Mind The Gap

August 15, 2007

Sydneysiders enjoy a number of fun hobbies, including: going to the beach, wearing t-shirts with turned-up collars and bagging CityRail.

CityRail Logo

Probably the best page in the local free daily newspaper ‘Mx’ is the letters page, which is normally entirely devoted to horror stories about late trains, annoying (or hot) fellow passengers and nasty ticket inspectors.

Coming from the UK, and having had to deal with the train situation there for far too long, I don’t actually think the train service is that bad here (although the coverage kind of sucks sometimes).

CityRail themselves have made some sterling efforts to improve performance though, including:

– altering the timetable
– removing a bunch of services (less trains = less chance for cockups)
– running the trains slower and taking longer at each station
– shutting down large parts of the network most weekends for track work
– putting the prices up
– suggesting that running within 10 minutes of schedule = on time!

Hmm. Ok, so there are some issues. However, I can now categorically state that I have the answer: music!

I’m not talking busking, or piped music, or free Ipods. No, what we need are some tinkly jingles at each station when the train arrives!

In Japan, for example, they play a funny tune to announce the train. The tunes differ depending on the line and station. At Denver airport they play some crazy deliverance-style twanging country at each stop. Although, as this was the US, the music is accompanied by the recording of a guy saying things like: ‘yippee-kay-ey mother frighteners. We’re now lee-eeving the A terminal. Hold on tight y’all. Yeehah!’ (or something like that. It had been a long trip and I was tired).

Even Gare De Lyon in Paris, which is a heaving mass of sweating bodies most of the time, manages to inject a bit of Euro-techno just prior to their announcements.

So come on CityRail. You know it makes sense. When the train arrives .. the first bar from ‘Down Under’ with the pipe sounding thing. As it leaves .. the second bar.

Perfect. And a welcome distraction from all the other issues.

“Dear Mx ….. “

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