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.

Advertisements

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.

Plan

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.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/17e/26190092/files/2014/12/img_0936.jpg

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.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/17e/26190092/files/2014/12/img_0933.jpg

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!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/17e/26190092/files/2014/12/img_0945.png

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/17e/26190092/files/2014/12/img_0947.jpg

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.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/17e/26190092/files/2014/12/img_1011.jpg

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.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/17e/26190092/files/2014/12/img_1160.jpg

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
Tags:

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.

Hits

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!

Cake

Pre-event:

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.

Waterfall
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.

Toilet

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.

Friend

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.

Glenbrook

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.

Post-event:

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.