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Trains of truth

Last week I had my third experience with the ‘marshals sans pointy badges’ guarding the train doors at Town Hall station in the morning rush times (see my post Just a spoonful of governance for my take on this, and for some damned interesting reading). On the first occasion, I stood in the wrong place on the platform and just as the nanny…oops I mean marshal went to tell me off, the train car emptied and I was onboard before any words came out of her mouth. The other days have been event free. The truth is I am actually traveling at the beginning of the peak hour rush on the one day a week I go into work so I am yet to see any real marshal action.

Railcorp have announced some success with their ‘dwell management’ program (what a cool name), as they call it, in a media release on their website. There have been ‘daily improvements in the time trains stand at the platform’  and they want to thank customers for our ‘cooperation, patience and participation’. So it’s all good really.

Funnily enough though, I did wonder as I was searching for information about the marshals on their site, if I had stumbled onto a fake landing page, set up by a person with a Railcorp fetish. The photo adorning the left hand corner of the page showed some bright, smiling people traveling on what appears to be a well-lit, clean train. It was all horribly wrong and frankly a little reminiscent of The Stepford Wives.

Where are the flickering lights, the soot stained windows, the vinyl seats covered in who knows what? Where are the grumpy, bullied people tightly squashed into each other to form one jelly-like mass? Where are the people who don’t make any eye contact and therefore don’t feel the need to stand for pregnant women and the elderly? Where are the sweat stained creatures who lean their armpits into your face as they hold on for dear life? Where is the graffiti, the lack of air-conditioning, the vomit stains, the discarded newspapers, the ‘Police – do not cross’ tape?

You get the picture – or in truth, you don’t.

Life on Cityrail/Railcorp’s trains is rarely a pretty one. It tends to be more a grass roots experiential ride. I remember once catching a train, nabbing a clean seat – it was my lucky day – and overhearing a telephone conversation from the person sitting next to me who was carrying their goods and chattels in a plastic bag. It went something like this¹:

“Hi, is that Marie?”


“Hi Marie. My name is Rhonda. Yeah hi. Look I’m calling youse because I just spent the night in the lock up in the city with your daughter Tracy. She arksed me to call youse because she needs some things.”

Pause for a few seconds.

“Yeah right. Look to tell you the truth I think youse need to get down there and see her, or get someone to see her because I don’t reckon she’ll last the night.”


“Yeah well I’m just calling it the way I see it and how I’ve seen it before. She’s not coping too well and I just don’t reckon she’ll make it.”


“Alright. Yeah… she wasn’t that great when I left. She’s in the lock up in the city but they’re gunna move her today.”


“Yeah, I think youse should. Okay … yeah… bye.”

How on earth you capture this image for a picture on the website is beyond me. However, I would love to see Railcorp try. This would give a real snapshot of life on the train.

Experiencing this element of existence, this shift in comfort levels, this inspiration for writing is why I can’t wait to see you tomorrow marshals.

1 Names have been changed