Photos from ten years ago: January 2007

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is January 2007.

We start on the Geelong line at the former railway station called Manor, where we see a Melbourne-bound service approach Werribee.

VL31 and VL35 Melbourne bound at Manor

It’s 1:08 AM at Flinders Street Station, and the Solari split-flap display has been switched off for the night.

It's 1:08 AM and the Solari board at Flinders Street Station is displaying no trains

A few hours later at 4:07 AM, and when I strolled past Southern Cross Station it was locked up tight.

4:07 AM and Southern Cross is locked up tight

Inside the station a new facility was under construction – the Myki Discovery Centre.

Myki Discovery Centre taking shape at Southern Cross Station

Opened in mid 2007, the centre was used as a promotional tool for Myki by the Transport Ticketing Authority, the organisation responsible for the rollout of the new smartcard ticketing system. It centre was later absorbed by Public Transport Victoria, who rebranded it as a ‘PTV Hub’ in 2012.

Down at Geelong I headed out to the southern suburb of Grovedale, where I found a freight train headed for the Blue Circle Southern cement works, climbing the grade towards what is now Waurn Ponds station.

H4 and X31 on the Waurn Ponds Cement at Grovedale

Today the paddocks to the left are covered with houses, with the new Armstrong Creek development doing the same to the paddock behind, and the freight train no longer runs – the cement is now all moved by road.

More big changes can be seen in the background at Footscray, where this citybound commuter train drops off a handful of suburban passengers at platform 1.

P15 trails a morning commuter train at Footscray

Now renumbered platform 3, the car park in the background has since disappeared, replaced by a new pair of platforms for suburban trains built as part of the Regional Rail Link project. In addition, the number of V/Line passengers using Footscray station has skyrocketed, thanks to the removal of the V/Line stop at North Melbourne.

I also went for a ride on a special train operated by the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, bound for Bairnsdale, where I spent plenty of time on the rear balcony watching the tracks roll past beneath me.

On arrival into Bairnsdale

We rolled through abandoned stations, like General Motors on the Pakenham line.

General Motors station

Over the viaduct that links Southern Cross Station to Flinders Street.

Single check rail in the middle of the new Viaduct tracks at Southern Cross

And across the Avon River bridge in Gippsland.

Crossing the Avon River bridge

The same vantage point also allowed me to capture the progress being made to extend suburban electric train services north from Broadmeadows to Craigieburn.

The initial stages of the project pinched every penny possible, so only half of Craigieburn station was rebuilt for suburban trains.

Work on the new platform at Craigieburn

But a new railway station at Roxburgh Park was being built.

Footbridge at Roxburgh Park station in place

As was grade separation of the Somerton Road level crossing.

Half of the Somerton Road overpass built, level crossing still in use

And new automated signalling – the manually operated signal box at Somerton was almost due to be decommissioned.

Last days for the signal box at Somerton

The penny pinching was also applied to the stabling yard at Craigieburn, where only a single siding was constructed – so that suburban trains could get out of the way of V/Line trains bound for Seymour.

Work on the stabling yard at Craigieburn, only a single track initially provided

Since then both platforms at Craigieburn have been upgraded, and a a massive train maintenance facility occupies the sidings, featuring a train wash and enough room for the stabling of two dozens trains!

Footnote

Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.

Cold and flu remedy, or sporting event?

You have to wonder what the marketing gurus employed by Tennis Australia are smoking, if their 2017 rebranding of the Australian Open is anything to go by. This is a TV commercial for cold and flu medication.

This is a TV commercial for the 2012 Australian Open.

So what the hell is this advert for?

Despite the first 5 seconds of the advert showing how a hypothetical product clears the head and nose, if you said ‘cold and flu medication’ you’re wrong – it’s actually a TV commercial for the 2017 Australian Open.

In September 2016 it was revealed that the two decade old Australian Open logo was on the way out, replaced by a stylised ‘A’ and ‘O’.

I wonder how they came up with such a insipid design – hotboxing in the Rod Laver Arena locker rooms?

February 2017 update

Spotted on Twitter: a new Korean budget airline has knocked off the Australian Open for their logo – or an American health food store.

Biased artist’s impressions presented as fact

Artist’s impressions have long been used by the government as a way to sell major projects to the public, but in 2016 we have seen this tool adopted by a new user – community groups opposed to the same projects.

'I didn't vote for Sky Rail' bumper sticker

It begins

The first volley came in March 2016, when a Murrumbeena resident opposed to ‘Skyrail’ commissioned a series of computer generated images to depict the impact he believed the works would cause to the local area. It was then picked up in the local newspaper:

A Murrumbeena man has commissioned his own images of the controversial elevated Skyrail proposal in an attempt to create more discussion on the project he says will “utterly change Melbourne”.

The release of the images, which Edward Meysztowicz had created to accurate dimensions obtained from the Level Crossing Removal Authority.

Mr Meysztowicz said he was prompted to create the images of the rail line after being refused permission to photograph artists’ impressions created by the Level Crossing Removal Authority.

The images he commissioned use images of Mr Meysztowicz and his family under the line and also include a perspective from the Skyrail trains, looking down into backyards.

April 2016 saw a resident on the Frankston line use the same tactic to assist their campaign against elevated rail in their local area. Again, it got a run in the local newspaper.

An anti-Skyrail campaigner has commissioned an artist’s impression of what he thinks an elevated train line could look like through Bayside suburbs.

But the Level Crossing ­Removal Authority (LXRA) said that the sky rail drawings were inaccurate and promised to provide detailed designs of the options for the Frankston line, south of Cheltenham, at the next community consultation session.

“The image is not an accurate representation of what the eight remaining level crossing removals will look like on the Frankston line,” project director Adam ­Maguire said.

Simon Johnson, noskyrail.com.au founder, said he commissioned the drawings, based on information about the Cranbourne-Pakenham rail corridor.

He said his images were a balance to the “unrealistic” concept designs provided by the LXRA for the line.

You might call the above Skyrail artist’s impressions biased, but you can’t really call them misleading – each was clearly marked as the work of groups opposed to the project, so the reader was able to evaluate them based on the context they were created.

Problems begin

Images used in the media have a habit of being reused outside of their original context, and in the case of the Skyrail images things are no different. This is but one example.

Note the simple “artist’s sky rail impression” caption and the “supplied” attrition – no mention of the original creator and their intentions.

Into murkier water

December 2016 saw a third group roll out the – residents opposed to a shallow Melbourne Metro railway station beneath St Kilda Road. Their imagery made it into The Age.

This time they really take the cake – adding a pall of dust to the air to complete their dystopian vision.

The Save St Kilda Road Group has also released an artist’s impression of its vision of St Kilda Road in the midst of construction, showing barren streets and a pall of dust surrounding the Shrine of Remembrance.

Spokeswoman Marilyn Wane said the group was angry that an application had been made to remove trees, shut down roadway and reroute trams before the station design and location had been determined.

In the case of this artist’s impression, The Age is treading in murky territory. Appearing in an article describing the wider impact of the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel project, with the
providence of the image is buried away in the article text, a less careful reader could easily take the image at face value, and not take into account the bias of the group that commissioned it.

And into the danger zone

January 2017 saw this article in The Age – Developer warns Fitzroy North resident over ‘grossly misleading’ image.

The Age - developer and residents artists impressions of the same building overlaid

The article continues:

A developer has taken the unusual step of threatening an individual resident over their inaccurate depiction of a controversial apartment plan in Melbourne’s inner north.

Residents whose homes will be affected by the $85 million plan have run a well-resourced campaign featuring a depiction of the tower’s impact on city views from a nearby football grandstand.

Such was the impact on local perceptions of the project that lawyers Arnold Bloch Leibler, acting for Gurner, wrote to resident Glen McCallum over the “grossly misleading” images.

Tim Gurner, whose company is behind the plan for Queens Parade, also paid architectural rendering firm FloodSlicer to draw an accurate version of the tower.

It shows a far less dramatic impact on the city skyline.

Mr Gurner said the letter was not a threat. “We were very concerned about someone out there very clearly suggesting that his image was correct – it was grossly misleading.”

Mr McCallum said he had created his image because Gurner had not provided one showing the impact on the city skyline from a local park, the Edinburgh Gardens.

“They refused to provide an actual render so I think they were trying not to allow this to be speculated on,” he said, describing his depiction as his “best effort”. It has since been removed from his website.

Intentionally misleading the public via an artists impression is one thing, but in this case the story seems a little different – someone put together what they thought was an accurate image, got called out on the inaccuracies, and then took it down.

What is bias anyway?

One can’t argue that the artists impressions created by opposition groups are ‘bad’ for being biased – the government has been known to do exactly the same thing when promoting their projects!

A good example is this 2014 image showing the ‘Cycle Spiral’ – part of the proposed East West Link. Idyllic scene, isn’t it?

However the reality of the proposed bridge was anything but, as Andrew Herington wrote in a piece titled ‘Cycle Spiral is total spin‘.

This view looking south omits the 8 lanes of Flemington Rd which run across the immediate foreground with a new major intersection just off the bottom right hand corner. A new divided arterial is also not depicted although it is to run beneath the Cycle Spiral and the Citylink pylons visible in the middle distance.

The following blow up of the actual design give a much better picture of where the Cycle Spiral sits. Note there is no reassuring “sound tube” in this view and still no sign of the road that runs beneath Citylink. However it does give an indication of the heavy shade and the overwhelming presence of major roads on all sides missing from the “artists impression”.

The truth is this – any image can be biased, computer generated or not. Even photographs of a location can be spun to give the viewer completely different impressions. For example – dark and unfriendly.

28 minutes until the next Upfield train on a dark platform at Coburg

Or bright and welcoming.

EDI Comeng arrives into Coburg with an up service

The possibilities are endless, such as my trenched railways are ugly and making a railway cutting look good posts a few months ago!

In the end there is only one solution – the reader has to keep in mind who is behind the message.

Flash flooding and Melbourne’s railways

On 29 December 2016 a sudden thunderstorm hit Melbourne, resulting in flash flooding across the city, and the usual disruptions to train and tram services.

Floodwaters cover the tram tracks at Flinders and Market Streets
This photo is actually from May 2016

The tram tracks at Southbank flooded as they always do – the entire area is virtually at the same level as the Yarra River, so the water has nowhere to go.

Pedestrian subways are another usual flooding suspect in Melbourne – with the underpass at Broadmeadows station being one example.

The subway at Oakleigh was another.

But tracks at low lying railway stations also ended up underwater. This was Prahran.

Over at Keon Park station a train stopped just in time to avoid ending up in the drink.

But over at Ivanhoe a train was caught in the middle of it.

Left unable to move.

At least the brand new train trenches on the Franskton line didn’t flood.

Thanks to the massive sump pumps at each station.

Pipework serving sump pumps for the rebuilt low level station at McKinnon

Footnote

Did you notice how almost every photo I linked to above are portrait format? Just goes to show how the average person uses their smartphone, and explains the plague of vertical videos on the internet.

An Adelaide tram at a Melbourne bank

Welcome to Errol Street, North Melbourne. The route 57 tram runs down the middle, linking the city to West Maribyrnong.

Z3.185 southbound on route 57 along Errol Street

Among the row of shops is a Commonwealth Bank branch, who in an attempt to fit in with the locals, have included a picture of a tram on the front window.

Commonwealth Bank branch in North Melbourne, featuring an Adelaide H class tram on the window

It even says ‘Melbourne’ on the front.

Adelaide H class tram photo at a Commonwealth Bank branch in North Melbourne, with the 'Adelaide Metro' bit of the logo photoshopped out

The only problem – the photo is actually of an Adelaide H class tram.

Adelaide tram H.368 in front of the original Colonial Tramcar Restaurant W2 class car

But with the ‘Adelaide Metro‘ part of the logo photoshopped out.

The original logo should look like this.

'Adelaide Metro' logo

I’ve written about newspapers using the “wrong” train photos before. But in this case its a little different – someone has realised they’ve got the wrong photo for their project, and decided it’s easier to photoshop out ‘Adelaide’ instead of finding a more appropriate photo.

Fleet number side note

Adelaide tram 351 still exists today – it was refurbished to run heritage services on the tram line to Glenelg, after being decommissioned for everyday services in 2006.

Meanwhile in Melbourne we also had a tram with the same number – W2.351 was completed way back in 1932, remaining in service until withdrawn in 1967, the body being disposed of by fire.

And another one

Another Adelaide H class tram sighting in Melbourne, via a mate of mine – at the CBA branch in Boronia.