Saturday, 27 May 2006

Diesel Means Trouble

We're getting towards the business end of winter here: Last morning when we went out of the house it was 5 freezing degrees! For the record, the coldest I remember in Melbourne was 4. The difference is that while up until not too long ago I would step out of the house, utter something like "oh, it's freezing" to myself, and then step into the car and turn the heating on, now I step out of the house and stay out. I got to do it two days a year before - when I serviced the car - but now it's an ongoing love affair, and I can't say I love the cold.

During the day it gets up to the 12-15 range, but in the morning I have to wear a beanie hat if I don't want the bold patches and the antenna ears to freeze. On particularly cold mornings, such as the ones we'll be having for the next 3 months, I also require the aid of a scarf and gloves.
By far the coldest point of our journey to work is the wait for the train at Brighton Beach station. Standing right next to the beach, you get the sea breezes directly in your bones.
In order to warm our joints up, we are now in the habit of playing our favorite morning game while waiting at the station - "guess the train": Melbourne trains come in three types, and you need to guess which one it would be, depending on statistics, mood, and how lucky you feel for the day.
A third of the time you get the "new" trains. These are slick, smooth, and feel like a brand new jetliner. They also have seats where two can seat without facing two more, so they're nice and quiet.
Most of the time you get the "ordinary". They're pretty old, they smell, they're noisy, and they're cramped. Vintage seventies material, it seems.
But the most dreadful of all trains is the type I refer to as "Diesel means trouble". Those of you familiar with the adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine will know that the evil character there is called Diesel 10; and one of the most famous stories of the Thomas saga is "Diesel 10 Means Trouble". Thing is, my nephew used to be a Thomas junky, and at the time he used to call Diesel 10 "Diesel means trouble". And so when I got to encounter Melbourne's most shittiest train, I had to call it Diesel Means Trouble; I mean, it even looks the same as Diesel 10.
It's hard to imagine a worse mode of transport than Diesel Means Trouble. Where can I start? There's no air-conditioning or ventilation; you have to use windows (whereas on the other trains you can't use them), which is terribly effective when it's 5 degrees outside if you're terribly keen on starting the morning with a feeling of daggers cutting your face into little pieces.
It's noisy. Very noisy. And it's slow. And it's cramped: There is just no way I can sit opposite someone else in there; it must have been designed for your average gnome. Those said, given that in the fifties and before people were known to be much smaller than contemporary homo-sapiens, and given that this train couldn't have been designed any later than the fifties, it all makes sense.
There's only one question I need to ask, though: Why is it that when Steve Bracks or any other member of the Victorian Government takes a photo shoot next to a train, they always get to have one of the new trains behind them?
I would dearly love Mr Bracks or his Minister of Transport that keeps on saying how much Victorian Government supports public transport to give up their cars for a month or two and stick to public transport. I wonder how they would feel like after a ride in Diesel Means Trouble.


Jo said...

You forgot to mention the wonderful aroma of the old trains

uri said...

Do the trains have numbers?
Do you remember we used to know the 45 busses? What was our frequent ride - 3444?
And that good one with the AC - 3667?
Ah, those were the days.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Ah, 3444!
And 3667 used to feature Yossi the driver, too. Let's not forget Yossi!
Alas, these trains do not have a number (not that we can identify). They're used all over the network - it's not that one train gets exclusive use on our line - so they're hard to "identify" with.
The lines themselves don't have a number. We're on the Sandringham train, which might sound attractive to English royalists but is definitely not as romantic as "45".
Not that I have overly fond memories of that 45 line. My best memory is when I got my first car and could finally stop using the bus.