Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Delay of the Day

Bugger! 4538 Cancelled trains in 3 months! That is unreal!

Maintenance problems behind major train delays - Terry Mulder
Matthew Schulz
April 28, 2009 03:13pm
SEVERE delays plaguing trains over several hours today were caused by the State's failure to replace creaking infrastructure, the Opposition claims.
A points failure about 8am at the crucial East Richmond junction caused “several hours” of delays on four rail routes, with the problem worsened when the points failed again at 8.15am, Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said.
Routes on the Alamein, Glen Waverley, Belgrave and Glen Waverley lines were all affected, with delays of over half-an-hour on some lines, causing major frustrations for commuters.
Connex spokesman John Rees confirmed the delays at East Richmond today at the “extremely important” junction, but said services returned to normal by 9.45am.
About 11am a separate power surge saw a further string of cancellations at nearby Richmond station.
The signal relay fault slowed trains for up to 15 minutes as trains were forced to travel through the station at low speeds.
Cranbourne, Frankston, Pakenham and Sandringham trains were all affected.
Mr Mulder said the problems were the latest symptom of “Labor's neglected metropolitan rail network”.
“There have been severe delays to eight of Melbourne’s 15 electrified lines today,” Mr Mulder said.
And he blamed the government’s failure to replace crucial rail infrastructure for the troubles.
He said Victoria’s rail asset strategy showed 22 metropolitan points and crossings a year should be replaced.
Instead, just eight a year had been replaced under Labor.
Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky should wear the blame for the East Richmond points failure because of Labor's refusal to spend sufficient money on fixing the basics,” he said.
He said commuters were paying more for less since ticket price hikes in January, with 4538 trains cancelled in the first three months of 2009.
“Minister Kosky should resign or be sacked by John Brumby,” he said.
“She never wanted the job of Public Transport Minister in the first place.”
Connex said they were so far unsure of the cause of the points failure.
“At this stage Connex is waiting for a full report back from its maintenance crew as to the exact cause of the fault. No cause has yet been specified,” Mr Rees said.
A spokesman for Ms Kosky this afternoon said the government was committed to properly maintaining the rail system.
"The Government invests $80 million for maintenance every year on the metropolitan rail network.
“The Government is getting on with the job of improving the rail network through the $38 billion Victorian Transport Plan."
Meanwhile, Ms Kosky has denied suggestions by Mr Mulder that had been delays in providing off-peak train services from next month on the Sandringham and Frankston lines.
Those trains would be introduced in July, she said.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'll Call your 328 and raise you 370

Connex can say all it wants. Hell I'll tell you what, lets have trains every 1 min on every line. Does not mean that they can deliver on it:

Off-peak trains plan put on hold
Clay Lucas
April 27, 2009
A CONNEX plan to increase off-peak services on overcrowded train lines has been delayed at least two months because the Government doubts the operator can deliver the changes.

In a business plan handed to the Government in October, Connex said it would add a small number of off-peak services next month. But the changes have been delayed, probably until July, because the Department of Transport wants to be certain Connex can deliver the extra services without mass cancellations or a big jump in late trains.

Extra services were added last November, but the additional trains were swamped by a surge in cancellations, leaving passengers worse off.

Connex added 328 weekly services in November, but this was quickly overtaken by a corresponding increase in cancelled services, averaging 370 a week in the three months to March.

This month, the number of trains being cancelled has fallen, after the train drivers' union signed an enterprise agreement with Connex.

The Connex business plan, obtained by the Opposition, states that Connex planned to increase off-peak services on sections of the Werribee line next month, to a train arriving every 10 minutes. It also planned to put extra off-peak trains on the Frankston and Dandenong lines.

The Government and Connex have disagreed over whether services should be increased during the mid-morning off-peak window, or during the mid-afternoon (the extra services are now likely to be in the afternoon).

A spokesman for Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky said she had been "briefed on some minor changes to the timetable and has (asked) the department to do some more work on the proposal".

Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said far too many public transport projects had run late while Ms Kosky was minister. "Like everything Lynne Kosky touches, this is running late," he said.

Another recently leaked Connex business plan showed that the State Government had been warned of a chronic shortage of trains on Melbourne's rail system for the past four years.

Connex had reported to the Government that, since 2005, it regularly has not had enough trains to meet its plan for coping with morning and afternoon rush hours.

Despite this, the Government will not deliver its first new train for Melbourne until December.

Connex also announced last week that it failed to run 14 per cent of its trains on time in March.

So the Connex tact for this week is to blame someone else again. And to have 14 percent late trains is hopeless. That means that around 1 in 7 trains is late! not good enough.

Bingle Effect Worse Than First Thought

You know i have a theory. Well it appears that the effects are worse than first thought.

Today I recieved an email which states:

After the Aussie Shield Final the Bushrangers and Bulls were having a beer.

Young Vic player was chatting with Andrew Symonds who’d had plenty to drink. He asked what Lara Bingle was like. Symonds said that he was bonking her when he was in the UK and introduced her to his roomy, Michael Clark so they could "double team."

The 3-some relationship went on for some weeks until Clark said "she's mine."

What happened in Darwin, when Symonds went AWOL was that he was again very pissed - and trash-talking Bingle to other team-mates. Clark apparently went nuts. They’d been very close friends but when Symonds was told he was out of line he said "fuck you" and went fishing.

Most Aussie players backed Clark cos he’d decided to marry Bingle and they’d already bought a $5.5 million house in Sydney. However, insiders know what a tart Bingle really is........remember the Fevola incident?!

Big friction over Lara contributed to crap team performance in Australia v’s South Africa. Clark as next Australian Captain = plenty of baggage.

Theory is that Symonds is pissed off and once his career is over he’ll spill the beans to the press for money.

Yeah Yeah each day we all get rumour emails like this. But add to it some background stories from news sources:

January 15, 2007

Bingles for puppies

Michael 'Pup' Clarke seems have run into red-hot form. Of course he made 57 in the CB series opener at Melbourne but here's what matters: according to news.com.au he's "emerged as the latest casualty in model Lara Bingle's pursuit of champion sportsmen". Clarke's girlfriend of nearly eight years Erina-Lea Connelly confirmed that "the man I thought I was going to marry'' had called off their relationship.

Now starts the fun. Connelly's comments were in stark contrast to what AFL star Brendon Fevloa's wife thought. Mrs Fevola said that her life had been "turned upside down'' by Bingle's behaviour. She said Bingle had continued to call her husband after news of their alleged affair broke. A snippet from last week adds further tension to this nail-biter: Bingle was among the guests at the Ashes-winning party on James Packer's luxury yacht on Sydney Harbour. She boarded with allrounder Andrew Symonds. Her car remained in a hotel car park, her coat and handbag inside it.

and then:

Sept 12, 2008

Bar brawl with Michael Clarke ended Andrew Symonds’ career

Australian Vice Captain Michael Clarke and all rounder Andrew Symonds allegedly had a blow-up in a hotel bar in the Caribbean when Clarke chipped Symonds one night when he found him drinking in the bar with former West Indies great Brian

Clarke is said to have suggested that Symonds had better be in good shape to take the field the next day, a suggestion not taken in good humour, Fox News reported.

Symonds blew up and the pair had a very heated argument. They later patched things up, but relations have again become strained with Clarke leading the charge to have the belligerent all-rounder sent home from Darwin last month and placed on notice about his cricketing future.

The Australia team has been concerned about Symonds for some time, but things have grown worse of late and missing a team meeting for a fishing expedition was the last straw. When disciplined by his peers, Symonds showed no contrition.

“I have had some time to reflect on the events that took place in Darwin. I would like to say thanks for the many messages of support that I have received over the past day or so. I appreciate your best wishes. I''ve been asked to think about what is important to me and I will take this time to do that,” Symonds said a few days after his ejection.

Symonds went as far as to suggest that it would be nice if he was left alone. He was sent away to work through a “process” before being readmitted to the side but has shown little interest in it.

. . .

So the story goes on. So far Bingle has sabotaged the Australian Tourism Campaign, Clarke, Carlton, F1 and Symonds.

Friday, April 24, 2009

WTF 25 - How Loud?

Sex-crazed housewife arrested for loud love making

Staff reporters
April 24, 2009 12:45pm
A SEX-CRAZED housewife banned from making too much noise during sex has been
arrested for breaching the order.
Caroline Cartwright, 47, was served the anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) in the UK last Friday following 25 noise complaints to police.
The Daily Mail reports the order came after magistrates found her guilty of breaking an initial noise abatement order.
But Mrs Cartwright was arrested by police just two days later after her loud love-making breached the Asbo.
Despite the threat of a prison sentence for the continued breaches, Mrs Cartwright remained defiant and vowed to carry on with her love life.
"I'm not going to stop," she told the Daily Mail. "I've been making the same noises since the Asbo was imposed, and this morning, we were making noises for three hours. "I can't stop making noise during sex, it's unnatural to not make any noises, and I don't think that I'm particularly loud.'"

Sex crazed? c'mon she isn't sex crazed.

The DailMail in the UK has the better headline:
Oh, oh, oh not again! Woman is given Asbo against noisy sex ... but lasts just two days before breaching it

right... and here she is:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why The Current Transport Model Does Not Work

I have mentioned on this blog and on others that the current public transport model does not work. there is too much finger pointing between the various operators, maintainers and asset owners over the current situation on Melbourne's train network.

Today we have another example:

'It's too hard to fix this mess', says Connex

Ashley Gardiner
April 22, 2009 12:00am

RAIL operator Connex has admitted it can't fix the train system's woes.

In a stinging rebuke to the State Government, Connex said that its reputation had been ruined by recent woes, and called on politicians to fix the mess.

In its 2008 business plan, sent to the State Government, Connex said it could not fix the train problems.

"Connex can only partially mitigate the impacts of heavy loads, network congestion and projects through its own endeavours," the document says.

"It is clear that the ultimate resolution of these issues will also require continual strong support from the state in a number of areas."

Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the Government had failed to properly plan to make the transport system cope.

"Connex are trying to say that, 'our number one priority was to increase patronage, and we did that'," Mr Mulder said. "The role of the Government was to support the operator with sufficient rolling stock and rail infrastructure, and the Government hasn't done it."

The Connex name will disappear from trains, with a new brand with a Melbourne focus to be adopted after this year.

In its business plan, Connex said overcrowding had risen because the number of users had risen 40 per cent in three years.

Connex's parent company, Veolia, is competing against two international rivals for the right to run Melbourne's train system until 2024. But the bidding process has been rocked by the leaking of more documents despite strict secrecy requirements.

Sources said the confidential documents had been leaked to the State Opposition, which had already obtained the 2008 business plan.

Connex spokesman John Rees said the company had already made major improvements, with 660 new and extended services a week since 2004.

"But only long-term and major infrastructure investment will provide the capacity required to meet record patronage growth," Mr Rees said.

Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky attacked the Opposition when questioned about the content of the documents.

"Again the Opposition ignore that this Government has $1 billion worth of public transport projects already under way," spokesman Stephen Moynihan said.

A couple of points of interest in the article:
  • Connex said it's reputation had been ruined and asked Politicians to fix it.
  • The Connex brand name will dissappear.
The other issue I have with the whole sorry state of affairs is still the buck passing and finger pointing. Now the train drivers have a pay rise there are less cancellations.

Personally I feel an Alliance model where all parties invest in the system and share the returns will result in more co-operation and a consistent approach to managing and operating the system.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WTF24 - Polly waffles?

A bit of a round up on what is making Noos on News:

If it was dog poo would the headline say "Pooch Poo in Pool"

Why First Class is better:

Nothing like a bit of cross promotion of Ralph via Hi 5:

and Dick Branson somehow forgets which way he should be facing:

Good old news corp. Sex sells.

Friday, April 17, 2009

WTF 23 - You are Shitting Me?

If you have ever wondered "How much do I get paid to go to the toilet?"

Here is you answer.

There are some at my work (me included) who do not use the work cans to poo. In fact I went for 18 months without having to go here. So the website is not too much use for me!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mt Stanley - Barwidgee Bushfire Part 2

This is the map of the area directly around Uncle's Farm:

View Larger Map

The farm house and sheds are on the right of the 'C527' tag located closest to the Myrtleford-Stanley Road.

The initial fire front came from the north west (top left of map) from the pine plantations and Mt Stanley. It moved across the bushland area on the bottom left of the map. This was when the wind changed and it travelled across the open paddocks towards the farm house in a North Easterly direction (from bottom left to top right) straight over the farm house and then continued over the hill.

Houses on the western side of the Barwidgee Creek were destroyed and in some odd coincidence cubby houses were spared. 3 houses burnt, with shed etc gone and all that is left in some instances is the cubby house.

The following picture is from the farm gate on the C527 looking north across Barwidgee Creek towards where a house used to be. You will note the white things are plastic hot houses that were not damaged. Go figure.

Looking towards Mt Stanley where the fire came from.

A view of Stanley Creek after the fire showing some re-growth but nothing left on the ground. Normally you cannot see the Creek from the road.

Benefits of water project 'inflated'

Interesting news regarding the food bowl modernisation project. The results of this 'fudging has direct impacts on the the North-South pipeline and water security for Melbourne.

From what is reported it looks like they decided more water was going into the system before the works which meant that it was operating at a higher efficiency afterwards 'creating' more savings.

Measuring flows into systems and out of systems is quite difficult but it appears strange that the pilot study was not more conservative in the estimates. Questions should be asked why this is the case.

Was it pressure from GMW to modernise ageing assets?
Was it private entities wanting a chunk of work?
Was it government pressure to make the N-S pipeline more viable?

Benefits of water project 'inflated'
Melissa Fyfe April 12, 2009

A SENATE inquiry will hear damning evidence this week that casts further doubt on water savings from the $2 billion Food Bowl Modernisation Project, a key part of the Brumby Government's water plan.

A Government insider has provided the Plug the Pipe campaign with documents that appear to show that data in a pilot project was changed to inflate water savings.

The irrigation technology tested in the pilot, called Total Channel Control, is now at the heart of the Government's food bowl project.

Ken Pattison, a Plug the Pipe member and former director of Goulburn-Murray Water, will present the documents, also obtained by The Sunday Age, to the Senate inquiry into the Water Amendment Bill 2008 when it sits in Shepparton on Tuesday.

Mr Pattison told The Sunday Age that the evidence would show the pilot project set a pattern of overestimating water savings from irrigation upgrades. "We believe we are going to put a crack in the wall," he said.

Mr Pattison will present the evidence on behalf of the Government insider, who has decided not to appear. One of the documents, by the pilot project's consultants, URS, says the project working group — which included the Department of Sustainability, Goulburn-Murray Water and Rubicon Systems Australia, the makers of Total Channel Control — met in Melbourne in April 2004 and "assumptions" about losses and flows were agreed to.

But in an economic evaluation of the pilot, it appears the average yearly flows into the area have been bumped up by more than 4000 million litres to 17,400 million litres.

Other project documents show the historic average annual flow to be about 13,100 million litres. The effect of this change was to make the percentage of water saved look better than it was, the Government insider believes.

Another document, prepared by project manager Clive Luscombe, describes how it was expected that the technology would boost the efficiency of the channels to 93 per cent, but in fact the pilot achieved only 79 per cent.

"Clearly this result was not to be expected based on the pre-pilot information," the report says.

Mr Luscombe puts the problem down to "pre-pilot conditions" and the difficulty in manually measuring the outfall, or excess water, coming from irrigation districts.

A spokesman for the State Government said it would not comment on evidence it was yet to hear.

The Government has claimed the food bowl project will deliver up to 75 billion litres of water to Melbourne each year after 2010.

Rubicon Systems Australia's contract to supply its irrigation modernisation equipment to the project is believed to be worth several hundred million dollars.

Plug the Pipe and the Government insider believe the alteration of the data in the pilot project led to an overestimation of water savings that has never been properly audited.

The Government has been under pressure to prove the project will deliver the water savings to make the $750 million north-south pipeline worthwhile.

Last year the Auditor-General criticised the Government for the "inadequate rigour applied to estimate costs, benefits and risks of some of the key component projects" of its water plan and called on it to "publish the detailed analysis underpinning the estimates of water savings and costs for the Food Bowl Modernisation Project".

The Government has refused to release its business case under freedom-of-information laws.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bushfire Visit Barwidgee Creek Mt Stanley - Some photos

As some of you know my Uncle was caught in the middle of the Black Saturday fires. He and my Aunty were very lucky not to be hurt and their farm house was saved even though there was extensive damage to the farm. Below are some photos from a visit over easter to give an idea of what happaned.

A photo from behind their farm house in Barwidgee looking south west. the tree line is over 500m away and was the direction the fireball came from. It moved that fast they only had time to make it to the back porch. The hill is normally covered in trees but it is now bare as most trees were turned to ash.

What is left of the tractor. Note the non existent tyres except for the radial wires.

Looking East from above the farm house. None of the trees in this area have come back to life.

A little up the Mt Stanley Road, about 4km from the Yackandandah Rd turn off. Note the closeness of the trees to the road. There were a few accidents on this road as locals fleed the inferno chasing them down the hill.

If you want to know more or see more pics I can do a subsequent post with maps.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Connex Customer Feedback

Police investigate Flinders St bashing video

Geraldine Mitchell
April 08, 2009 06:57pm

A SHOCKING video of a commuter being allegedly bashed by a train driver at Flinders St Station is being investigated by police.The footage was taken on a mobile phone by 13-year-old Mitchell Smith as horrified passengers looked on. The man allegedly attempted to board a Craigieburn train about 3.30pm on Tuesday before getting into an argument with the driver.

The driver then allegedly left his cabin and followed the passenger to the platform where he repeatedly punched the man violently on the ground.

"He was just continuously hitting him,'' he said. His mother, Maree, was also horrified. "I couldn't believe the arm action of the man continuously just belting him,'' she said.

Connex has stood down the driver while the incident is investigated and has handed over CCTV footage to Victoria Police. Connex managing director Alan Chaplin said the serious nature of the matter led to the decision to immediately suspend the driver from duty.

"There will be a full investigation by us and the police,'' he said.

"We will await the results of our investigation before deciding what further action should be taken, but I can assure our customers incidents like this are extremely rare.'' Mr Chaplin said Connex would also consider other measures it could introduce to reduce the chance of any such incident happening again.

A spokesman for Acting Public Transport Minister Tim Pallas did not comment on the incident only confirming that a thorough investigation was underway.

Nothing like a bit of customer feedback.

WTF 22 - Cum Fly With Me

Helicopter pilot allows porn star to perform sex act on him while flying
April 8, 2009

A US judge says a commercial helicopter pilot videotaped in a sex act while
flying over San Diego committed gross negligence and cannot have his licence back.

National Transportation Safety Board administrative law Judge William R. Mullins upheld a Federal Aviation Administration order revoking the licence of David Martz after a hearing on Tuesday.

Martz had no comment after the ruling.

A passenger was videotaping when Martz let an adult film actress perform a sex act on him during the 2005 flight, and an edited version eventually became public.

The judge watched the unedited tape in chambers and took testimony before his decision.

Martz testified that his actions were unwise and he's much more responsible now.


The judge watched the film... How many times?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WTF 21 - I hope there were no speed bumps?

Teen travels across Europe strapped under bus
April 7, 2009 - 6:20AM

An Afghan youth survived a 30-hour journey from Athens strapped underneath a bus, only to discover that he had arrived in Poland and not his chosen destination Italy, border guards said on Monday.

"The man, aged 19 years old, was hidden near the gearbox, attached with a belt," Elzbieta Pikor, spokesman for the Polish border guard, told AFP. Polish transport mechanics had discovered him as they were checking the bus.

"Italia?" the young man asked as he emerged from his hiding place after the 2,800km journey.

In fact, he had arrived in Nowa Deba, southern Poland, having picked the wrong bus, another from the same line having left Athens for Italy.

"He was exhausted, frozen and starving, but in good health," said Pikor.

The would-be immigrant had travelled through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia along the way, the gear cable scratching his face every time the bus changed gears.

He was carrying no papers and gave his name only as Yahiya, saying he was from the Afghan capital Kabul.

He will be kept in a Polish detention centre pending a decision on his request for refugee status.

Amazing what lengths people will go to in the attempt for a better life.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bingle Effect Continues

The Effects Continue

Hamilton stripped, McLaren deny lying

April 3, 2009

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has denied that Lewis Hamilton lied about an incident at the Australian Grand Prix after the Briton was stripped of his third place result.

The world champion was fourth in the Melbourne race when Toyota's Jarno Trulli passed him under safety car conditions on lap 57 last Sunday.

The incident earned the Italian a 25-second penalty, which saw him relegated to 12th, with Hamilton promoted onto the podium behind the Brawn 1-2 team of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

But after a hastily arranged hearing in Malaysia on Thursday, the sport's governing body ruled that the Briton and his team deliberately provided misleading information on the circumstances leading to Trulli's penalty.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

WTF 20 - Nothing to do with Newspapers

So I was driving along Moreland Road this morning on the way to work and I spot a guy walking along the footpath smoking a cigarette.

Nothing too strange I hear you say. Nope not at all except he was wearing a hospital surgical gown, and nothing else!


He was well over a kilometres from the nearest known medical institution so I am buggered if I know what he was up to!

I hope he enjoyed his smoke!

Best of April 1st

RESIDENTS have woken to find their cars wrapped in cling wrap in an April Fool's Day stunt that swept inner-city Melbourne.

The cling-film bandits struck at popular shopping precincts, outside railway stations and in sought-after residential areas, tightly wrapping cars in the plastic wrap.

At least 28 cars were reportedly wrapped including one vehicle in Clarendon St in South Melbourne, another on Domain Rd, South Yarra, Church St, Richmond and again at Clifton Hill railway station.

heraldsun.com.au found about six cars that had been wrapped in plastic film early this morning on Victoria Pde in East Melbourne.

Motorist James Rzan said it was a bizarre sight so early in the morning.

"There was a Holden ute outside Coles in Clarendon St that has been wrapped from top to bottom, even the tyres, the bonnet and the doors,'' Mr Rzan said. "I think somebody has lost their marbles, it's one out of the box for sure.'' The note on the ute said: "Happy April Fools Day love Evie''.

Police media Sen-Constable Melissa Seach said the wave of cling-wrapping was not being investigated by police because there had been no damage to vehicles. Police spokeswoman Julie-Anne Newman said it was unclear how many cars had been hit by the prank this morning.

Well done Evie! nice touch leaving scissors to let people un wrap their cars.