On The Rails Day 2: Shepparton has no class
What's worse than a train with no first-class carriage? A train that breaks down.
Throughout this week, our resident travel maniac Angus Kidman is undertaking the On The Rails challenge, where he'll try and work from Victorian V/Line trains for a whole week. Learn about why he's doing it and what's involved.
"Please note no buffet or first class service available." Those ominous words on the departure information screen told me that today's jaunt to Shepparton quite probably wasn't going to be as productive as yesterday, where I'd found the V/Line tray tables excellent for resting my laptop(s). On the replacement train, with no reserved seats, there were no tray tables.
I was also annoyed because I'd stumped up for a first-class seat but wasn't going to get what I'd paid for. Our on-train guard apologised profusely, and noted that we could apply for a refund for the difference between a first-class and regular fare. I'll certainly be asking for that $16.80 back.
Today's journey factsOutward: 0933-1208 Southern Cross-Shepparton
Return: 1249-1515 Shepparton-Southern Cross
Journey length: 181.9km each way
Return ticket price: $68.00 (reduced to $51.20 as no first class was available)
Weirdest station name: Wandong (insert your own smutty joke here)
Did this line used to go further? Yes, to Cobram, but not since 1993
How was the journey?
Our emergency replacement train followed the model Victoria's city trains use, with blocks of seats that can't be moved facing each other. Fortunately, there were relatively few passengers, so I still didn't end up having to sit next to anyone.
We ran entirely on time on the way to Shepparton, but the journey back at one point looked like it wasn't going to happen at all. There was some kind of power problem that took ages to fix, so no-one was allowed to board until 10 minutes after we were supposed to depart, leading to a lot of angry muttering from Shepparton residents eager to escape. The hold-up was annoying, but nowhere near as bad as having to wait around for a replacement coach would have been.
Predictably, we lost even more time as we returned to Melbourne since we no longer had our original path between Broadmeadows and Southern Cross.
How productive was I?
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'll again give myself a 7.5. I was hoping to do better today, but there were two problems. Firstly, mobile signal was much patchier on this line. I'd anticipated this as a potential issue this week and had several tasks to perform that didn't need connectivity, but switching in and out as the network became available definitely caused some issues.
Secondly, the absence of a tray table became a big nuisance in the afternoon when I switched to my Surface. This has a kickstand, which means it really doesn't work very well when it's just resting on your legs. I ended up abandoning it early and switching again to my tablet.
Up next: Tomorrow, I'm heading along the same line initially (so more signal issues, I guess), but finishing up in Albury. That means I'll cover two states in a single day. What sort of state this will leave me in remains to be seen.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.
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Pictures: Angus Kidman