Visiting the deja vu milk bar on Facebook

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys tracking down the source of stolen photographs, then Facebook groups are the source of endless joy. I found this photo on Facebook the other week, but “retro Aussie lollies” weren’t what caught my eye – the milk bar did.

It looked like a milk bar in the back streets of the Geelong suburb of St Albans Park, and for good reason – it was.

But where did the original photo come from? That bit is a lot easier than it used to be – thanks to the ‘search Google for image‘ feature in Chrome.

It didn’t find the exact photo I uploaded, but it did find the original unmodified image.

Which then sent me into the swamp of stolen content that is Pinterest.

Once I swatted away the plague of Pinterest popups and overlay text, I could see the full image.

And a link to the original source.

An Instagram post that has since been deleted.


And a sad ending

From the March 22, 2017 edition of the Geelong Advertiser.

Another Geelong milk bar closes its doors as world moves on

Another beacon of the past will be lost next Friday when the St Albans Park general store ceases trade.

Owner Mick Robertson has cited lost trade in the wake of job losses at Ford and Alcoa as one of the reasons he has decided to shut his doors for good.

“In 2008 we had about 300 people through the door each day with an average spend of $9 each now we have about the same amount of people through the door but average spend has dropped to $3,” Mr Robertson said.

Mr Robertson said his Westmoreland St milk bar and post office has been in business 23 years and at its peak employed the equivalent of four full time staff.

“At one stage we were extremely busy because supermarkets had restricted trade. Supermarkets closed at 6pm on weekdays, 1pm on Saturday and were closed Sunday,” he said.

Mr Robertson said his business took a hit when supermarket opening hours were extended in 1995.

“We took a hit but it was not fatal, because St Albans Park was a growing suburb,” he said.

Mr Robertson said he and his wife, Karyn, have had to dip into their superannuation to pay staff for the past eight months.

“Our margins have been going down and down, and we can’t compete against the supermarkets.”

Mr Robertson said he would look to redevelop the site in coming years.

Property development – the only “industry” Australia has left?


The original Facebook post

Above the clocks at Flinders Street Station

Everyone knows the clocks at Flinders Street Station – but have you ever stood and taken a closer look at the arched leadlight window located above?

Steps of Flinders Street Station

The detail of the windows is best viewed from inside the station, looking back out.

The other side of the clocks, you can see cheap glass used to repair the leadlight

I first took a close look at the windows in August 2009, and noticed that four of the the original leadlight panels had been replaced with plain glass.

Four panes of plain glass have replaced the original leadlight panels

But by April 2010 they had been repaired.

Under the clocks by twilight

Which is easier to see in this photo from April 2012.

Flinders Street Station leadlight, 9 April 2012 (Photo by Maksym Kozlenko, via Wikimedia Commons)
Photo by Maksym Kozlenko, via Wikimedia Commons

But by June 2017 another pane of plain glass had reappeared.

Scaffolding covers the main entrance of Flinders Street Station

Scaffolding then covered the station.

Banner promoting the Flinders Street Station upgrade project at the main station entrance

With the plain glass disappearing along with the scaffolding a few months later.

Repair work on the steps at Flinders Street Station

Leaving the leadlight windows looking the best they ever have.

Restored leadlight windows above the clocks at Flinders Street Station

So how many times have the windows been broken in the past, and is any of the glass original?


In July 2009 Neos Kosmos talked to Arthur Andronas, director of Andronas Conservation Architecture, who has been involved in earlier restoration works at Flinders Street Station.

Over the past 25 years, we have had the opportunity to conserve a great number of historic buildings, including The Block Arcade, ANZAC House, Newman College at Melbourne University designed by Walter Burley Griffin (the man who designed Canberra) and the stained glass at Flinders Street Station (above the clocks).

Melbourne’s rail network emergency response vehicles

If something ever goes wrong in Melbourne’s City Loop tunnels, emergency responders need a way to get to the scene of the incident.

Siemens train in the City Loop, waiting for the platform at Flagstaff station to clear

The first problem

Walking along the tracks will take forever – each section of concrete slab track has a hole in the middle!

Signals at the east end of Flagstaff station on the Burnley Loop

So emergency trolleys were provided at each entrance to the loop, ready to be clipped together and then pushed down the tracks.

MURL emergency trolley at the Caulfield Loop portal at Southern Cross

But it’s a long way to push a trolley between stations.

Glow in the dark emergency exit signage in the Northern Loop between Parliament station and the portal

And a better solution

So in 2009 the first motorised Rail Network Emergency Response Vehicles were delivered.

Ambulance Victoria photo

The Department of Transport wrote about the new vehicles in their 2009-10 Annual Report (dead link).

Victoria now has 12 Rail Network Emergency Response Vehicles (RNERVs) located at stations along Melbourne’s underground rail loop and other strategic locations. The vehicles are used in emergencies to ferry emergency personnel and aid to the scene of an incident. Nine of the vehicles were purchased in 2009-10.

To test the vehicle’s capability, a simulated emergency exercise – Exercise Orpheus – was held in April 2010. In the exercise, a major emergency was constructed based on a train stranded between Flagstaff and Melbourne Central Stations. To test their performance and suitability, the response vehicles were sent from both stations, transporting emergency services personnel from Victoria Police, Melbourne Fire Brigade and Ambulance Victoria.

Ambulance Victoria also wrote about their first test run.

Welcome to a training exercise involving Melbourne’s emergency authorities that aims to test their preparedness and response to an attack on major infrastructure.

The recent exercise also tested a mobile platform developed by the Department of Transport that can quickly be assembled, then take emergency workers into the Loop and be used to carry patients to safety. The platform, known as the Rail Network Emergency Response Vehicle, is assembled and operated by members of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

‘The Loop presents unique challenges because it is not a road and there are only limited access points, which makes it difficult for paramedics to access,’ said Jon Byrne, from Ambulance Victoria’s
Emergency Management Unit.

‘This new platform had been tested in the rail yards, but this was its first use in a training exercise. We wanted to ensure it could take us there and back, plus bring out patients and we were pleased with the results.’

Each vehicle is stored in a cabinet.

'Rail Network Emergency Response Vehicle' (RNERV) stored in a cupboard at Parliament station

Then moved in pieces to the track.

Ambulance Victoria photo

Bolted together.

Ambulance Victoria photo

And driven along the tracks to the incident site.

Ambulance Victoria photo

Battery powered, the British developed Bance motorised hand trolley weighs 121.75 kg, with the heaviest section weighing 53.5 kg, and capable of carrying 1000 kg of loading at 8 km/h up to 25 km.

R. Bance and Co. photo

Now skyrail

Fast forward to today, and Melbourne now has elevated rail tracks – another difficult to access location.

Life extension EDI Comeng 335M approaches Hughesdale station on a down Pakenham service

But the solution is the same – a portable battery powered trolley.

Rail Express photo

But advanced in technology have seen the weight of the trolley drop, while performance has improved.

In December 2018 Rail Express wrote about this Australian-developed rapid deployment trolley.

Rail equipment manufacturer and distributor Melvelle Equipment has developed a cutting-edge rapid deployment rail trolley, manufactured in Australia and already in use on the busy Melbourne Metro network.

The self-propelled trolley can travel up to 100 kilometres with a full payload of 700 kilograms. At its maximum speed, it can travel up to 80 kilometres.

Despite this impressive range, the machine is just 160 kilograms including batteries, and can be assembled by two people in just three minutes, with no tools required. Four people can assemble the machine in just two minutes.

The machine can be removed from the track in three minutes by two people, or as little as 90 seconds by four people. Its heaviest component weighs just 40 kilograms.

The first units of the trolley were delivered to Metro Trains Melbourne in March 2018.

“The Level Crossing Removal Authority approached us regarding the need to have emergency response vehicles at every train station for the overhead [skyrail] system, because you can’t drive a truck up there,” Melvelle explains.

“The machine is stored at the stations, and if there’s an emergency the responders can wheel it out of the storage area, set it up on track, and travel down the track to the emergency, bringing all their service gear – for example a stretcher – and their people.”

Hand throttle via joystick including horn, traction control, regenerative braking, dead-man pedal, emergency brakes, and full interlocking of all parts of the assembly, meaning if a wheel or a handrail is not correctly installed, the trolley will not move and a light panel will display the location of the error. There are two sets of controls on the trolley, but only one joystick, which must be moved by the operator in order to change direction, up or down the railway.

Melvelle says his company plans to export the product, with interest already registered as far away as UAE and England for the system.

“The trolley is designed manufactured in our factory in Newcastle and I it is the lightest and safest trolley on the market,” he says.

Who said Australian innovation and manufacturing was dead?

Merry Christmas for 2018!

This year Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday, so here’s a collection of topical photos of public transport.

Z3.159 stands beneath the 'Merry Christmas' sign at Flinders Street Station

PTV advertisement for free travel on Christmas Day at Melbourne Central station

SW6.866 in a Christmas livery heads west at La Trobe and Spencer Street

Dysons bus #422 0971AO on a tram replacement service crosses Princes Bridge


I’m not actually posting this on Christmas morning – I wrote it weeks ago then put it into my queue of scheduled posts.

Looking back at Transdev Melbourne’s fleet maintenance crisis

In December 2018 it was announced that Melbourne bus operator Transdev would not have their contract renewed, thanks to years of poor performance since taking over a third of Melbourne’s bus services in 2013.

But it wasn’t just garden variety late running and chronically dirty buses that led to the company being dropped, but something that slipped under the radar of the Melbourne media – a lack of essential maintenance that resulted in so many buses becoming unroadworthy in September 2017 that other operators had to be called up to assist in the running on normal bus services.

Dysons bus 7964AO parked at the Transdev depot in Sunshine

It begins

The rumours of a roadworthy crisis at Transdev started swirling in the world of bus spotters (yes, it’s a thing!) but the first public sign came on 18 September 2017, when buses from Dyson Group started appearing on routes normally operated by Transdev Melbourne.

Dysons bus #707 8027AO on a route 237 service at Southern Cross Station

As did vehicles from Sita Buslines.

Sita bus #67 5477AO on a eastbound route 232 service at Collins and King Street


The first media outlet to pick up the story was the Manningham Leader on September 19 – the area is dependant on buses for public transport, so I guess that’s why they noticed.

More than 30 of Melbourne’s Transdev buses ordered off the road after failing roadworthy checks
Andrew Rogers
Manningham Leader

More than 30 Melbourne buses have been ordered off the streets after being deemed unroadworthy.

Transport Safety Victoria ordered an emergency safety inspection at bus contractor Transdev’s Doncaster and North Fitzroy depots on September 11 and 12 after routine tests by VicRoads found safety breaches with 33 buses.

In a staff bulletin seen by Leader News, Transdev managing director Warwick Horsley told employees the company would now carry out checks on its entire fleet of more than 500 buses.

“We will continue to work closely with TSV to assess the remainder of our fleet for any defects, as well as any issues with our maintenance procedures,” he said.

The company — which operates 30 per cent of Melbourne’s buses — was forced to withdraw 33 buses from service after they were found to have safety defects, but VicRoads has refused to publicly detail the findings.

Shaun Rodenburg, acting director of bus safety at TSV, said: “We are working with Transdev to make sure the immediate safety issues are effectively managed and their safety systems are sufficiently robust to ensure the ongoing safety of their bus services.”

Transport Safety Victoria has confirmed it will follow up with another safety audit once Transdev has fixed the faulty buses and has ordered a more frequent audit regimen to monitor the company’s vehicle maintenance.

Transdev is yet to respond to Leader’s questions relating to the safety defects and how routes and customers will be affected.

It took The Age a day later to pick up the story.

Melbourne’s second biggest bus operator has been ordered to take a dozen of its buses off the road due to serious defects that posed a danger to passengers.

A blitz by safety inspectors on two Transdev bus depots found 33 defective buses, with 12 in such poor condition they were ordered off the road for urgent repairs.

Victoria’s transport safety watchdog, Transport Safety Victoria, said it was the highest number of defective buses it had ever taken off the road in a blitz.

Transport Safety Victoria said it would increase its inspection regime of Transdev’s fleet of buses until it is satisfied the company’s maintenance standards are adequate.

It is currently inspecting about 40 buses a day for potential safety problems.

“We are working with Transdev to make sure the immediate safety issues are effectively managed and their safety systems are sufficiently robust to ensure the ongoing safety of their bus services,” said Shaun Rodenburg, the acting director of bus safety at Transport Safety Victoria.

Defects included engine and transmission faults, fluid and air leaks, loose fitting panels and suspension faults.

The high number of potentially dangerous faults earned a rebuke from Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.

“This was not acceptable and we’re taking this situation very seriously, as the safety of people travelling on buses is our highest priority,” Ms Allan said.

Public Transport Victoria is reviewing the maintenance failures “so we understand the root cause of this issue and stop it from happening again”, Ms Allan said.

With Transport Safety Victoria issuing a media release on September 22.

In response to safety data analysis, Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) recently engaged with Vic Roads to run a series of safety inspections over two nights on Transdev buses.

As a result of this work:

  • TSV issued 12 Prohibition Notices to Transdev, “grounding” 12 buses which presented a risk to safety;
  • TSV issued one Improvement Notice to Transdev requiring it to assess its fleet for any more buses which may be unsafe and propose a remedial action plan for those buses before they be used to provide passenger services;
  • TSV issued one Improvement Notice to Transdev requiring it to review its Maintenance Management System (MMS) to find how and why it failed and how to ensure the failure cannot recur; and
  • TSV will conduct a targeted safety audit to test the effectiveness of Transdev’s remedial actions once they are complete. A more frequent audit regime will be applied until TSV is satisfied Transdev’s Maintenance Management System (MMS) is operating effectively.

“We are working with Transdev to make sure the immediate safety issues are effectively managed and their safety systems are sufficiently robust to ensure the ongoing safety of their bus services,” said Shaun Rodenburg, Acting Director Bus Safety at TSV.

And Public Transport Victoria adding a curt acknowledgement of the crisis on their website.

Replacement buses operating on some Transdev routes
Added: 22 September 2017

As a result of additional maintenance checks on Transdev buses, a number of their regular buses are currently out of service.

Transdev have made arrangements with other operators for replacement buses to supplement the fleet. These replacement buses may look different as they are branded by a different operator.

Customers will still need a valid myki to travel and should continue to touch on and touch off as normal on replacement buses. If a replacement bus does not have myki equipment, customers will be allowed to travel without touching on or touching off.

Real time information may not be available as some of the replacement buses are equipped with a different tracking system. Real time information on SmartBus displays, our PTV app and Next 5 on our website for these services will then display scheduled departure times.

We are working closely with Transdev to ensure that regularly scheduled services on Transdev routes are maintained and any disruptions are minimised.

The crisis grows

‘Foreign’ buses continued appearing at Transdev depots across Melbourne.

Transdev buses #431 7831AO and #958 8038AO beside Kastoria buses #47 6843AO and #19 1419AO at Transdev's Sunshine depot

As the workshops started to fill up with unroadworthy Transdev buses.

Transdev buses #437 and #365 in the Transdev workshops at Sunshine

By September 26 over a hundred Transdev buses were off the road, as Transport Safety Victoria inspectors made their way to each depot.

Ventura, who lost a number of bus routes to Transdev back in 2013, was one of the operators called up to help.

Ventura bus #1164 2513AO heads north on route 303 at Queen and Collins Street

As well as operators for further afield – like Mitchell Transit from Seymour.

Mitchell Transit bus #9 0709AO heads south on route 220 at Queen and Collins Street

CDC Ballarat.

CDC Ballarat bus #187 9068AO on route 220 at Sunshine station

And McHarry’s from Geelong.

McHarry's bus #12 1512AO on route 220 at Sunshine station

But the replacement buses left a lot to be desired – plenty of older high floor vehicles were called back up into frontline service, like this one from Kastoria Bus Lines.

Kastoria high floor bus #9 BS01ES returns to Sunshine depot

CDC Melbourne.

CDC Melbourne high floor bus #33 4927AO on a route 216 service at Lonsdale and William Street

And this coach from Nuline Charter.

Nuline Charter high floor bus #50 5860AO on route 216 at Sunshine station

By October 6 Transdev managing director Warwick Horsley confirmed that 70 replacement buses were now in service.

But it seems that even the replacement buses couldn’t avoid their death touch, as this broken down bus on hire to Transdev seems to suggest.

Tow truck ready to haul away broken down Broadmeadows Bus Lines bus #47 6843AO from Queen and Collins Street

And back to ‘normal’

By late October the use of replacements buses operating on Transdev routes had petered out, but the quality of the bus fleet still left a lot to be desired.

Grafitti covered back seats.

Up the back of yet another filthy grafitti covered Transdev bus

Broken next stop buttons.

The next stop pushbutton was broken, so Transdev removed it, and taped over the hole

Duct tape holding together the front fairings.

Transdev bus #938 7931AO held together with duct tape

Cracked front bumpers.

Damaged front bumper on Transdev bus #501 4988AO

But it took until August 2018 for Transport Safety Victoria to close out their side of the investigation.

Transdev improving safety systems
2 August 2018

Since the grounding of 12 buses in September 2017, Bus Safety Victoria has been working closely with Transdev to ensure the operator’s safety systems are sufficiently robust to ensure the ongoing safety of its bus services.

A targeted audit program of Transdev began earlier this year, focussing on maintenance requirements and safety culture, and audits will be conducted at all Transdev depots.

To date we are seeing that Transdev has implemented many changes to improve their safety systems and culture.

And it took until December 2018 for the full scale of the roadworthy crisis to be made public.

Transdev pulled nearly 140 buses off the road after they were found to be defective last last year, The Age has confirmed.

I guess it just goes to show how little Melbourne cares about or bus system – if 20% of our tram or train fleet was pulled out of service due to flawed maintenance, it would be front page news.

A Myki related footnote

Public Transport Victoria mentioned myki use on replacement buses in passing.

Customers will still need a valid myki to travel and should continue to touch on and touch off as normal on replacement buses. If a replacement bus does not have myki equipment, customers will be allowed to travel without touching on or touching off.

But something they didn’t mention was that none of the buses with myki readers fitted ever had them switched on – turns out the equipment onboard each bus is only configured with the routes run by a given depot, so buses from other operators were unable to ‘log in’ to the system as a Transdev route, leaving the readers as dead weight.