Car advertisers playing it safe

A common theme in advertisements for new cars is speed and the open road – and this recent Holden Commodore television commercial is no exception. However, it was the speedometer that caught my eye.

Holden Commodore television commercial

Out on the open plains and foot to the floor, yet only 98 km/h on the speedo.

98 km/h on the speedometer

The reason for such a low speed – the Advertising Standards Board prohibits the depiction of the following activities in motor vehicle advertisements:

  • Unsafe driving,
  • Driving in excess of speed limits,
  • Driving practices or other actions in breach of any law,
  • Driving while being fatigued, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and
  • Deliberate and significant environmental damage.

With nitpickers reporting anything and everything objectionable to the Advertising Standards Board, small details such as the speedometer reading can’t be missed by advertisers!

Footnote

You can find the Voluntary Code of Practice for Motor Vehicle Advertising on the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries website. The Advertising Standards Board also has a page on common vehicle advertising complaints.

The full Holden Commodore commercial can be found here:

Measure twice, cut once at Laverton station

You’d think preventing trains from hitting a new railway platform would be easy – there are standards for how close you can build to the tracks, so following those clearances in your construction drawing, and it’ll just work. However the people who designed the Laverton station upgrades of 2009-10 somehow forgot that, leading to plenty of rework before trains were allowed to run.

Siemens stops for passengers at Laverton station, surrounded by construction

A third platform was built on the northern side of the tracks, while trains continued using the original island platforms on the other side of the tracks.

Looking down on the island platform, to be renumbered 2 and 3

By December 2009 the new track had been laid, but lacking any rail welds or ballast.

Track in the new platform still incomplete, minus rail welds or ballast

While the Werribee end of the new platform featured a staircase up to the concourse, as well as a tall fence along the platform edge, where a passage provided access to the lift.

Down end of the new platform, dunno how a wheelchair will fit between the stairs and the fence

But a few months later in February 2010, the fence was gone.

Fence along platform 1 removed because it was out of gauge

And a few weeks after that, a stair shaped looking sliver of concrete appeared in the station car park.

The removed bit of the stairs to platform 1

While workers were busy chipping away at the bottom end of the staircase.

A section of platform 1 was out of gauge, so the fence was removed and the edge moved inwards, requiring the steps to be cut back so wheelchairs could still get past

The reason for the works – the new platform was “out of gauge” and passing trains were at risk of hitting it, so the platform edge was moved inwards, requiring the steps to be cut back so wheelchairs could still get between it and a shortened platform fence.

VLocity 3VL50 leads a down Geelong service through Laverton station

Footnote

The altered steps are Laverton station are still visible today – when heading down to platform 1, the stairs get narrower just before reaching the last landing.

Photos from ten years ago: January 2006

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time January 2006.

Melbourne’s Eureka Tower had topped out, but the glass curtain walls were still on the way up.

Topping out Melbourne's Eureka Tower

The new VLocity trains had yet to make a dent in V/Line’s operations, with 3 carriage long trains hauled by diesel locomotives still a common sight.

N451 and N set awaiting departure time at South Geelong

And fifty year old locomotive S302 was still being used on services between Melbourne and Warrnambool – with only one cab it required a spin on the turntable at each end!

S302 awaiting departure from Geelong on the down Warrnambool

The Siemens trains on the Melbourne suburban network were starting to be a common sight, some of them still wearing the livery of M>Train who collapsed in April 2004.

M%3ETrain 'Wave' fronted Siemens arrives into Newport

And finally this photo from outside Flinders Street Station – tram SW6.909 was on City Circle duties while wearing a special Australia Day livery. Note the lack of platform stops at this busy tram stop, and the scaffolding covering the spire at St Paul’s Cathedral.

SW6.909 in Australia Day livery on Flinders Street

Further reading

The full photos from ten years ago series.

Bendigo trains and Sunshine station

Since the opening of Regional Rail Link in 2015, the importance of Sunshine as a railway junction has grown, with the four platforms at the rebuilt station being served by a mix of V/Line and suburban train services. However there is one notable exception – V/Line services to and from Bendigo.

VLocity 3VL48 approaches Sunshine on an up Bendigo service

In December 2015 I thought that that V/Line was planning to fix this omission, when a sign reading ‘Ballarat / [blanked out] / Geelong Platform 4’ appeared on the station concourse at Sunshine, with ‘Bendigo’ being hidden beneath the brown sticky tape.

'Ballarat / [blanked out] / Geelong Platform 4' sign for V/Line services at Sunshine

However it was not to be – a few weeks later a new sign appeared, with the mention of ‘Bendigo’ having been removed.

'Ballarat / Geelong Platform 4' sign at Sunshine station - the previous mention of 'Bendigo' has been removed

One can dream of the day when a quick change between a Ballarat / Geelong and Bendigo train is possible!

Footnote

At Sunshine station it isn’t uncommon for V/Line to dominate the list of next train departures, with their services outnumbering those provided by Metro Trains.

Three of the next four departures from Sunshine station are V/Line services

These trains being:

  • V/Line: 3 trains an hour to Geelong, and 2 trains an hour to Bacchus Marsh, with every second train continuing to Ballarat.
  • Metro Trains: 3 trains an hour to Watergardens, with every second train continuing to Sunbury.

Makes the 20 minute off peak service on the Sunbury line look like a joke, doesn’t it?

A sorry history of Victorian level crossing failures

In the past week V/Line has been in the news due to their VLocity trains failing to activate level crossings. While a concerning revelation, it isn’t exactly a new issue in Victoria – let us step back in time a little.

Yarra Street level crossing, South Geelong

1995 – Sprinter trains

V/Line ordered single car 22 Sprinter railcars, which entered serivce in 1993-95. Soon after they had to be pulled from service because they were not activating level crossings, with a device known as a track circuit assister having to be installed on each train to address the issue.

2008 – VLocity trains to Bendigo

January 2008: it was discovered that VLocity trains were not activating level crossings on the Bendigo line, so they were replaced with Sprinter trains.

2011 – VLocity train at Sunshine

On December 11, 2011 a V/Line VLocity train was about to pass through the Anderson Road level crossing in Sunshine when the boom gates opened to road traffic.

2013 – Bairnsdale line

Thirty-two level crossings on the line between Traralgon and Sale were failing to consistently detect trains, so from March 2013 all Bairnsdale train services were replaced by buses. A milling machine worth $13 million was imported from Europe to reprofile the rails on the approach to each affected level crossing, and $8.3 million was spent to replace the track circuits train detectors with axle counters.

2014 – Sprinter trains to Stony Point

In August 2014 it was discovered that Sprinter trains were failing to activate level crossings on the Stony Point line, resulting in a ban on single carriage Sprinter train consists. More failures occurred in April 2015, with the line being closed indefinitely, until the track circuits were replaced with axle counters at 19 level crossings.

And now

The current round of issues relate to a VLocity train failing to activate a level crossing outside Dandenong. The fallout from this event resulted in it being made public that similar events occurred in 2011 and 2012, but no work was done to address the root cause.