest of the city via the freeways.
  4. New York (Manhattan in particular) is very easy to get around on trains, buses and on foot. I wrote a post about it on my travel blog while I was away which I will repost below, and which you can read here.
  5. San Francisco has more modes of transport than I have seen anywhere else: heavy rail, light rail, trams, cable cars, trolley buses, buses and ferries. I also wrote about it on my travel blog (here and here), and have again reproduced the relevant portions below.

Above: Wheaton Station escalator.

Above: Orlando Airport monorail.

New York Transport

There’s a lot of transport options in New York, so much so that only something like 25% of Manhattan’s 1.5 million residents own a car. There’s long distance Amtrak trains which will take you to Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC or pretty much anywhere else in the Northeast United States. Ten there’s commuter rail, like Long Island Rail if you’re going to Long Island (past Queens and Brooklyn) or PATH if you’re going to New Jersey, but I’ve also seen trains that go to nearby Connecticut. All these trains tend to go either to Grand Central Terminal (if the come in from the North) or Penn Station (if the come in from Long Island), with PATH trains just terminating on the Western edge of Manhattan.

On top of that there are also ferries to take you to one of the many islands around here. It’s easy to forget that of New York City’s 5 boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Statten Island – only The Bronx is on mainland America.

Buses are either local or express. Local buses fit in to the subway system, so I’ll talk about them later. Express buses cost $5, which is expensive when compared to a local bus or subway trip at about $2, and I don’t know much more about them than that.

The subway is quite a complicated tangle of lines, but for the most part follows Manhattan’s street grid system. Most lines go North/South along the Avenues. At their Northern ends, the lines either terminate in uptown Manhattan, continue North into The Bronx, or turn East into Queens. On their Southern end, the lines either terminate in downtown Manhattan, or turn East into Brooklyn. All the trains therefore indicate their direction by saying uptown/Queens or downtown/Brooklyn. This is important as some entrances/exits are for only one direction, and if you get it wrong then you must exit and pay to enter on the other end. Here’s one example, you can see which lines serve this station and also the direction in which they go (some entrances will let you enter to either platform, as this one indicates).


There are also a couple of East/West lines, though only 2 of these are East/West the whole way in Manhattan, with the rest spending part of their time in Manhattan traveling North/South. Not only do most subway lines travel along the Avenues, but they have stops on the same Streets. I’ll use my experience as an example.

I’ve spent most of my time in midtown Manhattan, which you can see below.


My hostel is on the corner of 23rd Street and 11th Avenue (middle on the left), which means I have to walk along 23rd Street until I reach 8th Avenue, where I can get on the subway station there. Or, if I want to get on another line, I just keep walking East along 23rd Street until I get to 7th Avenue, 6th Avenue, 5th Avenue or Park Avenue, where there are other stations. And this is where the local buses come into play. Each of these streets with subway stations along it has a bus line running in each direction. So if you want to get anywhere, you catch a bus East/West, then get a train North/South and get to where you’re hoping to get to. It’s that simple.

If you’re going further, then the lines start to deviate, but criss cross in order to allow you to change from one train to another in order to get to where you need to go. The first few times you use it, it’s easy to get lost or disorientated (such as going in the wrong direction or taking an express train instead of a local – all stops – train), but pretty soon it becomes second nature.

Since I’m here for 8 days, I just paid for a 7 day unlimited pass. It cost me $29 and let’s me travel on the subway and local buses as much as I want for a week. Considering I spent $46 for a little over 4 days in Washington DC for transport on the metro, and even then I was restricted to travel only after 9:30AM on weekdays, it’s a really great way to get around. And even then, because the city is so compact and dense, it’s massively walkable. Many times I don’t even bother getting a train or a bus, I just walk. Sure beats having to hire a car in LA, that’s for sure!

San Francisco Transport (part 1)

Much like New York, San Francisco is misunderstood. People, myself included, assume that San Francisco is a large city, but it is only one city in a larger metropolitan area known as the “Bay Area” that includes cities like Berkley, Oakland, San Jose, etc. This is much like how Greater New York City is a huge metropolitan area, but when people think of New York, they are actually thinking of Manhattan island.

This confused me a little with transport, because both San Francisco and the Bay Area each have their own public transport (MUNI and BART respectively). BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is a rail system that goes around the entire Bay Area and would transport me between the airport, San Francisco and Lafayette. MUNI (Municipal Railway) is only for San Francisco itself, and is the transit agency that runs the cable cars, trams, light rail and trolley buses that San Francisco is famous for.

It took me a little while to work this out, and to then work out how to pay (New York, and it’s unlimited weekly ticket, had spoiled me a little) but I was soon off on a BART train to San Francisco. I had a few hours to do some sightseeing before getting back on the BART to Lafayette, so I headed off to the iconic Castro area of the city.

It was around here that I also saw my first San Francisco tram! The trams in San Fran are either the old street cars, which run entirely above ground along Market Street into the city and then down to Fisherman’s Wharf, or they are light rail which run above ground in the suburbs but underground underneath Market Street next to BART until they reach the city. The tram I saw was one of the light rail trams.


After the Castro I got on one of the above ground street cars and headed down Market Street into the city. These street cars are all PCC model street cars, and are the North American equivalent of the W Class trams you see in Melbourne on the City Circle route. Each of these trams has a sign on the side telling you which city they were originally from, as many American cities had streets lined with trams in the first half of the 20th century which were often sold to San Francisco when these lines were decommissioned (since San Francisco kept its trams, just as Melbourne did). I even saw a tram from Italy! Each of these trams has information on the inside about its history and where it is from. It was very fascinating to take in these little details.

San Francisco also has trolley buses (which use overhead wires for power, rather than petrol) and cable cars (which are the street cars going up and down the steep San Francisco hills which people often associate with the city). But I didn’t go on either on the Saturday, so that’s all I’ll say about them for now.

San Francisco Transport (part 2)

I took the F-Line tram around to Fisherman’s Wharf. This is the same tram line that I caught [earlier] that runs on the surface of Market Street and uses heritage trams. Fisherman’s Wharf seemed very touristy, based on how crowded it was. From there you can get a view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. I walked over to a pier so that I could get a better sight of both.


Then it was time to get the cable car back to market street. The cable cars don’t use electricity, instead they are powered by a cable running underground that the cable car grabs on to in order to move. This allows it to climb San Francisco’s steep hills. The line is quite long (I waited 40 minutes), the journey isn’t quick (roughly half an hour) and the fare is relatively expensive ($6, compared to $2 for MUNI), so few commuters use the cable cars. It’s mainly tourists who use it.

There are 3 cable car lines. I took the Hyde-Powell line, which goes from Fisherman’s Wharf back to Market Street. The cable car is quite crowded, so I didn’t get to see as much as I wanted to, but I still got to see plenty from the hills of San Francisco. We also went past Lomard Street, the famous windy road in San Francisco. But as my view was partially blocked, I didn’t really get a good look at it.

At the end of the cable car ride it was back on BART and off towards the airport. The wait for the cable car had been longer than I had expected, so much like my transport to the airport at the start of my journey, I was cutting it a bit fine and arrived with only an hour before take off. But I made it, and am now writing this somewhere over the Pacific near New Zealand.

Something a little bit different today. Before finishing yesterday’s post, I decided to run all my previous posts though a word cloud generator (I used Wordle). Here’s what I got:

Word Cloud

Back to regular posting in 2 days!

Cityrail Challenge

Posted: August 18, 2011 in Personal

A few weeks ago I attempted the Cityrail Challenge – to go to every station on the suburban Cityrail network within 24 hours using only trains. This meant being on a train that actually stopped at these stations. I used the network bound by Waterfall, Macarthur, Emu Plains and Berowra, which meant 176 stations all up.

A video montage of photos taken at every station is included below.

For the individual photos, go to Picasa.

Some things I learned from that day:

  • While most of the Cityrail network is dual track  and some quad track, the Carlingford Line and the Richmond Line past Quakers Hill are still single track. For Carlingford this means hourly services. In Richmond’s case, it is able to provide half hourly services by having 2 platforms at certain stations and making trains wait until they are both at the same station before continuing, thus allowing them to leap frog each other in opposite directions.
  • There are a number of level crossings, most of them on the Richmond line.
  • You can still find some of the old wooden block timetables at some stations. Quite a few are on the Carlingford Line.
  • Guards don’t like it when you jump off at each station to have your photo taken and then jump straight back on, particularly when there are no other passangers getting on or off. I learned this the hard way, and that’s why most photos taken after the Bankstown Line are with me inside the carriage, rather than on the platform.
  • Lidcombe  and Wolli Creek are the only stations where you can catch trains that go either North, South, East or West. Once the Southwest Rail Link opens, Glenfield will be added to this list.

Seeing as I have a strong interest in all things public transport, I’ve decided to start up a blog on the topic. I’m hoping to focus on public transport in Sydney, the issues, the ides, my opinions, the news, etc.

I’ve lived in Sydney for over 20 years now, most of it in Toongabbie and Baulkham Hills, but I now live in Randwick. I’ve used a good mix of trains and buses during that time to get around, and have a pretty good working knowledge of transport around Western Sydney, the Hills and the Eastern Suburbs as a result.

Right now I’m paying most attention to the Northwest Rail Link and Randwick Light Rail projects – so I’ll probably talk about them the most, especially when they are in the news. But I’ll also try to keep things fairly broad.

My plan is to make 1-2 blog posts a week.